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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Somerset Lichen Project

SsJsSomerset Lichen Project

Spent the day on a workshop to find out something about Lichens as I have been photographing them in my garden. Recommend all to get involved in this project.  Where ever you live in the UK the Natural History Museum will be pleased to get records from you.
See my latest Tweet.   Here;     levelswildlife
Press notice:

SERC are currently organising the Somerset Lichen Project in partnership with the British Lichen Society.
Lichens are indicators of air quality and they can be found everywhere, in a variety of habitats.
Lichen species range between Nitrogen-sensitive or Nitrogen-intolerant species, to Nitrogen-loving species which flourish in polluted environments and Nitrogen- Intermediate species which can be found in both environments. Thus, depending on the diversity and abundance of the lichen species present at a given location air quality and consequently habitat quality can be determined.
With this project we aim to:
- Promote the significance of the presence of Lichens in Somerset.
- Get more people involved in lichen identification and recording across the County of Somerset.
- Collect up-to-date lichen records in Somerset with the invaluable help of volunteer recorders.
- Use the records collected to determine air quality within Somerset.
- Pass specialist identification skills to as many people as possible and to younger generations.
- Get more people involved with the local Somerset Lichen Group and the British Lichen Society.
- Contribute our results to the National OPAL Air Survey (
- Promote lichen ‘spotting’ and recording to the wider public across Somerset, engaging local communities.
- Develop a good framework for collecting lichen records for the years to come to build up a whole picture for the County of Somerset.

If you are interested to get involved with the project please e-mail or ring 01823 652424 / 01823 664450.
Your help as a volunteer recorder will be vital for making this project a success.
Please join us at one of the Free Basic Lichen Identification Training Workshops on:
Saturday 17th March 2012 at SWT Callow Rock Offices, Cheddar. Times: 10.00 am to 16.00 pm
Sunday 18th March 2012 at Fyne Court, Quantocks. Times: 10.00 am to 16.00 pm
Advanced Lichen Identification Training Workshop:
Sunday 25th March 2012 at Nettlecombe Court, Exmoor. Times: 10.00 am to 16.00 pm
Booking for the workshops is essential. Please book on or ring 01823 652424 / 01823 664450. Details can be also found here.
The basic workshops will include an introduction to lichens and their ecology and how to collect and identify lichen specimens. The workshops will include an outdoor session in the afternoon.
At each of the basic training workshops attendees will be provided with a survey pack including a hand lens and survey forms to carry out lichen recording on their own convenience, visiting as many locations as they like.
The basic workshops are open to all and at the end of each workshop attendees will have the essential skills to carry out lichen recording.
People who attended one of the basic workshops are welcome to attend, if they like, also the advanced workshop at Nettlecombe Court, where we will extend our knowledge in using a microscope to observe lichen features in further detail.
Apart from the workshops a publicly open event (BioBlitz) is currently being organised and further details will be posted out soon.
SERC will collect all lichen records and verify them in collaboration with the British Lichen Society. A microscope and a comprehensive lichen identification book will be located at the SERC office in Wellington for volunteers to use, if they wish to.
The project is supported by Natural England.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A photo a day - March.

Due to time pressures I'm going to collect my photos and post them on a monthly basis still mainly in and around my own garden and occasionally our close by 4 acre nature reserve wild flower meadow.
So this post will now be covering all of March.

March turned a bit warmer. Parts of the country facing water shortages.

This  shrub covered in red berries all winter now being stripped. March 1

An unidentified small flower ( so far )  March 2

Crambe cordifloria. New growth showing. ( Compare Jan 7th)    March 3 

I've signed up for a Lichen identification workshop ( for beginners ) this weekend. I may be able to tell you more about this one soon. March 4

That goes for this specimen shown on a sliver of bark taken from a dead branch in the garden so I could see it under a microscope. See below. March 5

This is not a very good photo but helps a little in trying to see the detail of the structure of the vegetation. I'm trying to find an adaptor to fit on the microscope to make photography easier. March 6

Winged bark of young Elm. March 7th 

Blackthorn in flower in new hedge.  March 8

Cowslip in our wild garden March 9

Growing flower bud March 10

Lichen March 11

Willow buds 12

 Catkins March 13

Rain Water drops resting on the leaves of flowers March 14

Shrub in flower  March 15

 Spider March 16

 Lichen March 17

Botany Group identificaion practice! March 18

Fungi March 19

Brown Hairstreak Butterfly eggs on young Blackthorn March 20

Lichen hunting. March 21

 Lessor Celendine March 22

Flower buds on Red Campion  March 23

New leaves on Silver Birch Maqrch 24

Rapid growth onb Cranbe March 25

Broom March 26

Pear Tree Blossom  March 27

Apple Tree Blossom March 28

Flowering shrub March 29

Bee Fly ( dead!) March 30

Bumble Bee  ( alive ) on a Dandelion  March 31

Botany Study Group. Plant survey, field training.

Heart of the Levels Local Area Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust. March 2012

Report on our Botany Study Group field field work visit to Batty's Piece, Curry Rivel, March 6th 2012.

Members were given an introduction to vegetation identification techniques. In other words , how to identify in the absence of flowers. Identification is the key to any surveying technique and is most difficult when plants are not in flower.

Batty's Piece is a 4 acre private nature reserve off Holdens Way owned by a group of local residents and maintained as an unimproved grassland meadow.

With fine weather it was ideal for this introductory session. The field was purchased in 2005 and professionally surveyed soon after. Approximately 120 different flowering and grass plants have been recorded. It was declared a Local Wildlife Site in 2007. A County Council Grant was obtained in 2008 for planting a new 200m hedge on the north side of the field. The planting was carried out by members of the Syndicate.

Members of the Group were introduced to a range of surveying techniques commonly used by amateur and professional surveyors. Anne and John Bebbington led the session.

Members initially spent 10 minutes or so to looking closely at the two areas selected for our field work and then all were given a brief description of the general principles of surveying and the methods to be used on this visit.

Members worked in pairs and were tasked with surveying two 7 metre square plots, at widely separated parts of the field which appeared to differ in their vegetation. Pairs first carried out a subjective assessment of 16 selected species in each of the two areas using a modification of the Braun-Blanquet scale (ACFOR).

A total of 12,  25 x25 cm square metal quadrats were then placed at 12 random co-ordinates in each plot and the presence or absence (frequency) of the selected species recorded. This sample size gave us an acceptable coverage of between 1-2% of the total plot size.

The data was collated over lunch in Drayton Village Hall and then discussed. The subjective assessment showed some differences between the two areas and this was confirmed by the frequency data. There were some discrepancies between the results recorded by the two methods and reasons for these were considered..

In further discussion the relative accuracy of the two methods and how and when they should be used was discussed . Members were also introduced to techniques used by the Somerset Botany Group and in National Vegetation Classification Surveys. We hope to spend a field day using National Surveying techniques next year.

The fine weather made the day a most successful and enjoyable experience. The next session in April will be looking at spring wild flowers at a different venue.

David German 12.03.12

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A photo a day. Feb 26th to Feb 29th ( leap year)

Leaping to the end of Feb and looking for something more uncommon here are photos of the sky,the insect world, my favorite subject at present - lichens,  and drama in the pond.

 Another chance find in the green house. It has a black face and the clumps of bristles are in a regular pattern growing out of a series of black bands on the body of the caterpillar. Its about 2 cm long. I will try to get an ident.  Feb 26th

The moon was was making an interesting picture with Venus close by on a perfectly clear sky.
 Feb 27th

I've found about five different lichens so far and here are two of them.  The yellow form could be Xanthoria parietina. Feb 28th

Now this is a big scoop for me. Just by chance I was peering into our pond knowing that in the last two weeks or so the water boatmen ( Notanecta glauca Notonectidae ) and other beetles had started moving around and right in front of me this water boatman was unusually remaining in the same place as I peered down at it. They usually dive of swim away as soon as I get near the pond. Its quite clear that it has caught a smaller insect which was still moving as I took the photo from above. It did eventually swim out towards the middle of the pond and dissapeared.  Although the photo is not very good I am still very pleased to record this action in the pond. Feb 29th

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A photo a day Feb 20th to Feb 25th

Now we have moved into March every plant in the garden seems to be really starting its growing season and the animals and insects are on the move. The weather is a mixture of sunny days some warm and others with a cold wind.  This next set of photos shows some more of that change over from winter.

Last years nest. Survived the winter storms. Watched a lone pigeon spend some time in and around the nest but has not come back to it.  Feb 20th

Severn-spot Ladybird, Coccinella 7-punctata. Sheltering it seems. Beautiful markings on the bark! Feb 21st

Hart's - tongue Fern , Phyllitis scolopendrium. Growing in the top of an old well . Feb 22nd

Compere with Lichen shown Jan25? What species is this?  Feb 23rd

Great Crane Project Aller Moor. See write up in separate post.  "borrowed" a 300mm lens  to take this. Feb 24th

New growth in wild garden. What on earth is this?  Feb 25th

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Curry Rivel Community Website | RSPB Report |

Curry Rivel Community Website | RSPB Report | Hedges, Year      Click on this link to visit the RSPB report on the Curry Rivel Village web site.

Since starting this Blog the village we live in has set up a community web site and of course we had to have a wildlife section to stimulate interest in the local environment. As a result we have been posting information about our Somerset Wildlife Trust local area group. Other relevant items like a letter to our MP on the subject of new planning proposals have been added. Recently the local RSPB office have been adding posts of their own so that the Wildlife Section of the web site has begun to broaden its content. That's a very good development.
If you use the link shown above you can see for yourself their recent posts.