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.
(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.
Local wildlife sites - a new page
Andrew Graham has given us a richly detailed recounting of places to visit locally. On the new Local wildlife sites page, reached via the Resources tab on the menu and passing through Wildlife identification and recording, you will find separate sections on local woodlands, water habitats, grasslands and other places of interest.
Update to Field Trips calendar
Peter Shallcross will be leading an extra field trip on Friday 23rd June to Ryewater Nursery, where the focus will be on butterflies, plus the varied habitats of this former nursery, which is now managed for conservation. Please see the details on our updated Field Trips document.
Field Trips programme details
Head over to the Field Trips page to download a document we've prepared about meeting places, distance, difficulty and footwear for all the main Field Trips this year. There's a wonderful line up of outings, both day and night, to experience the wildlife world of nightjars, otters, beavers, migratory birds, ancient trees...and the list goes on! The first one will be on Mon 1 May 2023 for a guided bird walk at Wallmead Farm with ecologist Nick Adams, starting at 5.30pm.
Please note that the Young Nature Watch Activities are listed on the main Calendar and details about them will be communicated on the YNW Blog and via email.
The full programme for 2023/24
You can now find the full listing of our Talks and Field Trips for March 2023 to April 2024 on the relevant pages of this website or as a pdf to print out. Members will receive email newsletters with more details closer to each event and Blog posts will follow as reminders. We look forward to your company!
Don't forget to sign up to the notifications for our website news by popping your email address into the subscribe box on the Blog page. This box is visible towards the bottom of your screen when viewing the Blog page on a mobile.
Andrew Graham and Peter Shallcross will lead our final excursion of the summer, an outing to the Bulford Ranges Training Area on Salisbury Plain.
Members of the public are permitted to use Rights of Way that cross the training area when firing is not in progress and the plan is to walk along these established footpaths through this gently undulating landscape of downland and mixed woodlands. As the area lacks the field boundaries and enclosures that exist across most of the rest of the countryside, it looks and feels quite different from what we are used to, and remote.
It is hard to forecast what effect the recent drought will have had on what there will be to see, but we are hoping for late summer downland butterflies and birds. With migration starting, one never knows what birds might turn up.
Though we will be following well established paths and tracks, the parched, unforgiving ground means stout shoes or boots will be advisable. We will probably walk 3 to 4 miles; please bring refreshments and any snacks you may need, though the plan is to return to Tisbury by late lunchtime.
As there is only limited parking at the start point, we ask everyone wanting to join the outing to meet Andrew and Peter at the Nadder Centre car park on Weaveland Road, Tisbury at 09:30. If you are setting off from a different location, please car share. The meeting place is at What3words: starfish.bleat.idea off the road between Bulford and Tidworth. At this location for 10:30 am. https://what3words.com/starfish.bleat.idea
Members - please reply to the Treasurer's email sent on 28th August so that we know how many people to expect.
Non-members (Guests) can join us for £2 per adult. Any Guests wishing to join this field trip must please contact us in advance.
Field trip to Durlston Head
16 members gathered on a predictably hot day at The Learning Centre at Durlston Country Park near Swanage. Dorset Council ranger Paul Jones gave us an introductory talk about the different habitats and the wildlife that we were likely to see. Had we visited earlier (say early June), we could have seen, heard and smelt the colony of guillemots nesting on the cliffs and seen the numerous different species of orchids flowering in the meadows that Durlston is well known for.
However, there was still plenty to see. Paul led us to an old quarry where, on hands and knees, he showed us the rare bastard toadflax (stars-in-grass is his more preferable name for it). He led us to meadows where we quickly saw brown argus, common and holly blues, meadow browns and a single grayling butterfly and, later on, a clouded yellow.
From the cliffs we spied a flight of cormorants and a few lucky members saw peregrine falcons and a white-tailed eagle (They have been re-introduced on the Isle of Wight).
After a fascinating 1.5 hour guided walk we bade farewell to Paul and most of us made our way to the cafe in the castle where, to top things off, we were treated to fly-by from a Lancaster bomber off Old Harry’s rocks as part of the Swanage Festival.
by Peter Shallcross
On Saturday 6th August you can join Peter Shallcross on a guided visit to the 320 acre Durlston Country Park and Nature Reserve. Set on the cliff tops looking out over Durlston Bay, south of Swanage, most of it designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, the Park has been owned by Dorset County Council for the last 50 years.
The plan is to meet up with Paul Jones, Durlston Countryside Ranger, at the Durlston Learning Centre, on the opposite side of the car park (at BH19 2JL) from Durlston Castle at 11 o’clock.
Depending on what people particularly wish to see, we expect Paul to lead us on a walk for a couple of hours. There’ll then be a break for lunch (you can bring your own or visit the Seventh Wave café in the Castle) and/or head for home or spend the afternoon doing further exploring.
There is no limit on numbers. Members will have received instructions via email for this field trip. Non-members (Guests) can join us for £2 per adult. Any Guests wishing to join this field trip must please contact us in advance and let us know whether you will meet us at Durlston Castle or at the Nadder Centre on Weaveland Road at 9:30 if you need a lift.
by Dick Budden
Field trip to Tyneham
Breath-taking views were our reward at the top of a climb from the history barn at Tyneham last weekend, as Andrew Graham pointed out the geology and wildlife of this beautiful stretch of coast, towards Kimmeridge to the east and Lulworth to the west.
We had a pair of ravens circling above us for a while and admired Marbled White, Wall Brown and Grayling butterflies near the paths. Several in the group helped with pointing out flowers like wild marjoram, yellow wort and rest harrow which is so named because its leaf and stalk bundle is so strong it can cause hold back a harrow. One of the favourites of the day was the Duke of Argyll's tea tree, which has honeysuckle like tendrils with purple and yellow flowers.
A picnic near the beach, watching the kayakers and hardy swimmers finished off our morning before a stroll back and an exploration amongst the Tyneham ruins for some.
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.