Ash Dieback

The Ash Dieback  page on the website has just been updated to add information about how to recognise the disease, its impact in the South West and guidance on replacements for ash in woods and hedgerows

Common darter

A common small dragonfly around garden ponds, often flying late into the autumn. Males are red, females brown.

Strawberry Line – Planning

Lidl have submitted a planning application for a development in Wells along the proposed route of a cross city cycle path.  With a little adjustment the development could be configured to benefit cyclists and walkers.  Look at this map and use the link provided to comment to Mendip

Westbury Hawkmoths for the Week 9th September 2020

The Hawkmoths, Sphingidae are a widespread family of moths with more than a thousand species worldwide.  They are usually large, broad-bodied strong flying moths whose caterpillars have a characteristic tail spike.  Some members of the group have long tongues and feed extensively being able to use long tubular flowers as nectar sources, while others have reduced mouthparts and so do not feed as adults.  In Britain there are 9 species that are resident and a further 8 others that are more or less regular immigrants, but which do not successfully over winter. In the Parish in the last few years 8 species have been seen that I have heard about, though only the Hummingbird and Elephant Hawkmoths are seen every year.  Additionally, the Small Elephant Hawkmoth has been seen but not for a long time.  The Hummingbird Hawkmoth was covered in this series on 5th August.

 

Elephant Hawkmoth

Elephant Hawkmoth:  This characteristically ‘pink with olive markings’ moth has a long tongue and can feed easily from flowers like honeysuckle.  It can be seen on the wing from May until early August.  The usual caterpillar food plants are various willow-herbs and in gardens Fuchsias.

The large caterpillar, which is seen quite often, has two pairs of large eyespots on the  segments just behind the small head, which, on being disturbed, it waves about, perhaps startling a would-be predator.  The caterpillar forms a pupa in the leaf litter or in the soil below the food plant where it then over winters.

 

 

 

Privet Hawkmoth

Privet Hawkmoth:  This is the largest of our resident hawkmoths with dark chocolate coloured forewings.  It flies in June and July but does not feed.  The caterpillar food plants are wild and garden privet, ash, and lilac.  The caterpillar itself, is bright green with conspicuous purple edged white chevrons.  It can be found from July through to September and overwinters as a pupa sometimes over two winters.

 

 

Poplar Hawkmoth

 Poplar Hawkmoth:  This moth flies between May and July and can have a small second generation in August or September.  Its wings are a patchwork of brown and grey and at rest holds its wings such that the hind wing projects beyond the front edge of the forewing.  The eyed hawkmoth.  The food plants of the caterpillars is a variety of poplars and willows.  The caterpillar is green with white diagonal striping also similar to the Eyed Hawkmoth.  Pupae are formed buried in the soil at the bottom of the food plant, and which then overwinters.

Eyed Hawkmoth

 

Eyed Hawkmoth:  This moth flies from mid-May into July.  Its resting position resembles the poplar hawkmoth but if gently disturbed it reveals big ‘eyes’ on its hind wings and rocks too and fro.  This seems to ward off insectivorous birds.  The caterpillar food plant is predominantly apple but also crab apple and willows.  The caterpillar is green with pale diagonal stripes resembling the poplar hawk moth and can be found from July through to September or October.  It pupates underground near the food plant where it overwinters.

 

 

 

 

Convolvulus Hawkmoth found dead.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth:  This is the biggest of the hawkmoths mentioned so far.  It is an immigrant with very variable numbers arriving mainly in late August through into November.  It has an exceptionally long tongue and can feed easily on long tubular flowers, white, nocturnally scented ones seem particularly attractive.  The fore wings are mottled in ash greys and there are pink markings along the abdomen resembling those in the Privet Hawkmoth.  The larval food plants are various bindweeds and larvae are regularly found along the south coasts of the UK.  However, they do not survive to over winter.

 

 

full grown caterpillar

Death’s Head Hawkmoth: This is the rarest of Westbury’s Hawkmoths being seen only very occasionally. In 2019 11 caterpillars or pupae were found in Westbury and several were kept and emerged in captivity for people to enjoy seeing before release.  This year, at least so far, none have been seen, but they have been seen in Westbury before, as they are shown in a photo of the Village postmaster in what is believed to be 1984.

Westbury Postmaster

As the largest British Hawkmoth, it is quite unmistakeable with dark patterned forewings and yellow underwings with black borders.  The thorax has a very realistic looking skull like marking.  Small numbers arrive in the UK from strongholds in North Africa and southern Europe every year.  They lay eggs usually on potatoes but also on woody nightshade and the huge yellow caterpillars that grow rapidly can be found in August when lifting potatoes, or the large pupae may be found later buried in the soil amongst the potato plants.

Pupa

The 11 from Westbury and, for that matter, the 5 from Easton might represent eggs laid by a single fertile wandering female who has flown in from North Africa.  She spreads here eggs out between potato patches.   The adults emerge a month of so later in September and are occasionally seen.  They can enter bee-hives without being attacked, where their short tongues are able to feed on honey stores.  If the adult moth is disturbed it squeaks which may be part of its defences against attack by bees when it is in a hive.  The squeak might resemble sounds made by queen bees.  Neither the adults nor the pupae can over-winter in the UK and it is probably entirely wishful thinking to hope that the spectacular, newly emerged moths might fly southwards to return to southern Europe and North Africa.

in hand

 

Taking flight

 

Photos

Gill Cook

Liza Hobbs

Sylvia Healey

Ian Jones

Mike Jones

Peter Bright

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 07.09.2020

 

For all previous Parish Council Coronavirus updates please select the Covid-19 Category on the News Page of the Westbury Website  http://westburysubmendip-pc.gov.uk/category/covid-19/

New Covid 19 cases in Mendip

There seem to have been rather a lot of rumours about new Covid cases in the Mendip area in the past few days.  The best information we can find is that there have been three new cases in Mendip in the last week; they are cases, not deaths and probably a result of increased testing. Although we must all stay alert there is no reason to panic.

There does seem to be an increase in the number of cases reported nationally as shown in this Chart (updated 07/09/2020).  Most of the increase appears to be among younger people and as students return to schools and colleges, we can expect this trend to continue.  There is no change in the official advice for this area although there are local lockdowns in place where there have been flare-ups.  

In order to keep everyone safe it is important that we all adhere to the guidance on social distancing and wearing masks however tedious that may seem.  The huge efforts made by staff and volunteers in the village shop have played an important part in reducing the need to travel to more crowded locations for essentials so it is really important that we don’t compromise staff safety and the availability of our local asset by cutting corners.  Please remember your mask when visiting the shop, however brief your visit.

Readers of the PEW will have seen the report we were asked to provide on what the village has done to keep safe during the pandemic.  The help we have had from so many volunteers and the co-operation of villagers has been so impressive that we thought it worth repeating here for the benefit of those who have not seen it.  It is attached.here.

 

Scam alerts.

Sadly it is worth a reminder that the scammers have not given up and if you want to be alerted to recent contacts that have caused concern to neighbours please register for updates from the village website (ask us if you don’t know how) 

Tree Group

 

Finally, the tree group would like to share a couple of pictures of their initial work party clearing the ground for a tree nursery at Court House Farm.  Anyone wanting to help out by growing trees from seed or cuttings, or in any other way, should contact Buffy Fletcher or Guy Timpson.

 

 

Sue Reece (870618)   Mick Fletcher (870531)   on behalf of the Parish Council

Coronavirus Community Support Update 31.08.2020

For all previous Parish Council Coronavirus updates please select the Covid-19 Category on the News Page of the Westbury Website  http://westburysubmendip-pc.gov.uk/category/covid-19/

Letter from the chair of the Parish Council

The regular letter from the chair of the Parish Council, Sue Isherwood, is here. Once again she focuses on the important issue of local planning and housing development.

Last week of the school holidays

For most pupils this will be the last week of the holidays. Westbury and Priddy children will return to school on Monday so please be aware that there will be extra congestion around the school entrance in the morning and at picking up time.

There has been much discussion about wearing masks in school and this is the latest guidance. In brief, outside lockdown areas it is up to headteachers to decide whether the use of face coverings in communal areas is necessary and it would only apply to those aged 12 or older.

School pupils, like many employees, have had to get used to new ways of working during the pandemic.  This YouTube video shows how members of the Somerset Youth Orchestra, Youth Choir and Youth Concert Band have not let the need for social isolation stop them making music together.

Westbury Tree Group

The Westbury Tree Group will be holding a working party at Court House Farm on Sunday 6th September to start to prepare the ground for a community tree nursery.  Anyone interested in helping with this project is asked to get in touch with Buffy Fletcher (Buffyfletcher@hotmail.com) The group is also looking for keen gardeners who are prepared to rise to the challenge of germinating seeds from native trees; acorns and hazel nuts are not too difficult but some like rowan are a test of skill.

Ash dieback, which is one of the reasons for establishing the group, is increasingly visible in the neighbourhood.  Those interested in learning more about it might like this article.

Village Hall Opening

The village hall will officially reopen on Monday 7th September with Covid safe systems in place.  Potential organisers are urged to get in touch with Peter Bright to discuss how the hall might best accommodate specific activities.  A summary of changes recently introduced in the hall is here.

Recycling.

A reminder that after today’s bank holiday all recycling collections will be one day later.  Also look out for a letter from Mendip advising of changes to a three-weekly collection of non-recyclable waste from October.  Details of the changes as well as a summary of what happens to Mendip’s waste are here

Sue Reece (870618)   Mick Fletcher (870531)   on behalf of the Parish Council

 

 

Coronavirus Community Support Update 17.08.2020

For all previous Parish Council Coronavirus updates please select the Covid-19 Category on the News Page of the Westbury Website  http://westburysubmendip-pc.gov.uk/category/covid-19/

 

Letter from the chair of the Parish Council.

The regular letter from the chair of the Parish Council, Sue Isherwood, is here.  In her letter she raises issues about local planning and asks for feedback which you can give via email or the comment facility on the village website.

 

Village Hall Reopening.

The Village Hall Management Committee have been considering with event organisers how and when activities might resume in the hall.  An update from the chair, Peter Bright, is set out below.

 

Following a meeting of organisers on Monday morning there is reason to be optimistic that some activities will start in the Hall from the beginning of September.  Many of those responding to our survey (over 90 in total) indicated that they would be prepared to attend if suitable precautions were in place.

To keep people safe the organisers of each activity will be producing a ‘Covid safe’ risk assessment that will take into account their specific needs. This will include setting safe maximum numbers (probably fewer than 20) and deciding arrangements for payment. They will also need to keep names and contact details of those attending for 21 days, remind participants of the requirement for masks, 2m distancing, and use of hand sanitiser and  be responsible for the anti-viral cleaning of surfaces, regulating use of the kitchen, organising the use of the toilets and managing a one way flow- coming  in through the  front entrance and out through the kitchen door. 

Activities that are looking to start in September include the WI, the Gardening Club, the Art Group, Table tennis and Kettlersize. There is interest in small music ensemble rehearsals and a possibility that a Pilates class will start. It is hoped that Film Club and Westbury Society might start in October.  Please talk to the organisers if you wish to know how exactly the activity will be arranged; and of course all plans will be subject to any national or local changes in guidelines.

If anyone is looking to book the Village Hall or has general concerns please would they make contact with the Village Hall Chairman 01749 870640 or peterbright60@btinternet.com .

 

The Friendly Society

This is a reminder that the Friendly Society makes a small grant to school-leavers (aged 16,17 or 18) who live in the village.  Originally envisaged as help to provide books for further study it is now available to support any expenditure that might help young people starting out in life.  Though the sums are modest, given current difficulties it could prove useful.

There is also a separate grant offer for small or not so small projects that would benefit organisations or individuals in the community. Applications are considered twice per year – those received by 31st August and those received by 31st March.

Applications for either of these should be sent to Tony Shepherd (Chairman of the Westbury Friendly Society) 01749 870871 or tonyshepherd@mbzonline.net

 

The joint Friendly Society / Parish Council Committee is still able to provide grants to support groups or individuals who are resident in Westbury and are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of Covid 19 and its consequences.

The application form and further details are on the village website.

Friendly Society Membership:  If you have not already done so why not join the Friendly Society and, in so doing, support its activities.  The subscription is £10 per individual for the 3 years of the Current Club. 2019- 2022.  To join contact Tony Shepherd  tonyshepherd@mbzonline.net

 

Cider pressing

The cider makers group are planning to meet (virtually or outdoors) on the 7th September to consider whether and how to carry out a cider pressing this year.  Watch out for details since if the event goes ahead social distancing rules will mean that it cannot be open access as in the past.  Meanwhile the group has been pleased to take delivery of some impressive planks of English Elm that will be used to rebuild the bed of the press during the next 12 months

 

What you can and cannot do

Details of what we can and cannot do because of covid are constantly changing; the most recent change was on 15th August since when we can visit casinos and skating rinks but not yet live theatre.  For those wanting to check what the current state of play is the latest guidance is here.

 

Sue Reece (870618)   Mick Fletcher (870531)   on behalf of the Parish Council

Fledgling house martin in an artificial nest

One of two successful nests on our house in 2020. Not so many of these summer visitors around the village these days.

Strawberry line work party

To help progress the Strawberry Line groups of volunteers have been organising work parties to help maintain existing sections of the route. This not only makes it more pleasant for users and encourages people to take advantage of the path but also demonstrates to the public authorities that there is the enthusiasm and the skill to maintain the route after it is built. The volunteers have now started work on the section of path linking Rodney Stoke and Draycott. If anyone would like to join them they next meet at 9.30 on Tuesday 18th August at the point indicated on the map below; just turn up or leave a message using the form on the Strawberry Line page (under community)

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