Biologists predict that this summer could be one of the best for hummingbird hawk-moths sightings in UK gardens.
Click here to read the article: How to sow a wildflower mini-meadow | Discover Wildlife
A dinosaur that seemed to be an evolutionary mishmash turns out to have a key place in history.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: ‘Frankenstein dinosaur’ mystery solved – BBC News
Our co-chairman Julie Lane recently reported seeing the hoverfly Volucella zonaria in her garden in Olney. Julie describes Volucella zonaria as
Very beautiful and hornet like! It’s larvae lives in wasps nests scavenging on detritus.
This guide will help you identify other Volucella hoverflies
Mercury is an ubiquitous environmental contaminant that affects the health of birds and other wild animals. Two varieties of songbird — zebra finch and European starling — were found to shed mercury accumulation with their feathers in a recent study.
Today (15 August 2017) sees the launch of the “hedgehog housing census”. All over the country, thousands of people are going to the trouble and expense of building or buying hedgehog homes. We want to know how important this is to the lives of one of our most loved animals – and how we can improve the way we help hedgehogs in the future.
Click on the link to find out more: There’s a way to save hedgehogs – and all of us can help | Hugh Warwick | Opinion | The Guardian
How anyone can help – Increasing surveillance and reporting
This could be you! We aren’t looking for any huge commitment. All we ask is that you keep an eye out when you’re out and about around trees:
Click on the link for more information: Observatree – the official project website
Caterpillars are not pests. I know the cabbage white will make light work of your tea, the clothes moth will leave your finery in tatters and the tomato moth will munch through your ripening tomatoes, but for every one that is after your crops or clothes, there is another that brings beauty to your garden. And not just in the obvious fluttering way: those fat teenaged blue tits ganging around your garden right now are almost pure caterpillar. They are an essential part of the food chain.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Why gardeners should protect caterpillars | Life and style | The Guardian
•Urban abundance trends were negative for all 28 UK butterfly species considered.
•Trends were more negative in urban versus rural areas for 25/28 species.
•Declines in composite abundance were significantly more negative for urban areas.
•Urban populations generally showed earlier emergence and longer flight periods.
•Indicators are vital for monitoring populations pressurised by urbanisation.
Click here to read the rest of the article Urban indicators for UK butterflies – ScienceDirect
At 8pm every Sunday, we all share pictures of flowers we have found growing wild in Britain and Ireland over the preceding week. Of course, if you’re busy at that time, you can always post something during the week – but 8-9pm is when we have a proper party.
Click on the link for more information: About us – #wildflowerhour
Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 20 August 2017 10:00-16:00hrs.
Activities for the family today.
Simon Bunker has two sessions on;-
An Introduction to Grasshoppers & Bush Crickets.
Morning session 10:30- 12:30. Afternoon session 13:30 – 15:30.
No need to book, just turn up.
Crafts, bird seed and refreshments & home-cakes on sale.
This course will provide an introduction to the many families within these two large insect orders and cover the identification of more distinctive species. You will gain an insight into the varied biology of these insects and become familiar with some of the field techniques required to find them. Based in Bushy Park.
Click on the link for more information: Introduction to Beetles (Coleoptera) and True Bugs (Hemiptera) – 66154 – FSC
Grass-Carrying Wasp, Isodontia mexicana (de Saussure), is recorded as new to Britain. Morphological characters are given, and illustrated, to establish its identity and a key is provided to distinguish it from other British Sphecidae. Notes are provided on bionomics, the circumstances of its arrival and its status in Britain.
Click here to read the article: Spider Silk | Naturally Curious with Mary Holland
CONSERVATIONISTS are celebrating a revival in numbers of one of the country’s rarest amphibians at a Bedfordshire reserve, despite difficult breeding conditions.
Last month RSPB wardens and volunteers counted more than 300 of the thumnail-sized natterjack toads emerging from the pools at the RSPB’s nature reserve at The Lodge, in Sandy.
Read more at http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/rare-natterjack-toadlets-causing-a-stir-on-rspb-nature-reserve/story-30473412-detail/story.html#EBObXYwxkBF5jLUJ.99
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Baby boom as rare natterjack toadlets spotted in their hundreds at Sandy RSPB lodge | Bedfordshire News
The British Trust for Ornithology have produced a video to help you tell your Goldcrest from your Firecrest.
Click on the play button to watch the video
Below is the draft letter which Milton Keynes Natural History Society is sending to Milton Keynes Council in objection to the proposed housing development, adjacent to Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, we need to encourage as many people as possible to fight this development and to write to Paul Keen at MK Council. They can either email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to the Civic Offices. It is important that the Ref No. 17/01937OUT is quoted in all correspondence.
Please use as much info in this template as possible but please put things in your own words as much as you can. I have been advised that the deadline for comments is 15th August 2017
Dear Mr Keen 07.08.17
Ref: Planning Application 17/01937/OUT Land at Linford Lakes, Milton Keynes
We are writing to you with reference to this proposed development of up to 250 hours. We wish to express our deep concern about this proposal on behalf of the members of Milton Keynes Natural History Society, an action supported by our committee on 31/07/2017.
The land in question forms part of an Area of Attractive Landscape in the Milton Keynes Local Plan (2001-2011). The Society has commented with respect to Policy SD10 in the recent Draft Plan:MK Consultation that “the Society strongly endorses the policy statement relating to the Linford Lakes Area. It forms a key component of the Ouse Valley extended linear park and wildlife corridor as well as an ‘ecological resource’ in its own right. This is undoubtedly one of the most biodiverse areas in Milton Keynes and its importance cannot be overstated. Any development next to Linford Lakes is likely to have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity”.
The proposed development is immediately next to Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, owned and managed by The Parks Trust. This area of lakes, species-rich grassland, scrub and wet woodland is arguably the most important ecological site in Milton Keynes. Established as a wildfowl centre in the early 1970s, the site is now known to local bird-watchers and naturalists for its biodiversity. Among the many protected species which thrive here are otter, water vole, hedgehog, barn owl, cuckoo, great crested newt and at least eight species of bat. All of these are nationally rare and/or declining. No other single site in Milton Keynes can match this in terms of rare species. Twenty three species of butterfly and over 400 species of moth have been recorded in the past three years. A botanical survey in 2016 listed over 240 plant species.
Linford Lakes Nature Reserve and its Study Centre are open to the public on an annual permit basis. This means that everyone who visits the site has bought a permit and has a vested interest in the flora and fauna the site supports. It is one of the very few locations in Milton Keynes where cats and dogs do not visit and to some extent this explains the abundance of wildlife.
The site also has long been used as a centre for environmental education, originally by Milton Keynes Council and latterly by The Parks Trust who purchased the nature reserve in 2015. Generations of local school children have enjoyed education sessions here, learning about the natural environment and the variety of wildlife on their doorstep. Again, low visitor numbers and the absence of dogs make this site ideal for this purpose.
In my opinion, if this development goes ahead, there will be enormous and irreversible damage to this very important ecological site and the surrounding landscape. We can expect many of the vulnerable species to decline or disappear due to disturbance from humans and pets. Additionally, the site will lose its value as an education resource as visitor numbers increase and habitats are damaged. Fragmentation of landscape and habitats are a major cause of the decline in UK wildlife. Currently, the land in question is attractive to wildlife but the construction of houses here would leave many species isolated.
The Environmental Impact Assessment that the developer was obliged to carry out concluded that there would be a ‘significant negative effect on biodiversity at a county level’. The survey concludes that the zone of impact that the development would have could extend to 2km, which would of course include the nature reserve.
We can think of nowhere in Milton Keynes less suitable for housing than this site. If biodiversity has any future at all in our city it is vital that this development is not approved.
Julie Lane, Joint Chairman Linda Murphy, Joint Chairman
Martin Kincaid, Vice President
Milton Keynes Natural History Society
There are now four species of wild snake native to the UK, not three as scientists first thought.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: New grass snake discovered in the UK – BBC News
Plants of the World Online (POWO) contains information on identification, distribution, traits, threat status, molecular phylogenies and uses of all known seed-bearing plants around the world.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Comprehensive plant database can be accessed by everyone | Discover Wildlife
Over the last century, land use in the UK has changed drastically. Small mixed-crop farms, traditionally separated by lanes, hedgerows and wild meadows have been replaced with larger, more specialised facilities. At the same time, the density of grazing animals such as sheep and cattle has also risen substantially. This combination of land-use change and agricultural intensification has contributed significantly to habitat degradation and biodiversity loss, and has led to huge, often dire, changes for the wildlife that call these places home.
For the first time in recorded history, a pair of Night Herons has bred in the UK. Two adults and two recently fledged juveniles are now roosting at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve, having either bred there or nearby on the Avalon Marshes site
By any standards, it was a poor day to count butterflies. Denbies Hillside, on the south-facing flank of the North Downs – supposedly a summer haven for lepidopterists – was swept by wind and heavy showers. Butterflies, like humans, take a poor view of such conditions and had made themselves scarce.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Red Admiral spotting: desperately seeking a British butterfly revival | Environment | The Guardian
Would anyone be happy to help at the event below? It would be great if someone from the society can give them a hand.
From: Kirstin McIntosh
I am the co-founder of a children’s environmental charity, Mia’s Wood (registered charity number 1169919), which is located on a small 2 acre newly planted woodland site just outside Little Horwood (the entrance is on the Little Horwood Road towards Great Horwood.)
We hold an annual children’s nature festival, MiaFest, and we are always looking for naturalists and knowledgeable folk who might be willing to speak to children to teach them about different aspects of nature. I have found this quite challenging so far, as many of the big groups provide online resources rather than hands-on experience. This year, MiaFest will be held on Saturday 23rd September 12 noon-late and I’d love it if we could find a way to share your members’ nature knowledge with our little MiaFesters.
MiaFest is a free children’s nature festival where we have 500 people who come along to enjoy a magical day of fun together. There are all kinds of nature crafts and activities, as well as music, food and experiences. Here’s a link to our website www.miaswood.org.uk and you can find MiaFest here, as well as some of our activities.
Mia’s Wood is a children’s environmental charity which has been set up in the memory of our daughter, who died unexpectedly at the age of 13 months. Even at that age, she loved the outdoors, and we want Mia’s Wood to be a way for children to experience the wonder of nature.
We have two Forest Schools using Mia’s Wood, and we hold regular events at the site to maintain the little woodland and nature activities.
For MiaFest, we have previously had Kate from BBOWT and her team to support us, but otherwise, it has proved very challenging to have an educational element around nature for children. We know the Parks Trust quite well, but they always have an event clash with MiaFest, and otherwise, groups like The Woodland Trust are not able to support us as so much of their material is online learning only.
Ideally, I would love someone who could help us to engage children in observation skills – perhaps something as simple as insect identification and why they are different, or even learning about different types of trees and leaves. I’d be very happy to discuss further if it would help.
The farm was a former dairy farm now maintained for local people. To find out more about this site, please visit our Wildlife Sites page.
Today members met in the town car park and, before reaching the farm fields, swifts were in the eaves of the local chapel.
Viola led the walk and was not hopeful of seeing lots to interest us. Wrong! Before long, in the second field visited, a Purple Hairstreak butterfly was seen, captured, viewed by all and then released. Several oak tree surrounded the field. After a few minutes a Short-tailed (=Field) Vole was seen taking a stroll through the short grass. This, too, was captured, viewed and released. How lucky was that!
Birds that took our interest were House Martins, Swallows and a Kestrel. Plants in flower were few – like Nipplewort, Birds’-foot Trefoil and Shepherd’s Purse. Immature Grasshoppers and Shield Bugs were plentiful but not able to be identified to species level.
Further into the site a wet area (erstwhile a pond) was encountered with Lesser Spearwort (evidence of the acid conditions). Leaving the fields we continued the walk along the adjacent footpath. Here a few brave souls were encouraged to take a quick nibble of a small bit of a leaf of Water-pepper. Within a short time the strong flavour was evident – not to be forgotten.
Time then to return to our cars by following the footpath and pavements between the houses. At one point along the path was a memorial seat behind which was the “flower of the evening” – Elecampane – a rare plant in Bucks. Thanks Viola for a good evening .
Article kindly supplied by Roy Maycock
The Society’s programme of events for September to December 2017 can now be viewed on the Programme page of the website.
An elephant should run faster than a horse—at least in theory. That’s because big creatures have more of the type of muscle cells used for acceleration. Yet midsized animals are the fastest on Earth, a trend that researchers have long struggled to explain. Now, an analysis of nearly 500 species ranging from fruit flies to whales has an answer
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Why midsized animals are the fastest on Earth | Science | AAAS
Work Sunday at Linford Lakes NR
6 August 2017 10:00-13:00hrs.
- Fancy a workout in the fresh air?
- And help your local reserve at the same time.
- Overhangs to cut back, paths to clear,
- Some construction assistance needed.
- Refreshments for helpers.
Many insect pollinators are becoming less widespread in Britain and elsewhere and we have limited understanding of the effect of these changes on the pollination services they provide. This is largely due to the lack of long-term, standardised monitoring of their populations.
Plantlife produce a number of interesting guides to wildflowers.
On Thursday 27th July, Martin Kincaid spotted a dragonfly at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve which turned out to be a Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva. This species, once restricted to East Anglia, has undergone a period of range expansion in recent years and has been found across Northants. This however is the first record for this species in Milton Keynes. Similar to the more common Black Tailed Skimmer, this species can be told apart by the blue tinted eyes and slightly thicker abdomen.
Picture and text by Martin Kincaid
In 2014, a bold – and somewhat controversial – study claimed there was a mystery planet lurking in the far reaches of our solar system. Dubbed Planet Nine, it was “spotted” in January 2016 using mathematical modelling and computer simulations and was said to be interfering with the orbits of known objects in the Kuiper Belt.
Tardigrades are arguably the toughest animals on earth, as Brett Westwood discovered when recording Natural Histories. With the appearance of a hoover bag and powers that put most sci-fi heroes to shame, these micro-animals can withstand being boiled, frozen or blasted into outer space…
Here are 10 tough facts to put you in your place.
A recovery from near total collapse has led North Sea cod stocks to be labelled as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council for the first time in 20 years
Click here to read the rest of the article: Sustainable British cod on the menu after stocks recover | Environment | The Guardian
Our perceptions and understanding of dinosaurs have altered significantly since the first fossils were found and they continue to change as new discoveries are made..
The Big Seaweed Search gathers data for research into the effects of sea temperature rise, ocean acidification and the spread of non-native species on UK shores. We need more data points to robustly address our research questions.
The latest images from NASA’s Juno mission may help scientists better understand the fate of the giant oval storm.
Julie Lane has provided details of a local Long-tailed tit retrap record.
I have just had news from my friend Del Gruar that a female long-tailed tit that he ringed at Potton, Cambridgeshire last April was retrapped by Kenny Cramer at the Wildlife Day at Howe Park Wood on 1st July this year. A real coincidence as Del was the ringer at our first Howe Park Day in 2016. What goes around comes around!!
Here are the details of a recovery of one of your birds.
Species: Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) Scheme: GBT Ring no: HRX352
Age: 4 Sex: F Sex meth: B P.ringed: 0 P.alive: 0 Condition: U
Colour marks added: – Metal marks added: N Act1: U Act2: U
Ringing date: 16-Apr-2016 14:20:00
Reg code: – Place code: POTTON Site name: Potton, near Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK
County code: GBBED Grid ref: TL2248 Accuracy 0 Co-ords: 52deg 6min N 0deg -13min W Accuracy 0
Hab1: F2 Hab2: —
Biometrics: Wing: 60.0 mm. Weight: 9.5 g. Time: 14:20:00hrs
Ringer: D J Gruar, 4538
Ring not Verified Age: 4 Sex: F Sex meth: B
Colour marks added: – Metal marks added: – Act1: U Act2: U
Finding date: 01-Jul-2017 (0) 15:10:00
Reg code: – Place code: HWPKWD Site name: Howe Park Wood, Milton Keynes, UK
County code: GBMKE Grid ref: SP8334 Accuracy 0 Co-ords: 51deg 59min N 0deg -47min W Accuracy 0
Hab1: A1 Hab2: —
Biometrics: Wing: 61.0 mm. Weight: 8.3 g. Time: 15:10:00hrs
Finding condition: 8:20 Movement: 9
Subsequent Capture by Ringer Intentionally Taken
Duration: 441 days Distance: 41 km Direction: 252deg (WSW)
Finder: Northants Ringing Group, 9187
The Lake District has become the UK’s first national park to be designated a World Heritage site following a recent meeting of the Unesco committee in Krakow, Poland.
Many animal species suffer reduced reproductive success in urban habitats, despite wide-spread supplementation of breeding and feeding opportunities. In some years, the breeding success of city birds is devastatingly low.
Biologists have now shown conclusively that in urban blue tits, reduced breeding success is linked to poor nestling diet and in particular to scarcity of caterpillars, their preferred nestling food.
25 rare black-tailed godwits were released into their new home in the Cambridgeshire Fens yesterday by conservationists from RSPB and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) as part of ‘Project Godwit’.
After the eggs were removed from nests and hatched in incubators, staff at WWT Welney Wetland Centre hand-reared the young birds until they were old enough to look after themselves.
It’s the first time the conservation technique, known as ‘headstarting’, has been used in the UK.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: WWT – National WWT News
The other day I had a thrip on me – just one solitary thrip! I remember the heydays of the ‘thunderbug’ at the height of the harvest, loads of them tickling your arms and in your eyes and working their way inside photo frames!! It was not until I saw it crawling over my arm that I realised that I had hardly seen any for years!!
Then I had a large house spider wandering around in my living room during the day – odd as you usually only see them in the evenings. A day or two later it was dead in the middle of my carpet. I can only speculate but could it have died of starvation? I no longer get many flies in the house, the occasional bluebottle drones around the house before I shepherd it out, but not the swarms of flies that used bother us when I was younger. Maybe that spider just could not find enough to eat in my fly free house? The car remains comparatively clear of the fly and moth carcasses that used to collect on the bonnet after a long journey – another sign that things are not what they used to be.
And the wasps have gone – you occasionally see one or two but they are not the menace they used to be on picnics, and annoyingly buzzing up and down the windows trying to get out. We used to get lots of hornets nests in the dormouse boxes in Little Linford Wood but along with the mice and dormice, we get very few now.
All these things are great for us – less thunder bugs, flies, spiders and wasps. ‘Hurrah’ we all say!!
But its not really good is it!! No wonder our swifts, bats, pied flycatchers etc are fewer in number. They say that when humanity has destroyed itself all that is left will be the insects but we seem to be doing a pretty good job of decimating them as well!!
There is not much else to say – the culprit is us, yet again!! But I miss the buzzing hoards. At least 2017 has been a relatively good year for butterflies 🙂
Silphid beetles (also known as Carrion beetles) display fascinating behaviours and are also very important recyclers.
They are a small family of beetles which makes them an ideal group for beginners. The workshop will be led by Ashleigh Whiffin (National Museums Scotland) and Matthew Esh (Edge Hill University) who set up the Silphidae Recording Scheme in 2016, along with Richard Wright.
The scheme aims to address the lack of research into the distributions and habitats of these beetles. You can be involved in this scheme by getting out and creating records, come along to learn how!This practical workshop will help you learn how to find, identify and record Silphid beetles. Ashleigh and Matt will be sharing their knowledge of Silphid life histories, showing you how to identify them using keys, how to set baited traps to attract them and how to submit your records to the scheme.
You will need to bring a notebook and suitable outdoor clothing. Specimens will be provided for identification, but if you have any of you own feel free to bring them along.Accommodation is not included but if required it is available within the local area, some suggestions can be found on our ‘local accommodation’ page – please arrange this yourself. Refreshments are provided on the day but not lunches. There is a well stocked local village shop within the village itself called ‘Ashbury’s Village Shop’.Toilet and classroom all easily accessible from the car park *Please bring a packed lunch*.Attendees must be over 11, under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
Discover Wildlife have published some great photos of puffins:
Meet the puffins of Skomer Island, which have been photographed by the award-winning young wildlife photographer, Becky Bunce.
Click on the link to view the photos: A passion for puffins | Discover Wildlife
The evolution of the amniotic egg — complete with membrane and shell — was key to vertebrates leaving the oceans and colonizing the land and air but how bird eggs evolved into so many different shapes and sizes has long been a mystery. Now, an international team of scientists took a quantitative approach to that question and found that adaptations for flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: How eggs got their shapes: Adaptations for flight may have driven egg-shape variety in birds — ScienceDaily
In case you missed it, this 90 minute documentary is available on the iPlayer until 19 AUgust 2017
The migration of the painted lady has long fascinated scientists, artists and nature lovers alike. The longest butterfly migration on earth, it sees millions of these delicate creatures travel from the desert fringes of north Africa, across thousands of miles of land and sea, before settling in the UK.
Click here to view on the iPlayer: BBC iPlayer – The Great Butterfly Adventure: Africa to Britain with the Painted Lady
Ian gave us a brief introduction to Rushmere Country Park standing on the viewing deck at the Visitor Centre. Here we had great views of the lake and heronry. Although most of the herons fledged some time ago, there were one or two late nests.
We had a fairly brisk ninety minute walk around the woods and meadows. Among the highlights were a Slow Worm, spotted by Harry Appleyard as it crawled through the leaf litter, calling Goldcrests, a Spotted Flycatcher and Purple Hairstreaks flitting around mature oak trees in the late
evening sunshine. We also saw a couple of tiny Common Toads and Brown Hawker dragonflies around Black Pond. Along the way we nibbled the leaves of Wood Sorrel (very tasty) and listened to grasshoppers singing. Towards the end of the walk we stopped in an area of acid grassland with lots of Ragwort plants. Some of these were covered in the distinctive larvae of the Cinnabar moth whilst other plants had already been stripped of their leaves. We netted a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper for a closer look and heard, but did not see, Dark Bush-Cricket.
A big thank you to Gordon for stepping in to lead this walk and to Ian Richardson for his time.
Text by Martin Kincaid
Photos ©Harry Appleyard:
Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.
You can find details of the Buckinghamshire Fungus Group’s walks and meetings by clicking on this link Bucks Fungus Group
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has reported the uprooting and theft of five milk parsley plants from its nature reserve at Hickling Broad. Most if not all of the milk parsley plants had rare swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feeding on them and the plants were deliberately removed from the site to acquire the caterpillars.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: 2017-07-18 Theft of the food plant and ca – Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Over a 5-year period, 1300 seabirds of four species (Shag, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Guillemot) were tracked to see where they went when foraging from their breeding colonies. These data were then applied to all breeding colonies around the UK to produce predictive maps of marine use by these four species. these predictive maps could be used by industry and government to ensure that important seabird feeding areas are not harmed by over-fishing, mineral extraction, pollution or developments such as windfarms and oil or gas extraction.
Click on link for the rest of the article: Important new seabird data from 5-year GPS study – Mark AveryMark Avery
Here are 12 longhorn beetles to look out for when they are searching for places to meet partners and lay their eggs.
- Restoration attempts often fail, but may benefit from utilising ecosystem engineers.
- Impacts of beaver released onto drained pasture were studied for 12 years.
- Beaver increased habitat heterogeneity and plant richness at plot and site scales.
- Ecosystem engineers can contribute significantly to meeting common restoration goals.
An ecological introduction to the grasslands, ponds and streams of Bushy Park. The grasslands at Bushy are vast for their urban setting. We will get to know a range of the plant and butterfly species of some of the acid and neutral grasslands. The other focus of the day will be on the ponds and streams, doing some dipping for pondlife and taking in the wetland plants as well.
Click on the link for more information: Ecological Introduction to Bushy Park – 66172 – FSC
Butterflies are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and good indicators of the health of the environment. Around 30 species are resident in London, with others turning up as occasional migrants. This course provides an introduction to butterfly natural history, identification and conservation, using a mix of indoor activities and presentations, plus fieldwork observing butterflies in the varied habitats at Bushy Park. The course will help you understand how butterflies use their habitats, and how you can find and identify them. We will also look at the opportunities for conserving butterflies in gardens and parks, and how to get involved with recording and monitoring them. Butterflies are an approachable and popular group, and anyone can play a role in studying and conserving them – this course will help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy watching and recording butterflies.
Click on the link for more information: Introduction to Butterflies – 66151 – FSC
The BBC WIldlife magazine has published 7 amazing shark facts to highlight Shark Awareness Day 14 July 2017
Click on the link to read the article: 7 amazing shark facts you should know | Discover Wildlife
A new project to detect and identify bats in real time is trialled by scientists.
We have now set up a trail to the marked view point where you can safely watch them and we have organised some initial dates when RSPB volunteers will be on hand to show the birds through the telescope….
Hobby watch with the volunteers;
Current dates and times;
Thursday 13 11-2
Saturday 15 11-2
Sunday 16 1-4
Of course you can come at any time to see the birds, but only view up to the roped fence please.
Entomologists celebrate the first UK record of a beetle species in 21 years.
A walk of 2.5 miles approximately along the North Bucks Way to look for White Admiral, Hairstreaks and other summer species of butterfly.
The Purple Emperor was also seen here last year.
Meet at Shenley Wood car park SP824356.
Leader and Contact Martin Kincaid 01908 235632 Mob:07768 146232.
This event is taking place during Big Butterfly Count, the largest insect citizen science project in the world. Why not download an ID chart and take part in a 15-minute count during the event, which runs from 14 July – 6 August? The results help us see how butterflies are faring across the UK.
MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.
Two students from Somerset have won this year’s award with a pioneering investigation into birds’ perception of colour – the results could have important practical applications
Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR
16 July 2017 10:00-16:00hrs.
Lots of butterflies and wildflowers on site now.
Bring friends and family to enjoy the reserve.
Bird seed, crafts and second-hand books on sale.
Home-made cakes and refreshments available.
Bucknell Wood, just to the north of Silverstone, is a relic of the once extensive Whittlewood Forest. Owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, it is reputed to be one of the best butterfly sites in Northamptonshire and certainly lived up to this reputation when 16 MKNHS members and one other visited last Saturday. Following Martin’s request, members car shared as much as possible, but it was still something of a squeeze in the car park.
We were blessed with blue skies and warm conditions as we met at 11am. Even as we assembled in the car park, we were treated to views of White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies drifting around.
Butterflies were certainly the main focus of the walk and before long we had added the common browns, whites and skippers as well as a number of purple hairstreaks who would occasionally descend from the high oaks to tantalise us with brief views.
Martin had mentioned how long the wood white butterflies were lasting and sure enough, one appeared before long. These dainty little butterflies are currently the subject of a three year habitat restoration project in the Silverstone woods and as is so often the case, this individual led us a merry dance as it flitted along the main ride but refused to alight on any plants.
We eventually saw four or five wood whites and Paul Lund was lucky enough to see a female egg-laying on one of its food plants, meadow vetchling and get some fine shots. These late wood whites were the last of the brood which began way back in April and it will be interesting to see if the warm summer weather triggers a rare second brood this year.
The stars of the show though were the Silver Washed Fritillaries, of which we saw dozens in including several pairs in cop. Few of us had seen this many before.
Marsh Tit and Coal Tit were both heard calling and brief views were obtained with 2 Buzzards and a Red Kite soaring over the wood. A Common Lizard was glimpsed as it scuttled across a fallen branch.
A surprising sighting enjoyed by a few was a Bank vole which was climbing along a blackthorn branch. We all had fantastic views of Emperor dragonflies and Brown and Southern Hawkers were also on the wing.
Early July is usually the best time to see the elusive Purple Emperor butterfly, but they had emerged in the third week of June this year so the chances of seeing a male low down were slim. We had to settle for a brief view of one soaring regally over the oak canopy and of course more Purple Hairstreaks. A lucky view got a very close look at a White Letter Hairstreak on bramble flowers before a thuggish Ringlet chased it off.
We were joined by a local butterfly enthusiast Kevin Boodley, and he was a great help in spotting some of the more unusual species. The last target before we left was the rarer Valezina form of the Silver Washed Fritillary and Kevin said he has seen several earlier in the day moving between two large bramble patches in a large clearing.
We searched and searched but got no more than brief views of a single Valezina female. However, we did see her ovipositing low down on an oak. There were many more White Admirals in this area too.
We made our way back to the car park at about 2.15pm, a little weary but delighted with what we had seen. Those who had visited Bucknell Wood for the first time were keen to re-visit.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger image. You will find more pictures from the field trip on our Members’ Photos page.
Text by Martin Kincaid.
Photos from top to bottom:
Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett
Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett
Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund
Wood White egg laying ©Paul Lund
Wood White egg ©Paul Lund
White Admiral ©Paul Young
Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young
Ringlet ©Paul Young
Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young
Large Skipper ©Paul Young
Gatekeeper ©Paul Young
Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden
Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett
Paul Young has provided this amazingly comprehensive species list from our visit to Bucknell Wood:
|Species||Common name||Taxon group|
|Stachys officinalis||Betony||flowering plant|
|Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum||Tree Bumblebee||insect – hymenopteran|
|Satyrium w-album||White-letter Hairstreak||insect – butterfly|
|Myodes glareolus||Bank Vole||terrestrial mammal|
|Lomaspilis marginata||Clouded Border||insect – moth|
|Milvus milvus||Red Kite||bird|
|Apatura iris||Purple Emperor||insect – butterfly|
|Gonepteryx rhamni||Brimstone||insect – butterfly|
|Periparus ater||Coal Tit||bird|
|Zootoca vivipara||Common Lizard||reptile|
|Centaurium erythraea||Common Centaury||flowering plant|
|Pyronia tithonus subsp. britanniae||Gatekeeper||insect – butterfly|
|Rhagonycha fulva||Common Red Soldier Beetle||insect – beetle (Coleoptera)|
|Aeshna grandis||Brown Hawker||insect – dragonfly (Odonata)|
|Thymelicus lineola||Essex Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Anax imperator||Emperor Dragonfly||insect – dragonfly (Odonata)|
|Thymelicus sylvestris||Small Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Vespa crabro||Hornet||insect – hymenopteran|
|Leptidea sinapis||Wood White||insect – butterfly|
|Potentilla anserina||Silverweed||flowering plant|
|Favonius quercus||Purple Hairstreak||insect – butterfly|
|Ochlodes sylvanus||Large Skipper||insect – butterfly|
|Columba oenas||Stock Dove||bird|
|Filipendula ulmaria||Meadowsweet||flowering plant|
|Pieris napi||Green-veined White||insect – butterfly|
|Vanessa atalanta||Red Admiral||insect – butterfly|
|Limenitis camilla||White Admiral||insect – butterfly|
|Prunella vulgaris||Selfheal||flowering plant|
|Maniola jurtina||Meadow Brown||insect – butterfly|
|Stachys sylvatica||Hedge Woundwort||flowering plant|
|Pieris brassicae||Large White||insect – butterfly|
|Aphantopus hyperantus||Ringlet||insect – butterfly|
Europe’s snakes could face a growing threat from killer pathogens.
After being hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago, beavers are back in Cornwall.
It was such a success that it was repeated the following year. However this year the event also marked the start of the ‘Milton Keynes Festival of Nature’ a week of events to promote and celebrate our local wildlife and beautiful landscape around the city.
The day was a great success with many attractions to draw in the crowds such as pond dipping, wildlife walks, bird ringing and our very own Gordon the Moth Man and many more. We also had a table in the woods with activities based around feathers and a scavenge hunt.
Our new display boards were on show for the first time on the MKNHS stand and looked very smart alongside a table of different tree leaves that Roy had brought along for people to identify.
Thank you very much for all of you who came out to help manned the display and activities and lead walks etc. We are lucky to have so many active members.
Traditional orchards are a cultural feature in the local landscape and a fascinating wildlife habitat. There are thousands of apple varieties; many considered local to particular areas. How can you design and create a community orchard or one in a garden? Why are rootstocks important, and how can one encourage the trees during the first few years.Based in Greenwich Park.
Click on the link for more information: Traditional Orchards, Wildlife Orchards and Garden Orchards – 66161 – FSC
The world of dragonflies is changing fast. As vital indicators of the health of our freshwaters, this has implications for the natural world as a whole. We must know more about dragonflies if we are to protect them and understand what they are indicating about the state of other wildlife. That is why we are challenging you to take action and join in with The Dragonfly Challenge!
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: The Dragonfly Challenge | british-dragonflies.org.uk
Three Wildlife Trusts, including the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), have resumed the vaccination of badgers against bovine tuberculosis (bTB), one year after vaccine supplies dried up.
Marine turtles are being killed by tropical prawn trawls, which export to the UK, despite a method existing to reduce their capture .
On Tuesday 4th July 2017 a large crowd of society members were joined by a few members of the public and one small dog for a beautiful walk around the lake at Willen. It was a lovely sunny evening and there was so much on the wing both on the lake and in the meadow near the hide that it took over an hour to reach the hide (and that was all of us not just Roy!!). However the consensus was that it was such a glorious evening that we should press on and do the whole lap of the lake. Arriving back at the cars as the sun was setting we all agreed that it was one of the best outings this summer. Thank you to Martin for doing the introduction.
Butterflies: Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Peacock larvae
Moths: Brown Plume Moth, Cinnabar, Shaded Broad Bar, Smoky Wainscot, Silver-y, pupae of Burnet moths.
Other insects: Roesel’s bush-crickets, meadow grasshoppers, Emperor dragonfly, Brown Hawker
Flowers: Agrimony (v. common), Perforate St.John’s Wort, Marsh Woundwort, Lady’s Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw, Flowering Rush, Yellow Water Lily, Purple Loosestrife, Ox-eye Daisy.
Birds: Little egret, Grey heron, Ringed plover, Common terns with young and at least two Artic Terns, Black headed gulls, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Cettis warbler, Lesser whitethroat, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, a flotilla of Coot, Tufted duck, Great crested grebe, lots of Mute swans on the lake.
Photographs and text by Julie Lane
Eggs collected from the wild from rare wading birds have now hatched in captivity.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Chicks hatch in UK first | Discover Wildlife
Breeding success of kittiwakes affected by fishing industry catching sandeels in the North Sea.
This year, Mark Telfer, one of the UK’s leading coleopterists, has been surveying Howe Park, Kingsmead and Shenley Woods on behalf of The Parks Trust. Mark has been looking for invertebrates associated with dead and decaying wood. A similar survey, focusing on beetles, was carried out by Colin Plant in 1996 so this is the first survey of its kind in MK for twenty years.
Although the survey is ongoing, Mark says that he is “staggered” by the diversity of saproxylic beetles he has found, and in particular a number of Red Data Book and nationally rare species. One of the most impressive of these if the false click beetle Eucnemis capucina (pictured) which he found in Kingsmead Wood. This incredibly rare beetle is considered a flagship species of ancient woodland. It is known only from the New Forest, Windsor Great Park and Bredon Hill in Worcestershire, so its discovery in Milton Keynes is little short of miraculous.
In Shenley Wood, Mark has discovered several beetles new to him – itself very unusual. One of these is a tiny beetle called Atomaria pulchra . Mark shared this information with fellow coleopterist Tony Allen who has the largest beetle list in the UK. Tony has since made two visits to Shenley Wood from Dorset, as he had never before recorded this species. Tony Allen not only saw A.pulchra but also found another Atomaria beetle which may be new to the UK! This specimen has been taken to the Natural History Museum in London to be identified later this summer.
Parks Trust Biodiversity Officer Martin Kincaid said, “The early findings of this survey far exceed our expectations and it’s exciting that Mark has already found so many rare and scarce species. This really highlights the importance of standing dead wood as a habitat and shows that even where there is relatively little dead wood, important populations of invertebrates can survive. The creation of more standing dead wood in our woodlands will help these and other species to expand”.
The full results of this survey will be available in late 2017 and we will provide a further update then.
Author: Martin Kincaid
Caring for God’s Acre have produced a short (5 minute) video on mananging churchyards for nature.
Click on the play button to watch the video
The 25 black-tailed godwits were the first UK chicks to hatch in a technique called ‘headstarting’, having been removed from the nest as eggs and hand-reared by conservationists.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Chicks take their first flights in the wild | Discover Wildlife
Just down the road from Gatwick, the neatly hedged English countryside gives way to an exuberant, utterly alien-looking landscape. Arable fields are obliterated by dense thickets of sallow. Eight metre-wide blackthorn hedges spill into flowery meadows. Wild pigs and red deer run rampant through ragwort, thistles and other weeds. The air is alive with birdsong rarely heard in Britain today – spectacular bursts of nightingale and the purring of turtle doves.
The UK has lost 97 per cent of its meadow habitat since the 1940s. Discover more about this beautiful habitat, thanks to Plantlife.
A team of researchers from Austria and Sweden has found that ravens are able to remember people who trick them for at least two months. In their paper published in the journal Animal Behaviour, the group describes experiments they conducted with the birds and offer some suggestions regarding how the behaviour they observed might be useful to the birds in the wild.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Ravens remember people who tricked them, #ornithology news via @RareBirdAlertUK
Ladybirds are instantly recognisable, but what about their larvae? BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine helps you identify these useful garden predators.
The biggest reintroduction of water voles in the UK began this week, with 325 voles released into Kielder Forest in Northumberland, and 350 more to follow later in the summer.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Ratty returns: hundreds of water voles released in UK’s biggest reintroduction | Environment | The Guardian
The world’s largest ever field trial demonstrates widely used insecticides harm both honeybees and wild bees, increasing calls for a ban
Plantlife produce a number of interesting guides to wildflowers.
The use of environmental and botanical data in forensic science has a long history dating to at least the early 20th century. It comes as a surprise to many that vegetation can be used to help understand how a crime was committed. Please note, some aspects of this course may be challenging to some participants as it will be necessary to discuss scenarios involving human decay processes. Based in Bushy Park.
Click on the link for more information: Forensic Ecology – 66170 – FSC
Last year, I was surprised to find my female mandarin duck was turning into a male. Even as a zoology graduate and someone who has kept birds in an aviary since I was 10 years old, I had absolutely no idea this could happen, so I started investigating, and it turns out that the way birds express their sex is a fiendishly complex affair.
These days there’s an app for everything and everyone. For those of us with a passion for nature and the outdoors, they provide a fantastic way to improve our knowledge and identification skills, record and share our findings and even contribute to scientific research.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Our ten favourite (and free) apps for wildlife lovers – Hoopoe – A blog by nhbs
Yesterday a group of tall and very willing volunteers turned up to help us mount the society’s photographic exhibition.
Paul Lund, who used to work as a photographer at the Natural History Museum, has done a magnificent job compiling a selection of photographs taken by our talented members into a truly stunning 6m by 2m poster which is now mounted in pride of place on the first floor of MK library.
This exhibition is part of the MK50 celebrations and will remain in place in the library for the whole month of July. It really is worth a visit as the work and detail in this beautiful poster has to be seen first hand.
A big thank you to Paul for all his efforts and to all of you who contributed photos in the first place.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.
A return to this large forest site, led by Chris Coppock. He is sure to give us an all-round naturalist’s walk with butterflies and other insects, as well as plants and birds.
See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information
MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.
Climate change is increasingly altering the composition of ecological communities, in combination with other environmental pressures such as high-intensity land use. Pressures are expected to interact in their effects, but the extent to which intensive human land use constrains community responses to climate change is currently unclear.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Large extents of intensive land use limit community reorganization during climate warming – Oliver – 2017 – Global Change Biology – Wiley Online Library
Explore the Ecological Status of Great Britain’s 10km squares.
Ecological Status is a biodiversity index developed by the Biological Records Centre from national plant and animal observations. It is calculated for each 10km square of Great Britain and is relative to the Environmental Zone that that square occurs in. An Environmental Zone is a region of broadly similar environmental characteristics and is used here to control for non-biological factors that affect biodiversity (e.g. geology and climate).
We have been contacted by June Laban-Mitchell who is the Green Gym Officer at intu MK. They are looking for an expert or enthusiast who knows a bit about entomology who could offer a couple of hours of their time during the holidays to help with a bioblitz day for the children of the community. Someone who could inform the children about what is living in the intu area (MK shopping centre) and help upload the results/survey to the relevant website.
The 35th BTO/JNCC/RSPB WeBS annual report Waterbirds in the UK 2015/16 provides an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in waterbirds in the UK and beyond. The latest report features the results of the 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS III) as well as the latest trends and data from WeBS
National Meadows Day is a growing event which celebrates wildflower grasslands, providing an opportunity for you to showcase the amazing wildflowers and species you have on your sites and in your communities. Feedback from last year showed that many people attending events were surprised by the diversity of the flora and sheer number of insects and reptiles found in the meadows they visited. This really reinforced the importance of meadow preservation, and of the role of the National Meadows Day events in educating the public about this important habitat that is fast disappearing.
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: National Meadows Day | Magnificent Meadows
Mark Gurney has produced a guide to Soldier Beetles
Click on the link to download the guide.