Debbie Carter has organised this trip to hear Nightjars in the New Forest. If you've not yet signed up, please let us know by the email* mentioned in Dick's monthly newsletter or use the Contact form. The committee have access to this gmail account, so please use it because we're trying to ease Dick's Treasurer admin workload!
[*Editor: I have removed the precise details of this email because we have begun to receive Spam on the account.]
Meet at the Nadder Centre, Weaveland Road car park to set out at 7:45pm or at the Turf Hill car park ( OS Grid reference SU 212 176) just west of the B3080 at Hale Purlieu, Fordingbridge SP6 2NT at approximately 8:30pm. No dogs.
Editor's Note: Please note the meeting time is earlier than the Field Trip Details pdf which was uploaded in April. An updated version will be put on the website.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear: we shall be walking from the car park for about ½ mile, 15-20 minutes or so. This is easy walking on a rough but level gravel track to where the Nightjars are in the trees near a row of pylons. As we shall be starting at dusk and returning to cars in the dark, you need to bring with you a good torch.
I was walking a butterfly transect in a local wood recently when I disturbed a buzzard which flew off deeper into the trees. Continuing along the grass path, I noticed a brown lump ahead of me and through my binos I saw that this was another buzzard crouched down on the ground. Cautiously approaching, I realised that the bird wasn’t going to fly off, so I was able to get right up close to take these pictures. I guess that it was a youngster, not all that long fledged and not a confident flier that the parent that I had seen previously was keeping an eye on. The youngster seemed focussed on trying to scare me off by looking impressive with its full wingspan and a bit of hissing but making no effort to fly off.
After taking these pictures I left him in peace and hope that he was able to fly off in due course.
Come and join us on Sunday 9th July for a stroll through Vernditch Woods and across Martin Down National Nature Reserve with the knowledgeable butterfly enthusiast Andrew Graham. Please send a message via the Contact form.
If weather permits, the focus will be on butterflies but there will be ample opportunity to look at the flora as well. No dogs.
Meet at the Nadder Centre car park at 11:00am or at the Martin Down car park, SP5 5RQ beside the A354, at roughly 12:00pm.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear. Approximately 4km/2.5 miles on flat, mainly grassed, paths and tracks. Stout shoes should suffice unless wet. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
There are more than 35 native species of fern growing in the UK, some of which can be found locally, such as maidenhair spleenwort and hart’s-tongue fern. However, the most easily recognisable is bracken, which by July has grown to its full height, up to six feet tall.
Its name originates from the Old Norse and even today the Swedish use the word ‘braken’ meaning fern. Bracken grows where the soil is rich and has a close association with woodland, so often on hillsides and moors, for example, bracken betrays the past existence of woodland. I recently visited the Welsh island of Skomer and observed how bracken is widespread there. There aren’t any trees on the Island and have not been for many hundred of years. Other woodland indicator species there include carpets of bluebells and wood-sage.
Individual bracken plants have been known to cover as much as 3 acres, because the rhizomes (creeping underground shoots) spread over a wide area at a speed of over a metre per year. If uncontrolled, bracken can dominate the ground flora, build up a thick mat of dead material, and restricts grass available for animals. But where grazing animals keep paths open it can be an important butterfly habitat. For example, on lower slopes of Dartmoor, it is the last refuge for several rare species of butterflies including the high brown fritillary, small pearl-bordered and pearl-bordered fritillaries which needs dog violets growing in these sunny warm areas.
Bracken is normally avoided by animals, but if short of other food and forced to consume it, it can cause cancer. The spores are also poisonous, so bracken is best avoided in the late summer, when they are released. Also, bracken stands are the ideal habitat for sheep ticks, so beware!
by Andrew Graham
There are still a few spaces for this trip organised by Peter Shallcross. Please use the Contact form if you'd like to come. Ryewater Nursery is privately owned and not open to the public, so this is a wonderful opportunity to visit Clive Farrell's creatively designed wildlife haven.
Meet at Nadder Centre car park ready for departure at 9:30am on Fri 23 June or at the Ryewater Nursery DT9 5PL, at roughly 10:30am. Note, Ryewater Nursery is on the east side of Broke Lane, approximately 7km/4.5 miles south of Sherborne. The postcode is shared with Ryewater Farm that is on the other side of Broke Lane.
Distance, Difficulty and Footwear. Approximately 4km/2.5 miles on flat, paths and tracks. Stout shoes should suffice unless wet. Bring a packed lunch and refreshments.
The focus will be on butterflies but there will be ample opportunity to look at the varied habitats of this former nursery, now managed for conservation, with a butterfly house and gardens of around 20 acres. No dogs.
One of my schoolteachers used to say that if you could cover 20 daisy flowers in the lawn with one foot, it must be summer. We used to think that her summer always came a good couple of weeks earlier than ours.
There are thousands of plants in the daisy family – the Asteraceae – the name derived from the Latin for star, aster. The flowers have an easily recognisable star shape. Actually, the flower head isn’t a single flower but lots of tiny ones making up the central disc (‘disc florets’) and the surrounding ‘ray florets’ which we think of as petals. This multiplicity of flowers means that daisies are good nectar sources and are consequently attractive to pollinating insects.
The word daisy comes from the Old English of daeges eage, which means day’s eye, referring to the way the flower opens in the morning and closes at night. The symmetrical daisy flower is easy to draw so the daisy wheel is a common apotropaic sign that used to be inscribed onto the walls or beams of buildings to ward off evil (Messums barn, for example) and is now the new logo for the local Stone Daisy Brewery.
The daisy with which we are probably most familiar is the common, lawn or English daisy that we’ve all used for making daisy chains. Some gardeners see the plant as a weed, but others love to see the flowers dotting the lawn. It can grow in wide range of soils, even compacted, and spreads by both seed and underground runners.
Another common species is the much taller ox-eye daisy, often seen in meadows and hedge banks. This is our largest native daisy, a resilient perennial that sheds masses of seeds, it spreads easily and forms impressive stands quite quickly. In contrast to the common daisy, the flowers do not close at night and may glow in the dusk leading some to name it the moon daisy. The flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies, and beetles. Both daisy species are used for the petal-picking romance prediction game of ‘loves me; loves me not’.
As well as several other wild daisy species, there are numerous daisy varieties which have been bred for our gardens such as Shasta Daisies, Michaelmas Daisies, and Marguerites. Most are attractive to insects so should not be overlooked because they are ‘just a daisy.’
by Andrew Graham
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 email@example.com 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.
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.