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Latest News From North Somerset and Bristol Group

North Somerset and Bristol Group Work Party at Shapwick Summer 2014
North Somerset and Bristol Group Work Party at Shapwick Summer 2014

Yet again we were lucky with the weather for our walk through the reserves belonging to Backwell Environment Trust. The reserves were looking lovely and the sharp eyed amongst the group spotted a corncockle flower, a first for the reserve, and a Spotted Flycatcher and its nest in the top of a broken off tree. The nest had chicks and the parents were visiting to feed.

We did not have time to take in the archeological sites on the reserve, but if you are interested there is a walk on Sunday, 13 July, starting at 10.00am. The earliest feature is a Burial Cave, going back 5,000 years, with Neolithic to Roman remains. From the 17/18 centuries there are many ‘humps and bumps’ from exploitation of lead and iron deposits and, from the 19th century, the foundations of a Warrener’s Cottage and a restored limekiln.

For further info please call Jenny Greenslade on 01275 462849 or visit www.backwellenvironmenttrust.org

This month the walk will be on Monday, 28 July at 7.30pm, meeting at The Swan car park at Rowberrow. Chris Sperring will lead us on a Mendip Ramble around that area, possibly finding some nightjars. Summer walks are essentially for members but guests are welcome for a modest fee of £2.50.

The Magnificent hide at our Reserve at Shapwick Moor
The Magnificent hide at our Reserve at Shapwick Moor

News from Shapwick Reserve:
June’s work day on the reserve was hot, hot, hot! The outside of The Badger Hide has now been coated, some of the surrounding area cleared of some of the lush growths and a log pile created The hedge along the drove is looking very healthy and has some beautiful dog roses in it. The new hedge planting around the car park has also been weeded. Visitors to the hides are increasing, as are the positive comments, which is very encouraging for the volunteers. The feeders are attracting plenty of the smaller birds.

The next work day is 26 July. For more details or to be put on the volunteer mailing list, please contact Barry on baz.gray@btinternet.com

Other dates and items which may be of interest:

The Avalon Marshes Festival:
This runs from Saturday 12 July to Saturday 26 July.

Following a very successful first year in 2013, the Avalon Marshes Festival is a celebration of the rich diversity of wildlife and the 10,000 years of cultural heritage of the Avalon Marshes. The festival kicks off with the Avalon Marshes Day on Saturday 12 July, a day of activities, tours, talks, exhibitions and more based at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury. Chris Sperring (MBE, BBC Radio presenter, and Hawk & Owl Trust Conservation Officer) will lead walks throughout the day.

Also in attendance will be Natural England, RSPB, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset County Council’s Heritage Service, Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Friends of St Bride’s Mound, Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, local heritage groups and more. There is a full programme of various activities, walks and talks throughout the two weeks including ‘ When Beavers Roamed the Somerset Levels Marshes – Animals of the Past’ with Chris Sperring and Dr Richard Brunning at Cossington on 21 July. Further details on www.avalonmarshes.org/AMF_2014.

Barn Owls – The benign weather of May and June has been very favourable for Barn Owls and reports so far seem to suggest that it has been a good year for them. In many cases they have nested early and there is every chance that many will have a second brood. Things don’t appear to have been quite so good for Peregrines though, with many regular sites not being used this year and those that have been have had only one, or maybe two, chicks. The notable exception is Portishead where four chicks were ringed.

Kestrel project – Results this year have been very encouraging, with 7 of our 31 boxes being used. We know that at least 23 young hatched. Seventeen of the young were ringed from five of the boxes.
Ashton Court , June 2014 Congresbury, June 2014

Barry is always interested in kestrel sightings, and hearing from volunteers willing to help carry his ladder! – baz.gray@btinternet.com

Petition to ban driven grouse shoots – Many will be aware of the conflict between grouse shooting and raptors, especially the perilous situation with Hen Harriers. Dr Mark Avery has started a petition to require the next government to ban driven grouse shooting in England. The petition is open until May 2015. For further information search Mark Avery’s blogs on the topic, and if you wish to sign the petition the address is http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/65627.
We look forward to seeing you for our Mendip walk on 28 July.

With best wishes
Carrie Riches
Chairman
Hawk and Owl Trust
North Somerset and Bristol Group

Shapwick Moor becomes a Penal Colony – for a day!

On Tuesday  3rd  June,60 pupils from nearby St Benedict’s School in Glastonbury visited Shapwick Moor as part of their literacy studies.  They have been studying the book ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar in which pupils are made to dig holes to atone for their past poor behaviour.  The accompanying school staff took on the  role as…Continue Reading

Donation of New Visitors’ Seat for Shapwick Moor from North Somerset Group

The North Somerset Group of the Hawk and Owl Trust has financed a new seat for visitors to Shapwick Moor The seat will be in memory of former Chairman Barbara Handley who was actively involved with the group until her sad death last year, and it will be positioned to look out over some of…Continue Reading

Busy times at Shapwick Moor Continue

Following the successful tree planting in March by the Family Group, the ‘oldies’ took on the challenge of completing our half kilometre of new hedging in 2014. The extra hedging will act as a screen between visitors to our major hide and birds visiting the ponds and scrapes excavated in the autumn. The enthusiasm of…Continue Reading

Visit our Stand At the Chew Valley Optics and Bird Fair – 11/12 April 2014

This event takes place on the lawns outside of the London Camera Exchange Lakeside Optics shop, next door to Chew Valley Lake tea shop, giving visitors the chance to view, get expert advice and buy, while testing out the equipment against this spectacular backdrop. There is also the opportunity to trade in old equipment in…Continue Reading

Big ‘thank you’ to Hawk and Owl Trust North Somerset Group for Equipment Donation

The  lovely members of the North Somerset H&OT Group have donated six pairs of top quality loppers to enhance the tool stocks at Shapwick Moor. These tools have been needed urgently to help cut back willows along the ditch sides, one of the most important habitats on the reserve. Pictured here are Carrie Riches (Chair…Continue Reading

Next workday at Shapwick Moor

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be shown, by Simon Beard, our Education Officer, just how much progress been made on the reserve in the last few weeks. Recent works include two scrapes and a pond in front of our main hide and the hole for a small pond near the hide. We now have…Continue Reading

Shapwick Reserve Coming on Leaps and Bounds – Despite the Weather!

In the face of an atrocious weather forecast the work day on our reserve on the Somerset Levels, Shapwick Moor, on 5 January 2014 was postponed until Sunday 25 January 2014. However, in spite of the wet conditions there have still been lots of developments. Simon Beard, our Education and Outreach Officer (Reserve Development manager…Continue Reading

North Somerset and Bristol Group spread the word at the North Somerset Countryside Day

The North Somerset and Bristol Group attended the North Somerset Countryside Day on 10th July, organised by the North Somerset Agricultural Society. Approximately 2,300 enthusiastic and excited school children attended this event which is aimed at raising awareness of what goes on in the countryside, and more particularly, how their food is produced.  Each group…Continue Reading