Saturday, 31 March 2012

Orange tip emergence

From egg(hatched, having been laid on Lady's Smock, in mid May 2011) to butterfly, entirely in my Bath back garden.

Thanks to Geoffrey Hiscocks

Friday, 30 March 2012


Today I saw my first example of Great Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea , in flower near Box. I also observed Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris , coming into bloom in Bathampton. A number of salt-tolerant plants have come into flower at various sites directly by main roads. I have posted a picture on Flikr if anyone is able to suggest a name.

Thank you Chris

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Bat detectors

Phillip and I watched 2 pipistrelle bats flying over our garden about 7.45pm last evening (28 March). Using our bat detectors, we identified them as Soprano Pipistrelle".


Thank you Lucy

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Steve Curtis,Bill Bristow and myself spent a few hours at Inwwod today , its a SSSI site full of amazing wildlife.
Birds encountered were Marsh Tits , G S Woodpeckers , Raven , Treecreepers , Jay , Coal Tits , Blue Tits , Long-tailed Tits , Great Tits , Chiffchaff , Robin , Wren , Blackbird and Buzzard.
Plants included Lesser Celendine , more Wood Anemones than we had ever seen , Bluebells , Wood (Early) Dog Violet including a white form , Toothwort.
A single Roe Deer was seen as well.

Thanks Mark

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Real spring butterfly

Maybe not the first local sighting but certainly my first real spring butterfly - male Orange Tip at Weston Park today 27th March.

Thanks Gordon

Monday, 26 March 2012


Today I heard my first Blackcap of the year singing in Bathampton. I also sadly witnessed a Blackbird phenomenon, whereby they swoop from hedgerow to hedgerow across road, in the case the main A36, and get killed by a car in the process. I wonder if anyone can explain why they do this? This behaviour must be the cause of hundreds of fatalities, maybe thousands, each spring in the UK.

Thanks Chris very interesting.

A local Walk

A quick walk around Grosvenor yesterday afternoon to see what the sunshine would produce.
Kensington meadows - 4/5 Chiffchaff , plenty of small birds ( Blue Tit,Great Tit,Blackbirds,Dunnocks),several patches of Green Alkanet growing by Grosvenor foot bridge.
Along the river bank to Meadow farm were several 7 Spot Ladybirds including a mating pair , various willows with lots of catkins , a single Kingfisher.
Back home in the garden lots of common wasps gathering material for nest building , hoverflies and an early Harlequin ladybird , and just 1 Siskin coming to the feeders.A few photos from walk click here

Bath light trap last night

3moths from last night click here for photos

Thank you Phillip Delve

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Saturday 24th March Field trip

Saturday, 24th March 2012
Luckington-Sherston-Sopworth, North Wiltshire.
Leaders: Phillip & Lucy Delve

In fine weather, that was to last throughout the day, 11of us set out on a triangular walk to encompass three attractive Cotswold villages. From Luckington Court we followed a tributary to its confluence with the Sherston Avon, passing through Grove Wood on our way to Sherston. This small wood on a steep slope is managed by village volunteers and has benefited from good woodland management to encourage wildlife. Here we found Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Primroses, Wood Anemone and Sweet violets decked the woodland floor, along with a few clumps of Bluebells. From Sherston we walked a lane westward to Stan Bridge and then over fields under blue sky to Sopworth. The main wildlife interest along this stretch is concentrated in the old hedgerows, parkland trees, dew-ponds and The River Avon (here a small stream). Pond Skaters, Water Boatmen and unidentified small fish, all took our attention as we stood at the water’s edge. Leaving the tall stand of Wellingtonia Trees Sequoiadendron giganteum, which dominate Sopworth, we headed south along a lane and then across fields towards our cars back in Luckington. Everywhere we walked today there were dotted, along field and roadside edges, the golden heads of Celandines. Bright sunshine and warmth brought butterflies out of hibernation and other insects were evident in sheltered places, including some Bee Flies that tempted our photographers.  Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma butterflies were all seen.

During the meeting Lucy Delve stressed the importance of listening, as well as looking, in bird identification. Apart from the pleasure of hearing several Mistle Thrushes declare their territory by song, this approach was effective in finding an impressive 42 species of bird on the day. Throughout the walk, there were the distinctive sounds of Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Chiffchaff, Great Tit and Dunnocks. In suitable habitat we heard Yellowhammers, Skylarks and the occasional Wren. It was an alarm call that alerted me to a flock of Fieldfares, startled from cover by a Sparrowhawk. One surprise was the lack of Blackcaps, which are now singing in the Bath area. Although the early flowering of plants and unseasonable weather gave today the feel of late April, I should not have been surprised by the late presence of Fieldfares and lack of hirundines, a reminder that we were still in March.

Phillip Delve

List of Bird species identified on the walk.
From sight or sounds by at least one member of our party. The approximate numbers of each species is a given where appropriate. “W” indicates widespread species. “H” follows the six  species which were heard but not necessarily seen.

Mallard x 2, Red-legged Partridges x 4, Pheasant H, Grey Heron x 1, Buzzard circa 12,
Sparrowhawk x 1, Moorhen x 1, Common Gulls circa 70, Stock Doves x 2, Wood Pigeons W, Collared doves x 4, Great-spotted Woodpeckers x 2, Green Woodpecker H, Skylarks H,
Meadow Pipits x 3, Pied Wagtail x 1, Dunnocks W, Robins W, Song Thrush x 2, Mistle Thrush circa 6, Fieldfares circa 60, Blackbirds circa10, Chiffchaffs circa 8, Goldcrest H, Wrens W, Great Tits W, Blue Tits W, Coal Tit x 1, Long-tailed Tits x 4, Nuthatch x1, Magpie cica 4, Jackdaws W, Rooks (large rookery), Carrion Crows W, Starlings a few, House Sparrows W,
Chaffinch W, Linnet H, Goldfinches a few, Greenfinches W, Bullfinch H,
Yellowhammers circa 15.

Total 42 Species.

Trip photos

Friday, 23 March 2012


Today at Inwoods I saw several Wood Anemonies in flower on roadside banks. In the hedgerows Bluebells are in the very early stages of showing colour whilst in the wood Toothwort is emerging. Peacock and Brimstone butterflies were also seen.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Old railway route to Bristol

I took advantage of the fine weather today, for a cycle ride along the old railway route to Bristol as far as Willsbridge Mill and Siston Brook.
I counted 12 Brimstone Butterflies along the route also 3 Commas, 2 Peacocks, and my first Speckled Wood for the season along Siston Brook.
Spring flowers seem well advanced including Wood Anemone and Bluebells; the buds on both Ash and Poplar trees are now in process of opening
and the first leaves can't be more than a few days away. Along the route there are now plenty of singing Chiffchaffs and a few Blackcaps. Click here for photos

Phillip Delve


Today I spotted at Red Admiral butterfly at Monkton Combe and heard a Chiffchaff singing, for the first time this year, for me, at Limpley Stoke.


There were 7 Buzzards over St Catherines valley yesterday morning and plenty of small bird activity in the area , also reports of a Marsh Tit from one of the local farms.

Thanks Mark

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


There was a Peacock butterfly in my garden late this afternoon when the sun was shining.

Thank you Chris

Castle Combe Field Trip, 18th March 2012

A group of ten members met at Castle Combe for a four mile circular walk via Long Dean and Nettleton Shrub on Sunday 18th March. We were fortunate to have a partially sunny but dry day for this.
A number of native plants are by mid March either wholly or partially in flower, Primroses, Primula vulgaris and Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, being the most commonly observed. On the walk from the carpark to the village we saw flowering examples of Ivy Leaved Speedwell, Veronica hederifolia, Bittercress, Barbarea vulgaris and Red Deadnettle, Lamium purpureum, all situated well on south facing banks. On the rise up the side of the valley away from the village we noticed Common Gorse, Ulex europaeus, in flower too. Below in the river valley Canada Geese & Mute Swans swam on artificial lakes. At Long Dean we watched Great Spotted Woodpecker and Redwing.
On the climb up the hill from Ford we saw a large number of emerging White Violets, Viola alba, underneath the hedgerows and were lucky enough to observe to observe the aerial displays of the common Buzzard, a seasonal mating ritual, where an individual bird circles high in the sky before diving spectacularly toward the earth.
On the return leg, along the By Brook, we found emerging Monkshood, Aconitum napellus, and  Kingcup, Caltha palustris, in full flower.
We saw a number of Buff Tailed Bumblebees and a Woodmouse too.
 The bird count for the full five hours of the walk totalled twenty three species. 

Thank you Chris

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012

Golden Plovers

Party of 50+ Golden Plovers on usual field just short of A46/M4 Junction - today 16 March.

Thank you Gordon

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bushy Norwood,Trip Report

Sunday 11th March 2012; Bushy Norwood, Claverton, Bath

Joint meeting with Bath & District RSPB Local Group

Leader: Lucy Delve

Mid March is a great time to get out in the early morning and really listen to the ever-increasing “avian soundscape” as birds pair up and establish territories. Ideally, this is best achieved alone or in a small group.

The calm, sunny, mild weather, (after the low cloud and mist cleared), was excellent for seeing and hearing birds. However as our intention this morning was to search for birds primarily from their distinctive calls and songs, it was necessary for our party of 22 members and 3 visitors, to spread out and create as little disturbance as possible.

We walked across the pastureland bounded by mature mixed woodland; some areas with a fairly dense under storey, providing foraging and breeding habitat. Several mature trees, within the National Trust managed land, had been lost to storm damage or perhaps simply old age; much dead wood lay around the horse jumps. I was pleased to see some new planting of ash and beech trees here, which will help to replace the old trees in time.

Woodpecker activity had clearly decreased since 2010/2011, when an extremely scarce Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been seen, together with several pairs of Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. But this morning we could only find one Green Woodpecker at the south end of Bushy Norwood and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker in beech trees above the car park of the American Museum. In the same beech trees, we found two very noisy pairs of Nuthatches, apparently fighting over the best nest sites. Also here, we heard the more softly “spoken” Redwings, which will soon depart for their Scandinavian breeding grounds.

Other notable species recorded on the day included Skylark, Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush and several Buzzards. A Grey Heron was seen from The Avenue as we assembled before the meeting. Blue, Great, Long Tailed, and Coal Tits were all seen in small numbers; but we were unlucky not to find either Treecreeper or Marsh Tit, both as seen and heard here the previous week. Finch flocks were also less evident this morning. Some members saw a Comma butterfly and as I walked down North Road after the meeting, I saw a male Brimstone, followed by a Peacock Butterfly in my garden at Bathwick. Trip photo link

Lucy Delve

Monday, 12 March 2012

Butterflies starting to show

Yesterday (11th March)  Male Small White in Hedgemead Park, Walcot.

Thank you Gordon

Just one Peacock in the garden for me so far.


Friday, 9 March 2012

Harbingers Of Spring

I took a circular walk today centred on the village of Compton Dando, walking along the bank of the river Chew to Woollard and back along Peppershells Lane. I wanted to see how many emerging native or natural plants I could detect that could be regarded as harbingers of spring.

The first was detected along the marshy riverbank. Opposite-Leaved Golden Saxifrage, Chrysosplendium oppositifolium, was now to be seen in places in full flower. Then on a south facing sheltered bank in Woollard the first Sweet Violets, Viola odorata, along with Moschatel, Adoxa moschatellina, were observed just at the very start of their flowering season. Needless to say the lane back up the hill was dotted with Primrose, Primula vulgaris, with some natural clumps containing up to seventy individual flowers. Celandines, Ranunculus ficaria, also were abundant. At the top of the lane before the descent back to Compton Dando Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola, was seen flowering in the wood, although I would not regard this plant as a true spring harbinger. What was surprising though was that on the road verge opposite was growing a Cuckoo Flower, or Lady's Smock plant, Cardamine pratensis, in full bloom - several weeks before you would expect to see it.

This is the joy of the natural world, the variation from one year to the next, the sheer uncertainty of it all laid out for us all to appreciate.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Garden Bees

On more than one occasion lately I have noticed large Bumblebees in my garden. I didn't get close enough to be absolutely sure but they could well be Queen White Tailed Bumblebees which search both for nectar and for nesting sites at this time of year. The BBC Wildlife Magazine tells us they have a body temperature about the same as ours - and on cold mornings they warm up by shivering just like we do.

You live & learn!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Amphibians And Raptors

Behind the farmhouse near Box we have a pond in the back garden, a modest one with a water cascade and a few goldfish. Now we suddenly have frogs too. The surface of the water is covered in spawn and as you approach you will hear a number of plopping sounds as the heads of breeding adults disappear underwater to avoid your interested gaze. Below this site at the margin of a field a larger artificial lake has more frogs - and toads as well, all well into breeding activity.  A definite  indication, if any further were needed, that winter is at long last in retreat.

Last year in our owl breeding box high up inside the corrugated dutch barn a pair of Kestrels raised four young. The adults are still to be seen circling over the fields, hopefully with an eye to re-occupy the box this spring for a further brood. We can only hope.


It looks as if the flowering span for Celandines this season is going to be quite considerable. I noticed the first blooms emerge at the bottom of the A36, near the traffic lights, in Bath during late November 2011. These were followed by further examples in my Bathampton garden in December. Now it is March and the majority in the hedgerows and on banks are still in bud. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

River Frome

On Friday 2nd March 2012, following a rather nice lunch at "The New Inn" at Freshford, I took a look along the River Frome there.
The pair of Dippers are still just upstream from the mill, and already collecting nesting material.
Then further downstream saw four Goosanders including two drakes. My brother Jeff managed the blurry record shot attached. Photo link

Phillip Delve

Thanks Jeff good record shot

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bill Bristow's Marshfield walk of 26th February.

On a clear sunny February morning twenty one members met at Marshfield for a two mile walk over minor roads and footpaths across fields to observe winter bird activity. The previous week on a recce of the area the air and fields had been virtually alive with over- wintering Fieldfares and flocks of Gulls, many following the plough as the local farmer prepared the land for its next crop.
On the day of the walk however all these birds were absent but we were entertained by a good deal of Skylark activity. It was instructive to see these native birds in large numbers, some flocking together, some fighting as they attempted to secure breeding space. Another endangered bird in evidence here is the Yellowhammer. We saw and heard a number of these during our three hour perambulation. Other birds of note seen were a lone Kestrel and a charm Goldfinches. At the end of proceedings a total of seventeen species were counted, the final one recorded being a small flock of House Sparrows in the village itself.

Christopher Phillips

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Toad Patrol.

Toad Patrol is well under way again. To find out a bit more about what goes on please check out the link below, to see what was shown on The One Show.

Thanks Becky