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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nature reserve visits

Close to Babcary Meadows is Perry Meade. The map on the SWT web site is very good but I think the grid reference for limited parking at the side of the lane should be 563303
Find the lane to Foddington from the B3153 and head south to the little bridge over the River Cary shown below.The river is a very small stream at this point. Park nearby and find the signpost to Lovington by the side of the lane. One field away is the reserve. If anybody has explored the reserve please share your observations with us.

I didnt have time to do more than find the reserve before going on to Green Down. There are two access points and the western end close to the main line railway bridge is shown on the photo below.

More details on the SWT web site. The reserve has been closed to all visitors from June 3rd till July 16th because of the prescence of the rare Large Blue butterfly.

See SWT web site for details:
Another site which deserves a longer visit!

On 23rd July I joined an organised walk in Breech Wood near High Ham for a very successful sighting of vaious species of butterflies including the quite special Silver-washed Fritillary and its even rarer form known as Valezina. My photo is not very good but can be recognised I think.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A global view.

Our new group is primarily interested in a small part of Somerset about 15 miles by 7 miles in size and contains an interesting mix of wildlife, geographical features recreational and employment opportunities.

However it is stimulating to see what other conservation groups are doing around the world. Here are some extracts from a study carried out by the New Zealand Government Department of Conservation.

The value of conservation
Background on "ecosystem services"
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils that sustain our pastures, forestry, orchards and crops are examples of environmental goods that benefit humans. Without them, life on Earth would be impossible.
These goods – air, water and soil – arise from interactions between living things, such as chemical reactions and mechanical processes. Ecosystem processes that benefit humans are called “ecosystem services”.

Ecosystem services are often taken for granted, because they are “free”, that is, not traded directly in markets – unlike fish, vegetables and timber.

The report identifies four areas of benefit to human society provided by ecosystem services.

Provisioning services.
Regulating services.
Supporting services.
Cultural services.

The examples given are similar to those enjoyed in Somerset!
In the reports conclusion it states:

The first steps in preventing further decline in ecosystems (and the services they provide) are to recognise that they have economic values, and to attempt to measure at least some of them. Armed with this information, the Department hopes to make better-informed conservation decisions, and increase public awareness of what is at stake in our national parks and, generally, on public conservation land.

Visit the DOC web site to see the full report.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nature Reserve visits

Photo of Babcary Meadows taken by Emma Daniel. The grass was cut recently in the meadows so all I could see yesterday was neatly rolled up bales of hay. I must get there in June next year.

For anybody not familiar with the location of the Trust Reserves, finding them and the access to them is sometimes a bit frustrating. At the moment it feels a bit like train spotting as I am making good progress in my task of visiting the 14 reserves which are within reasonable reach of our local area. All the Somerset Trust reserves can be found listed at:
I am visiting 14 of them: Aller & Beer Woods;Babcary Meadows;Boon's Copse;Dundon Beacon;Gilling Down;Fivehead Arable Fields; Great Breach Wood; New Hill & Tannager;Perry Meade;Prospect Field;South Hill; Thurbear Wood; Green Down and Catcott Heath.
This week my total has reached 10 but mostly with only enough time to check out general location and extent, access and parking.
Many of them are also SSSI's and so the English Nature web site is helpful as well. Their web site is:
The experience has made me realise that there are many issues to be considered before we, as a local group of enthusiastic amateurs, can hope to run successful walks and visits to these reserves. Joining an escorted visit led by a reserve manager is probably the best option in the short term.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reserve visit and group organization.

At last I managed to find it ! Grid references can be a bit confusing.
The photos show the access to Fivehead Arable Fields. There is limited parking at the entrance to the fields. Also shown is a view of the flowers and plants which fill the whole area.

Details of the reserve on the SWT web site at:

Meanwhile behind the scenes there are lots of things to think about and we need the committee to meet to get a consensus of opinion.
We hope to meet on Thursday 20th July and on the agenda will be:

Report on Somerton Festival Group representation.
Support for our meetings in Sept, Oct and Nov.
Trust open day in the Bishop's Palace Gardens at Wells Cathedral and our involvement on Sept 24th.
Summer visits to reserves for familiarization. 3 down and 12 to go.
Next Somerset WildlifeTrust magazine and our contribution. Issue date August.
Our group web site ( in the form of this Blog). How to get others to join in and comment.

Organization of contacts with local members

As a general comment we are still looking for more helpers either on the committee or to join in organisation of specific events.

Offers by E.mail to :

Friday, July 14, 2006

Plant identification

These photos were taken last Monday on the Dundon Beacon Reserve. On the south facing side of the mound.
I've looked in various books but cant find them so can anybody help please. There were other specimens in the area.

E-mail to :

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Moth identification

Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group

It seems the moth shown last post is a Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) according to a member. Checking on the internet for a site to confirm the ident I found what appears to be a good site and you may like to try it. Here is the web address: It shows a clear photograph very close to the one shown.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Blog update. E-mail contact: , for comments, photos, and information on wildlife activities

Trying a simpler format for the blog to hopefully
show the content clearer and a contact e-mail for comments.

Adding a couple of "ordinary" photos of an ordinary bug and a moth. The bug was on an allium flower head in the garden and the moth was hiding in a hanging basket until I watered it! Can anyone tell me what species they are? A member recently reminded me that as a group we must be just as interested in the ordinary as in the rare and exotic.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dragonfly identification

Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group

A member has emailed me to tell me that my dragonfly shown above and in the photo in my last post is:

"a female Broadbodied Chaser (Libellula depressa). It is one of the earliest species to emerge (normally early May) and numbers tail off through July and August.
L. depressa is mainly found by small ponds and is often the first species to colonise a newly created water body. The males have a blue abdomen when mature, but when young look like this female."

Its a prompt that I will have to start planning my next garden project- a pond!

Its very encouraging that the blog provides an ideal way for us all to share our wildlife knowledge and experiences.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Recent photos and improvements to the blog

Here are two photos taken in the last two days.
Into our conservatory this monster flew, clung to the blind long enough for me to photograph it through the glass from the outside and then was good enough to take the open door to freedom. Its wing span was at least 7 cm and its body was about 4 or 5. Can anyone identify it please? The other was in an unimproved grass meadow near Curry Rivel.

This looks like half a dozen Burnet moths on a single Field Scabious.

Making this blog as easy to use as possible is essential if it is to serve its purpose of helping us develop contacts with our local members.
Today I've added a counter which appears right at the start before the first post. I.E. at the bottom of the blog.
The Trust has added a reference to the blog on its main web site which is good publicity for our group.
I've added my email address so that readers can more easily comment or contribute by email including photo's. Its shown in my profile and I hope on the web page itself. I cant always tell if I've made the change successfully for a day or so!
I've been finding out a bit more about how to register as a user of the blog which will help if anyone wants assistance.In the next post we can now add our programme of events up to Xmas.