Nature Amblers

The important bit!

Nature Amblers meet monthly on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the morning.  We meet at various locations, but while COVID restrictions are in place, meetings are subject to social distancing and limits.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by Jill Pudwell, and she may be contacted at 01643 707024, or by email at natureamblers@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk (monitored by Ann Lang)

Group information

Amble with us!   New members are always welcome.  If you’re considering joining us or would like to know more about the group, please contact Jill Pudwell. If anyone wants or can offer a lift for our ambles, please let Jill know.

We take our walks at a very leisurely pace.  The main goal is to allow plenty of time to stop and stare at any natural history objects we come across along the way so we may only cover a mile or two in two hours.  We look at anything of natural history interest – we love exploring nature together and often consult the small reference books we bring with us.  We are not experts – just enthusiastic amateurs learning from each other.  One member said that each walk was an opportunity to explore our environment, jot down our findings and compile a virtual ‘nature table’.  There are usually between seven and 10 members on each walk but, as ours is an outdoor activity, there is no need to restrict numbers and everyone is welcome.  Each ramble is given a ‘theme’ but we are always happy to spot any interesting object and enjoy the rich diversity and beauty of the area where we live. New members are welcome. Come to enjoy learning about our local natural history with a group of friendly enthusiastic amateurs. 

Latest outings –  2021

In June we enjoyed a very slow walk down to Bossington beach from the car park and listed some 84 different flowers, plants and animals. Our next amble will start at Piles Mill at 10.00 on Wednesday July 28th. As usual please bring small reference books to help identification. There will be no amble in August.     Jill Pudwell

Our May amble was at Dunster Beach on a beautiful sunny morning, when five of us walked slowly towards Blue Anchor. Later we moved to the chalet area to look at the lake, woodland and bridge, and then the foreshore. In these varied habitats we found a total of about 70 different wildflowers, plants, birds and other animals. Ann Lang took this photo (right) of the group hard at work.

u3a nature amblers May 2021

 

 

Previously…

April 2021. At the end of April five of us walked to the wood below Selworthy to see the bluebells and orchids. Among other things we saw were white Lady’s Smock, a Dryad’s saddle fungus growing on a log, and a large elm tree festooned with bunches of green round-winged seeds. u3a nature ambles April 2021

March 2021. This month’s challenge was to look for activity in the natural animal kingdom, e.g. insects, molluscs, amphibians, mammals, etc.  Here is a list of items we found during our riverside nature amble at Dunster Marsh.  2021 March 31st Dunster Marsh  Those of you who didn’t come missed a treat on a lovely warm sunny spring morning. All members of the u3a are welcome to join in and send information about findings to us. u3a nature ambles march 2021

February 2021  In February several members looked for signs of activity in trees.  Click here for a handy guide to twigs!  u3a twigs.jpg

January 2021 Several of us did our solo nature amble at the end of January and found a surprising number of wild plants in flower;  lists were distributed to members. As we are still not allowed to go out as a group our challenge this month is to look at trees and note any activity or any other signs of spring – catkins, buds bursting, foliage, flowers, creatures hiding in the bark, etc. All members of the u3a are welcome to join in and send their findings to us. 

If you send your list to me, I will collate and
later post this information here.  Jill and I hope lots of you will do this: all u3a members are welcome to take part. In early January Jill did a short walk down from Selworthy and found snowdrops and celandines in flower and saw many birds. The photo shows oyster mushrooms on a tree stump in her garden.

 

A u3a member reports sight of the phenomenon of ‘Hair ice’.

“I was walking with a friend over Hopcott a few days ago and we came across hair frost.  We did not know what it was but I just happened across an article last night and realised this is what we saw.  I have looked it up this morning and found the info below.  This is not hoar frost.

There were a few small pieces of fallen rotting wood alongside the track and it was on this.  Might be something for amblers to watch out for.  The picture is not mine but I am sure this is what we saw.   We thought it was perhaps some form of lichen that had been frosted so we were not far wrong.

On checking I find that Hair ice is a rare type of ice formation where the presence of a particular fungus in rotting wood produces thin strands of ice which resemble hair or candy floss.”

2020

November   We had hoped to do our final amble of the year from Woodcombe on Wednesday 25 November, but the new lockdown rules will prevent us. Perhaps instead members could individually do a walk sometime that week, record any wild plants still in flower and anything of nature interest, and send your list to me. All u3a members are welcome to participate. In late November there probably won’t be much. I will try to put sightings together and send out to group members.

October   Five of us enjoyed our October amble led by Chris from Porlock Weir. We walked slowly along the marsh to the sea, particularly admiring the old wall with its wonderfully colourful variety of mosses and lichens.  Click a photo in the gallery to expand it.

September   Sadly we have to say ‘goodbye’ to Anne Clarke, our convenor.  Anne has run the group efficiently for several years and kept us in touch through recent difficult times.  I have taken over as the new convenor, helped by Ann Lang.  Six of us enjoyed a nature amble in Watchet led by Catherine. It was lovely to share our enjoyment of the countryside again. We listed 54 different plants. In August a few of us did our first amble since lockdown at Bossington.  It was very enjoyable and we saw lots of interest within a short distance.  Cherrie Temple’s photo in the gallery shows Ann and I discussing one of our finds.  (Click a photo in the gallery to expand it.)  Jill Pudwell

The U3A Nature Amble that never happened, by Catherine Knight

I’d recced the amble in advance so knew that we should be seeing a lot of spring flowers – a bank of primroses, purple and white violets, celandines, dandelions and daisies, self-heal and forget-me-nots, fumitory and white comfrey to name a few.  When the restrictions were introduced, I decided to do this walk ever morning after breakfast as my daily exercise.  It takes me about 25 minutes at a reasonable fast pace.  ‘Boring!’, do I hear you say? – not a bit of it!  It is fascinating to watch the daily changes in the flowers, trees and bird song. Follow Catherine’s reflections here in a succession of pages (you can have these ‘read’ to you if you wish) reflecting the walk, week by week.  Download the full account in PDF format, or view the gallery of Cherrie and David Temple’s photos to accompany Catherine’s account.

 

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