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30th August 2020 – North Somerset

The forecast was good (no rain and some sunshine) and we fancied a walk in the country. We opted for the Mendips (a range of limestone hills to the south of Bristol) especially as this would allow us to drive past Chew Valley Lake where an osprey had been reported in the last few days.

On arriving at Chew Valley Lake we were disappointed to hear from the band of birders assembled that there had been no sightings since yesterday. However, we didn’t have to wait long before it appeared. It was on the far side of the lake and heading towards Blagdon Lake but we were quite pleased to have seen it and, as this was not the main focus of the day, we settled for this one sighting and headed for the Mendips.

Above – the distant views of the osprey

Below a great white egret on Chew Valley Lake

Our walk took us around Velvet Bottom Reserve (near Cheddar) which is situated on the floor of a dry river valley, one of many that dissect the plateau of the Mendip hills. The underlying rock type is Karst Carboniferous limestone with an accumulation of soil, originally loess (wind blown soil) but reformed by mineral working, on the valley floor. It is said that in Roman times Velvet Bottom was mined for lead and heaps of black shiny slag can be seen as the remains from re-smelting.

I was hoping to see some pied flycatchers but all we saw were some barn swallows and a buzzard.

The most interesting thing we saw were some meadow saffron (which I can’t recall having seen before) and a Small Heath butterfly.

Meadow saffron
Small Heath butterfly

We were not at all disappointed as it was a glorious morning and we really enjoyed the scenery and the gentle exercise.

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