Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group

Click images for a larger view
4th January 2021

Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group

Now in the depths of winter is the time to take a look at mosses and lichens.
Both of these plant forms thrive in the current damp cool conditions.
There are a vast number of both plant types – 12,000 species of mosses and 17,000 lichens worldwide.
We see them together everywhere and often don’t notice them, particularly in woods, on dead and living branches; old stone walls; and even garden benches.
Mosses are true simple plants that have basic root systems and small leaves as can be seen when magnified as shown in these pictures. Lichen are a mix of a fungus and algae.
They have no root systems. Some particularly on stone such as gravestones grow radially very slowly at only about 1 cm. every 10 years.
So have a look at them closely; they are like a miniature enchanted forest!

Photos: Tony Bates

20 October 2020

The wildlife group have recently put a fence across the small pond on Souls Moor.
The pond was dug to provide water for the ponies.
However the pond also has interesting aquatic plants which are different from those that grow in the flowing water of the stream.
To stop the ponies disturbing them when they come to drink, a  small part of the pond has been fenced off and here is the work party in action with the help of the ponies!

Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group
Conservation Working Parties
We need more volunteers for our Conservation Working Parties as many hands make for light work! The first Conservation Working Party of the Autumn season will be held on the morning of Saturday 3rd October. We will meet at the stream bridge near to the Scout Hut, Elder Road at 10am. We normally finish about 12.30. We can and will observe social distancing at all times.
Our main task at this working party will be to erect some fencing around part of the pond on Souls Moor. The fencing will continue to allow access for the ponies to drinking water, but protect part of the pond and its surrounds from trampling by the ponies thus enabling pond vegetation to flourish. If you have a spade or hammer, please bring them with you. If not, spares will be available and other necessary tools provided.
All are welcome at our conservation working parties (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult). No experience is required, there’s a friendly crowd, it is great fun and good exercise too!
Further Conservation Work Party will be held on Saturday 7th November and Saturday 5th December. Further dates in 2020 will be announced nearer the time.
If you require any further information, please email
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group – Nature Notes
We have mentioned in previous posts the swarms of Caddisflies and Mayflies that can be seen over the Bere Stream at this time of year and that they are an important food source for birds.
Well, here is the proof – wonderful photos taken recently in the village of a House Sparrow and a Black Cap with beak loads of Caddis Fly ready to take back to their nests and feed to their young.
The insects are rich in protein, essential for the growth of the young birds’ bones.

Photos: Roger Bates
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group – Nature Notes

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful number and variety of birds within and around the wooded areas alongside Bere Stream.
They include the three birds recently photographed there – Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap and Goldfinch.
The Spotted Flycatcher is a migratory bird, spending our winter in sub-Saharan and southern Africa.
It returns to the UK for the summer months to breed and raise its young.
As its name suggests it feeds on flies and other insects.
The bird sits looking for prey, flies out to grab a passing insect and returns to its perch to await the next passing tasty morsel.
There is a long list of other birds that have been seen near to Bere Stream, including Kingfisher, House Sparrow, Hedge Sparrow, Starling, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff, Robin, Chaffinch, Buzzard, Tree Creeper, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Starling, Little Egret, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Wren.
Do please let us know what other birds you have seen.
Photos: Roger Bates
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group – Nature Notes

Brown trout can be seen at various favoured spots along the Bere Stream.
At up to 18 to 24 inches / 500 - 700mm long it is likely to be the largest fish to be seen locally.
The brown trout has a golden-brown back marked with darker spots and a creamy-yellow belly and has a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
The brown trout is highly predatory feeding on insect larvae, small fish and flying insects, such as mayflies and damselflies.
It favours rivers with a gravelly bed into which it lays its eggs after spawning between January and March.
It is part of the salmon family although is a wholly freshwater fish, unlike its sea trout and wild salmon cousins who migrate and spend most of their lives at sea.
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group – Nature Notes

Water Crowfoot can now be seen flowering in Bere Stream.
Its white with yellow centre flowers break the surface of the water, with long trailing foliage submerged and often seen swirling in the river currents.
It is a member of the buttercup family and favours shallow, oxygen-rich, clean rivers with a gravel bed such as we have at Bere Stream.
The long strands of the plant provide valuable cover for young fish, insect larvae and water invertebrates.
Most of the plant dies away during the winter, but survives beneath the stream bed and forms a new plant in the spring.
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group – Nature Notes

The dawn chorus is one of the great wonders of the natural world and the real voice of Spring.
Open your bedroom window, wake up early (or even better, if you are able to, go out for your bout of exercise) and listen to this natural symphony.
The best time is from around 5am to 6am.
With the much reduced levels of traffic noise at present, now is the time to really enjoy it.
The lower light levels around dawn make foraging by birds for food difficult. So, birds are in full song to defend territories and impress potential mates during the breeding season.
This is a good time to try and recognise the differing songs of the various birds.
To build your skill and confidence, concentrate on one bird to start with, perfect that and then move on to another.
A good starting point is the blackbird, pictured.
It tends to sing from a high perch, a tree or telegraph pole, with a strong repetitive call.
Other birds worth starting with include the robin, great tit and chiffchaff.
To help you out, try listening to bird songs at

Photos: Tony Bates
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group - Nature Notes

Plants and flowers have to be neither rare or large to be worth looking at. Germander Speedwell is very common and the flowers out now are just a few millimetres across, growing on low spreading plants.
As the photo shows, they are well worth a close look.
The plant is often found in gardens (regarded as a weed), along roadsides and in hedgerows.
Travellers have traditionally seen the plant as a good luck charm, the bright blue flowers 'speeding' you on your journey.
Some alternative names for the plant include Bird’s Eye Speedwell and Cat’s Eyes.
Ironically in German it is called ‘Männertreu’; apparently the name derives from the habit of the flowers wilting very quickly upon picking and which translates into English as ‘men's faithfulness’!

Photo: Tony Bates
Bere Regis Wildlife and Environment Group

The bee-fly is a member of the fly family, although it mimics and is commonly mistaken for a bumblebee (but a little smaller).
It is commonly seen in gardens at this time of year, either hovering in mid-air before darting to another hovering position or feeding on flowers.
It feeds through a distinctive long thin tongue or proboscis upon the nectar of a range of spring plants.
Favourites flowers include forget-me-nots, pulmonaria, primroses and violets.
They are important pollinators.
They do not sting and are harmless to humans.
The same cannot be said for solitary bees, wasps and beetles as the bee-fly lays its eggs into the surface of soil near to their nests, the hatched bee-fly larvae then parasites upon the bee, wasp or beetle larvae.

Photo: Tony Bates


March 2020

At the March wildlife...


group volunteer work party we tidied up the rest of the coppiced area along the originally very shaded part of the stream between the Jubilee and Shitterton bridges.

Then we continued clearing an area which was previously an open area between the pathway and the stream. In keeping the undergrowth in check along this very wet area we plan to maintain a balance between creating more open areas for wildflowers to flourish and leaving denser areas for small mammals and hedgehogs.


Where we cleared some now flooded areas near the pathway there has been a marked improvement in the flowering of marsh marigolds and blach pondrush.

The last working party of the season will be held on Saturday 4th April.

We will be fencing off part of the pond at Souls Moor.

The pond was dug for two reasons.

One to provide the ponies with a constant source of water;

Two to establish a new wildlife habitat as the still water of a pond is beneficial for plants and amphibians that cannot survive in the moving waters of the river.

The pond has been a success on both counts.

However, the surrounds to the whole pond are being trampled by the ponies, which means that marginal plants are having difficulty in establishing.

To overcome the problem we intend to fence off part of the pond and its immediate margin to prevent trampling by the ponies when they return in the summer.

Easy access will still be available to much of the pond to allow the ponies to drink.  

Do join us on for the working party on Saturday 4th April.

We meet by the stream bridge near to the Scout Hut, Elder Road at 10am or you can find us on Souls Moor.

We normally finish about 12.00. All are welcome young (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult).

If you have a spade, fork, hammer or sledgehammer please bring them with you if you dont, no problem well have some spares along with other necessary tools.


Spring Migrations Its the season for migration with lots of birds either leaving our shores to breed in the Artic (eg Brent Geese they love our warm winters!) or arriving for the summer having spent the winter months in Africa (eg Swallows they hate our cold winters!).

The first swallow is typically s early April.

Do look out for the first Swallow along with other migrants such as Swifts, House Martins, Cuckoo and Chiffchaff.

Let us know about your local wildlife sightings so we can get a better idea of whats around in our area. 


Plant Viruses It is not only humans and animals that can contract viruses.

Plants do too.

The virus Xylella fastidiosa is one of the biggest risks to the UK horticultural industry and the wider garden and natural landscape.

It infects a wide range of plants including many species which grow wild and in our gardens, such as cherry, hebe, lavender, oak and rosemary. 

The bacterium causes symptoms including leaf scorch, wilt, dieback and plant death.

Unfortunately these symptoms are easily confused with stresses such as frost damage and drought, or other plant diseases and thus not easy to spot.

Xylella is spread between plants by insects such as froghoppers and leafhoppers which feed on infected plants but cause no damage in themselves.

However, long-distance movement of the disease is most likely to occur through international trade in infected plant material.

Xylella is native to the Americas where it causes disease in many crops including citrus, coffee and grapevine.

Until recently Xylella was absent from Europe but in 2013, Xylella was identified as the cause of death of olive trees in Italy.

Since then it has been found in France and Germany (on oleander and polygala), on numerous ornamental plants (including cherry trees) in the Balearic Islands, and has been confirmed in an almond orchard in Alicante, mainland Spain.

Fortunately, Xyella has not been identified in the UK to date.

As a gardener, the most beneficial action you can take is to ensure that any plants you buy have been sourced and grown in the UK.

When buying plants, check the label and if in any doubt ask the nursery or garden centre. 


Contact Us If you would like to know more about the work of the Wildlife and Environment Group or to be included on our mailing list, please contact:  

Tony Bates at /  01929 471563 

Amy Yates at or 

Mike Gee at mike.n.g@outlook./com / 0775 988 4942.

Join us on our Conservation Working Parties

Our first Conservation Working Party of the Autumn season will be held on the morning of Saturday 2nd November.
We will meet at the bridge near to the Scout Hut, Elder Road at 10am.
We normally finish about 12.30.
Our main task will be to carry out some scrub clearance in the wooded areas alongside the stream.
This work is carried out on a rotation over three / four years.
It allows light to reach the woodland floor and for a wider variety of wild flower plants to flourish.
With support and guidance from Dorset Wildlife Trust, our work is helping to conserve the best of what is already there and make the stream and its environs even more wildlife friendly.
Our work over past years has certainly enhanced the riverside area for plants, birds and animals.
Please come and join us.
Many hands make for light work; all are welcome (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult).
No experience is required, there’s a friendly crowd, it is great fun and good exercise too!
If you have some clippers, loppers or a hand saw please bring them with you.
If not, don’t worry – we’ll have some spares.
A further Conservation Work Party will be held on Saturday 7th December.
Further dates in 2020 will be announced nearer the time.
Contact Us If you would like to know more about the work of the Wildlife and Environment
Group or to be included on our e-mailing list, please contact:
Tony Bates at / 01929 471563 or
Mike Gee at / 0775 988 4942.
Environment Group Reorganisation

We have now split our Environment Group into 2 smaller groups, to help give better focus to specific areas.
The Wildlife Conservation Group will consist of Amy Yeats, Councillor Tony Bates and Mike Gee, with a new Parish Amenity Group formed, consisting of Councillors Robin Pitcher and Laurie Fairhurst, to focus more on the Park, Rights of Way and Street Furniture around the village, and to provide support to the Lengthsman.
We always welcome more volunteers though, so if you wish to be involved with either of these groups, please contact the Clerk, Amanda Crocker, for further information.
Autumn 2019
Autumn and the season of morning mists and mellow fruitfulness is now upon us.
It’s a time when swallows and other birds prepare for their migration to warmer climes and nature generally slows down as it prepares itself for a rest over the winter months.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of birds that over winter here and mammals that are active throughout the winter season.
It is vitally important that they have a good food source.
So, please don’t be over tidy in your gardens – leave some seed heads and dead foliage.
This will provide food for birds and refuges for various insects like ladybirds.
Also, if have you have a bird feeder keep it topped up and if you don’t, why not consider getting one – the birds provide a great spectacle.

Brown Trout
We are very fortunate to have a healthy population of brown trout in the Bere Stream.
They can often be spotted from the bridges ‘hanging’ in the water with their heads up stream and on the lookout for prey, darting to safety under the bridge if they spot you.
Their title ‘brown’ doesn’t do them justice as they are a beautiful fish with golden yellow-brown appearance, yellow belly and many black and red spots all over the body.
Their attractive appearance belies their predatory nature always on the hunt for prey – be it insect larvae, small fish and insects – and they sport a fearsome row of teeth.
Brown trout can grow to over 50cm (18 inches) in length and can have a lifespan in excess of 15 years.
That said, it is estimated that in excess of 95% of young fish die or are predated within their first year.
You may ask what is it that brown trout like about Bere Stream. Two things – one, the water is relatively clean and, two, the stream has a gravel bed.
Trout are dependent upon a gravel bed into which their fertilised eggs are buried in the early months of the year.
The young fish, called 'fry', hatch and feed on the nutritious yolk sac before moving on to feast on insects.
It is vitally important that the cleanliness of the stream is maintained or, ideally, improved.
Run-off from fields and roads can lead to a build-up of silt in the base of the river, covering gravel and preventing the fish from burying their eggs; over-use use of fertiliser can introduce nitrates and nutrients into the stream which will led to excessive weed and algae growth chocking the water course; and incorrect connections of such as washing machines into surface water sewers can pollute the water course.