Field Meeting Nottingham Hill, 21-9-2021

Notes from the field meeting that took place on 21st September. Keep an eye on forthcoming events on the events page.

The walk on Nottingham Hill took place during a period of late summer sunshine and warmth, though the wildlife was in autumnal mode, with few plants flowering and few birds in evidence. There was therefore the opportunity to look in a little more detail at some confusing species of plants and practise identification using fruits, seeds and vegetative characters.

Using the shape of partially withered seed heads, we looked at several common grasses to try to establish their unique character. We also identified some yellow Asteracaea, bindweeds and thistles to genus level. At an old wall covered with bryophytes, we looked at the remarkable rehydration abilities of Rambling Tail Moss, Anomodon viticulosus, and in Gotherington Wood at some epiphytic mosses and liverworts.

The walk ended at the permanent short grassland of the old quarries on Longwood Common, where we found the remains of the summer flowers of thiss limestone community.

The Nottingham Hill circuit, with its extensive views across the Severn Vale, makes a varied walk. There are stretches of ‘high Cotswold’ arable fields, two former coppice woods and some short permanent grassland overlying old quarry works.

It is hoped to use the site for a dawn chorus meeting next year.

Click here for a list of selective species in the order encountered.

GNS field meetings

We are planning to have two meetings a month for the next season: one a fixed meeting on the first Sunday of the month, usually starting at 10.30 and lasting about 2 hours. This will always be a general meeting to see what we can find. The second meeting of the month has no fixed date and might be more specialist to a particular habitat or taxonomic group. Some meetings may require pre-booking, in which case this will be flagged up in the listings. Otherwise there is no need to book. Please do not attend if you have, or have recently, tested positive for Covid-19.

A list of currently scheduled meetings is now available on our upcoming events page.

The Upper Windrush valley – a talk by Pete Jeans

If you’ve enjoyed the recent articles from Pete Jeans in the last couple of issues of GNS News, then you might also be interested to know that he is going to be giving a talk entitled ‘The Upper Windrush valley: how does it illustrate some of the landforms of the N.Cotswolds, and their evolution’ to the Upper Windrush Local History Society on Tuesday 5th October at the Temple Guiting Village Hall at 7.30pm.

Any GNS members are welcome to attend, non-members of the UWLHS must pay £3.

Further information can be found on the Upper Windrush Local History Society website.

GNS Field Meetings, Sept 2021

Nottingham Hill

GNS are planning to have two meetings a month for the next season: one a fixed meeting on the first Sunday of the month, usually starting at 10.30 and lasting about 2 hours. This will always be a general meeting to see what we can find. The second meeting of the month has no fixed date and might be more specialist to a particular habitat or taxonomic group. Some meetings may require pre-booking, in which case this will be flagged up in the listings. Otherwise, there is no need to book. Please do not attend if you have, or have recently, tested positive for Covid-19.

The first two meetings of the new season are general interest ‘all-taxa’ meetings – further details on the events page.

Sunday 12 September. 10.30–12.30.  Newent Lake. Park and meet in the car park behind the Good-News Café, opposite the library at the western end of Newent, SO722 260, GL18 1AN. There is a small charge to park. Leader Mervyn Greening, 07999 883247.

Tuesday 21 September. 10.30–12.30. Nottingham Hill, Bishop’s Cleeve. On the B4632 Cheltenham to Winchcombe road turn north-west opposite the road up to Cleeve Hill Golf Club, into Wickfield Lane. Park and meet at the north-west part of the lane where several tracks meet, SO987278, approx. GL52 3PN. Leader Des Marshall, 07968 419813.

Curlew talk notes

Photo by John Sanders

As mentioned in last night’s Curlew talk given by Mike Smart, some further information relating to various organizations and websites concerned with Curlews…

Curlew Forum

A very informal body, which brings together local groups studying breeding Curlews in lowland England. Set up following the “Call of the Curlew” website held at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, in February 2017. The website, which is supported by GNS, posts field observations about Curlews, notably on breeding Curlews, colour-ringed birds and practical advice and comments. Steering Committee: Mary Colwell (Curlew author), Geoff Hilton (WWT), Phil Sheldrake (Salisbury Plain), Mike Smart (GNS).

Curlew Action

An officially registered Charity established in 2020 with the aim of raising funds for Curlew Projects, and of promoting outreach and public awareness. Appoints Curlew Ambassadors (aims at 100), Ambassadors Abroad, and Junior Curlew Network which engages with junior schools. Mike Smart is a Trustee. Website at Supports Curlew Recovery Partnership, and will be active for World Curlew Day (normally celebrated on 21 April, but on Saturday 23 April 2022).

Curlew Recovery Partnership England        

Formal body established in March 2021 with support from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Brings together the major Curlew conservation bodies and upland organizations. Will be influential in application to Curlew conservation of the new Environmental Land Management Schemes to be established in the government’s 25 year Environment Plan. Website . Individuals may sign up as members. Chair: Mary Colwell. Manager: Prof. Russell Wynn.


“Curlew Moon” by Mary Colwell.

RSPB Youth volunteer group

This autumn/winter the RSPB will be running a youth volunteering group once a month on a Saturday with the aim of encouraging young people to join them and gain skills and experience in woodland habitat management to help with career progression or to improve their connections to nature, as well as having the opportunity to meet like-minded people. The youth group will run one Saturday a month between October and March, and will alternate between Nagshead and Highnam Woods. On the reserves a range of tasks are carried out such as coppicing, brash clearing, ride widening and more. No prior experience is necessary as training will be given.

Back from the Brink

A message on behalf of the Gloucestershire Branch of Butterfly Conservation…

As many of you may know, the  ‘Limestone’s Living Legacies’ Back from the Brink (BftB) project is due for completion at the end of August, after four and a half years.  In order to celebrate many of the things undertaken during this time the BftB team are inviting you to join them for an Online Celebration Event on Monday 26th July 10am-1pm.

This event is being held via Zoom and will bring together the Back from the Brink partners for a morning celebrating the project’s achievements over the past four years. It will also be an opportunity for the team to say thank you to everyone who has supported them since the project started in 2017.

Please click here to see the events flyer for further details and please feel free to forward this on to anyone else who might be interested. To book your place please reply by email to Jen Gilbert, BftB Cotswolds Community Engagement Officer [email protected] or use mobile 07483 039321.

We hope to see you there.

County Bird Recorder – can you help?

We are looking for a volunteer to help our county bird recorder, Richard Baatsen. Currently Richard (who is a volunteer) receives, collates and verifies over 100,000 bird records each year, so it’s not surprising he is looking for a bit of help! Many of the records arrive via email.

We are looking for someone who can manage the incoming emails within a shared email box and turn them into proper records (a line on a spreadsheet) to be fed into the database. You do not need to be an expert on birds. The person we are looking for should be organised and be able to help mould how emails are responded to and dealt with.

A little spreadsheet knowledge is required but help with this will be available. Grid references are used so that sightings can be mapped; these are easily looked up using a website so nothing to fear there. But you will have to find the location on the map. That is the tricky bit – and of course you may need to correspond with the person who sent in the record.

The role could expand into other areas if that is what you would like, and could include writing up work instructions and following up on rare and scarce sightings to get them fully documented and help writing a monthly round-up/summary.


You would need to commit to 3-4 hours a week, (or more if that’s what you would like)

Manage Email inbox on a shared email account (polite and encouraging responses)

Enter bird records on an Excel spreadsheet template (help given)

A little bird knowledge would be helpful

Be able to look up map grid references on a website (very simple).

If you think you might be interested, please contact Richard for a chat about the “job”… his email is [email protected]

Floodplain Meadow Water-dropworts

(Some of these notes first appeared in the members only Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society Facebook Group, GNS Playground, on 5 July 2019).

There are three water-dropworts (Oenanthe species) commonly found in the floodplain meadows of the Severn and Avon in Gloucestershire. They are difficult to tell apart, especially when the basal leaves have disappeared, which often will have happened by mid-June.

They have slightly different habitats and time of flowering, but this can’t be relied on. At the wettest end, in places where water lies all winter or the edge of a pond, is Tubular Water-dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa). This tends to be the latest to come into flower, often in early July. Its characters include a very reduced number of partial umbels – sometimes just two or three, the stem is constricted at the nodes, and the upper stem leaves are very reduced – a bit like a stick drawing of a leaf. Narrow-leaved Water-dropwort (Oenanthe silaifolia) is the plant of the wet meadows and is the earliest to come into flower, often in mid-May. In the driest fields on the floodplain and unimproved fields and road verges off the floodplain, is Corky-fruited Water-dropwort (Oenanthe pimpinelloides) which flowers from about mid June.

It is easy enough to decide which of the the latter two you have if you are comparing them side-by-side, but when you only have one plant in front of you you can begin to doubt yourself. These notes may be helpful.

A consistent character is the stem at the base of the flowering shoot. If it squashes easily between the thumb and forefinger it is O silaifolia. The stem here is fairly silky to the feel and only gently ridged. If it gives very little when squashed between the thumb and forefinger and feels hard and ridgy, it is O pimpinelloides.
At the other end of the plant, looking at the biggest head of flowers, if you can imagine getting your fingers between them then it is silaifolia. If in the biggest head of flowers the partial umbels are touching or almost touching then it is probably pimp. This character is even better developed as the fruits ripen.
A clincher difference between these two – in silaifolia the fruits of the partial umbel splay out into a gentle dome. In pimp they stay pretty much upright, so that looking from the side you can see a row of individual fruits in profile.

Juliet Bailey
21 June 2021

Our Wild Bees

Our wild bees and other pollinators are so important, but they are still the unsung heroes of the environment, gardens and countryside  and continue to decline in number and range.

On 7th July, GNS will be hosting Roselle Chapman – ‘Our Wild Bees – An illustrated talk on the wild bees of the UK’. As usual this event is free to members and £2 to non-members. Head over to the events page for further information and tickets.

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