Thursday, 28 March 2013

Osprey at Chew

Not in our area I know but members might be interested to know that there is an Osprey at Chew Valley Lake which I was lucky enough to see this morning at Herriots Bridge at a bout 9.00am.

Thanks Paul

Still 2 Osprey at Blagdon as per Avon Birds Blog.

Thanks Mark

Monday, 25 March 2013

Tuesday, 19th March 2013 Fossils Workshop with Matt Williams

The workshop began with brief introduction to fossils, explaining how these are formed and advice where to look and how to collect them. He then gave an illustrated introduction to the fossil baring rocks in our area. To give context and some perspective Matt explained the staggering depth of geological time and the relatively late appearance of fossils formed from multi-cellular life, about 1200 million years ago.  He then outlined the age and conditions under which local rocks were formed and described some of the associated fossils. These range from 307 to 66 million years old, the late Carboniferous to late Cretaceous periods.

We then examined fossils typical of our area, from the BRLSI collection. These were all arranged by age and associated habitat in which the original organisms lived. We began with carbonised tree ferns, formed in tropical swamps of the late Carboniferous age and typical of fossils found in the Somerset coal measures. Rocks from the subsequent Permian period are not represented locally; having been completely eroded away before younger rocks were laid down in shallow seas. Marine life dominate the following periods in rocks laid down in tropical seas of varying depths, typified by fish, corals, bivalve and spiral shelled molluscs, brachiopods, sea urchins and ammonites. Strange exhibits examined, included the fin spine of an early shark species and the segmented animal stalks of crinoids. . I felt particularly privileged to hold the thighbone from an enormous crocodile, which lived 160 million years ago. Not something you do everyday!

Phillip Delve.

For further information and reference:
Plant fossils of the British Coal Measures by Chris Cleal & Barry Thomas
ISBN 0-901702-53-6

A directory of good fossil baring rock exposures is listed on the web-site:

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Cancelled coach trip

RSPB coach trip to Gigrin Farm on 6 July has had to be cancelled for logistic reasons. 

Later feeding time plus a minimum 3 hours each way on the coach.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sunday 17th March 2013: LOWER WOODS

Lower Woods Nature Reserve.
MUD glorious MUD

A Liverwort (Radula complanata)

A Lichen (Evernia prunastri)

Also known as Oak Moss.

Bjerkandera adusta
Bjerkandera adusta
 is a widely distributed
 wood decay fungus 
commonly associated
 with the decomposition
 of hardwoods.
The colouring is due to the Ivy that was growing on the tree.
Dog Lichen (Peltigera membranacea)

Dog Lichen (Peltigera membranacea)
The orange-brown discs are the spore-producing structures (apothecia). The pale underside of the lichen was covered in a prominent pattern of raised white veins. Pale rhizines (root-like structures) can also be seen projecting from the underside.Lower Woods Nature Reserve.

Little Avon River
Lower Woods Nature Reserve.The Little Avon River is a small river partly in southern Gloucestershire and partly in South Gloucestershire. For much of its length it forms the boundary between the county of Gloucestershire and the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire. It rises to the east of Wickwar, near Horton, passes near Charfield, Stone and Berkeley, and enters the River Severn via Berkeley Pill.

Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha coccinea)
 A large, scarlet,
shallow cup found growing either solitary or
 in groups, usually in damp situations on rotting
 wood under coniferous and broadleaf trees
Yellow Jelly fungus (Tremella mesenterica.
Other common names include the yellow brain,
 the golden jelly fungus, the yellow trembler,

and witches' butter

Thanks to Mark Turnbull

Sunday, 17th March 2013 Elm Farm Bird Song SIG

It was great to see and hear our first singing Chiffchaffs for the year at the Compton Dando Sewage Works. Then, in the orchard opposite, we heard and saw Redwing and Fieldfare, probably our last for this winter.  Listening conditions were good - no wind or rain.

We began our tour of Elm Farm from the farmhouse. Songsters around the buildings here included Greenfinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock and Song Thrush. Phillip spotted a Brambling high in a beech tree by the road.  A bit further afield we recorded Skylark, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Long Tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Goldfinch. Blackbirds were present but not singing (they prefer to sing at first light and again around dusk). We watched a pair of Mistle Thrushes and heard their harsh alarm call which sounds similar to an old-fashioned football rattle.  Other “noises off” as we walked over the fields included Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Raven, Carrion Crow, Rook, Magpie, Mallard, Pheasant, and the occasional “mew” of a passing Buzzard and the coo-ings of Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove and Stock Dove.

Although we have been recording Blackcaps during December-February around our garden and bird feeder, I only heard my first Blackcap in full song last week, in Forester Road.

Keep listening!

Lucy Delve

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Spring is in the air

Spring is still in the air - Blackcap singing in the garden

Spring is in the air (honest) - a pair of Siskins in the garden.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Blackcaps love apple

                                      Male & female Blackcaps still around - but for how                                                              
click picture to watch
Thanks Geoff

Sunday, 10 March 2013



Overnight Friday to Saturday just four moths came to the UV light on our Bathwick balcony,

Click photos to enlarge

Acleris literana (Bradley No1061
Early Thorn
Common Quaker
Thank you Phillip & Lucy

Friday, 8 March 2013

Newton Park, Newton St. Loe 6th March 2013

Thirteen members of the Society met for this walk around Newton Park in rather cloudy but mild, calm and dry conditions, good for both seeing and hearing birds. To begin with, however, birds were few on the ground and even fewer in the air until a brilliantly coloured male bullfinch was spotted, signalling a promise of good things to come.
Then, just where we had hoped we might see it, it was spotted, and we took turns to peer at it through telescopes as it sat there, apparently unperturbed by our presence - a Little Owl, sleepily hunched up in the crook of an oak branch. After about a quarter of an hour, we moved on up through the wooded valley, where Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskins, Nuthatch and Goldcrest were seen and/or heard until we came out onto the open grassland and parkland surrounding the buildings - and building works - of Bath Spa University.
Not quite resisting the temptation to call out 'common crane', with reference to a large mechanical object towering over the buildings, we walked back down the valley towards Newton St Loe, accompanied by the 'Spring is coming' and 'I'll sing this more than twice' calls of Mistle and Song Thrush.
A total of 37 species of birds were either seen or heard by the party as a whole, a reasonable tally given that it was in that “in-between” period, with winter species leaving and spring migrants not yet arrived.

Chris Vines & Alan Rayner

Click on photos to enlarge
Bird Spotting!

Some of Bath Natural History Society members on a field trip to Newton Park, Newton St. Loe, Near Bath led by Chris V. having spotted a male Bullfinch in a distant fruit tree.
                                              Click on photos to enlarge

Little Owl by Phillip Delve

Grey Heron

Single male Teal
This Mute Swan spent all his time chasing off these male Mallard.
Fungal fruiting bodies of Coriolus versicolor (Trametes versicolor) also known by the common name of Turkey Tails. 

Habitat on deciduous wood at any time of the year and very common. Not edible.

This is a very variable species and some authors recognize several forms.

Thank you Paul and Phillip for the photos

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Freshford to Iford

click photos to enlarge
Today we took advantage of sunshine and blue sky to walk along the River Frome, from the New Inn at Freshford to Iford and back again.
We saw single Dippers at both Feshford Mill and from Iford Bridge. Also from the bridge at Iford a pair of Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails.  Along the river at Freshford,  a pair of Goosanders flew upstream, settled briefly, then returned towards the River Avon.  Buzzards and Ravens were displaying. A Sparrowhawk flew low along the river. While stopped for lunch we watched a Wren dust bathing in the sunshine.

Several butterflies were in flight today. At least 4 Brimstones, Several Small Tortoiseshells and two Commas. we saw Honey Bees taking pollen from flowering snowdrops.
My attention was also taken by some of the Bryophytes and Lichens on the still bare trees. Needless to say we finished our walk back at the New Inn for a bit of refreshment!

Lecidella elaeochroma and liverwort is Frullania dilatata
 Probably Didymidon insularis

Lesser celandine

Thank you Phillip & Lucy

Dotted Border - Southstoke, Bath

Info from uk moths

Wingspan 27-32 mm.
A common species distributed widely over the British Isles, there are quite a number of variations, including a virtually all-dark form, ab. fuscata.
The females are flightless, and have only vestigial wings.
The moths are out from February to April, when the males can be attracted to light.
The species frequents woodland, gardens and bushy places, and the larvae feed on several different deciduous trees.

Thanks Geoff for the photo

Monday, 4 March 2013

Saturday, 2nd March 2013 Bird watching and listening along the Kennet and Avon Canal; Leader: Lucy Delve

This was a popular meeting, with 16 Nats members and a guest who set out from The George at Bathampton, for a gentle canal side stroll and the chance to hear early spring bird song and calls. Although cool and overcast, the calm air provided the ideal conditions for listening. We began at 9am with some encouraging words and helpful tips read from Simon Barnes’  “How to be a Bad Birdwatcher” and Bird Watching With Your Eyes Closed”, before concentrating our attention on the cyclic ditty of a Dunnock singing from a near by hedge. We then focussed our ears on the varied, higher pitched, softer, and thinner tone of the Robin’s song.

Greenfinches were in full song, including among their trilling notes, the distinctive, long drawn out "zweee”” note. A male briefly performed his fluttering wing display flight.  We heard the classic typical bell like “teacher teacher” song of the Great Tit but the song of this species can vary from the norm so beware!  We only heard a single Song Thursh and no Blackbirds as both species prefer to sing early and late in the day.

All these songsters, also including Wren and Blue Tit, were accompanied by background “noises” from Jackdaws, Wood Pigeons, Carrion Crows, a Green Woodpecker and Black Headed Gulls. We also found a couple of Common Gulls among the flock of Black-headed Gulls on the Bathampton sports field.

Perhaps the most challenging song to identify, came from a small party of Siskin, their rapid, twittering and wheezy notes from deep within bushes and trees the other side of the canal. We only saw the birds when they flew, calling, from cover and over our heads.  Fortunately, when we reached Grosvenor Bridge by Kensington Meadows, we found a singing male in full view whose song we could compare directly with a Goldfinch perched close-by in another tall alder tree. I would describe a Siskin’s song as a speeded-up Greenfinch, with its full song including distinctive very nasal wheezy note although this bird omitted that part of its song.

I hope that those attending the meeting can now identify with more confidence a few common bird songs and calls and will continue to develop their listening skills as spring progresses. Our summer migrants are only a few weeks from arrival now.

I recorded a total of 32 species during the morning by sight and sound, including a Treecreeper and Goldcrest both seen well but silent.

Lucy Delve

Common Gull and Black-Headed Gulls
click photos to enlarge
Seen during a very interesting walk listening and identifying bird song with Bath Natural History Society led by Lucy D. (I think I can now tell the difference between a Dunnock and a Robin without actually seeing the bird, I think?)
Now this is when it pays to be with experts, i.e. to be able to pick out the more unusual bird amongst a flock of Gulls. The not so common Common Gull is the one on the end (left) which is a little larger (but not much) has a slightly darker back (but not much) yellow legs (this I think is the giveaway) and the lack of a dark patch behind the eyes. Although some of the BH Gulls don't have any signs of their black head in the winter just to confuse me.
click photos to enlarge

Long-tailed Tit

This lovely little bird gave us good views of it foraging for insects and spiders in the deep fissured bark of a canal side Alder, working its way up different areas of the trunk and returning to the bottom to start again. It always amazes me how any insects survive such close scrutiny by birds like the Tree Creeper.

These miniature worlds are so fascinating that with a small hand lens you could loose yourself for hours, unfortunately this photo doesn't do them justice and you need to see them for yourself.
These have kindly been identified by Alan R. and include, along with mosses, Cryphaea heteromalla, Orthotrichum affine, Homalothecium sericeum, Ulota sp, and foliose lichens, Parmelia saxatilis (parasitized in places by coral-red fungus, Marchandiomyces corallinus), Punctelia subrudecta and Parmotrema perlatum

Fungus found on the underside of a Hazel branch
 - Phellinus ferreusHabitat on dead branches
 of deciduous wood, especially hazel, causing
an intensive white rot which rapidly destroys the
wood. Season all year, perennial. Common.
Not edible.

Thank you Paul Wilkins

Friday, 1 March 2013


Hi, I thought members might be interested to know that I have been having a small flock of about 5-7 Siskins visiting my garden at Combe Down for the last two or three feeding on both the ordinary seed feeders as well as the Niger feeder. 

I have attached a photo showing two of the female birds feeding on Niger.


Thanks Paul