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Monday, January 31, 2011

Pyrchroa coccinea. Wildlife Trust photo competition

While DEFRA carries on consulting about the future of wildlife there are people who get on with managing their woodland  patch part of our lovely county  and taking photos of what they see around them.

This is what John and Valerie do and the photo below is  their  particularly interesting photo of a Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea). They're usually about 14 to 18 mm long and live in woodland edges. They normally fly between May to July and can be seen on flowers and old tree trunks. This photo won this years competition.organised by the Trust. My entries were unplaced! My excuses are several. They must use a better camera. They are very lucky. They have lots of spare time to sit waiting for such opportunities, Etc.
Photo by Valerie Godsmark. All rights reserved.
Here is the photograph:
( its even better if you  click a couple of times on the picture to magnify.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Climate change.

 Having posted my photos of frost pictures it might seem odd to make this next post.  But this subject is still with us and not going away and if the approach shown in the video is good one we should be doing our best to follow the advice offered.

I've just watched a YouTube video on this subject which is quite innovative in its approach to the arguments we have all seen for years now. Its not new and it has attracted a lot of sceptic comment as has the speaker Greg Craven ( see wikipedia ) but  I would be very interested to hear from anyone who watches it with your reaction to it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frost art , even more examples!

I must apologise for indulging my fascination with the patterns which appear on my car windows in certain conditions. There are many other important issues I probably should be Blogging about but these patterns are quite extraordinary and entirely as the appeared first thing in the morning of 19th Jan 2011

Any guesses about what the first photo shows?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Somerset Wildlife Trust, Area Group public meeting

Somerset Wildlife Trust  works closely with the Area Groups of volunteers who organise amongst other things, local  public meetings on natural history and conservation  subjects as well as carrying out  fund raising. The Groups provide an important feedback from all parts of the County. Hundreds of hours of volunteer labour in many forms is quite priceless. However, I'm sure I've said before that organising public meetings is always a fairly stressful activity. Mainly because we never know if anyone is going to turn up! So when the event is a new venture like last Thursday's quiz evening it was even more uncertain. But as it turned out it can be claimed a success but a number of aspects need reviewing and our organisation needs sharpening up.
What went well was that a sufficient number of members and some non members did come along, the questions went done well, we did meet up with around 20 people who don't usually come to talks and we collected enough money to cover costs. And of course most importantly everyone said they had enjoyed the evening including the committee.
With 10 sections of questions only two were natural history  ( because we didn't want to put people off) and they were challenging enough. We did intend taking a photo to prove it happened but forgot all about that in the rush and after a few glasses of wine.Should we do it again , well the committee will need to talk it over and we will see how everyone judged the event. I would say yes but with a number of important details which need to be more carefully organised.

 Identifying this butterfly was one of the questions , not too difficult but do you know its latin name?

 Photographed in our local meadow.

Some of the committee in action last year.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sustainable development.

 These are the grounds of Marston House near Frome the venue for the SWT AGM in 2008,
Chris Baines was the main speaker and gave a very stimulating presentation on " green infrastructure".

Following my rather haphazard policy of blogging anything at all connected with the natural environment, otherwise known as wildlife, I am showing details of a conference. Its being run by a consultancy which I came across when they were part of the Somerset Wildlife Trust AGM  two or three years ago. On that basis I think they are playing a useful part in helping to resolve 21 st century dilemmas. If you have been to one of their conferences I would like to hear from you. Such events cost money and probably only attract people working in the conservation world. Not me for instance, but it is good to see such work going on. As they say : "dialogue matters".

From:  dialogue matters ltd

Natural Connections - achieving more with less across rural & urban landscapes

Date: Thurs 17th March 2011
Location: SOAS, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG

Green Infrastructure <> Natural Linkages &
lt;> Landscape Scale Change

This conference is about natural or semi natural networks that are managed,
enhanced, created and designed to have multiple functions and deliver
multiple benefits for people and nature. 
This thinking is at the heart of planning “Green infrastructure” for
sustainable development in urban and rural areas, core to the best 
landscape scale projects,causing a rethink in river management and how best
to manage protected landscapes and other areas.   Benefits can include
improved public health and quality of life, adaptation to climate change,
economic regeneration and growth, functional wildlife links, 
flood control, recreation, and a host of other benefits.  This agenda
also looks set to be an important element of the Natural Environment
White Paper. But with fewer resources to achieve all this, it has never been
more relevant  for public bodies, NGO’s, other interests and communities,
to all work together to achieve more with less.
Please join us on the 17th March 2011 to find out more about:
§   the latest news on the White Paper and other drivers
§   key concepts and evidence
§   approaches and methods that work
§   resources to help
§   inspiring success stories

Draft conference programme and booking form:

dialogue matters ltd
ecological and environmental stakeholder dialogue
designing <> facilitating <> training
Tel:       +44(0) 1233 813875

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Frost art

As I got in my car this morning it was still heavily frosted over. The sun was gradually moving round the side of the house and starting to light up the windscreen. The photos show what I could see from the drivers seat!
Click on the picture to see a larger image.

A couple of minutes later and it had all gone leaving a few drops of water

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Book review for " Harmony" by HRH Prince Charles with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly

As I noted on Dec 27th I received a copy of this new book which I have started to read in my spare time so it may take me some time. In the meantime I am posting a review of the book which I think is a good introduction to its central theme of sustainability and encourages me to continue. I hope to add my own comments in due course:

Harmony is the title of a new book by the Prince of Wales, and also the condition that he believes is missing from much of the modern world.
The book is his attempt to set out his vision of the world as it was, as it is, and as it could be. His argument is that previous generations had a spiritual connection with the natural world around them. The scientific and industrial revolutions that have transformed Western societies over the past 400 years have caused us to lose that connection and replace it with a limited, mechanical view of the world. The result is a broken, fragmented culture that has lost it's way and is inflicting great harm on itself and on nature.
The book was written in conjunction with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly and the sheer volume of diverse subjects can be almost overwhelming at times. It covers thousands of years and many issues affecting people on every continent, many of which are likely to be familiar from the media controversies that have followed the Prince in recent times. From modern architecture to intensive farming practices, it makes a convincing case that this internal shift in the way we think has led to massive damage in the outside world. There is a look at philosophy from the Ancient Greeks to the Islamic world and to indigenous peoples in many countries. There are also many examples of projects around the world that are seeking to put right some of this damage and these are accompanied by many beautiful, colour photographs.
Often these examples are taken from projects that the Prince has either set up himself or supported in some way. While not wanting to take anything away from this valuable work it does appear that nothing good  happens without the Prince being involved in some way. The impression is that the book is at least partly an advertisement for the Prince that seems to be at odds with the spiritual message of freedom from the ego that he wishes to promote.
The book closes by suggesting that the changes required to cope with the damage being done to the natural world require a fundamental shift in the way we think about ourselves in relationship to the world around us. It suggests that only by living in harmony with the natural world can we save ourselves from catastrophe. It is unlikely to convince many of the Prince's critics but it would make a good investment for anyone looking for a whirlwind guide to 2000 years of philosophy and spiritual insights.

Paul German

Natural Environment White Paper comments. No 8 URGENT

Happy new year everyone!  Take your eye off the ball for a moment and new demands appear out of nowhere.

I was updating my contribution to our local community web site and that took me to the SWT website set up to deal with the recent DEFRA consultation. Having sent off my comments I relaxed and was  taken aback to see that we are now being invited to participate in " grassroots" discussion on the new paper.  Deadline 31st Jan.  I hope our local group can contribute some thoughts. If you want to join us let us know.

Here is an extract from the DEFRA web page taken today. Hope the links work.

Grass roots engagement

We want all interested parties to have a say in shaping the development of the White Paper.
To do this we encourage organisations who already have a relationship with local groups, societies, consumers or individuals, to engage them. For example, NGOs who have local groups or large memberships, civil society organisations who are in touch with local civic groups, and any businesses who wish to engage their consumers on White Paper issues.
Organisations such as these may wish to disseminate the discussion document electronically to encourage grass-roots responses back to their national organisation or direct to with the subject heading “Grass roots engagement”.
We have now published some resources to help your organisation facilitate grassroots engagement.  You will find attached a Guide for Facilitators, a Briefing Note for Participants, and a Feedback Form.  The deadline for returning the feedback forms from any grassroots engagement is 31 January 2011.


The White Paper on the natural environment will be a bold and ambitious statement outlining the government’s vision for the natural environment, backed up with practical action to deliver that ambition. It represents an opportunity to change the way we think about and manage the natural environment, seeing it as a system and valuing the services it gives us.
We have made significant progress in tackling environmental degradation in the past 20 years, significantly reducing levels of environmental pollution in our air and water and providing protection for our most precious wildlife sites.
However, changing and increasing pressures on our environment continue to cause degradation (which in turn has social and economic impacts) and managing these pressures is becoming more challenging.
A more systematic, strategic approach is needed that brings together a wider range of players, provides new options to tackle these challenges efficiently and effectively. This requires, and will encourage, a wider understanding of the value of the natural environment to society and the economy.
In order to achieve this, the process of developing the White Paper will be accompanied by a wide-ranging process of stakeholder engagement. This Big Society approach to policy development will allow individuals and communities to contribute innovative ideas on how their local environment can be protected and enhanced.

Panel of environmental experts
Richard Benyon has established a panel of environmental experts to advise him in the development of the White Paper.
Further information
If you require more information on the Natural Environment White Paper, please contact the Natural Environment White Paper team at:

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hoodia gordonii

Happy new year everyone!

To start the new year off, try this link to a  photograph of something not ever seen in Somerset. I'm pretty sure of that!