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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Aspects of nature from the Somerset wetlands

Its definitely raining. We've been longing for rain to keep the garden growing and to encourage the orchids in our meadow for some time now. We hope it will produce a visually exciting spectacle  for visitors. Today I'm spending  time uploading some photos and revising my  "to do" list. Yesterday with the help of the family offering advice and better still some with hard work, we were able to complete the construction of a new small pond in our "wild patch"  and fill it with rain water for the first time. Its about three metres by two and 35 cm deep at one end. We emptied three water butts in doing so but this morning the rain is quickly refilling them. A small ceremony has just taken place in the rain with photographs of us adding some pond weed.

The photo's I'm showing you below were taken during a visit on 29th May to the Avalon Marshes visitor centre in Somerset. The occasion was the Avalon 24hr nature watch. Amazingly 12 hardy watchers received a certificate to confirm that they had indeed watched through the night. Owls and bats and moths at night and otters and various activities during the day.
I took a friend from Buckinghamshire along to see what was going on and we managed to do a quick tour of the Centre itself and three adjacent nature reserves. I think he was impressed by the  peace and tranquility of walks on the reserves and the extent of the organisation going in to the extensive conservation work demonstrated.
The photos are just snaps really of items of interest ( to me at least)

This is an impressive set of wood carvings to symbolise the well known local feature of the Starling display each winter as they come in thousands to roost at night.

I thought this was an odd form of Tufted Vetch ( Vicia cracca) until I got closer and then realised the stem was covered in aphids (I assume) . They were all the same colour as the flowers which were missing. Is that because they were feeding on the plant? There were plenty of plants with flowers which are very attractive.
 Natural England were playing a big part in running the 24 hour event with tractor rides around the nearby reserve.

Goats-beard, sometimes called Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon  (Tragopogon pratensia ) is really impressive growing on the banks of a Rhyne.  ( Somerset name for a  drainage ditch)

Caterpillars in large numbers may not be everyones "cup of tea" but here they show the way they start their lives as moths or butterflies. Can someone tell me which and name them ?
Benches are placed around these very quiet reserves, rarely disturbed by planes or traffic noise. Sitting watching the fish coming to the surface now and again was a very impressive and satisfying experience for my guest and myself.

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