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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blog page views

Should reach 40 000 page views sometime this month which is surprising since I don't do much to promote the Blog. Thank you to all who visit and hopefully find it interesting.

Kingfisher, copyright, Darin Smith

I'll add a comment on our Heart of the Levels committee meeting last night.
It was very pleasing to see three of our four new committee members quickly becoming at home with us and playing a positive and constructive part in our discussions. We have a volunteer to assume the role of chair with our full approval  and support.  It was very encouraging to those of us who have been with the Group since its start up in 2005. The future looks very much brighter now but of course the problems facing the Somerset Wildlife Trust and ourselves in helping to support nature conservation are as great as ever.

Storm damage on the East Coast. RSPB Reserves hit.

Before a change of subject here is a lovely photo of a scarce in ( in England)  Red Squirrel. Copyright Darin Smith. Click on the picture to get a full screen image.

After thinking about threats to wildlife in the Arctic I was surprised to read the letter shown below, received as a member of the RSPB and which as all conservation groups need to do is asking for financial help to try to restore the damage done in the recent surge tides in the North Sea and along the east coast.  Houses were also  destroyed by the severe weather and tide conditions so humans suffered together with the wildlife. It makes interesting reading!


Help us recover from the worst storm in 60 years

Hide falling into water after storm surge
Although events like the weekend storm surge along East Anglia's coastline are to be expected, I hadn't fully braced myself for the aftermath.
As the full impacts of the storm hit us on Thursday night, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be devastating. Homes, businesses, landmarks and habitats were suddenly going to be hit by a wall of water. I went to bed on Thursday night feeling helpless and sick with worry about our precious coastline.
I'm e-mailing you today to ask for your help.
We're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our nature reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused by the worst storm in 60 years. A donation from you, whatever you can afford, will go a long way to help us restore these precious homes for nature.

A devastated landscape

All along the East coast, we have battled with the elements for centuries. And our team are well drilled in dealing with this kind emergency - sluice gates are lifted to prevent seawater getting into the freshwater habitats, livestock is moved to higher ground, and footpaths are closed. The safety of our visitors and staff are our paramount concern. This drill was being tested to the max.
As it all unfolded, there was a strange mixture of emotions.
Sadly, the most extensive damage was at our Snettisham, Havergate and Dingle nature reserves and it was with a heavy heart that I drove along the Beach Road to see my colleagues at Snettisham.
As a Regional Director I know that I am not supposed to have favourite reserves, but Snettisham holds a special place in my heart. My grandparents had a caravan in a park adjoining the reserve and this is where I began birdwatching. The access track was impassable and the shingle bank where thousands of wading birds roost safe from disturbance had been breached. Some of the chalet owners who live and holiday next to the beach were clearing up with shovels rather than brooms. It was extremely heart wrenching to see.
The shingle beach had been completely stripped away. In the summer it is a riot of yellows, pinks and blues but this time the seaweed was strewn up where the shingle beach used to be and silt mud covered the path. There was a profusion of plastic barrels, bottles and rope.
Snettisham is normally two gravel pits separated by a causeway footbath. Having been topped up with millions of gallons of seawater it was now one massive lake.
The first hide was still in tact. Looking from the window I could see that another hide had been rolled 180 degrees and was now tilted at a 45 degree angle - any view from the hide slots would now just be of the sky. One hide had completely disappeared!
I went into Shore Hide. The hide door had a strand line that came up to the door handle. Inside the hide was strewn with seaweed and the sheer force of the water had shattered one of the windows and punched a massive hole through the front of the hide.
The pits at Snettisham are important in the summer for breeding birds such as black-headed gulls, which nest on a number of islands. It will be important to get rid of the water in readiness for their return. It is at this time of year when the pits at Snettisham come alive. When the tide covers the mudflat of The Wash tens of thousands of waders come into the pits to roost – one of the most remarkable sights in nature. They stand in a massive huddle on the concrete and shingle banks of the gravel pits. These banks have now been eroded by the force of the tide.
On arriving at Snettisham I saw a flock of knot fly from over the pits and out to The Wash. Knot roost in large numbers at Snettisham. I wonder where they roosted last night? Like their namesake, King Canute, the knot weren't able to turn back the power of the tide.
Water rushed over the river wall at RSPB Blacktoft Sands causing damage to our reception centre. The Marshland sluice needs repairing, and no-one has manged to get out to Reeds Island yet. We can only assume the lagoons have been completely destroyed.
At RSPB Saltholme the banks that protect the reedbeds from the damaging effects of saltwater have been weakened. And the footpath and boardwalk to the seal viewpoint is still under a lot of water, so we don't even know the extent of the damage there yet.
RSPB Titchwell suffered at the hands of the tide, but had it not been for the Coastal Change project a few years ago the site would have been completely devastated. As I walked along the westbank path to witness the effects for myself, it was clear the site's infrastructure had taken the full force.
The sea wall was covered with weeds and plastic canisters dragged up from the sea. Benches were strewn with debris and the iconic boardwalk was in tatters. This was just the beginning.
Beyond the seawall our boardwalk onto the beach had fared less well - it was twisted and contorted. I had been at Titchwell the week before and had wandered along the beach next to the 30 foot sand dunes. These had been completely flattened by the surge.

Help us repair the damage

The devastation to some of our nature reserves has been immense, and as I write this we're still not sure of the full impact. But it will take a lot of hard work and resources to put it right and restore these homes for nature. Insurance covers some of the costs of the damaged hides, but not the cost of repairing habitats.
We are still assessing the damage, but estimate that the cost of repairs could be over £300,000. That is why we're setting up an emergency fund that we can use to get our nature reserves back into shape and repair the damage caused.
Please help us rebuild from the worst storm in 60 years.
Thank you.
Paul Forecast Regional Director, Eastern England

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Greenpeace Gazprom banner at Real Madrid press conference

Greenpeace in Denmark did this neat trick shown below in the video clip.

Extracts from The Guardian.

Arctic oil spill is certain if drilling goes ahead, says top scientist

Russia's push for exploration will devastate pristine Arctic, warns expert analyst of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Greenpeace pointed out that the Arctic is the habitat for "a diverse range of unique wildlife", including 17 species of whale – such as the endangered narwhal, 90% of the remaining population of which lives in Baffin Bay – as well as polar bears, Arctic foxes, seals, hundreds of species of seabirds and millions of migrating birds. There are also 4m people who live in the Arctic, descendants of indigenous communities who have lived there for thousands of years. "The impact of a spill on these communities and already vulnerable animal species would be devastating and long-lasting," the group said.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

South Somerset Climate Action Group

Before getting to something more serious I've just selected this photo I took in our garden some time ago to remind me why I keep making these posts on anything which effects the countryside around me.
Not the best wildlife photo but good enough to illustrate my point! A butterfly described as scarce in England so I was lucky to see it and have a camera nearby!

Brown Hairstreak,    Thecla betulae

I've just been reading an email from Joe Burlington who runs the South Somerset Climate Action  Group. Its been running for several years now and does really effective work to spread the word about Climate Change and Global Heating.

You may find his blog interesting and the groups current programme of event,talks and discussions.

Here is a link:http://

I'll Post some more information soon.

Here is an extract from the email:

"Tuesday 26 November - Will your solar pv keep your lights on in a power cut? Yes, but ...5.30 for 6pm. End at 7.30 discussion may continue until 8pm.  Suggested donation £3 (includes refreshments)
Jon Lewes, Coordinator, LocalGen Home Energy Centre, 8 Ditton Street, Ilminster, Somerset TA19 0BQ. Parking available round the corner. t.   01460 250986  m. 0751 8039458, 

Later on Tuesday 26 November: CLIMATE UPDATE: Dr Stephan Harrison of University of Exeter “MAKING SENSE OF: Floods in Summer - Floods of Information - Floods of Uninformed Debate” The Williams Hall, Stoke St Gregory TA3 6EU .  8.15 Doors open for refreshments at 7.50pm .. after Transtion Athelney’s AGM which starts at 7.30.
Stephan will be looking at: certainty, uncertainty and probability; the difference between climate and weather (Was flooding on the Somerset Levels last Summer ‘caused by’ climate change?); recent developments; how complex science is communicated; land surface warming compared with increased energy in the climate system, which intensifies extremes.

Views:  Monbiot in the Guardian – Ken Clarke’s response – Quakers - Joe Burlington

And Joe ends with this comment:  

"My anger? The government and energy companies refer to ‘green subsidies’ - as though they were deplorable - rather than a feeble but necessary step in the right direction. At the same time, the fossil fuel industry is receiving tax breaks and other financial benefits that are extensive and are being increased. I have asked our MP for details. I await his response!"

Joe has been campaigning for a long time to increase awareness about all these related issues and is clearly very frustrated!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Area Group meeting

This is a beautiful plant which I saw growing at the side of one of our local water ways  , its called Flowering Rush ( Butomus umbellatus ) Its in my top ten of local wild flowers and quite rare round here. Seen during one of our local Botany Group field expeditions!

This afternoon two of our committee are attending one of the regular meetings of representatives from all the nine volunteer area groups within the Somerset Wildlife Trust.  I've been to several of these over the recent years and they always give an opportunity to share news , meet friends in other groups and to discuss common problems around the county.
Hot topics this time , common to most voluntary groups are:
recruiting volunteers to help run the groups programme of activities,
succession arrangements to assist a change of leadership of the group,
ways of communicating with the wider membership in our part of Somerset,
coping with responsibilities such as providing first aid cover for walks and other Health and Safety issues,
keeping up to date with wildlife conservation projects and debates
and many other issues from time to time.

The social contact is very important to maintain motivation. Its sometimes difficult to remain positive and optimistic with so many threats to wildlife in all its forms which are many and serious.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starlings in Somerset

The RSPB provides this information about the roosting sites for Starlings

For information on the roosting starlings please phone the Avalon Marshes Starling Hotline - 07866 554142. Please do not leave enquiries on this number, as it is an automated service and they cannot be answered.
You can also find out more about the location and receive an automated email, by emailing
The starlings use sites managed by three different organisations - the RSPB (Ham Wall), Natural England (Shapwick Heath) and Somerset Wildlife Trust (Westhay Moor). There is very little parking available at any of the sites, so avoiding the weekend rush will greatly improve your visit.
Whenever you come, please follow any parking instructions given and avoid stopping on narrow verges or blocking gateways. There is no parking for coaches other than at The Avalon Marshes Centre situated between Shapwick and Westhay villages. Parking for the western end of Shapwick Heath is also at The Avalon Marshes Centre.
Please take care not to disturb the wildlife or other visitors, by keeping noise to a minimum and obeying rules about dogs and restricted access.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oil drilling in the Arctic. Does it matter to me?

This is not a matter which our wildlife group has discussed and is entirely my own initiative.

Does it matter to me?  Yes it does Its a no brainier!  So much so I support Greenpeace in their campaign to stop it happening.
I've sent off my small contribution by signing their petition. Very few people will read this, very few will take any action. I don't know,  but I hope someone does.

This is a letter from Greenpeace.

Hi there,
I've just signed a petition to help free 30 people being held in Russia for peacefully protesting against Arctic oil drilling. Can you help as well?
When activists attempted to scale energy giant Gazprom’s oil rig in September, the company made a call to Russian special forces to intervene. 24 hours later, armed commandos had illegally boarded the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise and arrested all 30 people on board. All 30 people are now in prison facing trumped-up hooliganism charges.
Gazprom clearly has influence with the authorities and it now must step up and help to release the Arctic 30. But it will only do that if it feels pressure from places where it is affected the most: its financial partners.
Gazprom is on the brink of signing an important deal with Shell, who have promised to provide technology and expertise to their Arctic drilling programme. Gazprom also depends on maintaining good relationships with the companies it sells its oil and gas to overseas, which make up a whopping 65% of Russia’s income from exports.
Shell and other companies will think twice about partnering with a company that is involved in silencing peaceful protest. Asking Shell and Gazprom’s other partners to put pressure on Gazprom will help free the Arctic 30.
Please join me and sign the petition.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Conservation news, new comiittee and Tell Hicks talk about the Galapagos Islands

Recharge the batteries!

First a reminder to myself of what interests me in the local natural scene. visit my set of photos on Flickr at:

I find viewing these photos makes me want to write this post.

Its quite normal for any voluntary group to find that they need an injection of encouragement, motivation, new ideas, even just questioning what they are trying to achieve.

Our Heart of the Levels Group is no different. For some time now we have been working our way through a transition phase in the life cycle of the group. We are of course part of the Somerset Wildlife Trust and the whole county wide organisation has itself been on a similar journey.

Interestingly in many ways  its just like the life cycle of the insects, mammals and natural flora we are trying to protect and encourage through the seasonal changes.

I'm writing this as I reflect on the committee meeting we held last evening.The big difference this time was the very refreshing interest shown by three new committee members. We always have a very flexible agenda which allows us to follow up on ideas and comments made by members and this time there were some new thoughts to pick up on. We have our next public meeting on Thursday in Somerton as usual with Tell hicks talking about the Galapagos Islands

And here just to add a little interest is a photo of a Herald moth trying to hibernate inside our home. I had to disturb him or her to offer a more suitable resting place! I also played around a bit with the aperture setting, this time it was f14.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oil exploration in the Arctic.

Here in the UK many people will remember the comedy series Dad's Army, Whenever things went wrong the cry went up "we are all doomed". Well that was funny but drilling for oil in the arctic is not.
Despite a massive science  based report on man made climate change from the UN the world is still pushing on with extracting as much fossil fuel as it can find.  Then burning it.

So support for organisations like Green Peace is one of the  few ways for ordinary people to express their dismay at the damage being caused to the only planet we have.

Here is a recent email from Greenpeace for your consideration.

Hi David,
“I have been shaking for most of the last 48 hours. I oscillate between fear, disbelief and panic.”
This is what Kieron Bryan wrote in a letter to his family last week. Kieron is one of the 30 people currently being held in Russian prison facing piracy charges.
It has been exactly three weeks since Russian agents boarded the Arctic Sunrise and arrested all 30 people on board. Now, they are all being held in Russian prisons. Many of them are being kept in freezing cold cells for 23 hours a day, with just one hour out for exercise.
The support team in Murmansk is working around the clock to ensure they receive care packages with food and books to make life a little bit more comfortable for them. But what they need more than anything is continued pressure from millions so we can get them released.
Over 1.2 million of us have already written to Russian embassies around the world demanding the release of the Arctic 30. Let's double that. Please forward this email to at least three friends and ask them to write to the Russian embassy.
This week, our international director, Kumi Naidoo, wrote to President Putin offering himself up as a guarantor for the Arctic 30. He pledged to move his life to Russia for the duration of this affair if the Arctic 30 were released on bail.
Countless human rights and legal experts have come forward to say the piracy charges against the Arctic 30 are unfounded and ludicrous. High profile people from Stephen Fry to Bianca Jagger and Jude Law have publicly voiced their support for the Arctic 30.
Let’s get them out! Please forward this to your friends and ask them to send an email to demand the release of the Arctic 30.
Thank you for all your support in the past three weeks.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Rewild the Child , George Monbiot.

Link here:                                  Rewild the Child

This is how it starts:

A week in the countryside is worth three months in a classroom.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 8th October 2013
What is the best way to knacker a child’s education? Force him or her to spend too long in the classroom.
An overview of research into outdoor education by King’s College London found that children who spend time learning in natural environments “perform better in reading, mathematics, science and social studies.”(1) Exploring the natural world “makes other school subjects rich and relevant and gets apathetic students excited about learning.”

My own experience confirms all this. As a member of the Somerset Wildlife Trust and our local wildlife Group the experience opens up a view of the world which is fascinating and leads into many other avenues of life . All our activities are open to young people especially our Watch Club.

As a member of Langport Runners , assisting in the management of our Junior Athletic Club I am constantly amazed at the enthusiasm of our young members. Recently we have been involving them as much as possible in the coaching sessions so that older 14 year olds can act as Leaders for some of the time. It works very well.

I cant explain it as well as George  so please read his article and use the link above.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Heart of the Levels, Botany Study Group, Photographic Workshop

I took a series of photographs whilst on a workshop to improve my understanding of how to take better photos of plants and insects.

The best are on Flickr at this link :

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Moth and common butterfliy. Caterpillar form.

 Buff Tip
 Buff Tip
 Large White  for these last two
Photo taken in our front garden this week following a bumper crop of butterflies and moths recently.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lovely spider!

A friend  sent me this photo a little while ago and I think it would look good on the Wildlife section of our community website. So I've sent it for publication.  Fantastic I would say!  A common spider,  found in her garden. It changes its colour (slowly)  to suit its background but it hasn't got it right yet this time! There should be one in your garden  right now! I believe it to be a female Crab Spider, Misumena vatia.

 The male is smaller and brown! Typical.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Local Nature Reserve, Batty Piece, Somerset

A friend has just taken these photos for me showing some of the interesting wildlife to be found there at the moment.

Photographs taken by John Bebbington

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Climate Change and UK Government action plan

In case you find UK government plans boring here is a photo of a Broomrape which is growing on our garden lawn ( because I haven't cut it for a couple of weeks!)
and also is present in quite large numbers in our local meadow.

Climate change is a big business opportunity for the UK as it and countries around the world are increasingly hit by extreme weather, according to a government report published on Monday. The UK's firstnational adaptation plan sets out the risks to the UK, from floods to water shortages to higher food prices, as well as the economic opportunities.
"The UK is already one of the global leaders in this industry of the future and this market [for climate adaptation] is expected to grow by 5% or more year on year," said environment secretary Owen Paterson. "As the world's climate changes, Britain's expertise in areas such as weather forecasting, flood modelling, infrastructure and insurance are already coming to the fore to prepare us for the kinds of events we might see more often." The adaptation sector is currently valued at about £66bn a year, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Obama , his speech ,some comment

The Guardian puts together some initial comment on the Presidents speech in an article today.
Here is a link for you to read it for yourself;

The contributors are :

Nicholas Stern, Grantham Institute.
"I am glad that the president chose to close his speech with an appeal to young people to make the case and to press politicians for action. Our generation will be judged by the inheritance we leave."

Christiana Figueres,  UN.

"President Obama's climate action plan is a necessary next step to meet an immediate, worrying shortfall in action to deal with climate change and can be a critical move forward on the path towards a new, global climate agreement. It remains vital that the United States as the world's largest developed economy is seen to be leading serious action to deal with climate change, both at home and abroad. These new steps will help to meet those goals, if they are implemented to the fullest extent to which they are intended.

It is significant that the new plan aims to start up rapidly and covers the full menu of solutions to climate change: clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency and the many actions that all countries need to take to adapt to accelerating climate change. This climate action plan should be positive for the US economy and the economies of other countries, as the US shifts faster towards a sustainable, low carbon model, including addressing directly the heaviest sources of emissions from unmodified coal and gas plants."

Bob Ward, Grantham Institute.
"President Obama's excellent speech laid out very clearly the choice that the American people face. A high-carbon economy and unmanaged global warming will create increasing risks from rising sea levels and changes in extreme weather, fundamentally undermining the prospects for future prosperity. But investing in a transition to a low-carbon economy offers a more secure and sustainable source of growth."

Jessy Tolkan,
"I've waited four years and 158 days to hear the president give this kind of speech on climate change. This is the kind of leadership my generation expected when we first elected, and then re-elected President Obama to office. This speech has been a long- and hard-time coming, but the president's plan outlines meaningful action that begins to meet our global and moral responsibility to address climate change. It's refreshing to see this second-term president finally step into his administrative powers and take the reigns in this fight."

Van Jones, former White House adviser.
"I think the tables are turning against Keystone. I don't think the president wants to lose his youth base by being a president who is spying on them while cooking the planet with a dumb pipeline that everybody hates. I just don't think he wants to do that."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Area Group organisation changes and development. Heart of the Levels.

The Heart of the Levels local Area Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust is currently following nature and evolving into a different form. Our Chair for the last year is stepping down for personal and business reasons and its not clear yet quite how we will continue.

The committee has agreed to continue as best we can whilst we consider our options.

We have asked the Trust to write to all our local members explaining the situation to them and asking for their help and comments.

We already have our next two public meetings organised and our Watch Club for children is continuing as usual.

Our Botany Study Group also continues as usual.

Our Group is hosting the next meeting of all Area Groups and that will also go ahead as planned.

One way or another we will continue to support the Wildlife Trust  in their efforts to look after the wildlife and natural environment of this lovely county of Somerset.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Batty Piece , a natural meadow in Somerset

The  excitement of finding "ordinary" nature prospering in our meadow nature reserve.
Two visits over the last two days have found a Small Blue and Large Skipper, Grass Vetchling and most pleasing the first of this years Bee Orchid. Here are some of them yesterday. What you cant hear is that in the sunshine and with little wind there were many bees and flies buzzing around and a few butterflies. So they are still alive and well in Somerset!

Population growth and the natural world.

Recommended reading and watching!

Mary Colwell-Hector 

 ( Profile:    Mary Colwell-Hector )

"I'm am fascinated by the relationship between people and the natural world. Everything informs everything else - there are no boxes, just life."

Shared Planet starts tomorrow  ( 10 June) - the first in a 30 part series for Radio 4 - and I am one of the producers.  It is being presented by Monty Don who is thoughtful and passionate about conservation. It is an ambitious and huge ranging series that examines the relationship between the growing human population and wildlife.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Local Orchids. Identification request.

I'm trying to pin down the idetification of these orchids all growing in a small area of a local field. One shows a general view of part of the area covered. The soil in the adjacent fields was a clay and it was damp but not marshy. They look like a form of Marsh or Common Spotted (Dacyllorhiza fuchsii or masculata) . They are definitely not Anacamptis pyramidalis.
I may be able to go back and take some better photos with a tripod and remote operation.

Any suggestions welcome

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Our friendly wildlife group has two important events lined up for July and August.

 Thursday July 7th at 7.30 pm in the United Reformed Church in Somerton.

Wildlife on the Shores of Somerset ( yes we do have an extensive coastline!)
 An illustrated talk by Nigel Phillips.  

By way of introduction Nigel has written a book on the subject.  This is a stunning book which describes the huge diversity of landscapes and wildlife found along this wonderful coast. It is packed with photographs of coastal habitats and the wildlife that can be found. It has maps and appendices helping to point out what might be seen, and where and when things occur. It includes lists of all the plants, seaweeds, birds, marine creatures, butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets and dragonflies you might find along the shore and on the cliffs and cliff tops.

This is a 120 - page softback flexibound book in full colour.
Move your mouse over the text "Look inside this book!" on the book image (left) to view the contents. For a more detailed look, one extract has been included here - click here to view!

The price is £19.50 plus £3.50 post and packing (within the UK). Books can be picked up from Nether Stowey, Somerset by arrangement. Natural Time Out publications 37 Castle Street Nether Stowey, Somerset Somerset TA5 1LN.

Saturday August 17 th at 8 pm,
 at Playses Orchard Farm , Hambridge, TA10 0AP

A Bat Walk and Talk led by the SWT Bat Group.

Somerset Bat Group was formed in 1985 to help protect bats in Somerset
We are affiliated to the Bat Conservation Trust (the national organisation for bat protection) and Somerset Wildlife Trust
Somerset has 15 of the 16 species of British Bats and we still haven’t given up on the 16th. Some species are more common than others and some are endangered. The Bat Group is actively engaged in varied activities to help preserve these fascinating creatures.
Several of our members run Bat Walks in the Summer. We give talks to local groups, install and check bat boxes and during the Winter hold workshops and courses in Bat Care, Analysing Bat Sound, and Bat Identification.
If you are interested in joining us the please contact secretary 
phone 01749 840240, or send £5 subs to Adel at The Cottage, Nettlebridge, Oakhill, Bath BA3 5AA.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wildlife Gardening

The Wildlife Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society  produce a wildlife gardening newsletter to help us all make our gardens wildlife friendly. You can read the latest copy issued today at this link:

Here is an extract:

Things to spot


  • Keep an eye out for butterflies in your garden. Some will have come out early on – those that overwinter as adults, such as Peacock, Red Admiral and Comma butterflies. Now you can also see species such as Holly Blue, and Speckled Wood.
  • Keep an eye out for the fascinating stages as tadpoles turn intofrogs. Froglets are vulnerable when they switch from water breathers to air breathers. Make sure your pond has sloping sides so they can get out easily, and vegetation nearby so they can shelter.
  • With breeding season in full swing, small mammals such aswood mice and shrews will have young now. Although difficult to spot, one way to detect them is by leaving out a sand tray at a likely location and checking footprints next morning. Alternatively, try looking for burrow entrances, about the size of a 50p coin.
More about what to look out for this month

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May apple blossom in Somerset!!

Event Details

Watch Event: Orchard Trail

Saturday 25 May 13:00

Orchard Family Social Event at Playses Orchard Farm. Fun activities with prizes to take part in, including an ORCHARD TRAIL
Bring along your own picnic, sit amongst the apple trees and enjoy the delights of an orchard in full blossom.
This is a joint fundraising event with the Heart of the Levels and the Chard and Ilminster Area Groups. Free entry for regular Heart of the Levels Watch Club members. BRING YOUR FRIENDS AND HAVE SOME FUN! Open 1pm

If you are interested in joining our group please contact Rosemary on 07724 892079 or email

Friday, May 17, 2013

Field of Dreams, Barcroft Hall

Statement on the home page of their web site. 
Link shown below

Flowers Status: Field of Dreams 2013 is now closed   Grass Car Park Status: Closed
Due to adverse horticultural conditions the Field of Dreams will not be open for 2013 but please register for 2014 when we will have an even larger display and more facilities.
But still come and visit the village, enjoy the lovely shops, a great pub and a short walk! 

(Download Map Here)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Providential Principle

Here is a link to the latest George Monbiot article discussing the way our present Government deals with important matters impacting on the natural environment. Its all about the Precautionary Principle which I have considered to be a starting point for almost any serious action we take in life. But thats just being cautious  of course and many people dont  think that way!

The Providential Principle

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Posted: 01 May 2013 03:33 AM PDT
Amazingly, the UK government has not defined the precautionary principle and appears to have no idea what it is.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 1st May 2013

Here’s something remarkable I stumbled across while researching my column on Monday, but did not have room to include. I hope you’ll agree that it is worth sharing.
I was trying to understand the context for the new chief scientist’s cavalier treatment of scientific evidence, in an article he wrote opposing a European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. These are the toxins which, several studies suggest, could be partly responsible for the rapid decline in bees and other pollinators.
Just one month into the job, Sir Mark Walport has, I believe, disgraced himself: by misrepresenting the science, misinforming the public about risk and uncertainty and indulging in scaremongering and wild exaggeration in support of the government’s position. I believe he has seriously damaged his standing and that of the office he holds.
Among the many problems with the article he wrote was the way he defined the precautionary principle. Interpreting and upholding this principle is fundamental to the chief scientist’s role. Yet he doesn’t seem to understand what it means. Here’s what he said about it:
“This simple idea just means working out and balancing in advance all the risks and benefits of action or inaction, and to make a proportionate response.”
Oh yes? Here’s how the Rio Declaration, which the UK, with 171 other states, signed in 1992, defines it:
“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
The difference is critical to an understanding of the government’s environmental responsibilities. As if to underline the fact that he hasn’t grasped it, Sir Mark used his article to do the opposite: he used a lack of full scientific certainty as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
The precautionary principle, as defined by the Rio Declaration, has, in the words of the European Commission, “become a full-fledged and general principle of international law.”
In other words, it’s not something you would expect a chief scientist to make up as he goes along.
So the question that occurred to me was this. If the government’s chief scientist doesn’t know what the precautionary principle is, does the government know?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Back a ban for bees’ and our benefit | The Wildlife Trusts

Back a ban for bees’ and our benefit | The Wildlife Trusts

Paul Wilkinson, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Landscape, said: 
The Government should follow the advice of the Environmental Audit Committee and place an immediate moratorium on the use of these chemicals. Although further research is always beneficial, there is sufficient and compelling evidence to apply the precautionary principle. We must do the right thing for our bees, our countryside, and our food supply that relies on natural pollination.” 
Over a six month period, the Committee has gathered written and oral evidence from leading scientists, Defra, the pesticide industry and others.  The Committee report recommends that Defra should prepare to introduce a moratorium on the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam on crops that are attractive to bees by 1 January 2014.  The committee also recommend Defra supports such a proposal in the EU - which it has failed to do up until now. 

Friday, April 05, 2013

Bees, Pesticides, UK Government and me!

Dear Secretary of State and Minister,

Today's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report calls on the Government to address a series of important flaws in its pesticides policies and risk assessment processes.

I would like to join Friends of the Earth in voicing my support for all the EAC's recommendations. I urge you to do the same. In particular, the Committee unanimously backed European proposals for a temporary ban on the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides on crops attractive to honey bees.

Our bees are in trouble and urgently need the Government to put in place a British Bee Action Plan to tackle all causes of their decline.

This must ensure bees have adequate feeding and nesting space. But it must also include action to reduce the use of pesticides across the board, starting with the European Commission's proposed neonicotinoid ban.

In last month's European vote on this issue, the UK abstained. I support Friends of the Earth's call for you to change this position and support the ban.

You can contact me by email (preferably - to save resources) or at the following address:

Yours sincerely,
David German


Here is a letter I support.

Friends of the Earth - See things differently
The Bee Cause
05 April 2013
Join usSign our Director's letter  

In the last few hours the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has told the Government they got it wrong when they chose not to support a ban of the worst bee-harming pesticides.
Please sign our Director's letter if you think the Government should support the ban
The EAC has spent months hearing evidence on both sides of the argument. And they've concluded that 3 neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned and that Government policy on pesticides should be overhauled.
If enough of us add our names we can persuade the Government to accept the EAC's recommendations - and follow the lead of the DIY stores and garden centres that have already taken some of the most dangerous pesticides off their shelves.
Add your name to our Director's letter asking Ministers to ban the worst bee-harming pesticides
Pesticides aren't the only cause of bee decline, but evidence of their importance is mounting. Winning a ban could be a massive step to secure their survival.
Add your name today
With best wishes,
Lucy and the Bee Cause team