News and events from the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project
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Natural Futures Newsletter - October 2016

Black dormouse found in the Blackdown Hills AONB. Photo: Max Anderson, BHNF trainee.

UK first as rare black dormouse found

We are very excited to have discovered a rare black dormouse right here in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is the only black dormouse ever recorded in the UK!

The discovery was made when staff, trainees and volunteers from the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project were checking some of the dormouse nest-boxes we had set up in the area as part of The National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.

Britain has only one native species of dormouse, the hazel dormouse. Our discovery is a hazel dormouse, but instead of having the normal golden-brown fur this individual is black.

How fitting that this black-furred little fella is living in the Blackdown Hills!

Read more and watch a video about the black dormouse
Ecology trainees taking part in crayfish identification training
Ecology trainees taking part in crayfish identification training

  Ecology trainees making interesting discoveries

Our second cohort of ecology trainees, Max, Fiona and Tamsin, has this summer been helping us survey more than 40 sites.

As well as undertaking detailed botanical surveys, they have been surveying for species including badgers, bats, dormice, freshwater invertebrates, newts, water vole and white-clawed crayfish, to name a few!

During these surveys, the trainees have a come across some rare and fascinating species:
  • Boenninghausen’s sedge (Carex x boenninghausiana) – the first recorded in Somerset
  • Fen bedstraw (Galium uliginosum)
  • Marsh St. John’s-wort (Hypericum elodes)
  • Raft spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus)
  • White beak-sedge (Rhynchospora alba)
We’ll soon be saying farewell to this year’s trainees but you can read all about their experience with us in the blogs they’ve been writing over the summer.
Community nature project volunteers at Churchinford Village Hall
Community nature project volunteers sharing their experiences

Community Nature Projects get-together

In July, over 30 volunteers from some of the 15 Community Nature Projects being supported by Blackdown Hills Natural Futures, came together in Churchinford to share knowledge and celebrate their varied nature conservation achievements.

After a visit to the nearby Newberry Field community project, the volunteers talked about their individual projects and quizzed a range of local experts on topics such as fundraising, recruiting new volunteers and creating wildflower meadows.

Find out more about the Community Nature Projects and how you can get involved.
Photo: Richard Huish A-level students

Helping sixth-formers explore future careers

A-level students from Richard Huish College joined the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures team for a series of site visits and talks from local environmental professionals.

The idea was for the students to expand their knowledge of wildlife in the Blackdown Hills AONB, gain an insight into how the area’s unique habitats are managed and to find out more about working in conservation and the environment.
Photo: Pipistrelle Bat - CC Barracuda1983

Ashill Bat Walk

Residents of Ashill, near Uffculme, joined the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures team for an evening learning about bats.

Local bat expert, Hannah Maben, gave a talk on bat species and creating bat-friendly homes and gardens. We then set out with bat detectors to discover which species live in and forage around the village.

Species identified included common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, noctule, serotine and one of the myotis species.

Read more about the Bat Walk

Photo: Barracuda1983

Coming up this autumn...

Photo: Blue tit on a next box

Garden birds and nest-box making

Friday 28 October,

Join Somerset Ornithological Society and Blackdown Hills Natural Futures to make a free bird box to take home.

Learn about the different types of birds in your garden and how to identify them.

More about our Garden Bird event

Photo: chanterelle mushrooms

Mushroom extravaganza & Photogenic Fungi

Sunday 6 November, 11am–3pm

Join local expert David Allen and Blackdown Hills Natural Futures team on a hunt for wild fungi.

Find out how to identify a variety of mushrooms and toadstools, sample local fungi appetisers, and learn how to capture the magic of mushrooms in photographs.

Details of our Mushroom Extravaganza

Mushroom Forays

Quantock Nature will also be leading mushroom forays on
Saturday 22 October in Churchinford
Saturday 5 November: Wambrook
Photo: Lichen on a branch

Lichen identification walk

Saturday 29 October
Quants nature reserve and Buckland Wood

Lichen is often overlooked but nevertheless fascinating.

Join Blackdown Hills Natural Futures and a local expert on this lichen identification walk.

Photo: trees in snow

Winter tree identification

Saturday 10 December, 10am–2pm
Park Farm, near Wrangway

Join Blackdown Hills Natural Futures to learn how to identify a range of tree species from their bark and shape, even after they’ve dropped their leaves.

Read about our Winter Tree ID

Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

More events this autumn

Keep up-to-date with events in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. See the AONB events calendar.

Blackdown Hills Natural Futures is discovering more about the wildlife of the Blackdown Hills by supporting local people to set up community wildlife projects and gain new skills in ecological surveys and nature conservation.

Copyright © 2016 Blackdown Hills AONB, All rights reserved.

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