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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New year message

Greetings to all readers and best wishes for 2010.

Whilst enjoying a very pleasant social evening yesterday I met someone who is interested in starting their own Blog. Not on the same subject as thisone but never the less it was quite a challenge to have to explain how and why I run my own. I have always hoped that the subjects I post on speak for themselves but that is probably a false assumption. There are many excellent blogs and I'm always impressed by the world wide contacts a blog generates and by the range of subjects covered. But to really catch visitors interest is not easy and I feel I must do better. I wonder if colour works!!!
So I hope I haven't put off a potentially very good new blog.
I did gain from our discussion a renewed enthusiasm for seeking to improve my writing and presentation especially as wildlife conservation is such a huge subject of great importance to everyone.

I must just mention our next public meeting on Owls on Jan 14th and full details are on our Diary of events. Link here.

I'm also adding another U Tube video clip showing a group of owls as I have never seen them before.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


These photos from Kids Zone web site, link here.

The internet provides an amazing ability to link subjects together. Here is how I recently
found myself reading about bats!

A few days ago I found a bright yellow flower, size about 10 or 15 mm growing on a grass trail round a local meadow. I tried to remember enough details about its size, petals, stamens and leaf arrangement to identify it at home with books such as Wild Flowers by Blamey and Keeble Martin. Bearing in mind that it is now mid Dec I decided that it must be either the Creeping or the Spring Cinquefoil. I asked a friend for an opinion and went back to check. Naturally the flower had disappeared and I had little luck trying to pin down where I had seen it. There were no other specimens around either.
I've been persuaded that it is the Creeping form and as a final check I searched the web for any further guidance.

I came across a new web site run by Natural England called, "Gardening with Wildlife in Mind" .

Their web site says: "Natural England's Gardening with wildlife in mind aims to help people choose plants likely to attract wildlife. It also shows what eats what in the garden." It seems to be a joint venture with a private company called, " The Plant Press", publishers of books and CD's on gardening.
So with the help of Plant Press you can search for a range of wild animals and find out what they eat and other data. This is where I found my way to Bats!

I tried it out with bats and that is the point of this post, here is an extract from the site. Read more at this link.

I find it interesting to read that:

The pipistrelle bat was thought to be a single species until around 1998, when it was found that there are two genetically distinct species, the larger common pipistrelle and the smaller Pipistrellus pymaeus or 'soprano pipistrelle', so-called because its echolocation call is at a frequency of 55kHz as opposed to the common pipistrelle, which echo locates at 45kHz. New research into these two species is showing that they also have different preferences for food and habitat. The 55kHz bat prefers wetland and lives up to its German common name of 'midge bat'.

In future I must remember to talk about 45 or 55kHz bats which sounds very much more interesting!

I had to follow up this article by clicking on the link to the Bat Conservation Trust which I recall visiting some time ago before posting an item on bats. This time their web site , as usual gives a lot about bats but here is an extract on bats and biodiversity, the latter subject I had posted about recently.
Read more at this link:

Protecting our Biodiversity

The United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 committed member states to conserve their biological diversity and set a global target 'to achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss'. In Europe however the goal is that 'biodiversity decline should be halted with the aim of reaching the objective by 2010' known as the Countdown 2010 initiative. We are now less than 600 days away from the end of 2010 and there is still a lot of work to do.

Throughout the UK, BCT is working to maintain our bat biodiversity. We have 17 species of bat and we wish to see the populations of all these conserved and, where possible, enhanced.

All of our bats and their roosts are protected by law. Legislation is one way of maintaining bat biodiversity and shows that the Government thinks that conservation of bats is important.

BCT's Bat Biodiversity Project delivers a whole range of actions in conjunction with the Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations, volunteer bat workers, other environmental charities, sectors of trade and industry and government departments to help ensure that bat biodiversity is maintained. Further details of our work on policy and lobbying can be found on the consultation and lobbying pages.

The work of the Biodiversity Officer is supported by Natural England and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

A final interest in all this is that I have been trying to persuade our Group to purchase a bat detector for some time now. I might just have to buy one myself!
Out of this bit of research several outcomes might be generated:
  • We organise another meeting about Bats or a bat walk to support the Countdown 2010 event.
  • We write to all our local authorities : parish and town councils, to ask about their interest in the environment and what they are doing about their responsibilities in respect of biodiversity etc.
  • We continue to promote wildlife gardening.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nature Reserve. Fivehead Arable Fields.

These two photos, which I took in 2006 show a general view of the Trusts nature reserve known as Fivehead Arable Fields. They were the subject of a recent appeal for funds. I 'm pleased to post a copy of a news release from SWT because its a reserve in our Area and our committee contributed to the appeal. Its very satisfying to see such a good result and its good for our Group too. Please read the press release below.

08 December 2009

The Trust saves rare flowers near Taunton

One of the most significant collections of nationally rare cornfield flowers will continue to bloom in Somerset thanks to SITA Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust members.

Fivehead Arable Fields is home to rare and beautiful flowers coating an area of more than 10 football pitches. It is because these rare flowers coat the entire 10 hectare site, rather than just at the field edges which is more typical, that Fivehead Arable Fields is unique and designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI.)

The project to protect the fields and increase the amount of rare flowers is supported by a £10,908 grant from SITA Trust and an appeal to the Trust’s members saw donations pour in.

Somerset Wildlife Trust Reserve Manager Emma Daniel said: "The SITA Trust grant and donations from our members means we can secure the future of this rare habitat to preserve the rich variety of plants and animals that thrive there.”

Rachael Fickweiler, Regional Fund Manager for SITA Trust said: “We were delighted to offer this funding to enable Somerset Wildlife Trust to make a real difference to this amazing habitat and are very happy to hear that our donation helped kick start the Trust’s funding campaign.”

Fivehead Fields are extremely vulnerable and home to nationally scarce flowers including broad-leaved spurge, spreading hedge-parsley and slender tare. Skylarks, grey partridge, the great green bush-cricket and brown hare are amongst the animals that call this rare habitat home and it is hoped barn owls may also be attracted back.

The money given by SITA Trust and donated by members will enable Somerset Wildlife Trust to:

  • Instigate a two-year cultivation regime to extend the range of the rare cornfield flowers.
  • Carry out detailed survey and monitoring to ensure that the management regime is achieving the right results.
  • Install an interpretation panel for visitors to raise awareness of the value of the rare habitat.
  • Improve site security through the installation of a field gate.

Meg Tyler, Volunteer Reserve Manager for Fivehead Arable Fields, said: "The rare flowers at Fivehead are extremely vulnerable and the money will help us to protect them and encourage wildlife to the fields.”

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Owls, continued

Another email from a friend has brought me a photo of an owl flying new the village of Aller in Somerset. This was just a chance sighting during a walk with a camera handy.
To see the owl more clearly click on the photo to enlarge.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Owls and Carry Akroyd landscape and wildlife paintings

By way of a change here is a link to a remarkable artist. Click here. Thanks to Carry Akroyd here is the picture. I hope you like it as much as I do.

I came across her work whilst browsing for a birthday card in a local shop. The cover was very striking and as usual with art I find it hard to say why exactly because huge numbers of artist do landscapes and many of them are very good but some just jump out at you.
You should be able to find the picture on her web site, its called "Bright Night" and its a screen print and many others.
I bought the card and found her web address and for me it is well worth visiting.
As you can see from the picture above there was a particular feature in the painting and that was the OWL in flight. As you will know Owls are very much on my mind right now as we get nearer to our next public meeting on Jan 14th on this subject.
We are just getting our posters printed and must start in earnest to promote the event which I am sure will be one of our best.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Biodiversity in Somerset

I've just received my copy of the newsletter from the Somerset Biodiversity Partnership. Its an interesting read. Apart from the content, with news about the SBP itself, there is information about the people involved in the implementation of the new set of Biodiversity Action Plans (usually referred to as BAP's). The Wildlife Trust has a big part to play in all this as it forms the essential ingredient under pinning all our work and interests. It seems clear to me that if biodiversity is destroyed or allowed to decline then that is the same thing as allowing wildlife to wither and die. That is something that members and volunteers with the Trust must aim to prevent.
The newsletter explains that there is an overarching strategy called Wild Somerset under which has been collected a large number of county wide and district level habitat and species action plans.
They range from county plans for hedgerows and hedge row trees to roadside verges and green lanes to local plans for native wild flowers of arable land.

All these it says can be accessed through the County Council web site. However I found the web address given in the newsletter appears to be incorrect so try this Link here which should show you the South Somerset District Plan. Otherwise go to the County Council web site and search for biodiversity.

A very impressive list of organisations have been working to produce these BAP,s including Exmoor National Park, Wessex Water, RSPB, the Drainage Boards, and of course the Wildlife Trusts. Twenty two in total.

In conclusion it seems that these set of documents will become the focus for the work of all conservation in Somerset. I hope through our Group we can make use of the BAP's t0 learn a great deal about wildlife in our County