Butterfly of the Week 26th August 2020

Male Wall

Wall:  This is another ‘brown’ and, like its relatives, its caterpillars are grass feeders.  However, it needs sparse, open, grassy areas with bare patches where sunshine enables the butterfly to bask and warm quickly.  It is a strong flier in these exposed habitats.  The male has a thickened dark area on its forewings which are the sex brands.  In inland areas of UK, in times past, it used to be common but has now become rare, only remaining relatively common at coastal sites around England, Wales, southern Scotland and Ireland.  It occurs in small numbers on Westbury Beacon and along the Mendips but in much larger numbers on Brean Down.  It does occur in Westbury gardens, perhaps one or two a year, and this year it has been seen on Broadhay during our particularly sunny and warm May.  Typically, it has two generations a year with the first emerging in late April or early May.  The eggs laid by this generation will go through their life history to emerge in July or August.  The offspring of this second generation need to get to the third instar caterpillar stage at which it is then able to hibernate.  The following spring the caterpillars will feed again and then moult to the 4th instar after which they pupate hidden deep amongst the grass tussocks to emerge in late-April or early-May.   While habitat loss inland of suitably sunny, sparsely grassy, rocky sites has occurred, it is not believed to be the main reason for its dramatic decline.

Female Wall

The suggestion is that, with a warming climate, the first generation is emerging earlier in April and the corresponding second generation in late June and early July such that it continues to produce a third generation in late September. However, eggs laid by this third generation produce caterpillars that do not have sufficient time, before it gets cold, to reach the third instar, which is necessary for it to be able to over-winter.  This means that there is a significant loss to the population every time there is an attempt at a third generation.  The cooler habitats around UK coasts mean that there is less opportunity for the butterfly to produce this abortive third generation and thus they remain relatively common there.

Photos    Peter Bright

Strawberry Line Bird Survey

Those keen on wildlife will be interested to see this report on breeding birds along the Strawberry Line.  It suggests that the concentration of breeding birds along the line is greater than in much of the farmland the route passes through – another reason to support the development of off-road paths.

Coronavirus Community Support Update 24.08.2020

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/

Correction.

In the last issue we mistakenly said that it was not possible to attend live theatre performances.  That was incorrect.  It is now possible to attend live indoor performances providing Covid secure guidelines are followed, though we cannot not yet attend events in stadiums – that further step is planned for 1st October if circumstances remain favourable.  Apologies for any confusion.

Parish Council Grants

The Parish Council makes grants every year to village organisations that provide a service to the community.  The deadline for applications this year is the 30th September allowing a decision to be made at the Council meeting in October.  Details of grants provided in previous years and guidance on how to apply is available on the village website.

Helpline summary

There are a couple of changes to the support services to report so we are reissuing the summary of contact details.  Please replace the previous list with the one here..   The changes are

  • The number to ring for confidential medical advice if it is not possible to get help from one’s own GP or by dialling 111 is now 01748 870762
  • The prescription ordering and collection service will now use the same telephone line as the shopping service 01749 870603.  Please remember to give the volunteers adequate notice of the need to drop off or collect a prescription. Also, please remember that Boots Priory pharmacy will not be opening on Saturdays after the end of August

Keeping safe from scams

From time to time villagers contact us because they have either had a phone call or a visit that appears to be a scam and want to alert other residents to it.  Although we have put such alerts in the updates in the past, a weekly email covering a number of different topics doesn’t seem the best way of doing it.  A post on the village website can be delivered immediately to everyone who has registered to be notified of new news items and can alert people more quickly.  A new category has therefore been added to the news section of the website where people can post information about issues of concern. Those unable to edit the website can leave a message on the IT helpline 07375 945543    and it can be posted for them.

Since unfortunately scam phone calls and emails are a regular feature of modern life we don’t want to overload people and would therefore ask that  the alerts should only be used when the suspected scam has a specifically local connection (eg appearing to come from a local address or someone knocking on doors) or where it seems particularly plausible such as the recent calls purporting to come from track and trace.

There are several sources of help if you are not sure whether something is a scam or not.  The Citizens Advice Bureau has a very useful site helping you to check whether something is a scam and what to do if you, or a friend, feels they may have been a victim. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/

You can also report it here https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/report-suspicious-emails or here https://www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing where you can find advice on how to keep yourself safe.

If you would like to receive these alerts please subscribe for updates from the website by using the link on the home page here . If you are unable to use the internet but want to be alerted please ask whoever delivers these updates to you.

Community Tree Group.

The Community Tree Group is working to provide information on tree planting and, in particular, which trees might make good replacements for the Ash trees that are expected to die over the next few years. Advice on suitable trees can be found on the village website.  The group has held a farm walk designed for larger landowners (kindly hosted by Jo and Rob Tucker) and is planning a working session to make a start on the tree nursery project on 6th September.

 

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

 

 

Butterfly of the Week 19th August 2020

On the Beacon at the end of February 2019

Painted lady:  This is, perhaps, our most well-known migratory butterfly which arrives every year in the Spring or Summer. The adult butterflies breed here, and their offspring are being increasingly recorded as flying south again in the autumn.  Painted ladies are a very strong flying butterfly and have been shown to cross from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa and to reach even the most northern parts of Europe.  Similar migrations occur across other continents.  Seemingly during the northern winter, Painted ladies breed in North Africa and the offspring of these head northwards spreading across southern Europe and may even arrive in the UK.

 

 

More usually this generation will breed across southern France and Spain and it is the offspring of this generation that continue northwards arriving in the UK in May.  Here they breed, with caterpillars feeding on various kinds of thistles and may go from egg to adult in as little as 6 weeks.  This next generation may then continue northwards to breed again.  In the Autumn something about the shortening days and falling temperatures triggers the newly emerged adult butterflies to head south.

Huge numbers have been recorded heading south and are able to once more return to the north African breeding grounds from which their great or great great grandparents left in the previous January.  This strategy is so successful that the numbers estimated to return are much greater than the numbers that left.  The benefit of this migration is believed to be related to a very effective wasp parasitoid that each year more or less exterminates any remaining north African Painted lady caterpillars.  Migration means that the butterfly can evade this parasite and the successfully returning butterflies can take advantage once again of the ideal breeding conditions in north Africa over the northern winter before the wasp parasitoid multiplies once more.  The extent to which sub-Saharan originating butterflies are part of the European annual immigration is not yet clear.  While the occasional overwintering butterfly has been found e.g. in Cornwall, it seems clear that, as it has no ‘hibernation’ stage and caterpillars die when the temperatures fall below 5oC, it does not survive to any useful extent in the UK. The numbers that arrive in the UK each year are hugely variable and are, presumably, related to the particular conditions in the breeding grounds along their migration routes.  2009 and 2019 were the last ‘Painted lady years’ in which large numbers arrived in the UK.

 

This year a few have been seen in the Parish, but it has been only the odd one here and there.  The fashion for purchasing captive bred caterpillars means that more people can see these wonderful animals up close and personal, but complicates knowing whether any particular butterfly has come from North Africa or from a local butterfly farm. They are a spectacular butterfly, and all the more so, because of their entirely migratory life history.

Photos  Peter Bright

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

Westbury half a dozen Tigers of the Week 12th August

The striking colours of these Tigers is a sign that they are unpalatable to birds and so most of them can fly during the afternoon as well as at night.

 

Cream-spot Tiger:   This moth is usually found in coastal habitats of the South West – Cornwall, Devon and Somerset and along the coasts of Dorset, Hampshire, Kent and Essex.  It has appeared in Westbury for each of the last two years and occurs in a variety of inland places in the same counties.  Its flight season is from late May to early July.  The caterpillars feed on a range of herbaceous weedy species like white dead nettle, hawkweeds and ragworts. There is one generation per year and it is nocturnal and comes to light.  It has been getting scarcer since 1990.

Photo     Trevor Beebee

 

 

Wood Tiger:   This is a moorland and heathland moth which occurs on Westbury Beacon and at Stoke Camp.  This moth, along with most of these tigers, is active in daylight as well as at night.  There is one generation and it flies from late May to July overwintering as a half-grown caterpillar.  This feeds on a variety of herbaceous plants like ribwort plantain, salad burnet, and groundsel.  It is widely distributed but local across the western and northern parts of the UK.  It is declining in abundance in some places.

Photo   John Ball

 

 

 

Inflating its wings

Scarlet Tiger:    This striking moth is mainly found in south western Britain and is spreading northwards and eastwards and is becoming more abundant.  It is active in the afternoon as well as at night when the males can be seen patrolling for females.

 

 

The caterpillar food plants are particularly comfrey and hemp agrimony.  As the caterpillars get larger they feed openly by day especially in sunshine, and they disperse onto a range of other plants like bramble and nettle.

 

 

 

There is one generation flying in ‘June and July’.  In Westbury this year the first was seen on 17th May and the last on 28th June so it has been an early season for them as well as for a whole lot of other butterflies and moths.

Photos Tina Westcott     Robert Maxwell Wood   Ollie Halls

 

 

 

 

 

Jersey Tiger:    This, like the Scarlet Tiger, is a striking moth but has a forewing with stripes rather than spots. The underwings are orange or, less commonly, yellow.  This moth is common on the Devon and Dorset coast but is now spreading northwards rapidly. It started being seen regularly in Westbury 5 or 6 years ago.   It is likely that there is, each year, an influx of moths from the continent.  Some have established on the coastal parts of Sussex and Kent. They have now arrived in London and are spreading northwards.

 

 

There is one generation per year with the adults flying from mid-July to early September.  The caterpillar is found in rough and disturbed ground where its food is a variety of herbaceous plants like nettle, plantains and ground ivy.  When it is a small caterpillar it over winters at the base of its food plants continuing to feed in the following spring and summer.

Photos     Oliver Halls   Robert Maxwell Wood  Peter Bright

 

 

 

       

 

Ruby tiger:  This is the smallest of this sextet of moths and is a dusky deep pink colour.  There are two generations a year with adults flying mid-April and May and the second generation from July to the beginning of September.  It overwinters as a fully grown caterpillar.  It is a moth of open habitats like woodland clearings, downland, set aside farmland and gardens.  There are a variety of herbaceous food plants including plantains and ragworts as well as spindle and broom.  Like the other tigers the adults can be active by day as well as at night.  Since 1970 it has shown large increases in distribution and abundance and is found across the whole of the UK.

Photos  Peter Bright

 

Garden Tiger:  This moth used to be common and widespread and was well known for its caterpillars – woolly bears with the irritating hairs.  It is still widespread, but it has declined greatly in numbers and to a lesser extent in distribution.  The cause of these declines is suggested to be increasingly warm and wet winters related to climate change.  However, it is still found across the whole of the UK.  There is one generation that flies in July and August.  There are a wide variety of food plants including nettles and docks as well as various garden plants.  The caterpillar overwinters as a small larva. It has been seen in Westbury once in the last 5 or 6 years that I know of.  The photo was taken this year at Westhay.

Photo    Jan Ward

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 10.08.2020

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/

Social distancing and masks

It’s vitally important that we continue to maintain distance and wear face coverings, but please remember that there are people in our community who cannot wear masks because of medical or other conditions.

“Please give me space” social distancing cards and badges

The Cabinet Office has produced optional cards and badges which can be carried by someone to show they may have difficulties or concerns in maintaining social distancing. These can be used to signal to others around them that they need to pay attention and be given space. There are versions to print and one that can be used on your mobile phone. All “please give me space” cards and badges can be found here:

gov.uk/please-give-me-space-social-distancing-cards-or-badges

VJ Day – marking the 75th Anniversary of the end of WW2

Saturday 15th August 

10.58 at The Westbury Inn Trumpet to sound the Last Post

11.00 am 2 mins silence

Cry for Peace around the World

to be read by John Barkle outside The Westbury Inn

Church bell to be tolled 75 times

Some memories recalled

Church bells to be rung

 

Westbury Parish Website

The Parish Council would like you to know that it is possible for you to ask questions and comment on the website articles. This link goes to information on how to do this. Westbury web site info

If you would like to learn more about writing and posting posts or updating pages on the site, contact Mark Smith to ask about a demonstration via Zoom.

 

Westbury Community Shop

With the Post Office in Wells closed at the moment, the Post Office staff are finding quite a build-up of work towards the end of the day. It would be really helpful if you could avoid bringing post along late in the afternoon.

Thanks to everyone for being very good-natured and patient while queuing for the shop, your friendliness as customers is much appreciated.

 

Eat Out to Help Out

From Peter Bright:

Dear All,  I hope that you are all doing well and have something to keep you interested and busy.  The Westbury Inn has had its first week of ‘Eat out to help out!’ and it has proved and is proving popular.  I have taken advantage of it and enjoyed a meal and the variety of choice available within the 3 course meal £20 option.  Remember you would actually pay £10 for this on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in August.  Because it is proving popular it is important to book early if you do not want to be disappointed.  Westbury Inn 01749 870402.   The numbers that can be socially distanced inside the Pub is clearly limited. Do make contact if I can be of any help.  Take care.  Peter

 

I’d like to thank Andrew Buchanan for stepping into Mick’s shoes and being an excellent editor of this update

Sue

Sue Reece (870618) 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)

Westbury Moth, rather than Butterfly, of the week 5th August

   Hummingbird Hawkmoth:  This day flying moth is quite unmistakeable. It has a smart grey brown body with white markings along the sides and orange hind wings. With a 5cm wingspan and its continually whirring wings it makes a characteristic ‘hum’.  Part of its scientific name is Macroglossum which recognises that it has a very long tongue which enables it to collect nectar, while hovering, from long tubular flowers like honeysuckle and red valerian.

 

 

 

 

 

It is a regular immigrant but is now managing to overwinter, especially in the south west of England.  It is a resident moth of Southern Europe and North Africa and is found across Asia as far as China and Japan.  In southern Europe it has two or three generations each year and over-winters as an adult hidden in a crevice.  It is a strong flier and variable numbers come into the UK from France and Spain every summer maybe as early as April but particularly in July and August and lay eggs particularly on lady’s and hedge bedstraws.

Lady’s Bedstraw

The caterpillar is a characteristic green with the hawkmoth spike at the tail end.  These home-produced moths are seen in September and October and an increasing number seem to be over-wintering successfully.  This is another animal we are seeing more of because of global warming.  There is a row for recording this moth on the Westbury Garden butterflies recording sheet.

 

Photos Robert Maxwell Wood   John Ball   Peter Bright