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Newsletter Number 6 - June 2022

 - Jubilee Celebration - Summer Orchids - Upcoming Events -
What's Been Happening?
Jubilee Celebration on Firs Field, Combe Down, 4th June 2022

We set up Wild about Bath’s gazebo and a display from last year’s Photographic Competition with a cloudy, threatening sky and a gale blowing, but what a wonderful day it turned out in so many ways.

The sun came out, the clouds disappeared and Combe Downers came out in droves to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, the sunshine and getting back to normal. Some people said there were 1,000 folk enjoying the event!

Our stall was well supported and we had many interesting conversations about a wide range of topics - Bath in Bloom, winners of Combe Down Primary School Photo Competition, PhD studies, Swift boxes, and many more. Many people signed up for our Newsletter, and took details of our website and our next Photographic Competition in October. 

A great event, and a big ‘Thank You’ to Friends of Firs Field and Holy Trinity Church for hosting and especially for the cakes!

- By Christine Absolon

Summer Orchid Walk - 28th May 2022
Bath Asparagus (Ann Stuart).                
Bird's Nest Orchid (Mark Bagott)
What are the advantages of going on a flower seeking walk with a group and a leader?
  1. The expertise of the leader.
    James Bradby has been exploring the local valleys for flowers for more than 30 years and so on Saturday 28th May he was able to show us the bird’s nest orchid, a rather strange, ugly but fascinating orchid hiding unobtrusively underneath the beech trees in the valley below Southstoke. It is ugly because it is parasitic on the roots of the beech tree, rather than photosynthesising itself, so it is described as having sickly brownish yellow flowers. There is little likelihood of those who don’t know what they are looking for finding them. James has found them over many years, flowering at this time of year. If you look carefully you may see the roots that look like a tangled bird’s nest.

    James is also a fount of wisdom about the Somerset coal canal and the industrial heritage of the area and he was able to point out the location of the Caisson Lock and the bull nose where there was an inclined plane to traverse a steep portion. Sadly, the Somerset Coal Canal only lasted a few years until the railways took over the transport from the coal fields.

  2. It’s easier in a group to help each other find things.  Common spotted orchids were coming out and some pyramidal orchids just beginning.  As we got our eyes in, we were able to find quite a few, plus the Bath asparagus imported by the Romans and mainly found local to Bath, looking very like asparagus.
  3. Good company. Several of us didn’t know each other, but we were soon a buzz of swapping experiences and questions, from the over 70s to those in their 20s.
“Food for the soul”, as one participant described it.

- By Ann Stuart
Pyramidal Orchid (Cat Baker).                                  
Common Spotted Orchid (
Joseph Vary on Unsplash)
30 Days Wild is an initiative by the Wildlife Trusts to get people doing one thing a day for nature. It's aimed at everyone from all walks of life and ages and there are many different things you can do.  They offer suggestions via social media or an app you can download, or you can come up with your own ideas.  So far this month I have pressed flowers for the first time in about 30 years, been on an expert-led bird walk, been orchid spotting, made lavendar sugar and rosemary biscuits, made elderflower champagne and cordial and more! You're not too late to join in, and it runs until the end of June.  If you share your activities on social media, don't forget to include the #30dayswild hashtag!
Things to look out for this month
Glow worms
Despite their name, glow worms are actually beetles.  Only the males look like beetles though, they have hard outer wings covering papery flight wings and they do not glow.  Females look like larger babies and cannot fly, but they do glow! Glow worms used to be much more widespread and common across the country, but light pollution and habitat loss have led to a decline. If you are out late one evening and spot an ethereal green glow pulsing from a hedgerow or grassy verge, take a closer look! And don't forget to record your sighting via the Glow Worm Survey page, to help better map them
Hummingbird hawk moth
A migrant species of moth, now thought to be breeding in the UK, this moth looks and flies just like a hummingbird! They're fast and hard to photograph, and they especially seem to like feeding on red valerian, so keep your eyes peeled for this fabulous day-flying moth now!
Hummingbird hawk-moth, Combe Down 2020
Red Kite
A beautiful bird brought back from the brink of national extinction by a successful breed and release programme. They've been spreading since and can now often be seen flying over Bath.  In flight you can tell them apart from the common buzzard by the K shape to their tail.

Swifts, House Martins and Swallows
They're back (at last!) and breeding now! Watch the skies to spot these aerial acrobatic birds.  You can take part in Swift Mapper to help build a picture of where swifts are nesting and where they may need extra help.
Upcoming Events
You are now able to book for events using Eventbrite if you follow the links. The outdoor walks have small numbers so it may be good to book early, but let us know if you are not able to come so your place could be made available to someone else.

Children's Event: Exploring our Senses in Nature

Saturday 25th June | 10:30-11:30am

A  walk to explore our senses in nature. We will make “potions” with what we have collected on our walk and make some cute and yummy snacks!

For childen aged 3-8, children should be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.


Wild About Bath Photo Competition

Deadline for entries: Friday, 7th October 2022

Enter your lovely photos of wildlife in Combe Down, Monkton Combe, South Stoke, and the surrounding area, taken between April and October 2022.

The brief this year is: ‘The Jigsaw of Life – How does the individual plant or animal connect with the whole?’

Swifts, House Martins, and Glow Worms

Saturday 9th July 2022 8.30-9.30 pm [N.B. Date may change, please register via Eventbrite to be kept up to date]
Spot swifts and house martins, and hunt for the elusive yet magical glow worms.


Moth trapping, and butterfly and flower survey

Saturday 23rd July  9:00-11:00 am
Explore the moths attracted to the trap the night before, spot summer butterflies and learn how to identify them, and look out for summer meadow flowers.


More events will be posted on the website as the dates are finalised.

We hope you are enjoying the lovely weather at last!

- The Wild About Bath team
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