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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Special Area of Conservation- SAC

Worth a read.

I've just sent my comments on this consultation document.  SWT is justly proud of its activities to publicise and protect the wildlife in the seas around our coast . I am amazed the Welsh Government seems to be only interested in the destruction of wildlife in its own "Special Areas of Conservation".

You can see George Monbiot's thoughts on the subject here:

Here is a brief extract!

"Whatever the reason may be, the government is doing all it can to ensure that these “strictly protected areas” remain worthless paper parks, no more than lines on the map, that offer no protection to the wildlife they are meant to support.
It’s not just scallop dredging that is inherently incompatible with the protection of the life of the sea. It is trawling of all kinds. A special area of conservation should be just that: a place in which wildlife is allowed to proliferate, rather than being smashed and dragged and sieved to destruction.
So please respond to the consultation the Welsh government has launched. It takes only a couple of minutes. And where it asks for extra comments, you might recommend that there should be no scallop dredging at all in protected areas and that other destructive fishing techniques (those involving towed gear in other words) should also be excluded from the SACs.
This is your chance to intervene against the blatant and pointless destruction of what is supposed to be a strict conservation zone. If the response is big enough, the Welsh government will have to back down. If we can’t protect our own threatened megafauna, how can we expect any other nations to do so?"

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Nature in Art

I've come across the work of Carry Akroyd for some time now and I am on the distribution list for her newsletter  which has just arrived. You might find it interesting too. Here is an extract. You'll need to see the art work itself to fully appreciate it of course.The illustrations in the news letter don't copy as I had hoped into the Blog so you will need to visit her web site shown below:

Carry Akroyd
click follow to receive my intermittent news:


The autumn trees are lovely this year. 
Another lovely thing is my NEW CALENDAR for 2016 and the surprising news that i now have an online sales facility on the website!

I have a solo show coming up at the Robert Fogell Gallery in Stamford. it runs from October 24th - November 14th.
 Rob is a wonderful sculptor and has created a beautiful gallery.

i have a group of works in The Natural Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. This exhibition opens on Wednesday 28th October and closes at 1pm on Sunday 8th November. I will be giving an illustrated talk at the Mall Galleries on Friday 6th November at 2.30pm, about my interest in the poet John Clare and how his writing has influenced a strong seam of my work.

if you would like an invitation to either of the above let me know.

meanwhile my John Clare series ‘Found in the Fields’ continues to tour Hampshire, currently it is at Andover until November 14th. After that it will go on to the Allen Gallery in Alton.

and upt’north, i will have a solo print show at the Leeds Craft and Design Centre which will run from 7th 
with good wishes

if you would like to be removed from my mailing list, just email ‘remove’ and it shall be done.
Carry Akroyd
click follow to receive my intermittent news:

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Plantlife and our local meadow

I get the Plantlife news letter every month and this is an extract from the latest copy.I recommend it. Here is their web site:

Plantlife logo

Welcome to our September e-news

Road verge campaign
Great news! Over 15,000 people have now signed to support better verge management for nature!

If you haven't already, please sign our road verge petition today.
Also in the newsletter they highlight wildflower gardens .
Wildflower gardens can be unkempt and a bit scruffy, right? Well, they don’t have to be. There’s a place for wild flowers in modern contemporary gardens, too.
If you prefer a clean-cut, well-designed and contemporary garden, native plants can be used to great effect in providing both the structure and the ever-changing palette of colour. In fact, many are already tried-and-tested stalwarts of the designer's repertoire, while others can be put to great effect if you’re willing to be a bit more adventurous...

Click here to read this full feature by Plantlife's botanical specialist,  Dr Trevor Dines.
In another item they highlight a flower we have in our local meadow  and here is my photo taken earlier in June in 2014 and just starting to flower

Out and about
Watch out for...
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
This spiky, yellow plant grows in single stems to 60cm in size. The small yellow petals reveal themselves in stages from the bottom upwards and the leaves have jagged edges with whitish undersides. 

Agrimony is widespread except for in Scotland where it can only be found in some southern parts. It can also be found on hedge banks, road verges and in other grassy places. 

Some people use agrimony to represent thankfulness.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Batty Piece, Ladies Bedstraw and Humming-bird Hawk Moth

Since my last blog we have been away on holiday to Italy and seen some interesting wildflowers and butterflies , now back home I can add the latest news from our local meadow.

In my absence a friend visited our field and sent me these three photographs. His email comment was
 "I found three Humming-bird Hawk-moth larvae on the Lady's Bedstraw in Batty
Piece this morning. There was also a Scorched Carpet moth by the gate. "   Not being a trained observer myself I find it hard to see such detail.
John Bebbington is the photographer and has publish a book you might find interesting and useful. Its title is  "Insect Photography -  Art and Techniques "   ISBN 978 1 84979 378 8.  Published in 2012 by The Crowood Press Ltd. 

I was very pleased to see today, in our garden around 200 m from the field, a very busy Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding on some flowers. I've photographed them before but not virtually at the same time as seeing the larvae ( or caterpillars as I would say! )
The field itself I visited today and it is still full of pyramidal orchid in flower , knapweed, ladies bedstraw, field scabious and numerous butterflies including the marbled white.. I did however find again the seed capsule of the Bee orchid which finished flowering in June. Back in july I found several locations with Bee orchids including one small area with around 20 plants which I hadn't seen before. It was a delight to see the meadow looking so good in the bright sunshine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Common Broomrape or Orobanche minor

Part 2 ( see my previous post for part 1)

At the other end of our garden is a small wild patch  where I try to encourage native plants and control strong growing grasses. Teasels are growing well there and whilst trying to help by removing some grasses at the base of a teasel plant I unfortunately found myself holding the flowering stem of a broomrape which I believe is the common species. Trying to identify it I cut in half one of the flowers and found the two purple stigmas joined on a single style and with 4 stamen which I think show up quite well in the photos. So I am fairly confident with the identification and will look to see if other specimens have survived my "weeding" ! These plants can be seen out in the fields nearby if the management allows! There is an obvious message in this post and the previous about the conflict between humans and plant life

Pyramidal Orchid and Common Broomrape OR Anacamptis pyramidalis and Orobanche minor

This is a tale about these two plants which have appeared in our garden this year. The orchid appeared last year also but not in the same spot in our front lawn. At times it's not so much a lawn as a nursery for plants that happen to choose to appear!
Earlier this year I cut the grass probably in March or April and kept my eyes open for anything that looked like an interesting plant. Then it was left to grow on until I gave it another cut and this time suddenly spotted a Pyramidal orchid plant just inches in front of the mower! I went round it and left a small path of grass and the orchid to grow on. A bit later as the orchid plant began to send up a flower spike I took a photo and took another just now. The first was on 28th May when the plant was about 19 cm high. You can see that the tips of the leaf has been clipped which I believe was made during the first mowing

The next two were taken today 24th June and the flower is nearly fully open and has grown to 32 cm.
The photos of the Broomrape I'll put in another post!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Eastfield and Batty Piece

Just posted this on our local community web site Facebook page and it might be of wider interest!
Eastfield is a 4 acre field alongside our Batty Piece private nature reserve. I added the photos I have added to my previous Blog post.

A couple of days ago I walked round the edge of Eastfield looking at the narrow strip of uncut vegetation that the Council has excluded from the fortnightly mowing regime it introduced last summer. I was very delighted to find that the long established wild Pyramidal orchids are still surviving and are now in flower. I counted at least 50 specimens spread around all four sides. Obviously there are many other native plants that can be seen and it shows how the meadow could look if a larger are could be spared. It's not just plants that are benefiting, butterflies are there in large numbers, Meadow Browns and the Marbled White making use of the long grass. Insects of many types, food for the Swifts which we see now and so on to make up a rich biodiversity which even the Pope recognises as being our responsibility to protect. Please visit Eastfield and see for yourself.

Here are a few more photos from our meadow.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Batty Piece

Our 4 acre wildlife meadow is at its best in June. Bee Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids are now well into the flowering season. I found around 30 or 40 Bee Orchids this week and the Pyramidal are too numerous to count. Grass Vetchling is spread around the field as is Yellow Rattle. Patches of Ladies Bedstraw are nearly in flower and I found a few Broomrape. Knapweed is coming into flower and Field Scabious. Butterflies are common including Marbled White.
I'll add a few photographs soon.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Climate Heroes

The latest email from Avaaz!

Dear Avaazers, 

“TheOur appeals followed G7 Chair Angela Merkel everywhere for 6 weeks.
Many told us it was a pipe dream, but the G7 Summit of leading world powers just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels forever!!!

Even the normally cynical media is raving that this is a huge deal.

And it's one giant step closer to a huge win at the Paris summit in December -- where the entire world could unite behind the same goal of a world without fossil fuels -- the only way to save us all from catastrophic climate change.

For 2 years our community has led global public mobilisation for this goal, including:
  • spearheading the gigantic, momentum-changing, 700,000 strong climate march last year
  • a 2.7 million person petition for 100% clean/0 carbon delivered to dozens of key leaders
  • scores of rallies, high-level lobbying meetings, opinion polls, and ad campaigns, all funded by our community
  • a 3 month all-out push for the G7 summit leadership, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to put this on the agenda and agree to this goal

Our work is far from done, but it's a day to celebrate -- click here to read more and say congratulations to everyone else in this incredibly wonderful community!!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Day three of the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild Challenge

this evening about an hour or so ago I went for a jog and a walk round our local nature reserve 4 acre wildflower meadow, I'm pleased to say that I spotted two  very new Bee Orchids to add to the one I spotted two days ago and a freshly flowering Pyramidal Orchid. That is quite an achievement because we rarely see more that say a dozen bee orchids but hundreds of pyramidal and they may well be a bit later than the bee orchid. Also almost in flower is Ladies Bedstraw and Yellow rattle is flowering over much of the 4 acres. Knapweed is coming along but not in flower in our field but I noticed in an adjoining farmed field margin.Grass vetchling with its small brightly coloured purple flow is visible every where. Grasses are flowering so would make a very good identification exercise. We have found 15 different species of meadow grass and I saw tonight a patch of quaking grass.
So that is my contribution to the 30 day challenge and I'll have to keep looking for the rest of the month.

Here is a link to a blog written by Jane who has been blogging on wildlife for quite a time. She is also following the Wildlife Trust national challenge to record some contact with wildlife for 30 days and this is her 3rd dray post

Day 3: Running, owls and butterflies

Day three of the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild Challenge

Try this link to the Wildlife Trust web site:

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Barcroft Hall, South Somerset

One of the items covered in this blog was the Field of Dreams. It was a big attraction in 2011 and 12 and then I recall it was closed in 2013 be3cause of bad weather and reopened again in 2014. Mixed reactions were reported by visitors. The web site shows that it is not open in 2015 with no other explanation. I thought I should add this note to bring the situation up to date.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Local wildlife news, wild orchids

We haven't heard from our nightingale for a couple of weeks now. and we don't know what has happened to it.

Early this morning about 5am noticed a fox out in the nearby field. Looked as if he was trying to find some food, even chasing after birds on the ground but unsuccessful. The usual group of rabbits was nowhere to be seen.

Mowing our front lawn I was looking out for signs of wild orchids and just in time I spotted one. See photo below. We found one last year also but in a different location. You can see in the photo that its leaves have been cut a little. That must have happened when I did an early cut on the lawn. The flower spike is intact and should be opening as a pyramidal orchid soon.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Nightingale interrupts live coverage of the UK election count!

I've edited this earlier post to bring our news up to date.

Whilst enjoying the all night TV coverage of the UK election I dragged myself away from the TV and went into the garden to listen for bird song. I was not disappointed. At 1am and again at 2am I found our local nightingale in full song and apparently much closer than previously. It was a  very satisfying experience and long may it continue.

I don't know anyone locally who has seen this bird but here is a summary of times we have heard it singing.

16.4.15 First report.
19.4.15 Night time walk at 2300 hrs confirms location.

Then heard daily until:

27.4.15 no reports then for nearly two weeks  till 7.5.15. Weather was cold and wet  during this time.
New report on 7.5.15 Election day!
Then heard daily up to present 11.5.15
We have made our own recording of the song using a mobile phone and last night using an iPad so we have a very clear and good record.  Using an App on the iPad we can compare the two recordings.

Links for more information:

On this site you can see a photo of a Nightingale and hopefully hear the bird song, if the link works!

Somerset Wildlife Trust. may_2012

We would be pleased if you would visit our new blog for the Heart of the Levels Wildlife local area group. The Groups official blog for information about our activities.:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Another report of our Curry Rivel nightingale!

I had an email from a neighbour this morning saying they had just heard our nightingale again early this morning.They confirmed they hadn't heard it for two weeks which is my experience too. It seems its still alive and well and living in Curry Rivel!
I shall redouble my efforts to try to confirm this report.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Nightingale in Curry Rivel. The Phantom of the Opera.

Our special visitor arrived about mid April, sang every night for a couple of weeks but then the weather changed to wet and cold nights and the singing stopped. We haven't heard it for the last two weeks now. So did it move on, to somewhere more sheltered and warmer? Perhaps if it was looking for a mate and failed and  decided to go elsewhere?
We miss its cheerful bright song, all the more because it was remarkable to be out in the field , under the stars and with no traffic noise or aircraft and with a tiny bird to entertain us!
We never saw it in the dark and hidden in the top of an overgrown blackthorn hedge.
The Phantom of the Opera!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mark Lynas and the Climate change debate

Here is an extract from any article written by Mark Lynas in the Guardian Newspaper recently. He highlights  some important problems which are preventing world governments from taking urgent action on this issue which is hardly getting a mention in the current political election mania.
"Alarmists and deniers need to climb out of their parallel trenches, engage with the developing world and work together to end the crisis 
Depressingly, all this confirms what social psychologists have long insisted: that most people accept only scientific “facts” that are compatible with or which reinforce their political identities and world views.
Forget the political myths: here’s the hard reality. The emergence from poverty of the developing world is non-negotiable. Humanity will therefore double or triple energy consumption overall by 2050. Our challenge is to develop and deploy the technology to deliver this energy in as low-carbon a way as possible, probably using some combination of efficiency, renewables, next-generation nuclear and carbon capture. We need to pour vastly more resources into R&D, and put a significant international price on carbon.
But to make any of this happen we will need to recapture the climate debate from the political extremes. We must then work to come up with inclusive proposals that can form the basis of a social consensus that must last decades if it is to have any meaningful effect on the climate change crisis that faces us."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nightingale still singing every night.

The earliest local report this year of hearing a Nightingale singing at night here in Curry Rivel was Thursday 16th April. Maybe a single bird but it has been heard every night since and once in the morning in daylight. Just been listening from home at 2300 hrs.
As a summer visitor I am hoping to find out more about where it may have come from?
In its migration does it fly at night?
Now it's here why does it sing at night as well as in daylight?
Is it likely to be a male bird hoping to attract a female?

The planned walk being organised by our local Heart of the Levels Wildlife Area Group has had to be cancelled so maybe I can help out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Nightingale update. Luscinia megarhynchos

Our night time walk was very successful and a rewarding experience. I was joined by one other neighbour and we easily located the singing bird at around 11 pm in the top branches of an old overgrown hedge, mainly Blackthorn.We didn't try to see it directly but it didn't take any notice of us within about 10 metres  away. It was singing again last night at midnight. Other local reports say it was first heard last thursday , 16th April.

Here is  some information from the RSPB web site. Next question: where did this bird spend the winter?

It seems that in the middle of Somerset we are on the normal western end of their summer visits.

Luscinia megarhynchos

Where to see them

A secretive bird which likes nothing better than hiding in the middle of an impenetrable bush or thicket. In the UK they breed mostly south of the Severn-Wash line and east from Dorset to Kent. The highest densities are found in the south east: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Kent and Sussex.

When to see them

They arrive in April and sing until late May and early June. They leave again from July to September. They can be heard singing throughout the day, as well as at night.

What they eat



EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-6,700 males--

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Nightingale song

Not spent a lot of time watching birds  but when a neighbour emailed me yesterday to say she had heard a nightingale singing around 11 pm two nights ago I did my own walk about this evening and sure enough at least one bird was singing at about  the same time. Will try again tomorrow and try to pin down its location. Could be near our local nature reserve and wild flower meadow, which incidentally is showing a very impressive number of cowslips this year. To crown the day I saw an Orange Tip butterfly in the garden this afternoon. Not the first one this year . Have seen one or two over the last week.

My wife has an app on her iPad which gives identification details and songs for birds which is very useful.

Friday, April 03, 2015

BBC Spring Watch, activities we can all join in.

Watched the BBC Easter Spring Watch programme this evening and would like to encourage more people in my local area to join in to look for the early signs of spring. You can find more information on the BBC web site.

Tips on how to identify the Big Spring Watch species:

By Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust Citizen Science Manager
Here at the Woodland Trust we have been recording signs of spring (and autumn!) for 15 years. This is a mere blink of the eye compared to the records which date back nearly three centuries to when Robert Marsham began recording spring species and events back in 1736 on his family estate near Norwich.
In partnership with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Cambridge we have been able to analyse over two and a half million pieces of data, historic and modern, recorded by the public across the length and breadth of the UK. This information has provided a real insight into how plants and animals are responding to climate change. We have already discovered how both spring and autumn are arriving earlier than before; up to two weeks in the case of certain species, and that the seasons in themselves are also much less distinct. In some years ‘winter’ seems to hardly make an appearance at all.
We know that some species are dependant on one another and so the relationship between when they appear is important. If leafing and caterpillar hatching are happening earlier, for instance, birds will need to be able to respond to this so they don’t miss the peak availability of spring food for their nestlings.
What we have yet to really understand is how and why these events occur geographically across the country and what influences may play a part on their arrival. So theoretically we know that spring should begin in the South West and work its way up the country to Scotland. What is less clear is how quickly certain species will make an appearance across the country from south to north.
With the help of Springwatch viewers we hope to piece together the speed at which five seasonal events are first seen across the country from south to north; seven-spot ladybird, oak leafing, hawthorn flowering, orange-tip butterfly and the swallow returning from Africa.
By analysing the records we hope to find out if there is a uniform direction that spring progresses in, whether particular species react differently and even if it speeds up or slows down as it arrives.
Better understanding of seasonal timings means we may be able to help species that appear less able to react to climate change. For example analysis of our records shows that frogs are so locally adapted they may struggle to keep up with even modest change.
We all know that our precious wildlife habitats are under threat and it’s important we do what we can to protect and link up existing habitats, create new habitats and manage the natural environment for the benefit for as diverse an array of wildlife as possible.