Emperor dragonfly

The UK’s largest dragonfly and one of the first hawkers on the wing, usually in late spring. Large ponds are preferred for breeding, and hence it is mostly the larger garden ponds that are colonised. Males are always blue, females green but can be blue as in the photo. Both sexes have a distinct black line down the centre of the back. Larvae (“nymphs”) are voracious predators of tadpoles and smaller invertebrates. Here a female is laying eggs by inserting them under the leaf of a plant on the pond surface.

Butterfly of the Week 10th June 2020

  

Marbled White: This unmistakeable butterfly of unimproved tall grass grasslands, is found all across the Mendips and has, in the past been seen on Broadhay. Its black and white chequered pattern and name, as a ‘white’, obscures the fact that it is a ‘brown’! It is about the same size as a meadow brown which are themselves particularly abundant this year both in fields and even into gardens. Like the other browns, Meadow, Hedge, Ringlet and Small heath its caterpillars are grass feeders. The adults emerge from their pupae from mid-June and adults can be seen until the end of July. Once mated the female scatters her eggs amongst suitable grasses. When the eggs hatch the first stage larvae goes straight into hibernation buried deep in a grass tussock. In the following year in late January or early February, the larva starts to feed then moults, then feeds and moults two more  times. Each time the caterpillar transfers to increasingly coarse grasses before pupating at the end of May or beginning of June. There is, thus, only one generation each year. When walking on Mendip keep a good look out for them and you may notice that they have a special fondness for purple flowers like knapweed and scabious where they are easy watch and to photograph. The females have a yellowish front edge of the fore-wings and this yellowness also shows on their undersides.

Photos    Peter Bright

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 10.06.2020

 Update 10.06.2020

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

Most shops can now open.

From Monday 15th non-essential shops are allowed to reopen providing that they have made arrangements to maintain social distancing and sanitise surfaces likely to be touched by customers and staff.  The guidance states

businesses should only reopen once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with current Health and Safety legislation

But not pubs or hairdressers,

However pubs, cafes and hairdressers will still need to stay closed.   The government explains

hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required

For the full guidance see here https://tinyurl.com/ybj5v45l   The guidance includes advice for business owners and workers in different sectors on how to stay safe and keep customers safe when reopening.

And not gyms or leisure centres,

“gyms and leisure centres remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these indoor environments is higher. You cannot exercise in an indoor fitness studio, gym, swimming pool, or other indoor leisure centres or facilities.”

nor playgrounds

which means that our own playing fields are still unable to open and still faced with maintenance expenditure while having lost their major sources of income.  One way to support the playing fields during these difficult times is to join the 100 Club which operates a monthly draw – details are on the attached sheet.  It is good to note that since we last mentioned the 100 club more villagers have come forward – but more are needed to help plug the gap in finances.

Butterfly of the Week

Finally., since it is a Wednesday, we have another butterfly of the week posted on the village website by Peter Bright.  This week’s butterfly is the Marbled White.

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

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 08.06.2020

  Update 08.06.2020

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

Our main item tonight is an update from the Church regarding the opening of the cathedral and the continuing closure of the village church.

Church News
Some people may be aware that Wells Cathedral is planning to open for visitors from 4th July. When this happens there will be a clear one-way route around the building with volunteers to ensure social distancing. Some parts will not be open and the final details, including whether masks will be required have yet to be decided.
The Dean has stated that there will be opportunity for private prayer but no services are planned yet and definitely no singing . It seems that singing is a thing which may only be done in isolation for now.
Our Church in Westbury remains closed awaiting further guidance. We have measured, using social distancing guidelines, and we estimate that when we are allowed to open for some kind of service we could welcome 44 people inside. Perhaps we will need to hold a service outside, who knows. More meetings are to be held shortly to discuss how to proceed.
If you have an enquiry regarding our Church here in Westbury please contact Linda Mogford [Churchwarden] 01749 870817  lindamogford@uwclub.net

 

Delivery of food boxes

We have been advised that some residents who were previously shielded will be receiving texts saying that they have been removed from the list and will no longer automatically receive food boxes. There may therefore be an increased need for local assistance. Unfortunately, neither we, nor the District Council have been given a list of who has been removed and don’t know who has been contacted.

People who have been in receipt of the boxes for 10-12 weeks and now have had that service stopped can re-register but it can take up to 15 days to start receiving the boxes again.  It would be good therefore if everybody could look out for individuals who may have been caught by this change and direct them towards our local support services, whether it is help with shopping that is needed or temporary financial support.  We are attaching to this update further copies of our summary of helplines and information about the Friendly Society financial support scheme.

Badgers

Our poem of the week is ‘Badger Badger by Chris Harris, penned in response to increasing signs of activity by these creatures along the roadside and in gardens.  To go with it we are publishing photographic evidence  of  their

 

 

ingenuity and audacity in search of food – thanks to Peter Bright for the picture.  Are you sure you know who is coming through your cat flap?

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

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 05.06.2020

05.06.2020

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

Wearing masks on public transport

One major change since our last update is that wearing of masks on public transport will become compulsory for most people.  The Transport Minister announced on Thursday

 “as of Monday 15 June, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport.

That doesn’t mean surgical masks, which we must keep for clinical settings. It means the kind of face covering you can easily make at home.

There’ll be exceptions to the rule for very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties.”

The full text of the speech can be accessed here https://tinyurl.com/y7uy2dgr  and the subsequent government update here https://tinyurl.com/ycghgtdp

As mentioned in a previous update suitable masks can be obtained from the village shop.

Cycling

The Minister also spoke of encouraging alternatives to public transport and highlighted the benefits of cycling.  He said

As we redesign our street landscape to cope with millions more cyclists and pedestrians in the months ahead. The evidence is that commuters are already responding…

Despite fewer people travelling overall during this crisis, we’ve seen around a 100% increase in weekday cycling. And at weekends, that increase has been up to around 200%, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

We want to use this recovery to permanently change the way we travel. With huge levels of investment…

This aligns well with an initiative from Mendip District Council to promote cycle paths around the District as described here  https://wells.nub.news/n/wells-cycle-routes-to-be-connected-and-enhanced-in-bid-to-cut-car-use

These national and local initiatives my well give new impetus to the Strawberry Line Project – for details see here http://www.thestrawberryline.org.uk/

Test and Trace – how to spot a scam

As the new ‘test and trace’ scheme goes live you may get a call saying that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore need to self-isolate for 7 days.  Since crooks will take advantage of any opportunity however how can you be sure it is genuine?  The independent fact checking site ‘Full Fact’ gives advice here https://tinyurl.com/ycovjd4p

 

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

Two Westbury Grassland Butterflies of the Week 3rd June 2020

 

 

Meadow brown: The Meadow brown is probably our commonest butterfly and is on the wing from the beginning of June through to September or even October if the weather is kind. It is quite a large brown butterfly being a bit smaller than a large white. The females are larger than the males and have conspicuous orange patches on the forewings whereas the males look generally darker and have an area of dark scent scales on the upper surface of their forewings that produce pheromones that encourage the females to mate. They can be abundant in grassland that is not too heavily grazed as well as along roadside verges, the edges of woodland rides and anywhere else with a good mix of grasses maybe up to 50cm high. Eggs are laid singly amongst the grasses and may even be scattered. The young caterpillars feed on the finer grass species like fescues and the older caterpillars move on to more robust species like cock’s foot and wood false brome. They overwinter as caterpillars hidden deep in suitable grass tussocks. During the following spring they start feeding again and pupate in late April and onwards depending on the size of caterpillar they overwintered as. Males will fly quite long distances seeking out unmated females that are ‘seduced’ by showers of pheromones. Mating can last for up to an hour when the pair can be seen resting amongst grasses. If disturbed the female can fly with male still attached to a new resting spot. The female soon begins egg laying and it is these eggs that produce the caterpillars that will spend the winter in a grass tussock. There is just one generation each year.

Photos Tina Westcott   Peter Bright

 

  

Small heath: This little butterfly is a ‘brown’ like its relative the meadow brown but is only the size of a common blue. Its caterpillars feed on fine grasses like fescues that abound in dry, shallow soiled, unimproved short sward grassland like that found on the top of Mendip. Westbury Beacon, Cook’s Field and Deerleap are good habitat. It is hardly surprising that it has barely appeared in Westbury gardens in our regular weekly recordings. It overwinters as a caterpillar in various stages of maturity depending on when winter comes. The largest of these caterpillars will pupate in early spring to appear as the first small heaths of the year in early May. The smaller caterpillars will take longer to grow and then pupate to produce the later butterflies of this first brood. These adults then mate to produce eggs leading to a second generation on the wing in late July and August. Their eggs will become the caterpillars that will over winter to emerge in the following spring. This small butterfly, itself, shows orange when it flies showing the orange upper surfaces of its wings but when it settles – always with its wings closed, all you see is the grey brown underside of the hind wing and a small flash of orange from the underside of the forewing. This frequently disappears as it folds its forewings further and it can almost disappear against the browns and greys of its preferred dry grassy habitat. In can increase the effectiveness of this camouflage by holding its wings at such an angle that they do not cast a shadow.

Photos   Oliver Halls   Peter Bright

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 03.06.2020

Update 03.06.2020

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

10 weeks and counting

It is now ten weeks since the Emergency Planning Team issued its first update to the village on the subject of the Coronavirus pandemic.  For most of that time the message has been simple – stay at home, but if you must go out stay at least two metres away from others.  As the government starts to loosen restrictions the messages on what people can and cannot do will become more complex but it is worth remembering that the risk level remains high and distancing from other people remains the most important measure that we can all take.   We will publish any changes to the regulations as they appear but for now the list of what we can and cannot do is as we circulated on Monday.  The link is here https://tinyurl.com/uwt2nes  if anyone needs reminding.

Given the change in the weather however it is perhaps worth repeating the appeal from the Prime Minister at today’s press conference.

As the weather, I think, threatens to take a turn for the worse, some of you may be tempted to move the gatherings you have been enjoying outdoors indoors out of the rain. I really urge you; don’t do that. 

“We relaxed the rules on meeting outside for a very specific reason because the evidence shows the evidence of transmission are much lower outdoors. The risks of passing on the virus indoors are significantly higher indoors which is why gatherings inside other people’s homes are still prohibited.”

Looking after yourself and others

We are fortunate in Mendip that the number of cases remains low but nevertheless the restrictions are taking a toll on people’s heath and wellbeing.  We are therefore giving the link to a very useful booklet that has been put out by Health Connections Mendip which covers what you can do to look after yourself but also signs of stress to watch out for in others.  The link is here  https://tinyurl.com/y7ywt3ox  We also have a large number of hard copies for anyone who can’t access email or who simply prefers a printed page.  It would be good if co-ordinators could let Sue know how many they need for their patch; any left over we will put in the book exchange and make available in the shop.

We would also like to remind people of our village support services and in particular the Listening Line  07851 227855 for anyone with worries about the current situation and the Friendship Line 01749 870395  for anyone just missing company and wanting a telephone chat

Personal Protective Equipment

The crisis affects us all but some in more dramatic ways than others.  Steve Penfold, a local resident sent us this picture                                            together with a short explanation…

The forthcoming edition of the Royal College of Physicians magazine will be featuring articles on Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for front line staff. Given the press exposure, you might be interested to see the photograph from it of 3 variants of PPE being worn by doctors. On the left is the minimal protection, worn in situations where there is a low expectation of coronavirus being present. On the right is the PPE typically worn by medical staff working in COVID intensive and critical care units. The “Darth Vader” kit in the centre is the top range of mask, commonly worn by anaesthetists and others working up close and personal on patients requiring manual ventilation to help them to combat the virus.

There is a local connection to this picture. On the right is Rose Penfold who went to school at St Lawrence’s and subsequently Wells Cathedral School. She is based at St Thomas’ hospital, Westminster and is working on the COVID ICU there. Her parents live in the village. Rose is a very keen distance runner and back in the days when it was permissible to visit the family home, even for people who are not top level Government advisers, she could be seen running around the village; though fortunately not in her work gear!

 

Butterfly of the Week

Finally. Since it is a Wednesday, we have another butterfly of the week posted on the village website by Peter Bright.  This week’s butterfly is the Meadow Brown.

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

Four-spotted chaser

Another frequent visitor to garden ponds, recently arrived. The number of wing spots clearly distinguishes it from the otherwise similar but much rarer female Scarce Chaser, which only has dark spots at the wing tips. Male scarce chasers are blue, but both sexes of the four-spotted chaser are identical and thus virtually impossible to tell apart.

Coronavirus Community Support – update 01.06.2020

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

Relaxing the lock down

This week has seen the first steps towards relaxation of the lock-down allowing people to meet outdoors in groups of up to six individuals from different households.  There are however continuing constraints such as the requirement to maintain a two metre distance and not to visit other people’s houses except in very limited circumstances.  Since the message is now more complex than simply ‘stay at home’ we are including a link to the latest edition of ‘what you can and can’t do’ from the government.  It is here https://tinyurl.com/uwt2nes.

Playgrounds and playing fields

One of the things we still can’t do is use playgrounds or outdoor exercise equipment which causes difficulty in respect of our own playing fields.  The playing fields committee has reluctantly concluded that it cannot comply with the clear instruction to close playgrounds without closing the whole field, though is keen to reopen as soon as it is allowed.  They say:

The reasons for closing in the first place – the inability to safely close off the necessary areas (climbing apparatus, swings, slide, skateboard ramp etc) – are still valid, even with the slightly relaxed social distancing guidelines.

The general playing field area and MUGA – Multi Use Games Area (ie Tennis/Basketball/Netball court) can’t be reopened because the playground apparatus, which is a major “shared-touch” area and could lead to cross contamination and contravenes the current social distancing conditions, can’t be independently closed off.

The intention is to re-open the whole premises at once as soon as permission is granted at national level.

The committee is also committed to continuing expenditure to keep the field in good condition at the same time as its major sources of income (Glastonbury Festival and the Quiz) cannot take place.  A statement from the committee explaining the position and suggesting how you might help them remain viable is here.

Helping other communities

Although we cannot access the playing field we are fortunate in being surrounded by open space so that everyone can enjoy exercise outdoors.  This is not true for all communities however and Emma Giffard is appealing for resources to help an inner city community in Bristol.   Emma writes:

Hi all – a friend of mine is a playworker in East Bristol. All the facilities for the kids have been shut for months now. She works with extremely deprived families, where the kids have been stuck indoors in flats with no gardens, in really difficult situations.

There have been lots of knock-on effects such as the closure of charity shops, where people might normally get clothes and toys. She’s collecting resources to distribute to hard hit families – I’m asking for donations on her behalf. The place she works is a registered charity.(https://www.felixroad.uk/)


I’m going to put a box outside my house (Red Lion on Free Hill in Westbury) if anyone has items they can donate. She is asking for: Resources for children aged 6-12, Books especially welcome, Good quality clothes and Toys – but please only good quality
and donations by Wednesday morning please

On-line exercise

As an alternative to exercising in the park some people have taken to on-line activities which happens to be the subject of our latest poem of the week – A sonnet to on-line exercise by Chris Harris.  It is here.

New pub take away menu.

Finally a reminder that the new take-away menu from the village pub is available on the Westbury Website or from the pub on 870402

 

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

Coronavirus Community Support – update 29.05.2020

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

Relaxing the lock-down

The headline issue in this update is the decision by the government to begin to relax the restrictions under which we have been living – the so-called ‘lock-down’. As detailed guidance on what changes are being made is not yet available, here is a one page extract from the Prime Minister’s speech in which he set out the changes.  The extract also contains a link to the full speech which explains the rationale for the decisions.  Please remember that the changes do not come into effect until Monday – there is no change in the rules for this weekend

Test and trace

One of the reasons for deciding to relax the restrictions has been the launch of the NHS ‘test and trace’ service under which anyone with Covid-19 type symptoms should be able to get a test quickly.  If the test proves positive anyone that person has been in contact with should be contacted by the service and told to self-isolate.  Full details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works including how to order a test and what to do if you are contacted by the test and trace service.

School opening

One implication for us locally is that the school will be open for a limited number of pupils on Monday.  It would help parents who have to maintain a 2 metre distance from each other outside the school gates if people could  avoid driving past at busy times –  8.45am – 9.25am for drop-off; 2.35 – 3.15 for pick up.

 

Have a good weekend

 

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