Nature Amblers

The important bit!

Nature Amblers meet monthly on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the morning.  We meet at various locations.  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 Sarah Stringer on Jill’s behalf)

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 News

2022 May.  We have a very special amble booked for May – a guided walk and talk about the recent Beaver introduction at the National Trust Holnicote Estate.  Places are strictly limited and nature amble group members have already been sent details. 

In April, 9 of us ambled to Great Wood in Selworthy.  We were delighted to see carpets of bluebells on all sides and swathes of early purple orchids peeping out amongst the bluebells.  There was plenty of other nature to see and hear.  In total we saw 37 wild flowers, trees and insects and heard another 5 birds. 

In March, five of us gently ambled along the Church Fields path in Watchet.  We concentrated on identifying trees from their flowers, new leaves and bark.  In total, we noted 43 wild flowers, trees, birds and insects.

Our next amble will be on Wednesday 27 April starting promptly at 10 am.  We will meet just off the A39 at Selworthy for an amble to, hopefully, see bluebells and early purple orchids in Great Wood. New members welcome.

2022 February.   In February, our planned amble for Dunster Marsh riverside walk had to be changed at the last moment as Storm Eunice had  made the path impassable with fallen trees and branches. By contacting all members we met at Woodcombe instead and nine of us enjoyed a leisurely amble, observing some 64 things of natural history interest.

As an outdoor group we managed to continue our ambles throughout this year – quite an achievement when so much else was impossible. On Wednesday 24 November, we’ll meet in the Dunster Castle car park at 10.15 (gates open at 10.00) for a walk along the river to Gallox Bridge (photo, right, is by Alison Andrew).

We enjoyed our postponed October amble at Webbers Post on a beautiful winter morning , when we found large numbers of fungi and lichens that we attempted to name using simple identification sheets.
There will be no meetings in December and January.

Previously….

The September amble started from Bossington NT car park at 10.00 on Wednesday morning, led by Chris. Click here for the sightings list. In August nine of us enjoyed a slow, chatty amble at Woodcombe and listed some 75 different flowers, plants and animals we saw. We are not experts, we just enjoy looking at nature.

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.     

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.

Click here for the May Sightings list

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

The Group did amble in 2020 – socially distanced of course! However the year was notable for you-know-what. See below for Catherine Knight’s ‘The Amble that never was’ – a kind of lockdown ambling diary. 

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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