One of two successful nests on our house in 2020. Not so many of these summer visitors around the village these days.
One of two successful nests on our house in 2020. Not so many of these summer visitors around the village these days.
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)
Any new News Posts will now generate automatic emails to the 70 plus website Subscribers.
Subscriptions had been turned off during this evening’s web workshop.
Chalkhill Blue: This elegant butterfly, somewhat larger than the common blue, is confined, as its name suggests, to unfertilised chalk and limestone short grasslands. Ideally, and perhaps nearly essentially, rabbit grazing to create this short sward height is important. Certainly, scrubbing up of such habitats, as rabbit numbers have reduced, is connected to reduction in Chalkhill blue numbers. There may also be climate effects as many populations are struggling, at the moment, across England. The male is a stunning and unmistakeable milky blue colour while the females are milk chocolate brown. Both male and female have conspicuous dark lines through the white fringes on edges of the wings that the smaller common blues do not have. The butterfly is entirely dependent on horseshoe vetch which is, in turn, dependent on suitable grazing to keep the sward relatively short.
Horseshoe vetch flowers obviously in late May but otherwise the fine leaves of the plant are very inconspicuous. The caterpillars are also dependent on attendant ants that they supply with attractive secretions, who, in turn, benefit significantly from these as a food source. When the butterflies emerge in mid-July and perhaps flying into September the males are particularly conspicuous covering the colony area searching out unmated females. These females can be inconspicuous but are easily found nectaring on suitable plants such as marjoram and knapweeds and show off the dark lines through the white fringes of their wings. The eggs are laid on or near the foodplant but seem to fall easily to the ground, where they are invisible in the chalk or limestone rocky soil, and they spend the winter at this stage. The egg hatches in the following April and the young larvae begin their mutual relationship with the local ants such as the Yellow Meadow ant while feeding on the horseshoe vetch leaves and later flowers. It is possible that pheromones from ant trails help determine exactly where the female butterflies lay their eggs. The pupa is formed in June or July and is probably buried by its ant partners that are still collecting its secretions. Like other Lycaenids the pupa is believed to make ant-attractive sounds! The single generation is then ready to emerge in late July and onwards. In Somerset, Chalkhill blues are confined to the Mendips from Wookey Hole Fields to Brean Down and to the reserves on the Poldens. Most of the sites are in Nature Reserves of one sort or another where suitable grazing can be maintained. We are fortunate – if you want to see this spectacular, and Near Threatened, butterfly, that Westbury Beacon, Stoke Camp and Draycott Sleights are all good sites even if numbers have fallen in recent years. They could also be expected on Deerleap and Cook’s field if the food plant survives there as well. Please let me know if you see any, particularly in out of the way places!
Photos Peter Bright
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/
The coronavirus has not gone away but nationally and locally we are seeing the first steps back towards more normal living arrangements. In keeping with that trend, we feel we will be able to reduce the frequency of our updates and ease the workload on our ‘Eyes and Ears’ who help deliver them. From next week therefore we will normally only publish on Mondays unless something major or urgent is notified to us.
We have further information about easing of the lockdown and returning to ‘not quite normal’ locally.
Westbury Church is reopening for services
We have received the following further information from Linda Mogford about reopening Westbury church for services. (The churches in Easton and Priddy do not yet feel able to resume services.)
We will be holding a morning prayer service at 11 am on Sunday 5th July.. There are some who feel unable to join us yet and we fully respect their views and some people may want to wear a mask.
You should know that we will have both the south and west doors open to keep the building ventilated
Please use social distancing when entering the south door as usual
Your name and phone number will be taken
There are several bottles of sanitiser and wipes at various points in church. Please use them on entering and leaving the building
A collection plate will be near the door as you enter
There will be no singing
Each, socially distanced place has been marked with a white spot and will have an order of service
Please take the order of service with you as you leave and keep it for the next service.
Please leave through the west door and keep 2 metres apart
Please contact me if you have any other questions or concerns
The Playing Fields are reopening
The Playing Fields are reopening but please note that they open from Sunday 5th, not Saturday. There will still be some restrictions and special advice to follow which is set out here
Our annual glow worm count will happen (but socially distanced)
It’s glow worm time of year again!! (From now until the end of August) Anyone wanting to see them should go out an hour after sunset and look along the sides of the quieter roads on the outskirts of the village. (Sunset is currently 21.30 so look from 22.30 until 23.30.) They don’t seem to like street lights which presumably distract the males looking for glowing females and it might help them if people took care to keep their outside lighting to a minimum.
Keep safe by wearing high visibility clothing and take a torch for flashing at approaching cars but try to keep it switched off so you can see the glow worms. If you have not seen one look at the picture below
Peter Bright would be interested to know when and where you see them and how many.
Because of Covid 19 we will not be meeting together for a sociable glow worm counting evening this year but we will be doing our annual census during the week Sunday 26th July to Saturday 1st August. Peter Bright has allocated maps to the usual suspects but if anyone else would like to join in please contact him and we will try to attach you (suitably distanced) to a small team of experienced counters.
Boots Priory Pharmacy
We have been informed that the Boots Priory pharmacy will not open on Saturdays after the 31st August although the High Street branch will continue to operate as normal.
Sue Reece (870618) Mick Fletcher (870531) on behalf of the Parish Council
Please note that there will not be weekly changes of menu from now onwards until further notice.
Also note this message from the Westbury Inn.
We will be opening on the 4th July and we have taken great measures (limited furniture creating more space, sanitising stations in key points of the pub, record of visitors using the pub) to conform with government guidelines to ensure we keep you all safe.
Please may we request that, should you be coming to visit us even just for a drink (we’d love to see you all!), can you please phone and book a table 01749 870402 as we will be limiting the numbers of people in the pub at any one time. Our main priority is to make sure everyone is safe and your local stays open.
A huge thank you for all your support during these very strange times. We look forward to the day when we can invite you all down for a drink and one of Andy’s infamous ‘hot gammon roasts’ possibly even ”Towersey” to give a sing song.
Many thanks Andy and Ann-Marie
The Parish Council has funded a Cookie Controller for the Parish Council website, and the website hosts, Tickbox Marketing, implemented it on the live website this morning. This makes the website compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
When viewing the Parish Council website, you will see the Cookie Controller Icon on the bottom right of your browser screen. When you click on the Cookie Control Icon a side panel opens, explaining that the website uses two types of Cookies, ‘Necessary Cookies’ which are essential for the site’s functioning, and ‘Analytical Cookies’ which are useful for monitoring and improving the use of the site. You can turn the Analytical Cookies On or Off (the default is On). The website will remember whatever setting you have chosen for 90 days.
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Please note that food will not be available on Tuesday 23rd June as there is a dog that needs to be taken to the vet. Thank you.
We are conscious that people do not want to be overloaded with information and since there are no changes in the lockdown in the immediate future we are concentrating on one item tonight – an update from the community shop
Westbury Community Shop Update – 20th June 2020
The last few months have been difficult for everyone and we all look forward to the time when life can return to being a bit more like normal. The shop staff and volunteers have worked hard to keep the shop as well stocked as possible which on occasions has been a challenge but with the help of our wonderful local suppliers, we think we have offered a valuable service to local people, which is the whole reason for having a community shop in the village.
Stay Safe – Shop Local
Sue Reece 870618 Mick Fletcher 870531 on behalf of the Parish Council
5 Skippers: There are 7 British skippers and 5 of them occur in the Parish. They are a group of closely related small butterflies often a bit smaller than a common blue. They have a very buzzy, moth-like flight. Beware there are several, more or less brown, small, day-flying moths that they might be confused with, such as the Burnet Companion and the Mother Shipton. However, they do have the distinctive clubbed antennae characteristic of butterflies. The Grizzled and Dingy skippers hold their wings flat and can therefore look very moth-like. The Large, Small, and Essex Skippers hold their wings in a very characteristic pose at 45 degrees – I think of how aeroplanes on aircraft carriers fold their wings before being taken down into the hold.
Dingy Skipper: is the earliest to emerge in mid-April. It overwinters as a fully developed larva in a hibernaculum hidden in ground vegetation and only pupates inside this at the end of March to emerge as an adult a few weeks later. The Adults are fond of yellow flowers as nectar sources and the female after mating, seeks out bird’s foot trefoil and sometimes horseshoe vetch, on which to lay individual eggs. The newly hatched caterpillar will feed and moult 4 times until fully developed after which it will build its hibernaculum using silk to hold dead leaves together, and inside, pass the winter.
Grizzled Skipper: This butterfly emerges from the pupa in which it has over-wintered in mid-April or May. The whirring flight of this tiny butterfly means that its distinctive wing markings only become visible when it settles to bask in the sunshine. They require warmth, shelter and sparse vegetation that enables them to find bare ground on which to bask and wild strawberry plants on which to lay eggs for their caterpillars to feed on. Suitable habitats stretch all along the south facing Mendip scarp. The larvae go through to pupation before the end of the summer and over-winter at this stage. Pupae in short grass sites emerge earlier in the Spring than in taller vegetation sites presumably because they warm up more readily which speeds development. This is an important part of their requirement for sparsely vegetated sites.
Large Skipper: This is a butterfly of a wide variety of grassy sites where the grass can grow quite tall. Roadsides, woodland rides, hedges as well as the various reserves across Mendip. It, and the next two grass-feeding skippers are likely to benefit greatly from less cutting of roadside verges and places like churchyards where the grass is increasingly being allowed to grow tall and is only cut in late July or August. The patchwork of pale spots and darker areas on the wings make them easy to distinguish from the properly ‘golden’ skippers’ – Small and Essex. The adults emerge from the end of May and through June and are very fond of nectar sources like brambles and thistles which they can access easily with their exceptionally long proboscis. Eggs are laid on quite tall grasses like Cock’s Foot that are growing in places that are both sheltered and in full sunshine. The larva that emerges goes through 7 instars before pupating. Once is gets to the 5th instar, towards the end of the summer, the caterpillar makes a hibernaculum of leaf blades held together with silk in which it passes the winter. In March it emerges from hibernation and feeds and grows and after the 7th instar forms a pupa in the middle of May from which the adult will emerge between the end of May and the end of July.
Small Skipper: When newly emerged, the wings are a bright gold colour with a narrow dark border but none of the spots and patches of the Large Skipper. Like the large skipper they do well in quite tall grass grasslands with an abundance of nectar sources and of its favourite larval food plant, the grass, Yorkshire Fog, though other grasses are also used. The female, after mating, lays eggs in small groups in the hollow rolled grass leaf bases. The caterpillar has 5 instars and in its 5th instar over-winters in a silken cocoon. The following year these caterpillars pupate towards the end of May from which these smart little butterflies emerge from early June until the end of July.
Essex Skipper: To all intents and purposes the adults of Essex Skippers look nearly identical to the Small Skipper so that confusion is a normal part of a butterfly recorder’s life. In the males the sex brand is a little shorter and straighter than that of the Small Skipper male which is, of course, no help in identifying the females. The only reliable characteristic is the underside of the tips of the antennae which are jet black in Essex and brown in Small Skippers. Studying photographs taken from head on is the only reliable method of identification. Just taking such photographs is a difficult task with such an active little butterfly. As with the Large and Small Skippers this is a butterfly of hay meadows, roadside verges, woodland rides and any tall grass grasslands with abundant nectar sources. The females after mating lay eggs in the tightly rolled leaf sheaths of grasses, particularly Cock’s foot, and positions these eggs rather nearer to the ground than the small skipper does. The egg when close to hatching pauses its development and goes into hibernation and it is only in the following late March or early April that it hatches and starts to feed. After reaching the 5th instar it pupates in a rolled leaf held together with silk and emerges a little later than the Small Skippers in the middle of June and through into July. It is believed that Essex Skippers are genuinely expanding their range from an original stronghold in Essex both northwards and westwards. The potential for transport as overwintering eggs in hay may help with this spread and is how it has been able to spread across North America in hay bales first imported from Europe in 1910! Equally this spread could be related to climate change. The photograph labelled as Essex is probably correct, but it is far from the perfect view. A little photographic challenge perhaps?
Photos Robert Maxwell Wood Tina Westcott Peter Bright