Friday, 25 April 2014

Bird Song Skills Improvement Group

 Meeting at Newton St Loe/Bath Spa University grounds (Newton Park) on Tuesday 22nd April
We gathered at about 9.30am and the rain had cleared and before long the sun broke through the clouds and we were listening to a range of bird song including Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Goldcrest and Blackcap.  We enjoyed excellent views of a pair of very obliging Little Owls, reported on the Nats News-site last year, so great that they are still in situ.  I was surprised and delighted to find  a Common Sandpiper and we heard it call very briefly as it flew across the lake. Other birds on and around the lake included Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Moorhen, Coot and a pair of Teal.
We ended our walk at the Newton St Loe Farm Shop and enjoyed coffees and teas and delicious cake whilst listening to and watching Swallows and Skylark."

Lucy Delve         

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


Click photo to enlarge
 As usual, Bath Nats provided a stand at this annual event, which was attended on the first day by Alan Rayner (morning), Marion Rayner (afternoon) and Paul Wilkins (all day), and on the second day by Phillip and Lucy Delve (morning), Alan Rayner (all day) and John Garrett (afternoon). Brief supportive visits were also made by Andy Daw, Chris Vines and Mike Bailey. We took along our now familiar display panels as well as a variety of items for sale and specimens to show. Day 1 was blessed with glorious spring sunshine, but day 2 was cloudier and a cold breeze whipping across the lake made conditions much less comfortable. A feature of our participation was a series of five brief ‘nature walks’ into nearby woodland and grassland for members of the public as well as some members of Bath Nats, who joined us. Two of these on the first day were led by Alan Rayner and focused especially on the wonderful variety of bryophytes and lichens that could be found growing on rocks and tree trunks and revealed in all its microcosmic splendour with the simple aid of a hand lens and moisturiser spray. Newcomers are often surprised and awed by this variety, which most of us pass by daily without noticing, and this occasion was no exception. Having drawn attention to this close-up world, Paul Wilkins then led another walk showing how it could be revealed through camera lenses. On day 2 Alan Rayner was joined by Lucy Delve for one walk and Phillip Delve for the other, who contributed their knowledge of bird-life.
Photo by Mike Bailey

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Combe Down Moths

Caloptilia syringella - Combe Down, Bath

This leaf mining micro moth emerged today from a 'leaf mine' on Ash collected last November. This species commonly feeds on Lilac, Privet and Ash.

The Streamer, Combe Down, Bath

Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner, Combe Down, Bath
At just 3.5mm long millions of these beautiful little micro moths have disfigured thousands of Horse Chestnut trees in the south of the country.

Phyllonorycter acerifoliella
This leaf mining micro moth is just 4mm long and it's larva feeds on Field Maple (Acer campestre) it pupates under a small turned down edge of the leaf and overwinters on the fallen leaf and emerges the following spring.

Phyllonorycter oxyacanthae
Leaf mining micro moth (approx. 4mm in length) Mine collected from Hawthorn November 2013 emerged 8-4-2014
Great post thanks Paul

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Avon Valley, Saltford Trip Report 14th April 2014

Thirteen members of the Society met for this leisurely walk from The Shallows in Saltford around the medieval ponds to Avon Farm and return via Swineford Lock and the River Avon towpath. As luck would have it, it was a glorious spring morning with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, with only a moderate north-westerly wind to take the edge off the temperature in exposed places.
Before we had even left the car park, several species of butterfly had already been recorded that included Holly Blue, Peacock and Brimstone. Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were singing strongly and a Mistle Thrush showed well on the grassy bank above the car park.
As predicted, the pine trees in St.Mary’s churchyard yielded a singing Coal Tit and just beyond, a snatch of Lesser Whitethroat song was heard in the distance. I had hoped that we may see one but our walk was about a week earlier than their normal arrival date, although several had been recorded in the Severn Valley the previous day, raising my hopes. The bird sang intermittently and one or two members managed a brief view of it but unfortunately, it never sat up long enough for everyone to see.
As we approached the medieval ponds a Bullfinch was spotted but again it was only seen by a lucky few. By now the lovely spring sunshine had brought many butterflies onto the wing and Orange Tip, Green-veined White and a Comma were recorded and photographed. Several Swallows and a single House Martin were a very welcome sight below Avon Farm and two soaring Buzzards and a hovering Kestrel enhanced the scene. 
The path to Swineford Lock was littered with flood debris and a ‘high-tide mark at least two feet up the trunks of the surrounding trees illustrated only too well the extent of the winter floods, although the area seemed to have recovered well from its’ drenching. A Grey Wagtail, perhaps one of Britain’s most under-rated species, gave excellent views around the Lock and just beyond, a Kingfisher flashed by and was seen by some as it headed off down-river.
Much to my relief, everyone survived the encounter with the herd of young bullocks encroaching on the footpath passed the treatment works and we all arrived back at The Shallows having had a thoroughly enjoyable morning.  

Chris Vines 

Bee Fly 14th April, 2014

There are many Bee Flies about at the moment. This one I've just added was in my garden this morning.

Click photo to enlarge

Orange Tip

Photo my first Orange Tip this year Newton Park Saturday 12 April.

Butterfly sat tight in cool breeze.

 Thanks Phillip

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Ticks and Lyme disease

As we go into our next season of Field Outings it is time to draw members' attention to the problem of ticks. Ticks are parasites that are found in vegetation where they wait to attach themselves to an unsuspecting host such as a passing human. Probably one in three ticks are thought to carry Lyme Disease which is transmitted by a bite. Lyme Disease, if left untreated, can have wide-spread effects on the central nervous system and in extreme cases can be fatal. For further information about how to avoid tick bites and how to recognise the symptoms if you have been bitten go to :

Lyme disease

Lyme-disease Symptoms

Lyme disease - Diagnosis

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Bath Peregrine Project.

Just to keep you up to date with the Bath Peregrine Project. 4 eggs have now been laid. 
We hope to go live with internet soon which will be available through Hawk and Owl Trust website.

Thanks to Andy Grant

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Chew Valley Lake Trip Report

Saturday 29th March 2014
Chew Valley Lake (Leaders: Phillip & Lucy Delve).

From the picnic areas, where eight of us met at the north end of the lake, we walked to and from the footbridge at Hollow Brook. Here there are stands of pine trees, open parkland and lakeside reed beds. On this pleasant, early spring day many woodland birds were in song. We stopped to listen to Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren, Robin, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. A Kestrel appeared briefly over the pines.

Towards Hollow Brook there were a few Reed Buntings. Here Alan Rayner pointed out Smooth Bristle-moss, Orthotrichum striatum, growing on a willow trunk. Under magnification you could see spore-capsules shaped like miniature bell heather flowers.
On the return leg, we came across a patch of Moschatel Adoxa moschatellina, in flower at the base of a pine tree. This plant is also known as Townhall Clock from its interesting flower structure. By a hedge, along the footpath across the parkland, we found a couple of Bloody-nosed Beetles.

Driving anti clockwise around the lake we visited in turn, Woodford Lodge then the causeways at Heron’s Green and Herriot’s Bridge.

By the time we reached Woodford Lodge there was quite a strong breeze. To avoid this we entered the memorial wood here, where calling Chiffchaffs were confiding and Bullfinches deeper in cover.

At Herons Green we took turns to view Teal, Little Egret and Common Sandpiper through the telescope. Briefly a Green sandpiper called and alighted on the pool before flying away.  Almost as fleeting a few long awaited Sand Martins flew over us, our first for this spring! A Sparrowhawk was spotted flying some way off before we moved on.

Finally at Herriot’s Bridge we looked at the wildfowl.

There was a single Black Swan among many Mute Swans. There were Shelducks, Barnacle Geese and diving ducks Tufted, Pochard and a few Goldeneye. A single “redhead” Merganser was a more unusual find for the lake. We saw several pairs of Great Crested Grebes although not the hoped for full mating displays.  A migrating Osprey over the lake was also very possible at this time. In fact one was seen here just a couple of days later. So ended a this very enjoyable meeting.

Thanks to Phillip & Lucy Delve

Bathwick light trap overnight 30/31st March

Early Grey

Three moths species attracted to our light trap overnight 30/31st March.
It is surprising what we catch on our Bathwick balcony.

March Moth 
Oak Beauty 
Other macro species trapped:
Double-striped Pug, Clouded Drab, Hebrew Character, Chestnut, Common Quaker

Regards Phillip & Lucy Delve