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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Starlings Hotline

Photograph by Lynne Newton.

The Starling Hotline is working this afternoon and the telephone number is: 07866 554142.
The information given reports that starlings are roosting at Shapwick Heath, Natural England site and at Ham Wall , RSPB site. Click here for Ham Wall site.
You can also email for information to RSPB. Address is:
Large flocks of starlings have started gathering in the Curry Rivel area and I'm sure many other places.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Before I start on my post, here is a photograph taken by John Bebbington and used in our poster for our next public meeting in Langport on 12th November. Anne Bebbington will be talking about the diversity of ways that flowers achieve pollination. This shows one of them.

I've got to chapter 6 in Richard Dawkins book , "Climbing Mount Improbable". This chapter spends a lot of time explaining his understanding of the evolution of the eye. Having explained in earlier chapters the meaning of Mount Improbable as a way of understanding the ways in which life may have developed and diversified he has gone on to discuss spiders webs and flight.
With an engineering background I find it fascinating and well explained. I can also see the problems which can arise in the minds of people for whom religious faith is important.
This post is prompted by a news item covering the British Councils international survey of opinions about how much people know about and understand about Darwins work.
You can contribute to their survey on line by going to their web site. Click here. It is quite a good idea I think to complete the survey and to have to think out your answers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


These photographs were taken by Lynne Newton.

(Visit to see her photographs at

They show the kind of images that can be seen on a good day and with a bit of luck. Being wild animals of course there are no guarantees for your visit. A clear sky is important for the best aerial display. I have just checked Lynne's web site and I should have done so first because she has published photographs taken at Westhay on 14th October2009 , so for the latest information go to her web site at this link Now read the post I had composed 10 minutes ago!!

Here's a quick update on the annual starling show.
Living a few miles from Westhay and Ham Wall reserves we always see the local starlings starting to fly over to their traditional roosting sites. We have already seen small groups in mid October.

The SWT usually provides information on the where and when they can be seen but there is nothing posted on their web site today. A search of their web site produces last years information including a Starling Hotline telephone number. The number has been run by the RSPB in the past but checking it today gives the message : "this hotline is closed ". So not much help there.

What I recommend is to call the normal office telephone numbers shown below and ask for the latest information.
It is a little early yet for a good display which I am told is at its best later in the winter after migrant birds have come to the UK from more northern latitudes. Maybe climate change or even random variations in temperature will delay the migration pattern.
Telephone numbers to try are:
RSPB HAM WALL Reserve: 01458 860494
Somerset Wildlife Trust main office: 01823 652400

Hedges and Verges --Somerset Wildlife Trust protest

I missed this news item shown on the SWT web site in September but as it's an important wildlife issue you might like to see it here. The full news report is on the SWT web site which you can see by clicking on the link below ( Somerset Wildlife Trust).

Somerset Wildlife Trust: "28 September 2009

Leave the roadsides and hedges alone!

This autumn, leave the roadsides and hedges alone! Today, Somerset Wildlife Trust is asking why Somerset Highways is damaging roadside wildlife?

Somerset Wildlife Trust members have reported that during September, Somerset Highways contractors have been over-flailing roadside verges, trees and hedgerows, damaging valuable wildlife habitat and leaving an unsightly mess.

Lisa Schneidau, SWT’s Leader of Living Landscapes, said: “This is the wrong time of year to cut hedges and roadside trees. It leaves no food for wildlife over the winter and damages wildlife habitat that is valuable for birds and small mammals"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Annual Report of the Heart of the Levels Area Group

Heart of the Levels Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Chairman’s annual report

This report covers:

• Some of the successful events of the last year.
• The work of the committee and its members.
• Looks forward over the next 12 months.

I am very much aware of the strong support our committee gives whilst helping to support our aims and objectives. Our committee has met 8 times since last September.

Our finances have benefited from careful attention by our Treasurer, for which we are grateful. At the end of Sept we had £749.09 in our local account.

We had gained two new committee members in 2008 but lost one this year due to other commitments. We would welcome at least two more members.

May 19th 2006 was our inaugural meeting but we started setting up our group at the end of 2005 and so we are now four years old.

The Wildlife Trust has settled down some what since the major upheavals in 2008 caused by economic issues and new staff have been settling in through out 2009.

The most significant event has been the start of a new Botany Group based in Langport. SWT members have signed up for a series of monthly classes in basic botany. Proposed and led by Dr Anne Bebbington with the help of John Bebbington it is hoped that it will give members a chance to improve their plant identification skills and possibly lead to an active group able to carry out botanical surveys.

We have organised or supported 13 events in our area. We have six events organised through to April 2010. We have a new programme card which we can make available.

We visited Aller Woods for a fungi foray and a spring woodland flower walk.

We have an email newsletter. Please let us know if you would like a copy.

We made two donations from our funds to the Trusts appeals for work at Westhay and to maintain bluebell woods in general. There are three new small appeals being promoted by the SWT which we will consider shortly.

In advance of the next election, should we hold a meeting to ask our prospective MP’s for their views on important topics. Would you like us to do that?

We are promoting our Arts and Wildlife Workshops in the next edition of the SWT News magazine and depending on the response we will either continue them on a regular basis or perhaps revert to an annual event.

SWT set up two new committees or Forums to enable staff to discuss with members some of the important areas of the Trusts work. 1) The Living Landscape Committee (LCC) this is a major part of the Trusts work load. 2) The Campaigns, Community and Education Committee (CCE) As Chair of our group I attend the CCE meetings about every 3 months or so.

The Trust has also given new support to the Private Nature Reserve Network (PNRN).
It was set up in1996 to help land owners who wanted to encourage wildlife and has around 200 members at present responsible for a total of 355 hectares in all parts of Somerset.

We supported the educational work of the Kingfisher Project which allowed around 250 primary school children from 8 schools, mainly in our area to get first hand experience of wildlife during visits to a wild flower meadow on a farm in Curry Rivel. We would like to see a Watch Group set up in this area.

I expect our activities for the next 12 months will include:

• Organise about 6 indoor meetings through the winter using venues in Curry Rivel , Langport and Somerton.
• Arrange some visits to reserves during the summer months.
• Encourage members to offer to help out with running our meetings and on reserves with practical tasks.
• Get better at communicating with members especially new members so as to make sure we are putting on talks and events which members find interesting.
• Encourage members to get to know our local reserves.
• Respond to wildlife related enquiries put to us by members and even if we don’t know the answer we will find someone who does! Use the Open University web site, iSpot.
• Support the Wildlife Trust in its work wherever we can with our limited resources through positive and constructive comment and fund raising.



Telephone: David German by email:
Web site: http://

Details of the SWT and other specialist groups are in the Trusts magazine.

Anyone wanting to read more about our activities will find a lot of information on the SWT web site and our Blog: http://

Climbing Mount Improbable

I'm finding the book by Richard Dawkins, which is the subject of this post, a most fascinating read. For some reason probably to do with the publicity which he attracts I have in the past always left his books on the shelf in the book shops. That is regrettable but better late than never. I have been spurred to do so after a visit to the local Odeon to see Creation, the film based on Darwin's work in the context of his family life. It is a very gripping and moving story very well acted and directed. It also brought to life much of what I new about Darwin's life and his theory of evolution and especially how it conflicted with the religious thinking of society and in particular his wife's beliefs. Its also very topical today.Very much by chance I happened to see a TV programme recently featuring Richard Dawkins himself on a journey to visit people who held views of a religious nature which could not accept the Darwin theory. That was an eye opener to me.
Meanwhile I find his book packed with details about wildlife explaining very clearly how he understands Darwinian evolution.
This is all coinciding with David Attenborough's new series on Wildlife with amazing photography.
So if I dont post as often as I should you'll know why I'm busy elsewhere.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Economic growth?

I hope the Wildlife Trust wont mind me copying this item from their own web site, CEO feature.
The article referenced is written on a subject you rarely see in the media and the implications are for instance in line with the idea that if the country was to reduce its growth in demand for electricity it would open up a whole new way of looking at CO2 reductions and the urgency for energy projects like the wind turbine parks and the Severn barrage. Of course pigs might fly!! Or is it just possible??

An interesting article from the Guardian here - politics apart, it sums up in the last 3 paras particularly the issues that need to be considered as our economy “recovers” and our politicians have their conferences....

Here's an extract from the article.

David Cameron is on record as saying that well being is as, if not more, important than growth in an economy. An increasing number of voices from Nobel economists down are pointing out the ultimate incompatibility of endless rich country economic growth with the preservation of a habitable planet. What's interesting for the Conservatives is that ditching growth as the single, overarching economic policy obsession could well revive ways of living that they find politically appealing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New nature website

As a former student with the Open University I receive the OU magazine called Sesame. The autumn edition has an article on a new web site set up by the OU.
The site is designed to enable anyone to get an identification of any form of wildlife which they have seen and wish to find out what it is. I know it works because having registered to use the service I uploaded a photograph of a moth found in my garden. Within a few days I had five people confirming its identity and as they all agreed I think that is pretty certain!
You can find the site by clicking here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Welcome to all who stop to browse this Blog.

Its always a pleasure to hear from fellow Bloggers and so welcome to "suetommer".
It has made me think that it might be worth copying into a post, some of the stats showing the recent visitors . The first surprise has been the way people from all over the world have logged on.
Secondly where it is recorded, it is interesting to see what search words were being used.
For instance the words. "Do bats fly in the daytime", keeps coming up and so perhaps I should do more research on the subject for another post.
I'll check the most recent visits and post a summary in a few days.