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Monday, December 15, 2014

Lima report!

No apologies for following this drama.!! Anything we do now for wildlife conservation will be affected be climate change in the long run.

I tend to check up through the Guardian Newspaper web site and they have this report from Nicholas Stern on this link:

Here is the start of it:

Governments took a step back from chaos in the climate change discussions in Lima and found a way forward on Sunday, albeit with some fudges and compromises, giving themselves just 12 months to finalise a crucial international agreement to avoid dangerous levels of global warming.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister, who had skilfully presided over more than two weeks of fraught negotiations, announced that a deal had been struck by more than 190 countries.
The five pages of text, dubbed the Lima Call for Climate Action, outline a way forward on hotly contested issues, including the process for countries to set out their pledges to cut annual emissions of greenhouse gases after 2020.
The overall aim remains the creation of an international agreement on climate change which is due to be settled at the next UN summit, COP21, to be held in Paris in December 2015.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Big week for global climate change! Article by Graham Readfern in the Guardian

From the web, 19th


Next stop Lima
The next major deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions is scheduled to be signed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris in December 2015. 
But to avoid the crashing failures of past negotiations (remember Copenhagen), negotiators and the UN will want to see major progress on that deal’s framework at COP20 in Lima, Peru, starting in two weeks time (I’ll be there for most of the second week).
During the last major meeting in Warsaw, Australia emerged with a new reputation for slowing the process down and lacking ambition, which Australian negotiators rejected.
The G20 Communiqué pointed to COP21 and said the G20 would “encourage” nations to confirm their targets for cutting emissions before March next year. 
The European Union has already said it will cut emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 but the deal is not considered to be watertight.
The US now has its target to cut emissions from where they were in 2005 by between 26 per cent and 28 per cent by 2025.
Pressure is now mounting on Australia to commit its targets to paper by March, although it could conceivably delay. 
This is a major stumbling block for Australia.
Most analysts say the government’s $2.5 billion Direct Action Policy will fall well short of the unconditional target of cutting emissions from their 2000 levels by five cent by the year 2020. 
Environment Minister Greg Hunt insists the scheme will deliver. Tony Abbott has said if it doesn’t he will not make any more money available.
But if Australia is to stand by its UN pledge to keep global warming below 2C then it will need to commit to targets soon. 
But currently there is a large blank space where a credible climate policy should be.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Drayton Forest School Volunteer Day November 16th plus Woodland walk and talk.

Forest Schools are a great way for children and parents to experience time spent amongst trees and their wildlife. Supervised and taught some skills. They often struggle to get funding to support their activities. Our Wildlife Group hopes to find a way to have a joint event.

You might even see this Brown Hairstreak seen rarely in our garden near an overgrown Blackthorn hedge.

Do come and join us on Sunday November 16th for a great day in the woods at Drayton, nr Langport
Come and help out in the morning from 10am:
  • shelter building,
  • bulb planting, 
  • timber sawing with a 2 'person' cross saw
  • bird box maintenance  
  • hearty soup & bread lunch cooked on the campfire
  • 2pm- Join us for  a Woodland Walk & Talk with Charles Hill- Tree enthusiast from Blackdown Hills, especially knowledgeable about fungi.
All tools provided 
Come for all day and join us for lunch, or just for Woodland Talk at 2pm 

PLEASE let me know if you can come

Hannah Aitken
WilderWoods Forest School, Drayton

Friday, October 31, 2014

Starlings in Somerset

At 16.30 this afternoon I watched thousands of Starlings flying over Curry Rivel heading towards the Avalon Marshes. The flock size covered the village from South East to North West filling the sky. When they meet up with flocks from other areas they will almost certainly create the kind of image shown on the RSPB web site for Ham Wall.

This is an extract from the RSPB web site. The telephone hot line recommends a dawn visit to avoid the crowds  of spectators and the traffic congestion.

Large flock of starlings congregating at dusk
Image: David Kjaer

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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Draft Parish Plan , Instalment 3

To add a bit of colour!  Photo taken in our garden of a Jersey Tiger , Euplagia quadripunctaria

The next extract will start to show recommendations.

Wildlife friendly gardening.
Gardeners have a huge role to play in the future of wildlife as the traditional British countryside changes. Encouraging nature in gardens can be rewarding and inexpensive.
Making a small change to the way we garden can add interest and make a huge difference to wildlife. See separate appendices for more information.
Wildlife education and awareness
Education doesn’t mean studying botany and zoology but simply to raise awareness of local assets, our wide range of habitats, moors, woodlands, fields, open hilltop and the corresponding wide range of birds, animals & plants.
The sparsely built up edges of the village, should not be further urbanised. It is important to protect the endangered species of shy birds who are thriving and breeding in these peaceful places.
Farming and Wildlife.
issue of balancing public access to farmland and wildlife conservation needs to be debated and guidance given to all. Access to productive farmland must go hand in hand with an understanding of how farms work. Some agreed guidelines need to be circulated and perhaps additional signs erected.

Not least of the issues needing attention is how to live with a large dog population

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust | Annual conferences | Annual ARC-BHS Scientific Meeting

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust | Annual conferences | Annual ARC-BHS Scientific Meeting
This link gives the date and location and booking form.

Our recent public meeting on the subject was very popular so this should be good.

Draft Parish Plan . Instalment 2

This instalment shows the next three topics covered. I should point out that an editorial group will be pulling the whole document together so my contribution may get modified!

But first a couple of photos from our local meadow. A Bee Orchid ( Ophrys apifera ) and then the tiny lovely Grass Vetchling ( Lathyrus nisolia)  in front of the large clock formed by the pappuses of a Goatsbeard ( Trapopogon pretensis).

The Parish has a great opportunity to protect and improve biodiversity by appropriate management of Eastfield in line with SSDC and SCC policy. For example by creating a Community Orchard in a meadow already rich in wild Pyramidal and Bee Orchids and many other plants, insects and small mammals.
To raise awareness of its importance for the future of the Parish it's critical that people are involved in investigating and recording the biodiversity currently within the parish.
Records of sighting of all forms of wildlife should be collated via the record centre at the SWT. See annex for more information.
It's possible to explore most parts of the parish by footpath.
A map on the website or a paper copy with footpaths, wildlife notes, viewpoints, etc. should be produced.
It seems clear that there is a need for contact between local farmers and the village community to establish a better understanding of sometimes conflicting interests, Some kind of contact group should be set up.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Draft Parish Plan., instalment 1

It might be interesting to post in sections my contribution to our proposed Parish Plan

First Draft write up covering local Countryside and Wildlife. (Work in progress!)



Our village lies at the centre of approx., 6 sq. miles of beautiful and varied Somerset farmland, parkland, woodlands, wetlands and moors. The River Parrett is our northern and eastern boundary with the River Isle to the south.

The RSPB manages a large area of West Sedgemoor within the northern part of the Parish which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) . The RSPB also manages Swell Wood on our western boundary which is said to be home to the largest Heronry in SW England.
 Link here:
Local farmers generally follow good practice to encourage wildlife alongside arable farming.
There is a 4 acre local nature reserve off Holdens Way called Batty Piece which is privately managed to conserve an example of rapidly disappearing grass land meadow.

A number of local residents are volunteers with the Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Butterfly Conservation and the Hawk and Owl Trust helping to protect habitats and carry out wildlife surveys.

The local primary School helps to introduce children to the natural world.

Consultation issues.

The 2014 Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan has drawn attention to the need for Catchment Sensitive Farming and highlighted our location in the catchment area for the River Parrett.

( to be continued)

A couple of photos during our annual hay cut in October. We rely on the help of a local farmer for this. It has been difficult in the past to find someone with machinery small enough to get into the field from the narrow road access! This is a 4 acre local reserve.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wildlife Gardening in Curry Rivel, Somerset

A contribution to our draft Parish Plan which we hope to publish in draft form in November! Some photos will be added from our Village open garden day

Photo of a Bug Hotel with some rooms occupied! Photo taken in local garden during Somerset Art Week!

Gardeners have a huge role to play in the future of wildlife as the traditional British countryside changes. Being more wildlife-friendly doesn't mean you have to have a messy garden, but it does mean forsaking the ideal of a perfect lawn and rigidly trimmed borders, but encouraging nature in gardens can be rewarding and inexpensive.
Feeding the birds with bought seeds and nuts is popular; less expensive alternatives in the wildlife garden are flower seed heads, holly berries, walnuts and apples, attracting birds, wood mice and squirrels. Planting native hedges is really worthwhile for the shelter and food they provide in the form of berries, seeds, insects and spiders. Smaller mammals like wood mice use the base of the hedgerow for shelter, bats need hedgerows and wood edges for their protection and navigation and moths love any white or cream coloured flowers like blackthorn in the hedge.
Attracting bees to the garden can be achieved by planting flowers such as foxgloves, honeysuckle, asters, dahlias, geraniums, marigolds and sunflowers. Clover flowers found in untreated lawns are important for bees, as a source of both pollen and nectar. Leaving some long grass on the margins of the garden cuts down on the mowing and the beetles, caterpillars, butterflies and grasshoppers in the mini jungle will in turn benefit the birds, bats and hedgehogs.
Many of our most colourful and well known butterflies depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae but will also enjoy lavender or buddleia bushes and fallen fruit.
The hedgehog is very much the gardener’s friend, feeding on a variety of invertebrates such as snails and slugs, beetles, caterpillars and worms. A pile of composted leaves will provide a perfect spot for the hedgehog to hibernate in a cold winter. A pile of logs or roof tiles is the perfect refuge for spiders, ladybirds, bees, frogs and slow worms.
Deadwood hedges are a great way to provide a whole habitat for a large number of animals to call home, as well as providing a very easy way of getting rid of branches and waste which are too woody to put on the compost heap. Other garden waste can be composted to make one of the best soil improvers you’ll ever have, and certainly the cheapest!
A water feature - even a simple bowl can encourage frogs and other wildlife which will feed on bugs and snails. Dragonflies will often breed in them, and many birds may use them to drink and bathe in.
Making a small change to the way we garden can make a huge difference to wildlife.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Amphibians and Reptiles of Somerset . Next HOL public meeting 16th Oct

Amphibians and Reptiles of Somerset . Next HOL public meeting 16th Oct

and Reptiles
Photo: Common Frog ©Philip Prevey
John Dickson chairman of the Somerset Reptile and Amphibian group introduces us to the snakes lizards and amphibians that share Somerset with us. Where are they and what are their habitats.
of Somerset
Thursday 16 October 7:30 - 9:00pm
Held in the Parish Hall of the United Reform Church, West Street Somerton. Suitable for wheelchair users/limited mobility. £3.00, refreshments available before the talk.
Somerset Wildlife Trust,Tonedale Mill, Tonedale, Wellington TA21 0AW Tel: 01823 652400.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New campaign by Wildlife Trust and the RSPB

The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB today call on all the main political parties to value nature and secure its recovery by committing to a new Nature and Wellbeing Act.
The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB are urging all the main political parties to commit to passing a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to help value what nature does for us
The two leading conservation charities have spent recent months working behind the scenes to pinpoint the ways in which we need to help nature recover.  Both have a deep understanding of why contact with nature is good for us, for our communities and for our economy, and a long track record of trying to turn around nature’s decline.  A major shift in commitment and action is needed to secure nature’s recovery and The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB believe that new legislation is critical to achieving this. 
The Wildlife Trusts and the RSPB are urging all the main political parties to commit to passing a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to help value what nature does for us, for its own sake and also to underpin improvements to people’s health, wellbeing and the economy.  We are delighted that the Liberal Democrats have declared they will commit to a Nature Bill in the party's manifesto.

Read more by using the link above.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Only One Earth

In case you haven't noticed , there is another chance for the world leaders to get to grips with climate change. What this press notice ( below)  doesn't say is that we all must decide how we are going to stop ruining our planet!

On a  more cheerful note , I took this photo in our meadow in June. A furry caterpillar  ( no idea what species it is!) on a newly flowering wild  Pyramidal Orchid

Now for the news!

UN Climate Summit 2014

Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.  But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.
There is a sense that change is in the air. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 this 23 September to galvanize and catalyze climate action.  He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Climate Summit 2014 provides a unique opportunity for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable a meaningful global agreement in 2015.
Everyone can step up and take climate action. Visit the UN Climate Summit site to find out how. #climate2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

CPRE campaign

Extract from CPRE web site;

The Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and undermining local democracy while failing to prioritise the regeneration of urban areas, concludes a new report launched by CPRE.
Community Control or Countryside Chaos? analyses the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the countryside in the two years since it was adopted.  The research has found that the reforms are forcing local councils to accept major developments against their will in all parts of the country from Devon to Derbyshire and Suffolk to Staffordshire. 
It reveals plans for over 700,000 houses in the countryside - including 200,000 allocated for the Green Belt. As a consequence, the countryside surrounding towns and villages across England is under siege (see page 10 of our report). Sites already earmarked for housing are being left undeveloped while councils are under increasing pressure to allocate more and more land for future development.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Latest News from the Heart of the Levels

March Madness!

Roger Dickey, Group Chair, tweeted last week that 8 hares had been spotted boxing in the mist outside the Trust's reserve at Great Breach Wood.  What a cue for the group's talk in Somerton this week by Peter Thompson on the Brown Hare