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Monday, June 29, 2009

Parish and Town Councils

For this post which is I think the 200th post since I started this blog I thought I would follow up an idea which seems important to me and for the Wildlife conservation movement as a whole.
I am encouraged by the outspoken statement by the Somerset Wildlife Trust questioning the intentions of the new County Council following the change of political control. Also I am motivated by my long running attempt to persuade my local parish council to adopt a meadow as a nature reserve. Finally I am inspired by reading a book called " How to be Wild" by Simon Barnes.
The idea is that we as a local group of the SWT should make contact with the 18 parishes and two Town Councils in our area and ask them to answer questions about their activities concerning the environment. A few will be able to point to actions taken or supported.Many will find it hard to show much hard evidence. Put like this it doesn't sound very dramatic. However the point is that these authorities are the front line of governmental action on the environment and are pretty much allowed to do what they like with local matters such as setting up nature reserves or deciding on grass cutting of verges and grassy open areas. They can therefor do a great deal of damage or can do a great service to local environmental well being.

All I need to do is persuade our committee and get someone to help with telephone calls and letter writing and we can get started!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dr Anne Bebbington

DrAnne Bebbington will be giving our November talk for our HLG.
To illustrate the background to the talk I found this reference on a web site which demonstrates the depth of knowledge Dr Anne brings to her subject:

Click on this link.

My previous post gives background on John Bebbington who will also be involved in the Nov talk.

Wildlife photography in Somerset, John Bebbington

This is my photo of John as he discovered a Lappet moth caterpillar on a one year old hedge in a local meadow.
Below are some notes taken from the "Natural Photographers Portfolio" web site.
link here


Nature Photographers' Portfolio

John Bebbington FRPS

John developed an interest in insects at a very early age – his first memorable encounter was with a queen Buff-tailed bumblebee at the age of 2! The sting made a lasting impression.

He bought his first SLR – a Spotmatic 1 – in the mid 1960s and natural history photography became a passion, especially after he joined the Field Studies Council as a tutor in North Wales and wanted to back up field teaching with illustrated talks. His photographic technique was given a real boost in the early 1970s when he met Michael Proctor who persuaded him to join the RPS Nature Group and submit images for Associateship.

In 1978 John took over as Head of Centre at the FSC’s Juniper Hall Field Centre, near Dorking in Surrey, where he remained until retirement in 2004. He began teaching natural history photography courses (close-up and macro in particular) in 1979 and continues to do so.

In 1991 he gained his FRPS with a slide panel entitled ‘Protective colouration in European Lepidoptera’ and has served twice on the RPS A&F panel in the Nature Category. He is currently a Committee member of the RPS Nature Group.

His main photographic interests are in close-up and macro work with invertebrates and plants and in photomicrography, using both film and digital imaging. He is also secretary of the Somerset Moth Group and works as an educational and photographic consultant.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Local commitmment to wildlife conservation

The SWT has just published this note following the recent County Council elections which produced a change in political control of the Council. My previous post reported on the national policy of the Conservative Party for reference.
Please go to the SWT web site for the complete statement.

SWT throws down the environmental challenge to Somerset County Council

Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) today threw down a challenge to the new Conservative-led Somerset County Council to make a strong commitment to Somerset’s environment.

Simon Nash, SWT’s chief executive, said: "Since the Conservatives won control of Somerset County Council a few weeks ago, we have been hearing worrying reports of a lack of commitment to Somerset’s environment and a reduction in resources allocated to this essential area. One, from a source close to the Council, was that the new Somerset County Council "doesn’t even have environment on its radar".

"If this is true, it simply isn’t good enough. Somerset enjoys a beautiful and wildlife-rich countryside, but it is under threat from all sides, including increased development, intensive land management and climate change.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

County Council and the environment

The Somerset Wildlife Trust has challenged our new Somerset County Council to live up to the policies published by the Conservative Party statements on its intentions regarding the environment if it gets elected to form a new government. Below is what it says it will do nationally.

How will it act locally?



A Conservative Government will make Britain greener by tackling climate change and enhancing our environment.

We believe quality of life and environmental issues must be at the heart of politics – which is why we have pledged to improve Britain's environment by reversing the decline in our biodiversity, improving urban green spaces, providing incentives to recycle and working towards zero waste.

Britain is struggling to cope with growing mountains of waste. Ending our reliance on landfill is not just a question of raising recycling targets and finding better ways of coping with waste from discarded products; it is about changing our mindset. We need to act long before a product becomes waste in the first place - producers should be considering the waste implications when a product is still on the drawing board.

A Conservative Government will therefore introduce a Responsibility Deal on waste - a voluntary arrangement among producers to cut back on the production of waste and improve its disposal. In addition, we will encourage councils to adopt a scheme which gives incentives to households that recycle.

There is also an urgent and growing need to improve the protection of our marine environment, as many of our fish stocks have been over-exploited. We have called for legislation to conserve our marine habitats and are working to ensure the Marine and Coastal Access Bill is strengthened before it becomes law. We will also work to reform the Common Fisheries Policy to achieve a fair deal for our fishermen and seek a pilot scheme, supported by the European Commission, to help end the wasteful practice of fish discarding.

Because climate change adaption must go hand in hand with mitigation measures, we are committed to increasing Britain’s ability to cope with extreme weather conditions, for example by improving our flood prevention measures.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Art and Wildlife workshop. Preview

Our Art and Wildlife Workshop this year takes place on July 4th and 18th.

Art Project 2008. Having taken this photo I tried my hand at sitting on edge of the river and sketching. My art work was not photographed so can't be shown, thankfully. However the experience was quite surprisingly satisfying. I may try my hand at sketching again at this years workshop in July.

The photograph below is of a landscape painting by an accomplished artist which showed how a similar landscape could be interpreted.

All forms of artistic interpretation will be encouraged with guidance from Jenny Graham.

Local Group news

Somerset Wildlife Trust. Local Group News.

June 2009

Our wildlife group was busy in May with a cider apple orchard walk including a ploughman’s lunch and a glass of cider. The orchard has its own resident deer, ponds, beehives and birdlife. If you were not in the 40 or so visitors this year look out for next summer’s event.

In May, 72 members of the Private Nature Reserve Network which is run by the Trust attended a one day workshop in Drayton village hall to learn about the wildlife value of ponds. An excellent lunch was provided by Angela Davidge, a local resident. We ended with an escorted visit to John Leach’s pond at Muchelney to see dragonflies and much else.

Early in June we gave a talk to the Somerton Arthritis Care group to explain the work of the Wildlife Trust and our local group. Ease of access to reserves was highlighted as important.

The 9th June was the start of the Kingfisher Project which we support. Eight local schools visit a local field, courtesy of Henry and Richard Lang. Each school has a 2 hr session during the four day project. Our local primary school sent the first group of 30 children to explore the hedges and wildflower meadow. Experts were there to lead a search for bugs, beetles, spiders and to talk about owls, small mammals, bees, wildflowers and grasses. Each School creates a project display for later judging.

For the second year we are running our Art and Wildlife workshops on July 4th and July 18th. Jenny Graham, a well known Somerset artist will help us look at the countryside and wildlife through artist’s eyes. Our challenge is to capture our own artistic interpretations in drawing, photography, creative writing or some other way. Perhaps this year someone will compose music! By the time you read this there may still be a chance to join us.

For information email me.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


For some time now my interest in plants through gardening, visiting gardens and my involvement in the wildlife of Somerset has made me realise my knowledge of botany is very basic and limited. To get more out of visits to nature reserves and even walks in country lanes I need to spend time learning in a structured way rather than just looking up in wild flower books to try to identify flowers I have seen.
Now I have a great opportunity to do just that.
Last night we held the first informal meeting of what we will probably call the Langport Botany Group. Starting in September we plan a series of monthly study group session to start the task of understanding the physical structure of plants with the emphasis on wild flowers found in this area. An ability to identify the many species which we are fortunate to find all around us is one of our aims.
The group will need to be limited to around a dozen to be manageable for practical work on plant specimens and for field work. If the initiative prospers no doubt it will continue on future years. That is certainly our hope so that more people can benefit.
I hope to give the group coverage through this blog and else where and include photographs showing our activities.

If you are interested in the subject of botany and what it covers, especially in the context of wild flowers you might find the Natural History Museum a good reference point
Here are is a web site link related to this post. Click here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Back from holiday

Dont forget that by clicking on the photos you should be able to make them larger.

Three weeks is a long time in the wildlife world. We came back to the UK last Thursday after a long awaited holiday, had two days to cope with being back in normality and prepare for Sunday.
The day was devoted to a Workshop event for the Somerset Private Nature Reserve Network. The subject was the importance of ponds, their value for wildlife and how to manage them. A series of speakers gave short introductions to related topics finishing with a presentation by "Pond Conservation". Just for now I'll include a couple of photos to give a flavour of the highlight for us all on a very warm and sunny afternoon. A visit to a local pond which we were not disappointed to find full of dragonflies, damselflies and much else. More detail later!