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Sunday, January 25, 2009


According to the counter on this blog most visitors recently have been searching for info on the starling roosting display. I also get telephone calls usually from members of the Wildlife Trust or via the Trusts web site.

All these photographs are provided by Lynne Newton,

At present all I can do is to say that starlings continue to fly over our house on route to the Westhay area and we also see them return in the morning, regular as clockwork. They fly in groups of various sizes , perhaps a dozen and sometimes hundreds. But in the last few days two pairs of starlings have started visiting our roof space. Two pairs have been nesting under the eves for some years now. Last year we noticed they were pulling out lumps of loft insulation which we find in the garden and they have just started again this week. I'm not sure whether they stay here at night but it is an interesting observation. I must try to check it further.

Photographs of the display can be seen here: Lynne Newton,

The Somerset Wildlife Trust has a page with advice about the occurrence. Link here.

The RSPB has a telephone hotline number at 07866 554142.

Lyn Newtons photos are quite remarkable and should show you just how dramatic the sight can be.

You need to go on a fine day and there is no guarantee that these wild birds will perform every time.
Its the same with wildlife photography, you need a lot of patience and I wish you luck.

Lynne Newton

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Butterflies and Moths. Public meeting. The use of colour in butterflies and moths

On Thursday 22nd January we have our first public meeting of 2009.
John Bebbington, Secretary of the Somerset Moth Group will be presenting a talk on how butterflies and moths use colour to give themselves protection from predators.John will be illustrating his talk with some of his wonderful photographs.
Despite the flooding in December we will be meeting in the Curry Rivel Primary School hall at 7 pm.
The school is in School Lane in the centre of Curry Rivel with car parking near by.

As a result of this very successful event with wonderful photos ( as you would expect from a Member of the Royal Photographic Society) and an appreciative audience, I can give two links to sites you can see even more of Johns photographic work in wildlife.
Nature Photographers Portfolio. Link here.
Somerset Moth Group. Link here.

The display of these photos on a large screen together with a very informative talk was even more impressive than just viewing the pictures you will see at the links given.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


"NERC" is the "Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006"
This Act may well be useful in raising an awareness amongst Councillors about the importance of biodiversity.

Notes on the working of this act were produced by BBOWT.

Guidance Note 13 (GN13) - Parish Councils and Parish Plans

As of October 2006, Parish Councils have a new duty to conserve biodiversity under
Section 40(1) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (the NERC
Act). This should not be an onerous duty, but an opportunity to protect and enhance the wildlife assets within the Parish. Parish Councils can now spend money on biodiversity, managing their land for the benefit of biodiversity or enacting bylaws to protect it.

Parish Councils should consider biodiversity in their responses to planning applications and should set out how they wish to conserve and enhance the wildlife resource of the parish in their Parish Plan. BBOWT has produced some more detailed guidance on how Parish Councils can fulfill their responsibilities under the NERC Act. The document is available electronically from the Trust’s Wildlife Information Service (

"BBOWT" is the Berks, Bucks and Oxford Wildlife Trust

Many Parishes don't have a Plan!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wildflower meadow campaign

My first post in 2009 is a few extracts from a letter I have written to my local Council which tries to give good reasons for keeping a 4 acre field as a local nature reserve rather than use it for building tennis courts, bowls club or just more football pitches.

"20 th December 2008

Dear Councillor,

Nature Reserve and Wildflower Meadow,

As the Council expects to be discussing the future of the old field at its meeting in January, may we remind you of the benefits of adopting the field as a nature reserve and wildflower meadow.

( local school children on a field visit on an adjoining farm during the Kingfisher Project)

A new path winds its way round all sides of the field providing a well cut, firm and reasonably level path. The path is intended to provide access for everyone including those with disabilities, so that all can appreciate the natural beauty of the meadow. It can also be used as a fitness trail. (Visitor numbers are rising steadily.)

( Oct 2008 view of walking / jogging trail round field)

Leading off the main trail will be smaller paths cut into the centre of the field, and from April through to July and usually into August you will be able to get close to both Pyramidal and Bee Orchids.

( Bee Orchid)

You will see many fine examples of the interesting and attractive Broomrape, looking similar to the orchids, and which grows and flowers as a parasitic plant, usually on the roots of clover.


Numerous butterflies of a dozen or so species will be seen all over the field and birds will be attracted by the trees. At the eastern end is a mature blackthorn hedge, which in the spring looks magnificent in a total covering of blossom, later to become sloes. This bushy hedge is a haven for birds and other wildlife including the scarce Brown Hairstreak butterfly whose eggs can be seen during the winter by close inspection of the young hedge growth. In the spring there are large clumps of cowslips to admire. The path loops round so that you can enjoy the full spread of the blackthorn in bloom and then turns along the southern side.

(massed white blossom on blackthorne)

Yellow Rattle has been introduced in the field, which has the effect of reducing the growth of the grasses and this in turn helps the more delicate wildflowers. However the grasses are home for the lovely Marbled White butterfly which in a good year can be seen in great numbers.

If you stop to look carefully at the grasses you will find several species of grasshopper, the very impressive Great Green Bush Cricket and no doubt many other insects and moths. There are small mammals in and around the edges of the field and from time to time larger birds can be seen such as Sparrow Hawks, Kestrels and Buzzards and even optimistic Herons. A survey of birds in the field taken in 2007 showed a total of 21 species which we anticipate will increase in coming years. Along the southern boundary, in the adjoining field, a new hedge with seven native hedging plants was created in 2007 and has taken well in its first year. This hedge will begin to flower and produce berries even during its second year and this will be an attractive addition to the landscape and a major boost to the bird population in particular. The hedge plant list is: Blackthorn, Quickthorn, Field Maple, Spindle, Wayfaring Tree, Wild Privet and Dogwood. The next few years will see the trees and new hedge adding to the attractiveness of the meadow and increasing populations of wildlife and wildflowers. Educational visits will be encouraged for all ages to experience this fine example of a rapidly vanishing feature of Somerset life."

Except where stated the photographs have all been taken on the field at various times.