I went out last Saturday, bright and sunny, hoped to see especially a mistle thrush but no luck. But today - grey, gloomy, drizzly - Andrew Graham, who had the same experience, saw no fewer than 27, yes twenty seven! species of birds up on the concrete road (Ox Drove/Monarch's Way) to the east of the Wylye road from Chilmark.
He did see just one Brambling, but also a flock of larks! and lots of others including those famous 'jangling keys' corn buntings (another wonderful scientific name, emberiza calandra), bright yellowhammers getting ready for spring and chaffinches too - maybe refugees from my garden where I've seen none for several years. (Click once on a photo to enlarge and display caption.)
It was our late, lamented Committee member David Rear who suggested this spot, so it's good to have cause to remember him.
For Andrew's full account, go to MoreNews but for wildlife sightings, grey is obviously good, at this time of year at any rate!
Just to remind you of the additional online meeting on Thursday, by Neil Hartley about organic farming in Tisbury.
This will be a useful follow-on to Peter Thompson's November talk (if you missed this, go to talks/what you missed for a summary and the slides he used). We thought it would be relevant and interesting to hear from a neighbouring farmer on a similar topic.
Neil is an experienced farmer from Salisbury Plain who has recently acquired land near the community fields behind the Nadder centre. He will be telling us his exciting plans to bring his organic cattle to Tisbury, about what his farming practice entails and how he manages the impact on wildlife.
If you'd like to 'attend' the talk, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the link. All welcome - free to members, £2 for non-members.
Hope to see you there!
I don't know why or how, but somehow mistle thrushes have taken on some kind of mystic identity for me. I saw one on Tooting Common once - somehow I knew what it was though little about them. Now, thanks to Andrew Graham, it's our 'bird of the month' on our MoreNews page and I know a lot more.
And thanks to Abby Eaton, here's a lovely photo of a fledgling, taken right close to Tisbury.
And, thanks again to the wonderful Wikimedia Commons, whence we source a lot of our lovely photos - though our own library is growing apace and contributions are always welcome - an amazing video of a nest in action which you should be able to access via this link. Don't be put off by the orchestral overture, it passes!
Spring is on its way, no matter what the weather throws at us.
We are so fortunate to have the magnificent Messums gallery in Tisbury, but with the gallery closed for Lockdown throughout January and February, Messums is hosting a weekly series of discussions on the theme, 'Active environmentalism'. The talks are on Wednesday evenings at 6.30 pm and this week Ben Goldsmith will be discussing rewilding and the environment.
Each talk is approximately 30-40 minutes long followed by discussions and questions are welcome in advance to help build the conversation. Full details on Messums website, here. You can join for one talk priced at £10 or take up Online Membership for the entire year and attend as many as you would like. Membership includes an archive of Digital content to catch up on these and other recorded talks as well as online video and research.
They explain that this 'marks the transition from protest to participation. It is a recognition that knowledge is better shared and that when informed our innate moral compasses are all the guide we need. These consecutive discussions that take us from the sea though land and air towards a consideration on the future.'
Talks so far have been by Oliver Steeds, on his mission to genome the ocean; and 'Future ancestor,' an interview with Dr Christian Thompson.
Isn't this just lovely? The Guardian reports on a series of stamps Sweden has produced, one of which features Greta Thunberg with swifts. It's 'part of a set by the artist and illustrator Henning Trollbäck titled Valuable Nature.
'The series ... features some of the 16 environmental quality goals recently drawn up by the Swedish government, including habitats designated as important to protect, said the national postal service, PostNord.' (If only ...)
This came to us via our speaker on Thursday this week (21 January), Edward Mayer, the UK's leading expert on swifts. This will kick off our campaign to increase the number of swift nest sites in our area. Go to Talks for more details, and how to register for the talk.
To get you in the mood, here's an amazing video of how swifts really do live their entire lives on the wing.
Chairman Peter Shallcross comments that mid-winter when everything seems to be asleep seems to get shorter each year so we easily miss the birds who come here to escape even worse weather to our North, some of which like this fringilla montifringilla provide a welcome splash of colour.
But how did it get that name and what do we usually call it? Andrew Graham reveals all on our MoreNews page, and says good places to see them would be beech woods, perhaps near Compton Abbas airfield or nearby Melbury Wood - if only we could get there in the current COVID lockdown.
Chairman Peter Shallcross has commented that January is a time for regeneration and reflection: in the middle of winter trees are at rest and there are very few signs of spring to be seen as yet.
Unlike the trees, we at Tisbury Natural History Society aren't resting at all - in January we have not one but two of our monthly meetings
On Thursday 21 January as Bob Gibbons cannot now tell us why the Isle of Purbeck is so special (but he'll be back next January), we are delighted that Edward Mayer, the UK’s leading expert on the conservation of Swifts (the Common Swift: Apus apus) will be talking to us. And on
Thursday 28 January, we will have a 'Meet a farmer' discussion online at 7.30 pm with Neil Harley, an experienced farmer from the Salisbury Plain who has recently acquired land near the community fields behind the Nadder centre.
Full details on both these and instructions on how to register for Zoom, go to our Talks page.
Just to put our efforts in context, Channel 5 is running a 4-part series on the Natural History Museum in London - full details here. We know all about fossils of course, being next door to the Jurassic Coast, the Etches Museum et al. But getting to see 'the unique and rare pieces too valuable to exhibit' sounds like a bit of a treat.
First of the series is Thursday, 7 January, 8 pm and of course on catch-up.
Then, by way of coming right up to date, Messums Wiltshire's 'Conversations' series includes Isabella Tree, at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 27 January. You can access this via www.messumswiltshire.com/members-area - annual membership is £30 for an individual, £50 for a family. Isabella will talk about her now famous re-wilding of her family estate in West Sussex, described in her book 'Wilding'.
When Debbie Carter was out in the woods last month (ie, before the heavens opened!) she spotted lots more fungi -
Dick Budden also spotted a couple - clear to see why the possibly-field-blewitt might be that, but not clear why its name is spelt that way! They are edible but as with all fungi, don't even think of it unless you're an expert, as eating the wrong one could cost you your life.
Debbie spotted yet more, in the woods on Compton Mckenzie’s land on the Stavordale Estate near Pen Sel Wood, which is connected to part of the ancient Gillingham hunting forest created for King John.
The wood urchin is edible, but personally I'd regard it as no more edible than its alter ego, the hedgehog! The turkey tail on the left is now the third colourway for this one - my personal favourite - on this website: see above on this page, and also on the Field Trips page.
The Guardian newspaper reported at the weekend that Bellway Homes has has been fined £600,000 for carrying out a demolition at a site inhabited by Soprano Pipistrelle bats. Bellway also had to pay £30,000 costs and donated £20,000 to the Bat Conservation Trust.
They went ahead with the demolition even after being told they needed to obtain 'mitigation' and a licence from Natural England.
I would think/hope that's quite a lot of money, even for a housing developer.
The pages now display photos of fungi taken by members. This one by Andrew Carter - Trametes versicolour.
Please do not eat any of them.
If it's not me, Elizabeth Forbes, website editor (keen but ignorant), I'll say so.