Meet at the Nadder Centre car park on Sat 3rd June at 10.30am or approximately 1 hour 15 minutes later at the Westhay Moor Reserve BA6 9TX. The car park is at OS ST 456 437, just north of the junction between Westhay Moor Drove and Dagg’s Lane Drove, between the villages of Westhay and Godney.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear: Approximately 5 km/3 miles on flat gravel paths which may be a bit muddy if there has been recent rain. Good stout shoes should suffice rather than wellingtons. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
This Field Trip has limited numbers. There may still be places if you've not yet signed up and want to come. Equally please let us know if you're on the list, but can no longer make the date. We are now using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org for organising lists for events, so please contact us there.
Congratulations to our committee member Debbie Carter, who has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Green category for BBC Radio Wiltshire’s Make a Difference Awards.
As most of our members are aware, Debbie has been a very active and essential committee member for many years, in addition to other nature-related causes in Tisbury and surrounding area she’s dedicated a lot of time, effort and passion. Woodlands Alive organiser, parish council’s tree warden, WWT’s nature reserve warden, water vole surveyor, dormice surveyor… Debbie was conducting a botanical survey near the community field (which she was instrumental in obtaining for the enjoyment of all the residents of Tisbury!) when she received the call from BBC to let her know about her nomination!
So we are very pleased to hear Debbie has been shortlisted. They’ve had more than 200 nominations in total across the eight categories, with finalists being shortlisted by a panel of four, based on anonymous nomination letters. There will be an award ceremony on Saturday 23rd September, where they will be announcing the overall winner for each category. In the meantime, you will be able to hear Debbie’s story, as well as that of other finalists, on interviews BBC Radio Wiltshire will be conducting over the summer.
We wish Debbie all the best for this award and thank her for all she does for nature and all of us who value nature.
by Inés López-Dóriga
Debbie Carter sent in this photograph of a baby treecreeper from the Carters' visit to Stourhead this week. Its camouflage is certainly awe inspiring.
(c) RSPB Swell Wood
A reminder for our upcoming field trip to RSPB Swell Wood Reserve, an ancient woodland west of Curry Rivel off the A378. We will view the heronry as the birds roost for the night and there could be an option of a longer (approximately 1km) walk through the reserve after seeing the heronry, if there is sufficient daylight. No dogs.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park at 6:30pm or at RSPB Swell Wood Reserve on the A378, Taunton TA3 6PX at approximately 7:30pm
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear - less than 100 metres on a flat path through woodland. Stout shoes should suffice. Torches will be needed, as the return walk will be in twilight. Further details on the heronry are available on the RSPB website.
After so much rain in March, as soon as the ground warmed up plant growth was rapid. So now the lanes are bursting with vegetation and flowers. Many roadsides are white with massed clouds of Cow Parsley, also known more flatteringly as Queen Anne’s Lace. In common with other umbellifers, this tall plant has large flat circular flowers made up of many smaller florets. It is extremely common and is found in all sorts of places, particularly along roadside verges. It appears to be particularly suited to this habitat where it starts to dominate other flowers. If, after mowing, the cuttings are left, the ground is enriched, and this combined with fertiliser from adjacent farmland allows strongly growing plants like the Cow Parsley to dominate. Although only a biennial, it produces lots of seed, so can spread easily. On the positive side, the plant’s mass of flowers is attractive to numerous insects including beetles, hoverflies, and butterflies.
Umbellifers are a large group and there are numerous species - good, bad and ugly - to be found in the countryside and garden. Most have white flowers but some are yellow or green while some cultivated varieties for the garden may be purple. Some, such Wild Carrot and Wild Parsley have been domesticated to give us food crops. The former, often found on chalky soils, is a lower growing plant with a collar of wonderful feathery bracts below the flower head. Its root does indeed smell like carrot but while it is far smaller than those we grow for the table, the badgers still like them enough to dig them out of our garden.
Many of our culinary herbs, for example parsley, coriander and fennel are umbellifers as anyone who has had their plants bolt will have noticed. Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate Angelica, the stems of which are crystallised for cake and trifle decoration and also provides the flavour for Chartreuse liqueur.
However, the hated Ground Elder is the bane of many a gardener’s life. Although not a large plant, once established its rhizomes spread easily making it hard to eradicate. But there are worse species. The Giant Hogweed, which was introduced from the Caucasus by Victorian plant hunters is particularly nasty. Its sap is phototoxic which means that on contact with it, your skin loses the ability to protect itself from sunlight, resulting in nasty blisters. And then there is Hemlock, most famously associated with the death of Socrates. All parts of this plant are highly toxic but fortunately it has an off-putting odour which keeps animals away and reduces the likelihood of humans thinking it might be edible.
Umbellifers are such a large group, and quite difficult to distinguish without practice and good guidebook, it is better to avoid consuming any of them, just admire the mass of flowers and leave them for the insects to enjoy.
by Andrew Graham
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
The headers display photos taken by our members. Do get in touch via the Contact Form if you'd like to submit a photo for selection.