5. Wookey Hole Wildlife - Late September

The Indian Summer is fading away , as I write the Mendips are shrouded in mist .

Every season has its pluses and minuses and Autumn is the time for mushrooms! Since I moved back to Somerset 25 years ago I must have eaten 30 species of fungi.  Some are edible and excellent, some very indifferent – but I would never advise anyone on which to eat and which to leave alone. There are literally thousands of similar species and some can do serious harm, even the experts can come unstuck and I am no expert.

Below are two to leave alone!

 

 1.    The Fly AgaricAmanita muscaria  is usually found under birch trees. The Lapp people for centuries have used this to induce visions – but it can lead to a deathlike state and eventually to the heart stopping altogether.

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Thanks to all who entered the photo competion - we had lots of great entries, which made for an interesting job choosing the winners.

The winners were announced at the Church Fete and were as follows:

Adult Competition

Winner - Entry 32 by John Clarke

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Could be coming your way...

At the Community Hall, with Storm Bower.

Absolute beginners.

Suitable for all ages

All sizes

All abilities

Day to be agreed (Thursday or Friday)

If you are interested contact Storm on 01458 834873

4.Wookey Hole Wildlife: Late summer

I had a phone call the other day from a chap living on the levels with a ‘road kill’ “Is this a Polecat?”

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A pair of Red Kites have been seen in the  village!

 

Kites are probably the most spectacular of our birds of prey.  Not all that many years ago they were on the point of extinction in Britain – but after careful reintroductions they are now spreading out from their strongholds in Wales where they have become a tourist attraction, and are now common in Oxfordshire and the Midlands. They have made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to nest in Somerset but, not my knowledge, on the Mendips. They nest in out of the way woodland so our hillside woods – like Ebbor Gorge - should be ideal. It is possible they would be competing for nest sites and food with our Buzzards - but it will be many years before this would be a problem.

 

Butterflies.

Common Blues and hundreds of  Meadow browns are out on Wattles fields. Also well worth looking out for are Scarlet Tiger moths , with brilliant red underwings. Once uncommon, in the last few years they have been seen all around the village.

Hopefully above the village. we should also soon see Chalkhill Blues, Ringlets and Marbled Whites  

 

Flowers

Early purple Orchids have faded now – to be replaced on the edge of woods by Common Spotted Orchid .  In the fields above look out for Pyramidal and

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Bee Orchids and possibly, Butterfly Orchid

      

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Bees  

It was a fairly cold spring and bees didn’t have a good start to the year – I am told honey production was well down. If the weather stays warm and dry they will soon make up – but you can help.  Whenever possible include native flowers in your garden. Though they might not be as showy or long flowering as some of the cultivated varieties they seem generally to be much more attractive to  both hive and wild bees. Foxgloves are always good and perennials such as Field Scabious, Knapweeds and thistles – I did not say Creeping Thistle the gardeners nightmare!  – try Woolly,  Musk , or Stemless  Thistles, they grow wild on our  limestone hills. They are also food plant for that lovely migrant butterfly the Painted Lady.

 

(Stemless Thistles grow very close to the ground and if you have ever sat on one you will understand its more common name of ‘Picnic Thistle’ ! )

 

pic_5.jpg    Les Cloutman

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