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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 :