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Sunday, May 28, 2006

A successful first meeting and other news

My last post looked forward to our first open meeting on May 19th for members and the public (if interested). By all accounts it was a considerable success. A team of speakers from the Trust gave a series of short presentations on many aspects of the work of the trust. Its was informative and equally important for me was that it gave members the opportunity to see people we usually only hear about in the Trusts magazine. Feedback from the audience of over 80 was very positive and gives our new group a strong basis on which to plan for the future.

This is a busy time of the year and following the meeting it was necessary to deliver the display stand and merchandise to a Wild Life group running a stall at the Langport River Festival. The volunteers from Fyne Court had an uncomfortable morning with wind and rain which only cleared up after lunch. Luckily they were under cover in a marquee.

On the 23rd I joined a small group of enthusiasts at West Sedgemoor RSPB reserve for a couple of hours walk about and observation of the herons nesting in Swell Wood. It was more difficult to see the nests and the birds high up in the trees now that leaves are fully out. Impressive number of house martins and swallows flying very low and heard a cuckoo away in the woods.

On the 24th I met up with an agroecologist conducting a survey of the flora on a 4 acre field near Curry Rivel. This is an unimproved grass and wild flower meadow which a local group is trying to manage to conserve the rich flora and butterfly population which was seen in great abundance last summer. When the report on the field is received the group will need to draw up a management plan for the annual maintenance of the field and hedges.

To continue this exceptional week a small number of our local group coordinating committee met on 25th in the evening to review the meeting on the 19th and to start to consider our next moves. It was considered essential now to formalise our informal group by creating an appointed committee , establishing a method for contacting all our local members and nor just those on email and preparing a programme for the next 12 months.
A date will be set for a full meeting of all our coordinating group of about a dozen members to work this all out by mid June.

In the mean time we have to organise a stall at the Langport International Walking Festival on the 3 and 4th of June ( and do some walking!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group

Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group

Note on the recent guided walk in Beer and Aller Woods 7th May.My own notes of the walk were a little jumbled so I asked the group leader to help produce the following description of what we saw.Around 10 to 15 people met at the entrance to the National Trust land at Turn Hill. GR 414316 Close to High Ham.(shown in the bottom right hand corner of Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 141 Cheddar Gorge). We started by walking along the Turn Hill escarpment on NT land and then went on to cover part of Beer Wood on a circular route.In the area reclaimed from previous scrub on Turn Hill escarpment we saw several good stands of cowslips (Primula veris) beginning to become established. Some spikes of Pyramid Orchid and Greater Butterfly Orchid were seen pushing up although not yet in flower. Wayfaring trees were in blossom. We saw and discussed the results of active conservation work in keeping some areas clear of invading shrubs and trees. This maintains more variety of habitats enhancing biodiversity as well as some public amenity value in keeping viewpoints open, enabling the spectacular views across Sedgemoor to be enjoyed. In some areas recent cleared of scrub there were lots of Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) in flower. We had a close examination of the flower structure and discussed the pollination mechanism of this strange flower.In Beer Wood there was a blue green carpet of Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) interspersed with Bluebells with occasional ancient woodland indicator species in flower such as Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa), Woodruff (Galium odoratum), Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum gleobdolon) and Spurge Laural (Daphne laureola). We found several splendid Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) spikes conveniently on show right next to the path giving a perfect opportunity for some botanical photography.We stopped to listen to the birds singing. Great tit, Blue tit, Chiff-chaff, Chaffinch, Wren were heard. A Tree Creeper was spotted and we inspected a newly placed Flycatcher nest box.Growing on fallen ash timber throughout the wood the fruiting bodies of the fungi Daldinia concentrica known as "burnt King Alfred cakes" were examined. Also at the base of a large Ash tree we found a good specimen of the bracket fungus Ganoderma applanatum, the Artist's fungus. Its underside providing a white surface that easily bruises to leave 'sketch marks'. (The funghi foray walk in the autumn in the woods will give quite a different view of the woods.).Butterflies were seen including Green Veined White and Speckled Wood.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A May Fayre and visit to Aller Woods

Contrasting weather made a challenging weekend.
Sat morning saw 100% cloud cover and a cold breeze and even a spot or two of rain.
Somerton May Fayre was held for the first time and our group ran a stall to publicise our local group. We had quite a lot of interest and people took away membership application forms and some copies of various publications. Some existing members also visited the stall and some will be coming to the May 19th meeting . All in all a worthwhile effort on behalf of wild life!

Sunday morning was quite different. After some mist overnight and a drop in temperature the day warmed up well and I joined a guided walk in bright sunshine in Beer and Aller Wood. This is a Trust reserve and the walk was led by Peter Baker chairman of the reserve management committee. It was my first visit to this reserve.As usual a good guide is able to point out many interesting features along the walk that would not otherwise catch your attention. In particular a number of orchids, blue bells, speckled wood and green veined white butterflies, some funghi and much else. The walk took one and a half hours. Apart from the wild life there are spectacular views out over the levels
Parking is limited and depending on numbers of cars arriving, can be a problem. If of course you can arrive on foot there is no problem.

Some earlier posts on a duplicate blog now deleted

Posted 3rd April 2006.
It seems a good idea to start a blog to record some of the activities and events experienced in the process of set up a local conservation group.The opportunity to undertake such a task has been created by the policy being followed by a wildlife organisation which carries out much of its work through locally based volunteers.This blog joins the progress of the task at an early stage a few weeks before holding a public meeting to launch the group on its way and to find more people to help run it.

Posted 18th April 2006.
Since my last post some real progress has been made in finding a treasurer for our new group.A reminder about our first public meeting in May has been sent to several contacts in the local press.Posters to advertise the meeting have been ordered and should be with us in a few days to be placed in village halls, post offices and similar.It was a real pleasure to visit a local RSPB reserve over the Easter break to see herons and egrets nesting and hopefully rearing this years youngsters.

Saturday, May 06, 2006



Quite a lot has happened since my first post on the subject of the Heart of the Levels group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust.
We have now got a Treasurer to look after the small amounts of money we expect to handle. This will include payments to speakers, money collected as donations and spent on tea and coffee at meetings.
We have today run a stall at the local May Fayre with the sole objective of getting our new group some public visability. Despite the cold and cloudy day quite a few people stopped for a chat and took an interest in our new group. We might even get some new members.
The next event is our inaugral public meeting on May 19th which we look forward to with some trepidation.