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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

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