Category Archives: Flora & fauna

BEEKEEPING EXPERIENCE DAYS AT QUINCE HONEY FARM

Quince Honey Farm in South Molton is introducing a brand-new event for 2017, the Beekeeping Experience Day.

Running on six days throughout spring and summer, the one-day course, aimed at people aged 16 an over, provides the perfect opportunity for any budding beekeepers out there to get an introduction into the craft. It also promises to be a stimulating day out for those who would simply love the chance to spend a day in the stunning North Devon countryside learning about bees.

Led by a professional beekeeper, the day begins with some fascinating facts about beekeeping and bees, before it’s time to get suited up in full protective clothing to be shown, up close, the inner workings of a hive.

Following a tasty, freshly prepared lunch in the café and a guided tour of Quince Honey Farm’s unique Bee World exhibition, the afternoon session provides the chance to conduct a supervised ‘Beehive Inspection’. This is an opportunity to do some real beekeeping, and to learn how to care for the bees and keep the hive healthy all year round.

The knowledgeable resident beekeeper will wax lyrical about their profession, be on hand to answer any questions, offer up hints and tips and leave participants buzzing with excitement on a day well spent. With bees and beekeeping hitting the headlines now more than ever, it really is a fantastic time to get involved and help bees to thrive in our countryside.

The Beekeeping Experience Days cost £135 per person, including lunch and refreshments, and run on Thursday 11 and Saturday 13 May, Thursday 15 and Saturday 17 June, and Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 July. Ideal as a gift for a loved one or as a treat for yourself.

For more information or to book, contact Quince Honey Farm on 01769 572401, email info@quincehoneyfarm.co.uk  or visit the website at www.quincehoneyfarm.co.uk.

PHOTO: Courtesy Solution Studios Photography

SOMERSET WILDLIFE TRUST FREE HALF TERM EVENTS IN TAUNTON

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s most successful urban wildlife projects, Routes To The River Tone is delighted to announce ‘Celebration Of The River Tone’ – an entire week of nature-based activities for all at half term.

The celebration is aimed to give people the opportunity to enjoy, discover and explore Taunton’s amazing green spaces, wild places and the stunning wildlife that lives along the river.  The programme of events aims to inspire people to support the charity’s ongoing work to reconnect people with nature and reap the health and wellbeing benefits of spending quality time outdoors.

The Routes to The River Tone project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from Viridor Waste Management, was launched in 2014. Over the past three years the project has worked with local people  and partnership organisations to provide a wide range of public  events, school wildplay sessions,  citizen science projects, interpretation for greenspaces, community gardens, trails (art, history, misguided, story and geocaching) and opportunities to get involved in practical conservation.

Nick Tomlinson, Routes the The River Tone Manager, said: “We really weren’t prepared for the overwhelming response we received when we started to talk to people from the communities, neighbourhoods, schools and community groups across Taunton.  The cumulative amount of passion, enthusiasm and interest that people have shown over the past three years and the popularity of the events we have put on, really shows that people in Taunton really do value nature and understand how critical it is that we make ourselves responsible for ensuring our wild places are still there to enjoy going forwards.

“Once people are helped to discover the natural places on their own doorstep, they value their local greenspace even more and have a greater desire to look after it. We are very proud of what the project has achieved and I am really excited about the programme of events we have put together with partners and local community groups to celebrate the successes of the last three years.”

Simon Nash, CEO of Somerset Wildlife Trust, added: “Community-based support for involvement and engagement with the environment is the key to the long term, sustainable management of Taunton’s wild and open spaces, as well as the health and wellbeing of the communities that surround them. Projects such as this one leave a significant and lasting legacy that can be taken beyond the life of the project itself and owned by the people who enjoy these places the most.”

EVENT PROGRAMME

Celebration of the River ToneCelebration of the River Tone – 13th-18th February 2017
Welcome to our Celebration of the River Tone, part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s urban project – Routes to the River Tone. Join us as we celebrate our town’s amazing green spaces, wild places and the stunning wildlife that lives along the river through a week of nature-based activities. There’s something for all the family, so why not join us, and be part of it!

RTRTLitterboxesLitter Pick for Wildlife (in association with the Inland Waterways Association)
When: Monday 13th February, 2.30-4pm
Where: French Weir Park Slipway (near Clarence St.)

Help your local wildlife by removing litter from along the riverside. All equipment and guidance provided  by the Inland Waterways’ Volunteers.

How to book: No booking required.
Further details mike.slade@waterways.org.uk or 07977 263840

RTRTBirdboxesBuild a Bird a Home
When: Tuesday 14th February
Session: 1 10am
Session:  2 11am
Session:  3 2pm
Session: 4 3pm
Where: New COACH outdoor classroom, French Weir Park

Join us and build your own bird box for free as part of National Nest Box Week. All materials provided.

How to book: Book your time and a bird box kit by visiting www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone

RTRT_StoryTrailStory Trail
When: Thursday 16th February
Where:  Brewhouse Theatre, Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL

Join Ollie the Otter and his friend as these characters perform and launch you on an exploration of the river. Enjoy reading the story of Ollie the Otter and Vern the Water Vole as you discover the hidden waterways and green spaces of Taunton. Great family fun (walk is 1.5km pram and wheelchair accessible). You may also like to join a craft workshop or enjoy The Lorax film.

Craft Workshops – 10.30am, 12pm and 1.30pm, Free
Story Walk – 11pm, 12.30pm and 2pm, Free
The Lorax Film PG – 3pm, £4 per ticket

How to book:     Please contact the Brewhouse Theatre, Orchard, Taunton TA1 1JL 01823 283244

RTRT_StorytimeStory Time
When:  Friday 17th February
(Session1) 1.15pm- 2.45pm
(Session 2) 3.00pm-5.30pm
Where: New COACH The Parkroom, French Weir Park

Fantastic fables, wild tales and clay art to launch our new picture book about the wildlife of the River Tone.

How to book:  Book to ensure a place  by visiting www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone

RTRT_River of light_FusePerformaceRiver of Light Finale Event (in partnership with FUSE Performance )
When: Saturday 18th February, 3- 7.30pm

Join us as we create a River of Light with willow lanterns and streamers followed by a fire performance, live music and food.

Willow Streamer Making Workshop: 3-4.30pm at the Brewhouse Theatre

River of Light Procession: Starts at 5.30pm from the Brewhouse Theatre/Castle Green
Fire Performance: 6pm Goodland Gardens
Band and food: 6.30-7.30pm Goodland Gardens

How to book:  No booking required

For further details on the Celebration of the River Tone activities and events visit www.somersetwildlife.org/celebratetone or contact rivertone@somersetwildlife.org or call Claire, Nick, Olivia or Rose on 01823 652 400

BUMBLEBEE CONSERVATION TRUST WORKING WITH LANDOWNERS

The dramatic decline of bumblebees and other pollinators has hit the headlines in recent years. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is working with landowners to take urgent action to reverse this downward trend.

Why do we need bumblebees on farmland?
Pollinators are essential for maintaining a healthy and sustainable farm. We depend on them to pollinate clover pasture, 75% of our food crops, diverse herbal swards, and wildflowers. The decline of pollinators has enormous repercussions. They are a free resource, but need a continuous food supply through the spring and summer, and somewhere to nest and hibernate.

What West Country Buzz is doing and how to get involved
Landowners are incorporating easy, simple changes into their management plans at no extra cost. For example, encouraging flowers along tracksides, leaving small patches of long grass in unproductive areas ungrazed/uncut on rotation for nesting, or reducing the frequency of hedgerow cutting to encourage flowering. This has a huge impact on bumblebees’ chances of survival.

Grants are also available to support pollinators through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme’s Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package. If you’d like to find out more or get involved, visit the website bumblebeeconservation.org/about-us/our-projects/west-country-buzz/

NOTE: If you click on the link you will see that it says Devon, but in fact the project covers the whole of the South West, so if you are Somerset don’t worry – you can still get in touch with the project.

To arrange a free farm visit for no-obligation advice on enhancing your land for pollinators, call Cathy Horsley on 07951 154530.

PHOTO: As featured in our summer 2014 article on the ‘plight of the bumblebee’.

EXMOOR PHOTOGRAPHY HAS MOVED FROM PORLOCK TO MINEHEAD

Jack and Alison Clegg have moved their photography business from Porlock to Minehead. We wish them all the best with this development! Jack is a long-standing contributor to the magazine and his photography stars on the current winter cover. The photo above shows a red kite which Jack photographed in Valley of Rocks. The image accompanies Trevor Beer’s Country Matters article on page 63 of the winter magazine (which is all about wildlife in winter in the Valley of Rocks).

Here is a message from Jack and Alison about their move, which we have promised to share…

As our lease has now ended at the shop in Porlock, we are relocating the business. We would like to thank you for your custom and support over the last six years and we look forward to your continued custom and support in the future. We have found that with the ever-increasing popularity of the photography courses, we are away from this shop too much to justify staying here.

Exmoor Photography is continuing as normal. However, we will be concentrating on the following services,

  • Exmoor Photography Courses
  • Online Gallery Sales
  • Commercial Photography
  • Canvas & fine quality printing service (not kiosk)

All of our products and information are available online
as always on the following websites.
If you have any questions or would like
to book your photography course
Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Gallery: www.exmoorphotography.co.uk
Course & Photo accessories: www.exmoorphotographycourse.co.uk
Alternatively, you can contact us on
T: 01643 702312 (active from Monday 23rd January 2017)
M: 07790 885506
E: exmoorphotography@btconnect.com

OFFICE ADDRESS:
Exmoor Photography
Hillbrook
85 Marshfield Rd
Minehead
Somerset
TA24 6AJ.

You are welcome to visit the office BY APPOINTMENT ONLY,
please contact us on the above numbers to make an appointment.
We will be running the business from our H/A until we find
a larger retail premises in a bigger town.


  • Please note if you have a Photography Course GV, please contact us (as per normal) to book your course by contacting us on the above numbers.
  • Please note if you have a current shop GV you can use it on the gallery website as above or as part payment against one of our photography courses.

CELEBRATE SNOWDROPS AT ROSEMOOR

This month, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor celebrates the beautiful winter gem that is the Snowdrop with three weeks of ‘Sensational Snowdrops’.

Starting on 21 January and running until 12 February, there will be a display of digital snowdrop prints copied from RHS Lindley Library Art Collection. Complementing this exhibition there will be drifts of snowdrops around the garden to delight visitors during winter walks. Some of these clumps intertwine with the dramatic coloured stems of Rosemoor’s National Cornus Collection.

During two of the weekends, 28 & 29 January and 4 & 5 February, visitors will also be able to see craft demonstrations by ‘From Paper to Petals’ making beautiful handmade snowdrops (and hellebores) from crepe paper to brighten your home and help to banish the dull days of winter. Everyone is encouraged to come along and have a go!

In the Shop and Plant Centre, there will also be short talks and demonstrations most weekends on winter colour/ interest as well as large stocks of plants to buy.

The celebration finishes with Snowdrop Day on 11 February, an adult leisure learning workshop on which there are limited spaces and is subject to additional workshop fees. During the day, Trevor Wiltshire together with RHS Staff, will give a talk in the morning and a guided garden walk after a lunch break to teach visitors all there is to know about these enchanting flowers. Trevor was the superintendent of the rock garden at RHS Garden Wisley and has served on local and national committees of the Alpine Garden Society and the Cyclamen Society. He will talk about wild Turkish snowdrops, how that country conserves wild populations of snowdrops and cyclamen, and explain CITES and its limitations. The propagation technique of twin scaling will be explained, with slides of the village of Dumlugöze’s snowdrop growing fields and he will describe the frustrations of this laudable project to conserve wild populations and curb the digging up of wild snowdrops for export.

Normal garden admission applies and for more information, please visit rhs.org.uk/rosemoor or telephone the events team on 01805 626800.

DORMOUSE APPEAL SUCCESS

Exmoor National Park’s CareMoor for Exmoor Winter Appeal to raise funds for dormouse boxes and monitoring has been a great success with more than £4,000 being raised.

National Park funding officer Philip Kiberd said: “The figure raised exceeded our expectations and we’d really like to thank everyone who donated to the Winter Appeal which has raised so much for dormouse conservation on Exmoor. It’s been a very successful campaign and we are extremely grateful for the many generous donations.

“Funds received are great boost for the dormouse on Exmoor and will hopefully go a long way to ensuring the species thrives within the National Park. We will be starting working at the beginning of January surveying old boxes and purchasing new ones to install over the spring so they are ready for the summer.”

Anyone who would like to become a volunteer dormouse surveyor should visit the Get Involved page on the National Park website: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved The first volunteer days are on 4, 5, and 6 January 2017 so there’s still time to get involved.

Thousands of pounds have been raised through CareMoor over the last year by local businesses and those that have enjoyed Exmoor. As a result CareMoor has been able to support a range of nature, heritage and access projects across the National Park, that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor are welcome online – search for Caremoor on the National Park website or you can donate by cheque to (payable to Exmoor National Park (CareMoor)), Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9HL or at any National Park Centre.

NORTH DEVON COAST AONB EXTREME BEACH CLEANS

Reaching the parts that are hard to reach, the North Devon Coast AONB team, Skern Lodge and local volunteers are planning several events to remove marine litter washed up on the more remote parts of our coast.

“We are delighted to have funding from Tesco Bags of Help to involve the local community in protecting our wildlife and beaches by removing litter washed in from the sea,” said AONB Education Officer Cat Oliver. “Reaching the more remote beaches presents a number of challenges so we hope that combining the offer of a bracing walk or a chance to scramble down a cliff will inspire more people to help us clean up the beaches.”

The first ‘walk and beach clean’ is on Saturday 3 December at Cockington Mouth from 10am to 3.30pm. This stretch of beach is a 45 minute walk south of Greencliff and north of Peppercombe, where the South West Coast Path dips down onto the beach (west of Abbotsham). Due to the remote location there is a phenomenal amount of marine litter stranded there that rarely gets taken away as there is no vehicle access. This is where Skern Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre comes in to provide the staff and a boat to remove the litter by sea. The National Trust, Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers Against Sewage are also supporting this event.

“We’re delighted to be able to work with the AONB team to share our skills, knowledge and equipment in looking after our outstanding coastline,” said John Watson, Skern Lodge General Manager. “We rely on the exceptional quality of the coast to bring people to North Devon.”

Plans for next year include a general beach clean, plus rock scrambling with Skern Lodge staff, at Hartland Quay on Saturday 25 February 2017. Further information is on the AONB website calendar www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk or contact catherine.oliver@devon.gov.uk

PHOTO: Marine litter on Cockington Mouth beach.

HELP GIVE A DORMOUSE A HOME

Dormouse numbers on Exmoor and in many other parts of the country are in decline, so to help reverse this, CareMoor for Exmoor* is launching a Winter Appeal to raise funds for 150 dormouse boxes at three woodland sites in Exmoor National Park.

Philip Kiberd, CareMoor funding officer, says, “We already have some dormouse boxes on Exmoor and know that they are being used, but over the years they become damp and we need to replace them and put up many more.

“To supply, install and monitor a dormouse box costs more than £20 and every penny helps, but all donations over £20 will receive an attractive ‘thank you’ card which could be sent to someone else if you’d like to make it a gift.”

Dormice are one of the world’s most ancient mammals and although their numbers have halved in the UK over the past 100 years, they are still be found on Exmoor, a nationally important habitat for the species.

Maintaining good dormouse population is particularly important as they are an indicator of the health of the environment in which they live. They are omnivorous – eating insects, flowers, nectar, berries and nuts, but they need a good source of food from April to October. This means if they are doing well the woodland is in a good condition for many other creatures, but when numbers decrease it suggests a lack of food that will also affect other animals.

The boxes provide shelter and safe nest sites for summer breeding.  Most mice have regular broods, but dormice (not actually a mouse, despite the name) live much longer, around 5 years, have smaller broods and usually only one a year.  A pair of dormice will usually have a brood of 4 – 6 of which maybe only one or two will survive their first year to breed themselves, making the population very vulnerable.

Patrick Watts-Mabbott, volunteer and outreach officer at Exmoor National Park, says: “The boxes also make monitoring the health and population of the dormice much easier, so if you would like to help us please donate what you can and give a dormouse a home this winter.”

Donations will be welcome online via www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/CareMoor-for-Exmoor/dormouse-appeal  or by cheque to CareMoor for Exmoor, Exmoor National Park, Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset TA22 9HL or at any National Park Centre.

KNIT FOR NATURE AND HELP PROTECT BARN OWLS ACROSS SOMERSET

Somerset Wildlife Trust is excited to announce the release of its  latest Knit for Nature™ pattern – Boris the Barn Owl –  as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the decline of much-loved Somerset species and get communities inspired to pick up their knitting needles to raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation in the county. Boris follows on from the success of Rustle and Bluebell Hedgehog patterns.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is dedicated to protecting vulnerable species such as hedgehogs and barn owls by creating richer and more sustainable habitats for them across their reserves – but they need the public’s help to ensure this important work continues. Action is needed now from people and communities where these wonderful animals choose to make their homes. So, whether you are a nifty knitter or knitting novice, there’s a simple way that YOU can support their work AND have fun at the same time!

You can get your hands on the wonderful new pattern and others from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website and all proceeds will go directly to the work they do to safeguard vulnerable species in the county. To download the pattern go to: www.somersetwildlife.org/knit_for_nature

You can not only raise money by buying the pattern, but why not also raise funds through hosting a tea party or coffee morning to knit with friends and sell cakes or other crafts at the same time. Every penny raised makes a real difference.

Barn Owl numbers have declined by 70% in the UK since the 1930s due to the changes in land use and loss of available nest sites and reduction of the rough grassland areas that support their small mammal prey. We have also lost around 30% of our hedgehog population since 2002 due to the disappearance of our hedgerows and permanent pasture, increase in roads and traffic and the use of pesticides amongst other things.

Don’t forget to share photos of your creations on social media -­ maybe you knitted Boris in some crazy colours, or perhaps you took Bluebell with you to a wild or exotic location? Somerset Wildlife Trust want to know!

Share your photos and stories with them using #knitfornature on Twitter (@SomersetWT), Facebook (@somersetwildlifetrust) Pinterest or email them to wildlifenews@somersetwildlife.org and they will feature them on our website. Please also share them with Exmoor Magazine (@exmoormagazine) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you’d like to send some barn owls or hedgehogs back to the Trust, the address is Somerset Wildlife Trust, 34 Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AW

‘Knit for Nature’ is a registered trademark of Somerset Wildlife Trust.

PHOTO: Rustle, Bluebell and Boris photographed by Paul Mitchell.

PORLOCK MARSH BIOBLITZ

This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the breach of the Porlock Shingle ridge following a mixture of high tides and stormy weather in 1996.

Twenty years is not considered long in terms of landscape and ecological changes, but the extent of the changes that have taken place in Porlock Bay and the surrounding area have been remarkable. Through the Porlock Marsh Vision Project, work continues to try to understand this fascinating area and to make the Marsh more accessible for people to enjoy.

Porlock Marsh BioBlitz
A great weekend of wildlife-hunting at Porlock Marsh in July resulted in over 400 different species being identified (with more records still to come). An amazing range of species were found, including birds, butterflies, moths, bats, plants, insects, mammals and lichens, demonstrating just how biodiverse the marsh and surrounding areas are.

The event was organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project, in partnership with the National Trust and their tenant farmer who hosted the event at Bossington, Exmoor National Park Authority, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset Environmental Records Centre, Natural England and the Exmoor Natural History Society. Led by a fantastic range of experts, wildlife hunters were able to explore the wildlife of the marsh, streams, hedgerows and farmland, with a sea-watch crew looking out for marine species and sea birds. Some great spots included porpoises and grey seal off Hurlstone point, two peregrines chasing an oystercatcher, and close-up views of skylarks which are usually just heard singing above the fields.

There was something for everyone to get involved with, including stream dipping, bug hunting, searching for plants and insects, and watching experts catch and ring birds.

The bird ringers found lots of evidence of breeding with juveniles and brooding birds. A good range of birds were recorded over the 24 hours, including sea birds, farmland and woodland birds – Manx shearwater, gannets and guillemots, whitethroats, willow warblers, goldfinches, rock pipits, and linnets to name a few.  

Over 200 plant records were also collected, including common plants found in farmland and scrub as well as classic saltmarsh plants such as sea purslane, samphire, and sea beet, and a new record for Porlock Marsh of sea kale. 30 species of lichen were also found, on the trees surrounding the marsh and the pebble ridge. The stream dippers found lots of stoneflies and mayflies, cased and case-less caddis flies, as well as freshwater shrimps, bullhead and even eel. The warm weather brought out the butterflies, including silver washed fritillary, large white, red admiral, meadow brown and small skipper.

The BioBlitz continued late into the night with a chance to meet a barn owl and tawny owl at the Exmoor Hawk and Owl Centre, before setting out with bat detectors to find a number of different species. Moth traps were also set overnight, with 72 species found, including buff tipped, poplar hawk moth, swallowtail, and the elephant hawk moth.

Clare Reid, Porlock Marsh Vision project manager, said: “A huge thanks to all the organisations and people who helped to make the BioBlitz a great success, including the National Trust and Mike Dyer for hosting the event, all the walk leaders who helped to identify the great range of species, and Kitnors catering for feeding everyone so well!

“Hopefully this will be an event that will be repeated in future years to help build our knowledge and understanding of the wildlife of Porlock Marsh.”

The BioBlitz was organised as part of the Porlock Marsh Vision project, a partnership project promoting the conservation and enjoyment of Porlock Marsh. For further information about the project, go to www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/porlock-marsh-vision

PHOTO: by John Kemp