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.



Photographs
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)



Friday, 11 November 2016

Saturday 12th November: LOWER WETMOOR, nr Wickwar

Dear Bath Nats,
 
This is just a reminder – and a note of caution – regarding the meeting at Lower Wetmoor tomorrow:-
 

Leader: ALAN FEEST (01225 442161)
Meet: 11.00 Car Park next to Lower Woods Lodge, which is accessed down a stone track opposite Inglestone Farm off the Wickwar to Hawkesbury Upton Road. GR ST 746881 Landranger 172/Explorer 167
Finish: 14.00
Focus: Ferns, Fungi and Feathers
Description: A slow walk around this remarkable ancient woodland, which supports a rich variety of wildlife including some unusual species. At this time of year we will be focussing on birds, ferns and fungi. The paths can be muddy and slippery, and there are some quite steep ascents and descents, which we will try to avoid if ground conditions are poor. Please wear wellington boots. You may wish to bring a packed lunch.


The note of caution is that the track leading down to the car park is quite badly pot-holed, and the depth of some of those pot-holes that are water-filled is quite difficult to judge. So, please take care.

The weather forecast has now improved, indicating that overnight and early morning rain will mostly have cleared by the time the meeting is due to start.

Warmest

Alan

Monday, 31 October 2016

Report on Autumn Nature Day and Fungus Walk, Dyrham Park, October 23rd 2016

After a cold, misty start, the day became gradually clearer and brighter, but with an increasing breeze. Marion and I arrived at 9 am and were driven down to the Old Lodge by Beth Weston, to set up our Bath Nats display. As in previous years, we brought a large display of fungi (over 50 species) and Bryophytes (around 30 species). On this occasion we also brought a display of Fruits, Nuts and Galls. John Garrett, who arrived at around 10 am to help (thank you, John!), was pleased to find that he could readily identify all of these both in Latin and English, on account of the labels we had attached to them. We welcomed many visitors to the display, most of whom seemed duly impressed by the variety of what was on show. At 2 pm I was due to lead a 1.5 hour Fungus Walk around the Park. What must have been around 60 people turned up, making me feel a bit like the Pied Piper as I led them all off into the Valley where a fairy ring of Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) at different stages of development from ‘drumstick’ to fully expanded awaited our attention. Then it was off for a further walk through the woodlands and wood pasture. Although fungi were a little few and far between, due to the relatively dry conditions, there were still sufficient for me to explain the basic principles of fungal ecology and identification. Amongst those we came across were Deer Shield, Stubble Rosegill, Rooting Shank, Lawyer’s Wig, Weeping Widow, Beech Woodwart, Beech Tarcrust, Clouded Funnel, Turkeytail, Smoky Bracket, Shaggy Scalycap, Velvet Shank and some huge Southern Brackets.


Alan Rayner


Photographs:
Parasol Drumstick (John Garrett)
Ready for Inspection (Marion Rayner)
Fungal Display Table (Marion Rayner)

Report on Bath Nats Meeting at Greyfield Wood, 26th October 2016

Dead Man’s Fingers 
Nine of us gathered for this meeting in overcast but otherwise bright, dry and calm conditions. We were in for something of a fungal treat, with over 50 species being recorded in the morning, including several notable finds in this mixed woodland with many sweet chestnut trees in abundant fruit and featuring in the risk assessment. Almost immediately, just outside the entrance of the wood, our way was brightened by a shiny outgrowth of Golden Scalycap (Pholiota aurivella) from an ash tree, shortly to be followed by the blackness of a troop of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). Then, once within the wood itself, a diverse array of variously shaped and coloured fungi presented themselves for our inspection, making our progress slow but rewarding. Some of the more notable finds included a stout specimen of Freckled Brittlegill (Russula illota) whose strong smell of bitter almonds could be detected several metres away; a delicate (and poisonous) toadstool of Green Dapperling (Lepiota grangei); a delightful group of Sinuous Chanterelles (Pseudocraterellus undulatus); a ghostly outcrop of Jelly Tooth (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum) and some well camouflaged Beige Coral (Clavulinopsis umbrinella). More common fungi, like Sulphur Tuft were also abundant. In addition to the fungi, we also noted a few ferns (including Narrow Buckler Fern, Dryopteris carthusiana, identified by Helena Crouch) and bryophytes (of which the beautiful Tamarisk-moss, Thuidium tamariscinum, was especially abundant). Two hours passed by extremely rapidly, and before we knew it, it was time to return to our cars. Clearly this woodland is very biodiverse, and would repay future visits at this time of year.
Sinuous Chanterelles
Jelly Tooth 
                       
Freckled Brittlegill 
Golden Scalycap
                               



Randall and Alan Rayner
Photographs (By Suk Trippier):-Rob 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Churchill bridge otter 29/10/16

Anonymous Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spotted an otter feeding between Churchill bridge and the pedestrian bridge at the back of the bus station at 0945 on 29/10/16. It was totally unfazed by me watching. It was swimming between the two bridges coming up with a fish every few minutes and eating it. Sadly I had a train to catch so only watched it for 20 minutes. 

Thank you for the post

Friday, 14 October 2016

Trip to Chew Valley Lake 09/10/16

Redlead Roundheads and Water Rails: Report on Bath Nats Field Trip to Chew Valley Lake 09/10/16
Redlead Roundhead


On a bright morning 13 of us gathered with the day’s intention to improve our knowledge of fungi in waterside habitats as well as enjoy the bird life of Chew Valley Lake. Our first impression was that the recent dry weather did not bode well for finding many fungi, but as we searched the woodland around the car park, Alan R quickly found a group of red-capped agarics, which he identified as Redlead Roundheads (Leratiomyces ceres). ing.  This once rare fungus had read the book which says that it is increasing in frequency and is often found on piles of wood chips around car parks.  We also found Grey Inkcap (Coprinopsis cinerea) fruiting prolifically at all stages of maturity, and a mass of the slime mould Fuligo septica, looking like a mass of ash and soot as well as a beautiful array of Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius).
Moving from the Car Park we walked to the bittern trail confirming that indeed this was not a good season for fungi but looking at a section of reeds cut by the water company we found numerous small, greenish yellow fruit bodies of Hypholoma ericaeoides which was found elsewhere on the lake last year by Alan F. It is said to be uncommon but since for much of the year the sites where it occurs are underwater it is perhaps not often looked for. On the pathway to the Bittern Trail we crossed a stream and observed a water rail on the mud which then entered the reeds just before we got close to it. Finally at the Bittern Trail Alan F explained why the willow carr habitat we were in was so special and that we had last year recorded many bryophytes there living on the horizontal branches of the collapsed willows.  These rotten trunks and stems were found now to be entertaining some large fruitings of Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis atramentaria – not to be consumed with alcohol!) and Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare). Meanwhile we heard several Cettis’s Warblers shouting their song at us from the willows that they inhabit (Alan F explained that for some reason these birds have different number of tail feathers to all other birds). Searching for the rare Alder Bolete (Gyrodon lividus) found previously proved fruitless, perhaps because we were too late (last year they fruited in September), but we did find fine a beautiful Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica) and a fine group of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha).
Lunch in the fit-full sun back at the car park was followed  by a visit first to Heron’s Green where we all had good views of a water rail (Alan F explained that a large proportion of the Water Rails ringed in the UK was by bird ringers at the lake). Meanwhile a Great White Egret flew in and proceeded to imitate a statue in the distance.
Moving on to Herriot’s Bridge, we had an excellent view of a Kingfisher which obligingly hovered for a while like a humming bird. Alan F then led the party through one of the net lines adjacent to the bridge where we saw two ‘jelly fungi’, Tripe Fungus (Auricularia mesenterica) and Leafy Brain (Tremella foliacea). This part of the lakeside was clearly eutrophic as the plant growth was lush and there were a lot of nettles and the reeds were 3m tall. Back then to the bridge for 15:30 after a very varied visit illustrating that there is still a lot to be learnt about this ‘Ramsar’ site (wetland of international importance).

Alan Feest & Alan Rayner
Coprinopsis cinerea
coprinopsis atramentaria
                                             

                              
Photographs (by John Garrett):

Friday, 7 October 2016

Sunday 25th September: WESTHAY MOOR NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE, nr Wedmore, Somerset


Southern Hawker 
Common Darter 
         

Speckled Wood
Shield Bug 
       Photos thanks to John Garrett

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Colletes hederae (Ivy Bee) 14-9-2016

Saw about 75 square metres of newly dug soil in Lower Common East today absolutely alive with many hundreds of bees and nests. I thought the most likely candidate was Colletes hederae.




Best regards

Dave Pole 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Visit to Folly Farm: 15th September 2016

An enthusiastic group of a dozen naturalists met at Folly Farm in glorious autumn weather, for a day spent studying a wide range of plants, fungi and lichens.  We started by looking at lichens on Ash and Oak bark, Spangle Galls on Oak and the amazing pure white sputnik-like egg sacs of a small spider, Paidiscura pallens on the underside of Oak leaves.  Walking through Folly Wood, members were introduced to some common mosses, including an explanation of alteration of generations and the difference between acrocarpous mosses (upright plants bearing their capsules at the apex of shoots) and pleurocarpous mosses (sprawling plants bearing capsules along the length of the shoot).  During the morning we examined several species: Catherine’s Moss (Atrichum undulatum), a typical acrocarpous species; Common Pocket-moss (Fissidens taxifolius), an acrocarpous moss with distinctively flattened prostrate shoots; Common Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga) and Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum), both pleurocarpous mosses growing on logs; Crisped Pincushion (Ulota crispa), a small cushion-forming epiphytic acrocarpous moss, and Lateral Cryphaea (Cryphaea heteromalla), an epiphytic pleurocarp with appressed primary shoots, but projecting secondary shoots bearing capsules.  Later, we also saw Neat Feather-moss (Pseudoscleropodium purum), Fox-tail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum), resembling small trees, and Slender Mouse-tail Moss (Isothecium myosuroides) clothing the lower parts of tree trunks.
The main focus of this autumnal walk was fungi, of which we saw a good range.  We soon encountered Blushing Rosette (Abortiporus biennis), with its rose-like fruit-body, and Snapping Bonnet (Mycena vitilis), with its stem which breaks with an audible “snap”.  Later we found other species in this genus: the Burgundydrop Bonnet (Mycena haematopus) which weeps a dark red latex when broken and the Grooved Bonnet (Mycena polygramma) with longitudinal striations on its stem.  A number of bracket fungi were seen, including the Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum), Trametes ochracea, the Peeling Oysterling (Crepidotus mollis) and an impressive Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica) on a splendid oak.  This tree also supported the Bleeding Oak Crust (Stereum gausapatum) and Peniophora quercina, both crustose species which grow on live wood.  Perhaps the most exciting mycological find was a colony of false truffles (Melanogaster broomeianus) beneath a Beech tree, closely attended by bright yellow and grey- brown baby fruit bodies of Rooting Bolete (Boletus radicans).  Other species seen included the Willow Shield (Pluteus salicinus) and Deer Shield (Pluteus cervinus), the extremely variable Deceiver (Laccaria laccata), a tiny Orange Mosscap (Rickenella fibula), the White Knight (Tricholoma album) and the poisonous White Fibrecap (Inocybe geophylla).  In woodland we found the Grey Milkcap (Lactarius vietus) and marvelled at the quantity of milk emerging from the gills when damaged.  Along a log we saw a host of Pale Brittlestems (Psathyrella candolleana), whilst on dung in the grassland we found the Petticoat Mottlegill (Panaeolus papillionaceus), the delicate little Hare’s-foot Inkcap (Coprinella lagopus) and the Fairy Inkcap (Coprinellus disseminatus).  We found three different slime moulds, one a brilliant yellow, another a group of small grey spheres.
Members discussed the shortage of butterflies this year.  During the day we saw Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and a smart Comma; however the highlight of the whole day was a Clouded Yellow, the first of the year for many.  We also saw a Large Yellow-underwing and a Pale Emerald moth.
Folly Farm is a wonderfully diverse site with a varied flora.  Deep ravines in woodland support luxuriant ferns, mostly Soft Shield-fern (Polystichum interjectum) and Hart’s-tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium).  We also saw Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Broad Buckler-fern (Dryopteris dilatata) and Intermediate Polypody (Polypodium interjectum).  Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) was flowering, providing an important late nectar source; we also saw Betony (Betonica officinalis), Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) in flower.  A hay meadow which had been cut in July was dotted with Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis), another important native late nectar source.
The whole day was filled with the study and appreciation of diverse natural history, made richer by the varied interests of the members present.  All agreed that it had been an interesting and enjoyable day, enhanced by the glorious autumn sunshine.

Helena Crouch

Monday, 5 September 2016

Friary Wood 31st of August 2016

A Fine Day Out in Friary, 31st August 2016

On the morning of Wednesday 31st August a group of around 24 members met at Friary, Hinton Charterhouse, by kind invitation of Penny Williamson. Penny has lived at Friary for about 5 years and has a keen interest in the conservation of the area.
Penny explained a bit about the history of The Friary, including recent research conducted by The University of Sheffield. A surprising finding of this research was the extensive stone building work for use by members of Hinton Priory.
Penny also was very generous in providing refreshments and lunch for the group. So after tea, coffee and biscuits we set off on the footpath towards Freshford. First stop (for the more adventurous) was to explore slightly off the path to look at the site of an old cottage.  This cottage, with no running water or electricity, was occupied by a lady called Mercy Swift up until the 1960s. Along the way we then noted some of the wild flowers that were out (greater chickweed, bush vetch and teasels), and looked at various lichens on branches. Marion Rayner also collected some leaf skeletons, which were particularly admired by my two young children!
Once in Freshford we walked down to the river, hoping for a sighting of a dipper. Although they are common here, we didn’t see one. We were treated however to the more unusual sight of a day-flying bat. It was circling under the tree, low enough for everyone to get a good view. Geoff Hiscocks kindly forwarded a reply to a letter he had from BBC Wildlife in 2009 explaining that day flying bats are more common than you think. Hunger and thirst can force them to fly in the day, when they are more vulnerable to predatory birds.
After a delightful lunch of quiche, salad, tiramisu and ice cream, we walked towards Iford through woodland and along the riverside. Notable finds included a bright yellow slime mould (Fuligo septica), a Pine Ladybird, Fringed Polypore (Polyporus ciliatus), Alder Bracket (Inonotus radiatus) and Alder Tongue Gall (caused by the fungus Taphrina alni). Back near the car park, where the brook cascaded over stonework, Alan and Marion Rayner were pleased to find the beautiful Curled Hook-moss (Palustriella commutata) growing profusely. Overall, a very successful meeting in an interesting location.
Caroline Ford




above left Pine ladybird ??.Right Common Buzzard.
click for all friary wood trip photos

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Branching Oyster ( Pleurotus cornucopiae)


The combination of summer warmth and moisture is beginning to bring some of the larger fungi out into the open. Already we have seen many examples of large Dryad’s Saddles ( Polyporus squamosus), but today, during a walk around Castle Combe we were pleased to see a delightful outcrop of Branching Oyster ( Pleurotus cornucopiae) around a dead elm tree stump. This fungus became very common after the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic in the 1970s, but has become a much less frequent sight since then. The fruit bodies are characteristically branched, with funnel-shaped caps and gills running all the way down to the base of the stems. “

 







Warmest

  Alan and Marion

Friday, 5 August 2016

5-8-2016 Steway lane, Batheaston

.
Good to see the  Red Kite again they have been around here since the start of the mowing season. Plenty of hoverflies around on my wildlife patch today I have posted a few.



Helophilus trivittatus  


Eristalis arbustorum female

Volucella pellucens

Eristalis tenax 5-8-2016



Steve Curtis

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Woodchester Park trip 24th July 2016

Woodchester Park (N.Tr.)., Sunday, 24th July 2016.

Good weather encouraged 26 members to meet at Woodchester Park for the Society’s first Field Outing there. It was particularly good to welcome 2 new  members who we hope to welcome to more meetings in the not too distant future, along with any other members who have yet to venture out on their first Field Outing. The descent into the valley towards the mansion was less productive in species than was hoped as some track side management had reduced the height of vegetation including previously dense stands of Hemp Agrimony, so the associated insect life was not as much in evidence, though the yellow Agrimony was flowering well. Most of the party went into the entrance hall of the mansion, recently on BBC4 in the repeated series on amateur naturalists, “Born to be wild”’ detailing some of the long term (40 year plus)  work of Dr Roger Ransome, into its Greater Horseshoe Bats, one of the longest studied populations in the country.  This is currently available on BBCiPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ccfft/born-to-be-wild-1-mammals
with more about the bats at
The C19th plantings of the grounds included several exotic species, impressive specimens of Wellingtonia and Turkey Oak, as well as a dense stand of Dwarf Elder, Sambucus ebulus, which provided several minutes of thought as its identification was considered. The possibility of it being a native species & its toxicity were also discussed.

Lucy’s sharp ears identified Marsh Tit , which went on to provide everyone with good, if somewhat distant views, as it flitted in & out of cover, feeding on Marsh Thistle seed heads. Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata )  and a Smoky Wainscot moth were spotted and imaged by several members. On one of the higher ponds a family of Little Grebe provided good viewing along with Brown Hawker dragonflies.  Several Common blue & Blue-tailed damselflies were also seen. Lucy’s listening & ID skills helped pinpoint Treecreeper and Nuthatch, though the calling Stock Dove proved to be more elusive.

The weather broke on our arrival at the boathouse, where we stopped for lunch and had hoped to see Silver washed fritillary, which were in evidence there on the pre-walk, but not so on the day. The large carp were showing well in the larger Middle Pond of the series of 5 ponds close to the route. A family group of wrens were seen by most of the party close to when we restarted our walk & photographed by several members.

Skirting around Middle Lake, path side vegetation clearance had removed the Alder galls that were so clearly on the pre walk but some less easily spotted specimens were found, caused by the mite Eriophyes laevis.  Speckled Wood butterflies were observed.

Entering the sunny, seeding meadow, fine specimens of Green Dock Beetle, Gastrophysa viridula, adults, larvae and the lace like remains as a resut of their feeding were seen along with a migrant, day flying Silver Y moth.

Click for Woodchester Park trip Photos 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

American museum 3-8-2016

Had a few hours wandering around the American museum grounds today, very nice with plenty of wildlife, a couple of birds I was pleased to see, Spotted flycatcher and marsh tit ,I will be returning and give it more time.



All the best Steve Curtis

Friday, 29 July 2016

Hedgehog


I saw the Hedgehog in my garden one evening this week.  A neighbour said it was one of six he had in his garden earlier this year and he calls it/him/her Fred!


Regards,

Andrew Harrison

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Otter in Bath on 26th July

On visit to Bath today -26th July - we were looking along the Avon at the railway bridge opposite Royal Mail , for the peregrines , and looking down into the shallows at numerous fish swimming amongst the discarded shopping trolleys . We then saw an otter eating a fish on a ledge about 3 metres below us . Really excited as the first wild otter we had ever seen. Sadly no phone to record it. When it had finished it sank back into the water and we watched the bubbles as it moved towards the middle but it never re appeared . 


Bath visitor.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Wednesday 13th June: COMBE HAY , Bath


Leaders : ROD AND LIZ THOMAS

This meeting, a follow-up from April 2014, was attended by 12 members and one grandchild.
Despite the ominous forecast the morning was dry and warm but overcast. We had a circular walk with a variety of habitats including shaded woodland and open meadows, providing some diverse
wild life.
We started with the viewing of a deep badger excavation of a bumble bee nest in the lawn at
Rowley House. We also examined a multi-use nesting box: firstly a blue tit nest which was predated by a great spotted woodpecker, built in by a wren and then used by tree bumble bees. A puzzling and unexpected toadstool on the lawn was later identified by our president as Agrocybe pediaides or
common fieldcap. This is not common and not in our Collins “complete guide “. A Dryad’s
saddle ( Polyporus squamosus) was more easily identified. The smut fungi on false oat grass and red campion were also fascinating as were galls on lime and sycamore leaves, which were the result of microscopic mite activity.
The rest of the morning provided a variety of grasses and flowering plants as well as
bryophytes, the latter recorded by Marion Rayner as part of her contribution to a bryological atlas of Somerset.
The many flowers included Bath asparagus, white and black bryony, sanicle and 4 species of orchid :
pyramidal, common spotted, bee (only 1specimen) and a little treasure, bird’s nest orchid, found by Terry Dolman under beech trees where it was difficult to spot. The mosses
were remarkable as always though it remains difficult recalling their names. 21 species of
bird were recorded but only a handful of butterflies and moths.
Sadly the 2 1/2 hours went too quickly as each subject needed a morning to itself.

Thanks to Rod and Liz

Thursday, 14 July 2016

myxomycetes

This might be of interest to the members?
The weather being warm and wet (summer!) it is also a good time to find myxomycetes (other than outside the Podium!).
On my regular walk at Newton St Loe I have this week found two species of myxomycete fruiting on old very large pine logs. I attach pictures which need to be magnified slightly to show the species better.
1. Cribraria argillacea is a series of cups on stalks from which the spores have blown away through the overarching (peridial) net which is not very evident (two photos).
2. Arcyria affinis looks like a gathering of bright pink loofahs from which the spores can be seen to be released.
The interest in these two species is that they are exiting the logs from the end since a plasmodium (blob!) can travel through anything its nuclei can pass through and therefore the xylem vessels of the log represent a nice wide highway to travel down but moving outside (laterally) through the xylem walls is much more difficult.
For really good pictures of these species just google the names of look on The Eumycetozoan Project website (University of Arkansas)


Alan F 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Wildlife Walk’ at the Bath Festival of Nature

Our ‘Wildlife Walk’ at the Bath Festival of Nature, 25th June 2016
As part of Bath Nats’ contribution to this year’s Bath Festival of Nature in Royal Victoria Park, Marion and I led a group of members of the public on a short ‘Wildlife Walk’ around the area in the vicinity of the Bandstand, where the event took place. At the outset I made a promise to everyone participating, that they would see something they’d never seen before. Little did I know that promise would apply to me and Marion, too! We started the walk by spending some time examining the growth of lichens, liverworts and mosses on a nearby tree trunk, and noticing how the distribution of this growth was affected by moisture drainage from the canopy. Nothing new for us, but something new for most of the group. Next we examined the leaves and bark of a nearby lime tree. On the leaves we found three different kinds of galls: patch galls caused by the mite, Eriophyes leiosoma; nail galls caused by the mite, Eriophyes tiliae, and pimple galls caused by the midge, Didymomyia tiliacea. On the trunk we found some Cottony cushion scale insects, Icerya purchasi, looking a little like squashed cream buns. Next we visited a grassy sward where some Hoary Plantains were producing their characteristic sparkler-like flowering spikes, with ascending arrays of whitish flowers and pale lilac stamens. After several further stops to examine newly formed cones of Blue Atlas Cedar and a variety of grasses, including Festulolium loliaceum, a hybrid between Rye-grass and Meadow Fescue, we arrived at an oak tree, where a surprising find awaited us. Examining the undersides of the leaves, we quickly found what we expected, by way of the curious spiky white egg sacs of a tiny spider, Paidiscura pallens, but in addition to these were some little disc-like structures, each of which had the carcass of an aphid attached to it. After several wide-of-the-mark misidentifications, we eventually identified these as being produced by a tiny parasitic wasp, Discritulus planiceps, whose larvae leave the hollowed shell of the aphid from below, to pupate in a disc-like cocoon. After several more stops, we ended the walk with a visit to a Round-leaved Cranesbill plant to admire its spectacular maypole-like fruits. I think a truly eye-opening experience was had by all present.
The Festival of Nature Event itself was very successful for Bath Nats, despite ending literally with a thundery bang and downpour. Our display stand attracted many visitors and good conversations, and sixteen new members signed up. Thanks go to Alan Feest, Janine Scarisbrick, Glen Maddison and Rob Randall for their help looking after the stand, and to David Goode, who led another Wildlife Walk during the afternoon.


Alan Rayner

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Scarlet Bonnet,Bathford.

Judging by the number of fungal fruit bodies I have been finding popping up recently in local woods, fields and lawns, it’s almost as though autumn is already with us! Amongst these have been a very special and beautiful find, in Gully Wood, near Bathford. This is the seldom-recorded ‘Scarlet Bonnet’, Mycena adonis var. coccinea. Here are two photographs of it, taken by Marion Rayner. The first shows it as we found it growing amongst moss and leaf litter. The second shows it after cleaning back home. The red cap and pink stem are diagnostic.
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  Warmest
  Alan 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Bath Organic Community Garden, Upper Bristol Road, Bath; 28th May 2016

Wildlife Safari including a close up with Moths, Led by Kate Souter with Richard Pooley
As part of the celebrating  25 years of gardening at  The Bath Organic Community Garden (BOG) Bath NATs had the chance of an early morning visit to the garden which is found  near Victoria Park.    Together with volunteers from BOG we explored a green urban space dedicated to nurturing the soil and the flora and fauna that benefit from an organic approach to horticulture.
Richard Pooley guided us through the moths that we might find active at night in an urban garden nearly.  It was with some fascination that the group examined the moths close up. Of the twenty different species found there were 16 macro moths.  Treble Lines, Charanyca grammica, was by far the most commonly found. Greater Plantain, Plantago major, is its food plant of choice; one reason for being an ‘untidy gardener’? Buff-tip, Phalera bucephala, disguised as a birch twig was admired for its sophisticated camouflage.  Younger participants were fascinated by the May Bug, Melolontha melolontha, a serious pest of arable crops but now a much rarer sight as a result of the use of pesticides.
Participants then visited the diverse range of habitats that are found in just one acre of land. The woodland area affords a space for herbs such as Lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis, and Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum, the crushed leaves of which make a good a midge repellent. The pond is a haven for invertebrates including dragonfly and damsel fly nymphs.  The Common Darter, Sympetrum striolatum, was spotted as the sun came out.  The orchard provides shelter and food for a range of vertebrates including Britain’s smallest breeding bird, the Goldcrest, Regulus regulus.   The Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum favoured by Goldfinches, Carduelis carduelis, in the winter months, was a focus of some discussion. Interestingly its leaf arrangement which results in small water pools around the leaf axils is thought to be a strategy for gaining nutrients as unwary flies that drown decompose!
Thanks go to Richard Pooley and the BOG for hosting the morning. Further information can be found about the garden at www.bathorganic.org.uk

 
Phalera bucephala  Buff-tip
Kate Souter

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Cottony Cushion Scale insect


Here are some shots taken by me of Cottony Cushion Scale insect  (Icerya purchasi) on the trees outside back of M&S in Bath today.
 
Best wishes
 Marion Rayner 

This scale infests twigs and branches. The mature hermaphrodite is oval in shape, reddish-brown with black hairs, 5 mm long. When mature, the insect remains stationary, attaches itself to the plant by waxy secretions, and produces a white egg sac in grooves, by extrusion, in the body which encases hundreds of red eggs. The egg sac will grow to be two to three times as long as the body. Newly hatched nymphs are the primary dispersal stage, with dispersion known to occur by wind and by crawling. Early stage nymphs feed from the midrib veins of leaves and small twigs, and do the bulk of the damage. At each molt, they leave at the old feeding point the former skin and the waxy secretions in which they had covered themselves and from which their common name is derived. Unlike many other scale insects, they retain legs and a limited mobility in all life stages. Older nymphs migrate to larger twigs and eventually as adults to branches and the trunk. Their life cycle is highly temperature dependent, as the length of time in each stage of life is longer in cold temperatures than high temperatures.
True males are uncommon to rare overall, and in many infestations are not present. Pure females are unknown. Self-fertilization by a hermaphrodite will produce only hermaphrodites. Matings of a male and hermaphrodite will produce both males and hermaphrodites.[4]
In addition to the direct damage from sap sucking, the insects also secrete honeydew, on which sooty mold often grows and causes further damage to the host plant. Some ants will also consume this honeydew.





Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Slime moulds 25/04/2016

 Three photographs of an extensive fruiting of a slime mould on the "shreddings" spread under some Alder trees outside Waitrose/Podium.  From a distance it looks lke some ashy deposit on the compost but closer observation shows they are massed sporangia from a plasmodium. They were probably originally one single cell!
The species is probably Physarim cinereum which fruits on the outside of my composting black bags.
By the way Siskins roost on the Alders every winter but as they become completely silent when going to roost no-one spots them!Hope this is of interest.
                                     




Thank you Alan F 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Bird Song SIG trip to Ham Wall and Meare Heath

We had a good 4 hours listening and watching birds in this fantastic wetland habitat, mainly focussing on warblers. We enjoyed the deep, Basso Profundo “booming” male Bitterns and the delightful “trilling” call of Little Grebe. The high pitched “scream” of a newly arrived Swift was heard above the soft buzzing chatter of many Sand Martins. Reed Warblers delivered their rather monotonous continuous ditty while its relative the Sedge Warbler gave us an array of mimicry including “pink” notes of Chaffinch, a “swee…eep” of a Yellow Wagtail and the alarm note of a Blue Tit and joyful twitter of a Swallow. There were plenty of Blackcaps singing their fluty jumble of notes, staring somewhat hesitantly and then building up to a big finish. The poet, John Clare, referred to a Blackcap as the March Nightingale. Willow Warblers were dotted along our route from the car park to the first platform at Ham Wall, emitting their simply rather muted trickle of soft descending notes ending in a modest trill. A distant Cuckoo was heard very briefly.
In total contrast to the Willow Warbler, Cetti’s Warblers were blasting us with their outbursts at high volume. If you are caught unaware of the bird’s presence deep in cover only a foot or so away, the un-expected song almost knocks you of your feet! We were so lucky that one bird decided, very out of character, to sit in full view on a low bare branch for nearly three or so minutes and even burst into song for us to see. That was a real treat to us bird listeners! Another warbler kindly let us take a look at him, that was a Common Whitethroat who after some hopping about in a hawthorn, popped into a nice gap in the foliage to let us see him deliver his short, rather scratchy song.
We had good views of male Marsh Harriers and Great White Egrets in flight, but we unfortunately missed Bitterns displaying at Meare Heath by a couple of minutes. The surprise of the morning was flushing a Short-Eared Owl at Ham Wall when in pursuit of a singing Sedge Warbler. This reserve never disappoints in any season and the new hide overlooking the scrape at Meare Heath with views also behind overlooking the reed beds is now open!

Thank you Lucy Delve

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

10-4-2016 Trip report Limpley Stoke and Freshford,

Natural Neighbourhood Watch in Limpley Stoke and Freshford, Sunday 10th April 2016
Gathering outside the Church (Tom Harper)


A large turnout of about ten Bath Nats members and forty local residents gathered at St Mary’s Church for the start of this event under a mostly cloudy but dry sky. After a short introductory talk in which I described the purpose of these events to enhance awareness of local biodiversity and the lessons and pleasure it holds for us in appreciating and understanding recurrent patterns of life from small to large scales, we ventured into the churchyard to discover some examples of these for ourselves. Soon we were on our knees or standing up against the church walls, examining the rippling and branching patterns of lichens and bryophytes – which came as a surprise to many of us, and a pleasing reminder to others of what we can pass by daily without noticing. After taking turns to bounce on Springy Turf Moss (Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus), we then set out across fields, noticing the first flowering shoots of Bulbous Buttercup along the way. I pointed out the reflexed sepals that enable it to be distinguished from Meadow and Creeping Buttercups, without digging it up, and mentioned that it is a sign of a potentially species-rich meadow. Some wind-strewn ash twigs then provided opportunity for close examination of the ‘coral reefs’ of epiphytic lichens that can be found without need to travel to exotic locations.

So far, so good, but the main attraction of the day still awaited us – a huge 7-year-old, privately owned pond.
The owners, Jez and Heather, explained how and why it had been made, through their love of wildlife, and had already been found spontaneously by an abundance of animals and plants, including many fish, Common Sandpiper and a pair of Mandarin Ducks. As we walked around its perimeter, our attention was drawn especially by a large gathering of metallic blue beetles amongst the decaying remains of Bulrush, Yellow Flag, Greater Pond-sedge and Great Willowherb from last year’s growth. Glen Maddison and Janine Scarisbrick later identified these as a kind of Flea Beetle, Altica lythri, which feeds on Willowherb and can jump – as we noted – to considerable heights when disturbed.
 Flea Beetles (Glen Maddison)


Suitably impressed, we then made our way back along paths and across fields to the church, where tea and cake awaited and Andy Daw showed us the collection of ten different species of snails he had collected along the way. This included some tiny, yet fully grown Grass Snails, which Andy had gathered into a Sim card container.

Many thanks to our local organizers Freshford and Limpley Stoke Environment Group (www.FLEWG.weebly.com) and to St Mary’s church for making the arrangements for what I think was a very successful meeting, enjoyed by all who attended it.

Alan Rayner


Thursday, 7 April 2016

chiffchaffs

Plenty of chiffchaffs in the steway lane area of Batheaston at the moment managed a photo of this one on the garden pond.



Steve Curtis

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Nice find at Combe down.


Willow Tit, Summer Lane, Combe Down, Bath 27-3-2016
 


Thanks to Paul Wilkins

Trip report River Chew Valley, Compton Dando 2nd April 2016


Twenty members gathered for this first walk from Compton Dando towards Chewton Keynsham in the River Chew Valley. The route had had to be carefully chosen due to the very muddy under-foot conditions after so much winter rain. A singing Chiffchaff entertained us before we set off and a a Dipper gave fleeting views to only a couple of the group as we crossed the river bridge. As the walk commenced several more Chiffchaffs were heard and seen together with common species such as Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird but eventually the first Willow Warbler of the year was spotted amongst the Chiffchaffs. This was quickly followed by a pair of Bullfinches, although they weren’t always easy to see in the dense cover. As we emerged into a more open area several stands of Lady’s Smock were in flower and some Primroses added to the early Spring colour.
The path then led us into a wooded section of the walk where Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were seen and eventually a Blackcap was heard singing, although it too could be tricky to see as it was singing from thick cover.

Our Our group leaving the wooded area and climbing up for views over the valley.
As the sun broke through, there was plenty of bird song to listen to and Raven, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were all heard and seen, with the latter drumming down in the river-side willow trees. Buzzards were now up in good numbers with at least eight soaring on thermals, joined on a couple of occasions by a single Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel.
What we assumed to be a falconer’s bird caused a stir at one point, resembling a harrier with its white rump and long tail. However, due to its rather broad wings and chestnut upper-wing coverts, the consensus was that it was probably a Harris’s Hawk, although no-one was able to spot any jesses!
The return produced more of the same until a Siskin was at first heard and then seen extremely well in river-side vegetation. Being an adult male in Spring plumage, it was a very smart bird. The walk concluded with the Willow Warbler finally giving us some of its song and perhaps better views than on the outward journey and was probably joined by a second individual.
Although we did not record any butterflies on the walk, a lone male Brimstone was in the lane as I drove home towards the Two-headed Man from Compton Dando. Initial feed-back suggests that this might be a walk that we do again next year?

Chris Vines