Author Archives: admin

There’s a way to save hedgehogs – and all of us can help

Nesting Hedgehog by Susie Lane, Skelton, Cumbria 20 May 2017

Nesting Hedgehog by Susie Lane, Skelton, Cumbria 20 May 2017

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

Observatree – help spot tree disease

Volunteers play an essential role within Observatree. They are critical ‘citizen scientists’ who help perform a number of functions.

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

Why gardeners should protect caterpillars

Elephant hawk moth Caterpillar, Deilephilia Elpenor by Julian Lambley, Old Wolverton Mill, 11 September 2016

Elephant hawk moth Caterpillar, Deilephilia Elpenor by Julian Lambley, Old Wolverton Mill, 11 September 2016

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 indicators for UK butterflies

Silver-washed Fritallary (male)©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

•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

Wild flower hour

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

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

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.


FSC Course – Introduction to Beetles and True Bugs 19 August 2017

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle by Peter Hassett at Grangelands NR. 23May15

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 new to Britain

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.

Source: Grass-carrying wasp, Isodontia mexicana (de Saussure), genus and species new to Britain (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) (PDF Download Available)

Hundreds of rare natterjack toadlets spotted at Sandy RSPB lodge

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.


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

Linford Lakes Development – Letter of Objection

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 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.

Yours sincerely

Julie Lane, Joint Chairman Linda Murphy, Joint Chairman

Martin Kincaid, Vice President

Milton Keynes Natural History Society

Comprehensive plant database released

Kew GardensThe Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has launched the first online database of the world’s flora.

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

The Importance of Nest Sites for Birds and Bees

Chaffinch by Tony Wood. Linford Lakes NR. 8 June 2016

Chaffinch by Tony Wood. Linford Lakes NR. 8 June 2016

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.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Red Admiral spotting seeking a butterfly revival

Red Admiral butterfly by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 20 December 2016

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 20 December 2016

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

Volunteers wanted for MiaFest

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 



“Hello there,

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 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.

Trip Report – Edgewick Farm 1st August 2017

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley, Edgewick Farm 1 August 2017

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley,

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