Wednesday, 20 September 2017

17/09/17 Dolebury Warren

led by Alan Feest

We gathered as a small group in the small car park at the foot of Dolebury Warren on a misty morning and I explained the nature of the site and the intention to look for CHEGs (Clavaria, Hygrocybe, Entoloma, Galerina) species, which are characteristic of nutrient poor grassland and therefore threatened in today’s polluted countryside.  If enough CHEG species are recorded from a site it may be classified as an SSSI.  Such is the case for Dolebury Warren (along with many other features) and between 1999- and 2004 Justin Smith and I carried out a full assessment of the CHEG status of three areas on the Warren.  We were therefore looking for CHEGs (and anything else!).
As often happens the first interesting species  was identified by Alan Rayner (Phlebia tremelosa, Jelly Rot), which was found on a stump in the car park. Then, when nearing the top  of 150 steps up the hill out of the trees into rough grassland, we encountered the Ascomycete Helvella crispa (White Saddle) and our first CHEG (Hygrocybe conica).
Reaching the first ramparts of the Iron Age fort , we were immediately struck by the huge human effort of creating such a huge structure with nothing more technical than a deer’s antler. Moving into the first area of the fort, a huge number of ant nests came into view, a rare sight in the British countryside due to ploughing. It seemed that we were too early for the bulk of the CHEGs and most of the fungi we encountered were coprophiles, growing on cow and sheep dung, notably species of Coprinopsis and Panaeolus.
Looking at the water runs down the scattered Oak trees proved to be interesting since not only was this the habitat of some interesting bryophytes but also of the bryophilous fungi, Mycena pseudocorticola and M. hiemalis, which are not often recorded by mycologists with their eyes on the ground!. These were also abundant in nearby woodland, where the leaf litter was extensively colonized by troops of Marasmius  rotula.
Back in the open we continued to record Galerinas,  Psathyrellas and Lycoperdons  then finally another beautiful Hygrocybe (possibly H. chlorophana). We continued to find scattered fruit bodies of other common species (Rickenella swartzii, Bovista nigrescens) and then a single spike of “Golden spindles” (Clavulinopsis fusiformis). 
We moved to the highest point and had spectacular views of the estuary and Wales and were struck by the black patches of the Photo-voltaic “farms”. After lunch in a sheltered spot we continued into the large inner part of the fort and continued to find numerous coprophiles and spotted some Speckled Wood butterflies flying in the sunny shelter against the wood. After finding some specimens of  Slender Parasol (Macrolepiota mastoidea) and Pestle Puffball (Lycoperdon excipuliformis), we realized our finish time was approaching and so hastily retraced our steps across the Warren and down through the wooded hillside towards the car park. Along the way we saw a Small Heath butterfly, a colony of Entolomas (probably E. serratulum) and then the rarity of the day, Orange Coral (Ramariopsis crocea) as a group of branched yellow fingers poking up through leaf litter (thus completing the CHEG list).  Having scared off a Roe Deer we were left to extricate our cars from the car park.

Alan Feest

Monday, 11 September 2017

11/09/2017 - 09:36 Otter sighting

I watched an Otter in the River Avon from about 10.55-11.10am on Sunday 10 September”. My first sighting in the city centre!  The animal kept close to the far bank and within the bank-side vegetation. It was actively hunting for food. It dived a few times and I was able to follow its trail of bubbles, before its head emerged again. It continued swimming down the river and I eventually lost its trail when I was down by Spring Gardens”.

Thanks Lucy

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

19-8-2017 East Woodlands Bath Nats meeting

Fabulous Fungi at East Woodlands, Bath Nats meeting on Saturday 19th August 2017
East Woodlands Amethyst

A group of sixteen of us gathered under the magnificent veteran oak trees outside East Woodlands Church on a morning that began coolly but became increasingly warm and sunny towards lunchtime. We had a real fungal treat awaiting us!

We began by examining the undersides of some of the oak tree leaves, where several specimens of the spider, Paidiscura pallens, were present, along with their extraordinary spiky white egg cases. Emerging from the ground beneath the oak trees were fruit bodies of a variety of fungi that form ectomycorrhizal partnerships with the tree roots. These included a Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), unfortunately decapitated by recent grass-mowing, numerous Scaly Earthballs (Scleroderma verrucosum), a White Saddle (Helvella crispa), some Xerocomus cisalpinus boletes, Rosy Brittlegill (Russula rosea; formerly known as R.lepida) and Sepia Brittlegill (Russula sororia). A bracket of Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica) was also present on one of the trees.

Thus alerted to the possibility of fungal abundance, we made our way quite rapidly along the byway towards the beech-wooded Roddenbury Hill, stopping briefly to examine specimens of Russet Toughshank (Collybia dryophila), Clustered Toughshank (Collybia confluens), Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus) and Redlead Roundhead (Leratiomyces ceres). At the base of the hill we examined some strong growths of Bank Haircap moss (Polytrichastrum formosum) and Rob Randall showed us some low-spreading plants of the bramble, Rubus arrhenii, with its sour-flavoured fruits. This species is confined in Britain to the Greensand on the Somerset/Wilts border and the peat moors at Shapwick and Catcott. But from then on, the fungi stole the show. Climbing uphill we soon came across a fine group of Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius), which were quickly followed by a large number and variety of other species including Ceps (Boletus edulis), Amethyst Deceivers (Laccaria amethystina), Beechwood Sickeners (Russula nobilis, formerly R. mairei), Ochre Brittlegills (Russula ochroleuca), Grey-spotted Amanita (Amanita excelsa) and the uncommon Dappled Webcap (Cortinarius bolaris).

As if that wasn’t enough, having rounded Roddenbury Hill, we decided to take the path downwards into the very different wet woodland habitat of Lower Woods. Here we came across two large outcrops of perhaps our most exciting find of the day, a deep pink jelly fungus called Salmon Salad (Guepinia helvelloides). But that was not all. Further downhill, under pine trees, we encountered a group of Saffron Milkcaps (Lactarius deliciosus), then, in wet oak and birch woodland we came across some magnificent Scarlet Brittlegills (Russula pseudointegra) along with several other uncommon and beautiful fungi, as well as the slime mould Tubifera ferruginea. A return visit 
East Woodlands Bramble
East Woodlands Chanterelles

 Dappled webcap 

Scarlet Brittlegill

Alan Rayner and Rob Randall

Photographs (By Terry Doman):

Guepinia helvelloides

Russula pseudointegra

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

9.8.2017 Bathampton Down meeting.

Great Mullein
Just four of us gathered for this meeting on a damp but by no means impossibly wet morning. After slowly climbing up the short, steep hillside from North Road, we entered the deep dark woodland along the skyline path beside Bathampton Warren and enjoyed the abundance of shade-loving plants growing there, which included a head-high outburst of Scaly Male-fern (Dryopteris affinis)  as well as a variety of common bryophytes. Amongst several wood-inhabiting fungi present were some groups of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha) and a pair of Velvet Shields (Pluteus umbrosus). Emerging out of the woodland into calcareous grassland we stopped to inspect and identify the numerous lichens and bryophytes growing at a convenient height on an overhanging tree branch. Close examination of an ant-mound near the TV masts revealed a few shoots of the uncommon Rose-moss (Rhodobryum roseum) which is characteristic of this habitat. Walking across the grassland towards Bathampton Wood, we enjoyed the fine displays of numerous Woolly Thistles (Cirsium eriophorum)  in full flower, even though these lacked the abundance of attendant bees and butterflies that would have been present in sunnier conditions. On the golf course, we came across a pile of sawdust on which troops of Grey Ink-caps (Coprinopsis cinerea) were fruiting, surrounded by cut logs inhabited by several bracket and crust fungi including the uncommon Splitgill (Schizophyllum commune). Descending the hillside back towards Sham Castle we came across a fine patch of species-rich grassland with abundant Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) and Spiny Restharrow (Ononis spinosa), and at the top of the clearance just below the folly were some fine plants of Great Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus).  Overall this was an enjoyable multi-interest circular walk with excellent views.


Sham Castle scaly male fern                            sham castle spiny restharrow

Alan and Marion Rayner

Photographs (by Marion Rayner)
Scaly Male-fern
Spiny Restharrow
Great Mullein

Saturday, 29 July 2017

25-7-2017 Hazelbury/Wadswick Common (& Bannerdown)

A couple of images of some male, Six Belted Clearwing moths attracted to a pheromone lure, this Tuesday, July 25th with Geoff Hiscocks and Richard Pooley. A minimum of 5 were attracted, probably at least seven. (Attracted them at both sites in 2015), I’m grateful to Paul Wilkins who kindly passed me the lure. Also a Painted Lady there. (3 Painted Lady seen at Bannerdown earlier in the day, also with Geoff).

Best wishes,
Chris Woods

13-7-2017 Hollow Marsh Meadow and Chewton Wood

On a warm summer’s day, eight members met in Farrington Gurney for a visit to Hollow Marsh Meadow. As we walked down Pitway Lane, we saw Goldfinches and Swallows and heard a Yellowhammer.  Six species of butterfly were spotted in the lane: Red Admiral, Large White, Gatekeeper, Small Copper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.  In the ditch along the edge of a field, a stand of Greater Pond-sedge (Carex riparia) was seen, and a leaf collected for comparative purposes later.

Hollow Marsh Meadow is a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve and part of Long Dole Wood and Meadows SSSI.  It is an example of unimproved neutral grassland, maintained by grazing, although there was no evidence of grazing so far this year.  Betony (Betonica officinalis) was flowering profusely, with Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) just coming out.  Many different species of grass were found in flower, and we soon added Marbled White, Small Skipper and Green-veined White to our list of butterflies.  A ditch crosses the meadow, where we saw Purple Loostrife (Lythrum salicaria), Fool’s Watercress (Apium nodiflorum) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga).  A large stand of Lesser Pond-sedge (Carex acutiformis) was examined, and the ligule compared with of the leaf from C. riparia.  A patch of Dyer’s Greenweed (Genista tinctoria) in full flower was admired and a few plants of Saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria) were found.  The western end of Hollow Marsh Meadow is clearly more acidic, supporting Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and much Tormentil (Potentilla erecta).  We found a single plant of Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) and many more leaves of Saw-wort.

The adjacent field, Long Dole Meadow, is part of the SSSI and is maintained as a species-rich hay meadow.  It is a stunning sight, purple with Knapweed, Devil’s-bit Scabious and Betony: it was thus disappointing to find that it had already been cut for hay, probably the previous day!  A remaining corner indicated just how attractive it had been and here we added Silver-washed Fritillary, Peacock, Comma and Speckled Wood to our butterfly list.

After lunch, we set off to explore Chewton Wood.  Along the main ride, stunning patches of Wood Vetch (Vicia sylvatica) were seen.  The rides are maintained with wide verges, providing a diversity of flowers to encourage insects.  We saw ten species of butterfly along the main ride, adding Brimstone and Holly Blue to our list, as well as Scarlet Tiger Moth.  Pausing at a junction we watched a family of four busy little Wrens.  A mycological diversion was provided by a patch of grass found to be suffering from Choke: white mycelial collars which form around the tillers, later turning orange as they produce spores.  A whitethroat was singing as we left the wood.  Returning along Pitway Lane, we added a Small Tortoiseshell to our butterfly list, taking the total to 16 species plus Scarlet Tiger Moths.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

22-7-2017 BANNERDOWN COMMON, Batheaston


Female Silver Washed Frit

Mating Small Coppers
Brown Argus, showing ID pointers on underwing

Photos,Thanks to GEOFF HISCOCKS

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

7-11-2017 Chris Woods post.

A pair of Scarlet Tiger, that I thought were colourful in the garden from the 27th June (this year). They seem to do well here in Thickwood, I’ve had them in the garden every year for a good ten years now. 

 Social pear sawfly - Neurotoma saltuum at Hazelbury  June 26th .

Thanks for the Post Chris

Friday, 7 July 2017

1-7-2017 National Meadows Day

National Meadows Day at Midford.

On the morning of a day that started cloudy and became increasingly sunny and warm, Rob Randall, Terry Doman and Alan and Marion gathered together in ‘the garages field’, a brook-side meadow owned by the Avon and Tributaries Angling Association (ATAA). The ATAA are intending to develop this meadow into a nature reserve, with the help of information about its biodiversity supplied by members of Bath Natural History Society’s Biodiversity Study Group. Earlier in the year we had made a baseline survey of the bryophyte diversity.  On this occasion we intended to make a similar survey of the diversity of vascular plants, prior to helping with a ‘natural neighbourhood watch’ meeting for members of the public in the afternoon. These baseline surveys provide us with a sound basis for recognising changes in biodiversity at a site over the years, and how these changes may be related to management practices. Rob set off on his own to do a ‘walkabout’ survey, while Alan, Marion and Terry did a quantitative survey of plants identified in twenty 50 square metre plots, with the aid of two walking poles and a dog lead. As expected, the highest species numbers (up to 33) were found in plots along the margins of the meadow, while nearly 80 species were recorded overall.  Amongst these were some beautiful patches of Meadow Barley (Hordeum secalinum).
In the afternoon an enthusiastic group of around twenty of us gathered. For our first treat, we listened to Maurice Tennenhaus and his fellow fishermen, as they identified the living creatures that exist in Midford brook and go mostly unseen by us humans.  A fishing net was used to sweep samples from the brook.  These samples were then placed in a white tray filled with water, so that Bullhead fish, Damselfly nymphs, worms etc., were easy to see, this made identification easier.  All these creatures were then counted and recorded as proof of water quality. We then looked at examples of the varied flora that we had identified during the morning, and especially enjoyed the abundance of butterflies (including Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White, Comma, Small Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell) visiting the stand of four different thistle species along the east margin of the meadow. One of these butterflies remained very still as we approached, and the reason for this became clear when we got close: it had been bitten by a beautiful Crab Spider lurking within the flower-heads.

Alan Rayner

Bullhead fish in sampling tray (Terry Doman)

Red-tailed Bumble-bee, Meadow Brown and Small Skipper on Creeping Thistle (Terry Doman)
Meadow Barley (Marion Rayner)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

21-5-2017 Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath

Great Crested Grebes
Sixteen members, including three new recruits, joined me in exploring these wonderful wetland nature reserves near Glastonbury. We saw a good variety of wildlife, including insects, but I was very much concentrating on bird identification by sight and song.
The excellent tree cover and vegetation along the old railway track running through Ham Wall makes for good habitat for warblers and we stopped to listen to six species, firstly Garden Warbler. This to me sounds like a speeded-up Blackbird song; a rich, rounded warbling which changes little in volume or pitch. By comparison, the typical song of the Blackcap begins somewhat hesitantly with a few scratchy notes and includes fluty higher pitched notes, the song ending in a louder flourish.  The Willow Warbler delivers a totally different song, a soft descending series of notes, concluding with a soft trill.  The Chiffchaff, of similar appearance, has a simple two syllable song, as the name of this species suggests.  The Reed Warbler will invariably sing from within a reed bed and its song is a fairly steady rhythmical series of repeated short, mainly low pitched phrases, with some mimicry of birds such as Blue Tit or Bearded Reedling. Finally, the Cetti’s Warbler song “burst” from the bushes at various intervals during the day; an explosion of notes of Nightingale quality, a song so loud, it almost knocks you off your feet. All these species can be difficult to see at this time of year – hence some necessity to know their songs!
So, what were our other highlights and what birds did we see well.  During our walk to the Avalon Hide, returning via the 2nd platform on the old railway line, we encountered several sightings of Marsh Harrier and from the hide we saw a food pass between a male and female. A pair of Great Crested Grebes conveniently stayed close to the hide from which we had good views of one adult with two black and white stripped youngsters on its back.
Taking the grassy track from the hide to the 2nd platform, we stopped to view two smart male Garganey and other waterfowl including Little Grebe, Little Egret, a pair of Wigeon and Gadwall.  Back on the track, we stopped by the platform and watched a couple of Hobby dashing over the reeds catching insects and the birds perched for a few minutes on dead trees allowing everyone to have a view through a telescope.  By the time that we were heading quite purposely back to the car park, a number of the group had seen Bittern in flight; always exciting to see. We lunched whilst listening to the croaking of Iberian Pool Frogs and periodically looking up to see a Hobby or two and a passing Buzzard. It was rather disappointing not to encounter the Glossy Ibis or a Cuckoo and it proved difficult locate a Reed Bunting within close range but that is the unpredictability of birding and there is the matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time.
The last 90 minutes of the meeting was spent at Shapwick Heath. There were many Black-tailed Godwits, some in full breeding plumage on the scrape and a couple of Lapwing. We also had close views of a Great White Egret. Not everyone saw the passing Cattle Egret which was heading from Shapwick over to Ham Wall but I think everyone saw the Bittern, again the bird was in flight.  As the temperature had risen considerably, more Hobby were airborne catching insects. Much of their prey includes dragonflies and we recorded several during the day including Four Spotted Chaser, Hairy Hawker and Azure Damselfly. Other insects included butterflies such as Orange Tip, Brimstone and Peacock.
The total number of bird species recorded by the leader was 58.

Lucy Delve

Azure Damselfly

Four Spotted Chaser

Thanks to John Garrett for the photos

Thursday, 11 May 2017

8-5-2017 Common sandpiper Prior Park Gardens

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) on mud
Small brown and white wading bird in the family Scolopacidae, moving north during spring passage. An unusual visitor to Prior Park Landscape Gardens, Bath, UK.
By Ian Redding

10-5-2017 Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

I came across this on the edge of the river bank yesterday.
Maurice Tennenhaus

Yes that is Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum).  There are 2 subspecies, one introduced (often grown in gardens) and one perhaps native in East Anglia.  Whichever subspecies yours is, it is probably an introduction here. The introduced one (subsp. umbellatum) has larger flower and up to 20 of them.  Your photo shows around 20 flowers and buds, but I can’t tell whether they are all on one stalk.  The “probably native” one (subsp. campestre or angustifolium, depending which book you look in) has 4-12 flowers.  I think these are badly recorded at subspecies level and Stace says that further study is needed, which slightly puts me off trying!  If it is growing right on the river bank it may have arrived by river from a garden, as a bulb or seed.

Thanks Helena 

Dear All
There is quite a lot of it in the Midford and Wellow area so it has been there for many years. It is well established on the Hinton Charterhouse edge of Cleave’s Wod, there are scattered populations along a track and FP which run between White Ox Mead near Peasedown, along the ridge between the Wellow Brook and the Cam Brook. it also grows by the Coal Canal locks where the feeder stream joins the canal from Rowley Wood and on the track from near Burnt House down to the pub at Combe Hay. Given that there used to be a colony of Tulipa sylvestris on the slopes near Dunkerton it may have arrived with grape vines either in Roman or mediaeval times.

Rob R 

Friday, 14 April 2017

14-4-2017 Steway lane to Bannerdown

Nice walk up steway lane to Bannerdown today, fairly quiet on the migrant front with a few swallows on the high ground along with this chiffchaff, nice Roe deer, nice to see the  Coralroot(Cardamine bulbifera)at the top of steway lane in full flower. click photos to enlarge


Coralroot(Cardamine bulbifera)
Steve curtis

Sunday, 2 April 2017

1-4-2017 Local Nats News

Local Nats News
On 1 April, while walking along river-side looking across to trees in front of the Bath postal sorting office, not far from St John’s church, I heard a Willow Warbler in full song, and then saw three Willow Warblers feeding in the trees. This is the earliest Spring date I have ever recorded this species. (A fellow Bath Nats member I then bumped into said he had seen one the day before)! I heard another Willow Warbler at Prior Park NT gardens today (Sunday 2 April). Southerly winds have brought in more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. Also on 2 April, I saw my first male Orange Tip butterfly of 2017, again the earliest I have ever recorded.  Other butterfly species seen were Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and male Brimstone.
Thank you Lucy Delve

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

19.3.2017 Gully Wood excursion,

 The day started with blustery winds and sideways drizzle but fortunately drier conditions prevailed by the time six Bath Nats members plus the owner of the wood, Judith Gradwell assembled in the wood.
Judith was able to tell us about the past and present management of the wood before we walked to the lower section to look at the stand of Broad-leaved Lime trees that occur here.
We then turned up the public footpath which was bordered by old Yew trees capping the steep slope with an extensive badger sett to the left.  Here Goldcrest were heard amongst the trees. The scene to the right was woodland backed by impressive cliff faces with the occasional huge fallen boulder. Here we looked at cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica ) on Ash and some Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) on Elder. The boulders and rock faces provided good opportunities to look at some of the mosses: Rambling Tail-moss (Anomodon viticulosus) and Foxtail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum). Bolder members of the group scrambled up the slope to investigate a large cave.
Retracing our steps we followed the woodland ride north and stopped to see the effects of management- scalloped areas which had created more open conditions initially were now recolonising with ash seedlings.
As well as a wonderful bank of Primroses we noted some examples of more uncommon mosses characteristic of woodland banks on limestone: Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa) and a very small patch of Spiral Extinguisher-moss (Encalypta streptocarpa).
The path here passes through an area of huge boulders on steep slopes and the presence of an oak with unusual epicormic growth added to the sense of mystery.
Reaching a boggy area Judith explained that this was a pond supplied by a spring which had previously been piped downhill for domestic purposes at Warleigh. The area above is a humid rock-scape and the mosses were noticeably luxuriant.  As well as the abundant Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides) we were able to show the uncommon Bitter Scalewort (Porella arboris-vitae) which actually tastes bitter! It occurs here on a rock with a patch of brown lichen Leptogium lichenoides. A little further on the emerging shoots of bluebells hinted that a return visit in a few weeks would be rewarded.
Although the breezy weather precluded bird spotting we had a pleasant and informative walk in this  unexpected ‘woodland with cliffs’ which we had driven past for many years without exploring.

  • Looking for micro-moths amongst the ferns

Bitter Scalewort- Porella arboris

Marion Rayner 19.3.2017 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Timsbury Nat’s talk

On Monday 20th March at the Conygre Hall, North Road, Timsbury BA2 0JQ Mya-Rose Craig will be giving a talk on the wildlife found on Antarctica. The start time is 7.30 pm and admittance for non-members is £3.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

7-3-2017 River Avon circular walk – Bathampton to Batheaston:

Nineteen members joined me in the car park at The George, Bathampton, on a calm and sunny morning. Here, some saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws and I heard and saw one Redwing. We encountered more corvid species along the first section of the walk; Carrion Crow and Magpie, and we spent a few minutes watching Rook activity at the small rookery in trees close to the Tollbridge. The river level was high and I listened out for any Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails to no avail, so we meandered along the shared cycle/footpath toward the Batheaston car park and most of the group saw a female Sparrowhawk heading across fields towards Bathampton Down (flap-flap-flap-flap – glide, on rounded wings). There were several Canada Geese and Moorhen feeding in the nearby field and we stopped near the bridge to listen to bird song, including Dunnock, Robin, and the three note “cooing” of the Collared Dove. Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew low over the river disturbing the Mallards.
We took a short break in the small walled garden by the car park where I found a Long-Tailed Tit in a quite open prickly bush and one of our party quickly noted that the bush contained its nest, a composition including lichen and moss, held together with spiders’ webs. It was wonderful to take a close look at the nest through telescopes; we kept a distance from the bird to cause as little disturbance as possible. We saw a female Blackcap with her russet-brown cap in ivy and a Goldfinch kindly sat up and sang its tinkling and twittering jumble of notes and I had a brief view of a male Chaffinch.
Heading out towards the round-a-bout at the end of the by-pass, we made a couple of stops to view the river and the Bathampton Meadows Avon Wildlife Trust reserve beyond. A Grey Heron and a male Teal were seen only briefly by a few members, as were a couple of Kingfishers in fast flight which I picked up initially on call (a short sharp high pitched whistle, often of two notes of slightly different pitch). Everyone saw the Cormorants sitting on top of the distant pylon but I think I was the only person to see a couple of Song Thrushes in flight before they disappeared into cover. Meanwhile, more Dunnocks were singing, the predominant songster during our walk. At the entrance to river-side apartments near the end of the by-pass we were delighted to watch a Goldcrest singing in the open; this tiny bird often moves about quickly and within the cover of ivy or in a coniferous tree so this was an excellent sighting.
The final stretch of the walk across fields, the railway line, and along the lane returning to Bathampton church and the pub was fairly uneventful. One member heard a Raven call, I heard a Buzzard “mew” and the squeaks of a small mammal, likely a field vole, were heard from dense grassy tussocks near the railway crossing. The small flock of Redwing I saw and heard the previous week had departed and in the churchyard, I pointed out the high-pitched, thin two-note song of the Coal Tit. Here ended a pleasant morning during which twenty-seven species were recorded.

Lucy Delve

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

5-2-2017 Walk around

 I enjoyed a walk around Prior Park National Trust Gardens yesterday and had a wonderful close encounter with a female Kingfisher at the top pond below Prior Park College. She was sitting on the stone edge and dived three times, each time successfully catching a tiny fish. I was only some 50 feet from her. Later, walking the NT footpath towards the top of Widcombe Hill GR 766633, I heard Stock Dove calling and watched a pair displaying in flight and courtship behaviour on a branch, quite high up in a tree.

Around 9am on Saturday 4th, at Compton Dando, a Dipper appeared along the River Chew and stopped close to the bridge and immediately started singing. I have watched Dippers around Bath regularly since the 1970s and had never heard the full song. I was truly thrilled to bits, as were my two Nats companions; it was a first for them also. My Collins field guide says Dippers will sing even in the depths of winter.

Thank you Lucy

Wildlife Talk 15TH fEB 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Nesting Blackbird Update Jan 24th 2017

Next trip

Tuesday, 14th February: BIDDESTONE, nr Chippenham

Meet: 10.00 at the village pond: GR ST 863735 Landranger 173/Explorer 156
Finish: Approx. 12.15
Focus: Finch Flocks, Skylarks, Hares
Description: Revisiting this area at a different time of year from previous outings. A 4-mile walk along the high lanes, open spaces and winter woods. One descent to the By Brook, and a fairly steep ascent back to the village. Likely to be muddy, so sturdy footwear and sticks advised.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Nesting Blackbird Jan 12

Interesting sighting today, from the Courtyard off of Avon Street. This female Blackbird may be in for a shock. Spring it certainly isn't!

Thanks to Glen Maddison

Jan 15 Trip to Ham Wall RSPB

As the last of the sun shone down on Ham Wall, the Starlings poured across the sky, and into the reeds.....

Thanks to Glen Maddison ‏.

Friday, 9 December 2016

30 November 2016 Bradford on Avon Waterside Walk

 Leader Phillip Delve
Under blue sky, on a beautiful frosty morning, eleven of us met at Barton Farm. The farm features many buildings recorded in the late 1360s including the large Tithe Barn. We began with a quick look inside the barn; with its wide, clear span cruck roof, this would have state of the art when built. We then joined the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath and headed towards Avoncliff.  Along this stretch we watched the first of three Kingfishers  seen on our walk. Approximately half way to Avoncilff, we crossed a footbridge, over the canal, near a water treatment plant. Here we encountered a flock of small birds, mainly Long Trailed Tits, but including; Wren, Robin, Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tits.  We watched a Tree Creeper climbing canal side trees, a Sparrow Hawk  was  also seen briefly here. Passing a kissing gate, we walked the path over frosty pasture up to the woodland on the Westwood side of Avoncliff.  The woodland of Ash, Hazel, and Oak was very quiet except for the piping of a distant Coal Tit. Hard frost shrivelled moss, lichen, and Harts Tongue Fern underfoot. The woodland path slopes up to meet the Westwood Road down to Avoncliff, our next stop. From the aqueduct here, where the canal crosses the Avon valley, we stopped to take in the fine views of River Avon. While warming in sunshine, we saw a Little Grebe below, a distant Grey Heron, another Kingfisher. A Grey Wagtail called and was located on nearby buildings, where it posed for the picture taken by John Garrett. We began the return journey along the section of canal from Avoncliff to the footbridge used earlier, avoiding the recently flooded riverside path. Then leaving the canal, followed the lower tarmac track which follows the River Avon back to Barton Farm. Marking the start of this track, a bare Spindle Bush laden with pink berries contrasted with autumnal green of surrounding vegetation. Our third Kingfisher was seen on the river here. I was disappointed not to see any Ravens. I had seen two the previous week flying into a large stand of Redwood Trees, across the river near Bradford on Avon. We ended the walk on the packhorse bridge by Barton Farm. As we stood there, a Grey Heron flew over the bridge past us and a small flock of Goldfinches alighted on a nearby Alder.  A nice end to a lovely walk.
Phillip Delve

Monday, 28 November 2016

Geoff Hiscocks

Just seen my first Blackcap (male) of the winter in my Oldfield Park garden. Usually it's mid December before one takes up residence .Never had one in November before.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Sad news

To notify members  that Gordon Rich had, sadly, died yesterday in hospital? He had been a member of Bath Nats for many years and had led walks as an experienced naturalist, and also as a butterfly expert leading a Skills Improvement Group.

Report of Bath Nats visit to Lower Woods 12/11/16

On a “soft“ day a select group of five braved the pot-holed track to Lower Woods. I outlined the recent history of this ancient woodland, which has been retrieved from dereliction to an active coppice area of 700 acres by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  We immediately found the fungus of the day, Poplar Scalycap  (Pholiota populnea), growing from either end of a 3m long Poplar log at the edge of the car park! Apparently, it has only been recorded 61 times in the UK and the nearest site is in Oxfordshire.  It was an RDB species until 2006.  Not a bad start – and this was soon followed by the warden showing us Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) growing from the end of another log.  This beautiful species seems to prefer Elm and became quite common at the height of the Dutch Elm disease but has now become rather rare. Also here were some unusually large specimens of Black Bulgar (Bulgaria inquinans) on an Oak log. 
We were not expecting a great many fungi in mid-November but we did find quite a few late-fruiting species, including some spectacular Trooping Funnels (Clitocybe geotropa), abundant Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum), some nice specimens of Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)  Jelly Rot (Phlebia tremellosa) , many Common Bonnets (Mycena galericulata) and, at the end of a birch log, the deadly Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata).   The abundant leaf litter was colonised by many Snapping Bonnets (Mycena vitilis) and everyone listened carefully to the snapping sound as the resilient stalk was pulled apart.
Meanwhile, we admired the verdant growth of many bryophytes and observed the dramatic difference in the vegetation induced by the stage of coppice regrowth.  Some remarkable very old coppice stools were noted that contrasted with the absence of aged standard trees following the clear-felling of trees in WWII. The promised mud was avoided by keeping to the paths and away from the Great Trench drove path (which in the past I have seen decorated with abandoned wellington boots).
Bird life was not prominent although we did hear Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches and saw  (and heard) some Fieldfares.  Amazingly three hours had gone by in a very pleasant walk through well managed ancient woodland, richly decorated with autumn colours, profuse lichen growths, and abundant spindle berries, combining to yield the feeling of walking through an impressionist painting.

Poplar Scalycap (by Alan Feest)
Trooping Funnels; Common Bonnets; Oyster Mushroom; Funeral Bells;  Lichens; Alan Rayner and Alan Feest examining a lichen-covered branch (by Hilary Eyley)