Plastic Ocean screening among month of nature-focused Keynsham events

Published on: 03 Jun 2017

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Keynsham’s branch of the Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) enjoyed two excellent local walks in April and May, writes chairman Dave Sage.

The first walk started very early – 4.30am in late April at Saltford Shallows! In total, 24 very enthusiastic birdwatchers, led by Dave, watched the sun rise and listened as the birds woke and started singing.

They started up one by one, each clearly identifiable from its song as robin, blackbird, song thrush, wren, chiffchaff, and so on, until the dawn chorus reached its full crescendo, heralding the start of a beautiful day. Altogether 39 species were seen and heard, notably willow warbler, blackcap, goldcrest and bullfinch, all at close range, as well as heron, kingfisher and grey wagtail on the walk back along the River Avon. A superb walk – and home just in time for breakfast!

The second walk, on a bright, warm afternoon in May, was around the AWT reserve at Folly Farm, near Bishop Sutton. Twenty of us were led round at a brisk pace by AWT volunteer Richard Campbell. A working farm and function centre (we couldn’t visit the main buildings because a wedding was in progress!), it is nevertheless managed largely for the benefit of wildlife and increasing biodiversity.

Richard explained about the management work that takes place each week, and showed us several of the key habitats and keystone species. These included ancient woodland full of bluebells, early purple orchids, wild garlic, several fern species and woodland species such as sanicle, golden saxifrage, wood speedwell, yellow pimpernel and yellow archangel. We visited “unimproved” pastures (so-called because they have not been treated with fertilisers or pesticides), where wild flowers could compete more fairly with grass species. Yellow rattle, cowslips, violets and tormentil all grow well among the dozens of large ant hills, which are characteristic of such pastures, since they are left undisturbed by human hand, tractor or plough. There was birdsong in abundance, including willow warbler, song thrush, chiffchaff, blackcap and green woodpecker, as well as distant buzzards.

As Richard explained, cattle and sheep are grazed on some parts of the farm, to generate income which is used to support management and conservation work. Truly a shining example of how agriculture and wildlife can co-exist in a sustainable way, Folly Farm is also a beautiful place for a walk, with stunning views over nearby Chew Valley Lake, another notable area for wildlife.

Coming up

June is a big month in our wildlife calendar, so much is happening out in our gardens, parks and wild spaces with lots of fledgling birds on our feeders and many young animals, including fox cubs making their first steps out into the wild world. It is also a big month to celebrate wildlife as there are so many exciting things happening locally. First and foremost is the Festival of Nature experience due to wend its way along the River Avon from Bristol to Bath between June 8 and 25, calling in at Keynsham for the weekend of June 16-18.

Free Family Sunday (June 18, 11am-5pm) in Keynsham Memorial Park is an event not to missed with lots of fun for all the family, and Avon Wildlife Trust Keynsham Group will be there among it all. We are holding a “mini Bio-Blitz” where every hour on the hour we invite you to join us as we head off to different areas of the park in search of all things “natural and wild”. We will also host a quiz and investigate creatures collected from an earlier river dipping.

Join us also for our Marvellous Moths Night on June 17 – meet us in the Memorial Park from 10pm to midnight, at both the cafe and the bandstand where we will have moth traps set up and we will be investigating and reporting the species caught in the traps. You will be able to view the moths close up and photography may be possible. Remember to bring a torch! Baked Cafe in the park will be open for refreshments during the evening.

Our next walk is to Charterhouse to look at “the botanical treasures of the Mendips” on Sunday, June 25. For details and/or to book a place on the minibus, contact lizwintle@yahoo.co.uk.

Film dives into a ‘Plastic Ocean’

Alongside these free events we have organised one paid event – our film screening of A Plastic Ocean kicks off the Keynsham Festival of Nature weekend on Friday, June 16, from 6.45pm at Keynsham Community Space.

A Plastic Ocean is an epic global adventure following a documentary filmmaker and a world record free-diver as they travel the earth discovering the shocking impact plastic is having on our oceans and the marine animals that live there. The film investigates how our addiction to plastic is impacting the food chain and how that is affecting every one of us through new and developing human health problems. During its four-year production period, A Plastic Ocean was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution–and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.

This is bound to be a sell-out event so if you don’t have your tickets yet, act quickly. Tickets are available from https://aplasticoceankeynsham.eventbrite.co.uk. Proceeds from this event will help support conservation in Avon. For further information,  email keynshamawt@gmail.com or call Kathy on 07850 508702.

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