Author Archives: admin

Sciomyzidae (snail-killing or marsh flies)

Stephen Falk has produced a Flickr collection of British Snail-killing Flies. Hope you find it useful

A family of small to medium-sized acalypterate flies (British species 2-11 mm long) with 72 British species (2016). Many species have patterned wings and the antennae are often elongate, porrect and arising from a projecting frons (notably members of the tribe Tetanocerini) which creates a distinctive ‘alert’ appearance. Sciomyzids often walk in a slow and deliberate fashion which can make them stand out from other acalypterate flies when checking the contents of a net. They are particularly numerous and diverse in lush wetlands.

Click on the link to for more information

Help Fight Tree Disease

Observatree are looking for your help with a citizen science project to combat tree disease.

Nineteen tree pests and diseases are now officially in the UK with more on the horizon. The good news is that there is plenty that you can do to help, since our Observatree team is keen to enlist a new tier of public support to track three high-priority problems: ash dieback, oriental chestnut gall wasp and cedar shoot blight. There’s no need to sign up – just download our ID guides.

Bee-fly Watch 2017

Bee-flies are probably the most familiar of all the species covered by the recording scheme. One species in particular, the Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, is a familar sign of spring as it hovers over flowers and uses its long proboscis (‘tongue’) to feed from them.

But there are a number of other bee-fly species to look out for as well, and this page collects together some information about the group. If you see a bee-fly, please send in the record!

Source: Bee-flies | Soldierflies and Allies Recording Scheme

Beetle in amber stirs questions on rise of flowering plants and pollinators

The discovery of a beetle and pollen in 105-million-year-old Spanish amber is proof of a new insect pollination mode that dates to the mid-Mesozoic, before the rise of flowering plants. The study places this discovery in the context of a growing body of fossil evidence that reveals a rich diversity of pollinator relationships and modes between insects and a once dominant non-flowering group of plants — the gymnosperms — before flowering plant diversity exploded.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Mid-Mesozoic beetle in amber stirs questions on rise of flowering plants and pollinators: Smithsonian scientist, collaborators point to growing evidence of rich insect pollinator relationships in deep time — ScienceDaily

Effects of light pollution on pollination by nocturnal Lepidoptera

MKNHS members mothing at Linford Lakes NR by Julie Lane9 July2016

MKNHS members mothing at Linford Lakes NR by Julie Lane 9 July2016

Moths (Lepidoptera) are the major nocturnal pollinators of flowers. However, their importance and contribution to the provision of pollination ecosystem services may have been under-appreciated. Evidence was identified that moths are important pollinators of a diverse range of plant species in diverse ecosystems across the world.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Pollination by nocturnal Lepidoptera, and the effects of light pollution: a review – MACGREGOR – 2014 – Ecological Entomology – Wiley Online Library

Curlews and godwits – the vanishing tribe

Curlew, with their characteristic downward-curved bill and call evoking the wild British countryside, is a unique and much loved species. But these calls may not be echoing across our skies forever, and the problem is in no way confined to our shores. Seven out of the 13 wader species in the Numeniini (curlew and godwit) tribe are Near Threatened, Globally Threatened or Critically Endangered. This tribe’s ground-nesting habits (making them susceptible to predation), and long, perilous migrations across the globe leave them especially vulnerable. Numeniini also tend to favour specialist habitats, making them likely to decline further as these habitats disappear. New collaborative research led by the BTO identifies the main reasons for these declines and suggests conservation measures that could be implemented to halt them.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Curlews and godwits – the vanishing tribe | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Lacewing Love In

I’ve been collecting Lacewing specimens for the past year or so, after hearing a rumour that they were a reasonably easy group (aka my colleague Dave Slade told me so). After my struggles with Craneflies, a group with no definitive key and over 300 species, it was a relief to try a group with an excellent key in the form of a Field Studies Council AIDGAP guide (A key to the adults of British lacewings and their allies by Colin Plant) and a mere 40 or so British species.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Lacewing Love In

BuBC Talk – Swifts, Their Lives and their Conservation 6 April 2017

Buckinghamshire Bird Club will be hosting an Indoor Meeting Swifts, Their Lives and their Conservation on 6 April 2017 – 19:30 to 22:00 at Wendover Memorial Hall, Wendover (Lat/Long 51.7662 and -0.739901)

The presenter is Edward Mayer

Swifts, highlighting the challenges they face, including their spectacular migrations to Africa and back, plus providing information on ideas for action to help end their sad decline.

Click on this link 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.

Flower use of the Meadow Brown butterfly

Meadow Brown by Peter Hassett,  Grendon and Doddershall Woods. 12 July2013

Meadow Brown by Peter Hassett, Grendon and Doddershall Woods. 12 July2013

Butterflies are often considered as opportunistic nectar consumers that visit a range of flower species. The degree of specialisation in foraging behaviour and flower choice may, however, vary considerably at the inter-specific level, from highly specialised to generalist species. In generalist nectar use, there can be intra-specific variation in the availability and use of floral resources (diversity and abundance) among different populations. Knowing the preferences of nectar-feeding butterflies can increase the understanding of ecological relationships and resource use and help in developing better strategies for butterfly conservation.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Flower use of the butterfly Maniola jurtina in nectar-rich and nectar-poor grasslands: a nectar generalist with a strong preference? – Lebeau – 2017 – Insect Conservation and Diversity – Wiley Online Library

Complex Life Could Be Vastly Older Than Thought

It was around 1.6 billion years ago that a community of small, bright red, plantlike life-forms, flitting around in a shallow pool of prehistoric water, were etched into stone until the end of time. Or at least until a team of Swedish researchers chipped their fossilized remnants out of a sedimentary rock formation in central India.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Complex Life Could Be Vastly Older Than Thought – Scientific American

NASA study show the stress of space travel

Its taken 29 years, but the 1988 buddy movie Twins no longer depicts the most important research on genetic differences in twin brothers. NASA has taken that crown, releasing some startling early results from their year-long analysis of identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly – one of whom spent a year in space, while the other remained on Earth.

Source: Early results of NASA study show the stress of space travel | Alphr

Scientists Discover Real-Life Kermit The Frog

Kermit the Frog’s distant real-life cousin has just been discovered in the jungles of Costa Rica. The new species, Diane’s Bare-hearted Glassfrog (Hyalinobatrachium dianae), is most remarkable for its translucent underbelly (hence the name “glassfrog”) and its bulging white eyes, which look just like Kermit’s!

Source: Scientists Discover Real-Life Kermit The Frog In Costa Rica | Bored Panda

Desert crossing for high flying butterfly

Much has been learned in recent years about the amazing migration of the Painted Lady. Sightings from 67 countries, including many from Butterfly Conservation members, have enabled scientists to plot the annual, multi-generational migratory cycle from North Africa in early spring, northwards across Europe during spring and summer, and then followed by southerly migration back, ultimately, to Africa.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – Desert crossing for high flying butterfly

Why peregrine are kings of the urban jungle

By the four chimneys of Battersea power station, between tower cranes and builders’ cabins, is an unobtrusive metal mast. At the top, a watchful figure looks down upon the 3,000 workers bustling around this vast £9bn construction site.

“Female,” says David Morrison, with a deft glance through his binoculars. “She’s protecting her nest site. There was an intruding female about half an hour ago.”

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Flying high: why peregrine falcons are kings of the urban jungle | Environment | The Guardian

Are spiders getting bigger?

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

It’s true that some spiders respond positively to the changes that we make to the environment. Warming temperatures in particular are likely to benefit the growth and development of spiders. We may also see larger spiders in areas like cities where there is lots of food for them, just like you see fat pigeons living off food waste.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Is there anything good about that spider in the corner of my room? | Lizzy Lowe | Opinion | The Guardian

RSPBNBLG Walk – Harrold Odell Country Park 2 April 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to Harrold Odell Country Park on 2 April 2017:

Location: SP 956 566. In the village of Harrold, Beds.
Postcode: MK43 7DS (Google map)

A return visit to this delightful venue in Bedfordshire. Many of the paths are paved but the picturesque river meadow walk is not. There is an excellent café. Leader Chris Coppock.

Time: 10.00 am

Price: Small car park fee.

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.

Science takes to the skies with remote sensing drone technology

Tom August, Charles George, Paul Scholefield and France Gerard explain how new drone technology – like that used in the film industry – is elevating CEH’s remote sensing capabilities…Remote sensing is a core part of CEH’s activities. Traditionally this has included the use of kilometre to metre scale spatial data collected from sensors on board satellites or manned aircraft and the use of detailed field-based point or transect measurements from handheld sensors.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Science takes to the skies with ‘Hollywood-style’ remote sensing drone technology | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Impact of inert pesticide on honey bee larvae

Tree Bumblebee at Howe Park Wood by Harry Appleyard

Tree Bumblebee at Howe Park Wood by Harry Appleyard 3Feb16

Honey bees are highly valued for their pollination services in agricultural settings, and recent declines in managed populations have caused concern.

Colony losses following a major pollination event in the United States, almond pollination, have been characterized by brood mortality with specific symptoms, followed by eventual colony loss weeks later.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: An Inert Pesticide Adjuvant Synergizes Viral Pathogenicity and Mortality in Honey Bee Larvae : Scientific Reports

Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

One major, yet poorly studied, change in the environment is nocturnal light pollution, which strongly alters habitats of nocturnally active species.

Artificial night lighting is often considered as driving force behind rapid moth population declines in severely illuminated countries.

To understand these declines, the question remains whether artificial light causes only increased mortality or also sublethal effects.

We show that moths subjected to artificial night lighting spend less time feeding than moths in darkness, with the shortest time under light conditions rich in short wavelength radiation. These findings provide evidence for sublethal effects contributing to moth population declines.

Because effects are strong under various types of light compared with dark conditions, the potential of spectral alterations as a conservation tool may be overestimated.

Therefore, restoration and maintenance of darkness in illuminated areas is essential for reversing declines of moth populations.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths | Biology Letters

Meeting to discuss development of 250 houses at Linford Lakes

The proposal for the development at Linford Lakes of up to 250 houses will go before the Development Control Committee at the next Milton Keynes Council meeting on Thursday 30th March, 19:00 hrs at MK Council Offices.

Members of the general public are welcome to attend.

The Planning Officers have proposed that the application is rejected. Their 29 page summary is attached. The committee may choose to approve the plan, even though the Planning Officers recommend rejecting it.

There were objections from 48 residents, the Countryside Officer, the local Parish Councils and BBOWT & RSPB. Hopefully the work of these people and organisations will not be in vain and the planning committee will also reject the plans. If this is the case it may not be the last we hear from Templeview Developments but it may provide a breathing space to enable some protection to be placed on the site.

It would be a demonstration of the concern felt by MK residents, who know and love this site, if a good number of us could attend the meeting.

If you wish to speak at the meeting, in objection to the application, a request should be made to the Committee Manager, Dino Imbimbo, Committee Manager, on Tel: 01908 252458 or E-mail: dc-speaking-requests@milton-keynes.gov.uk in Democratic Services to arrive by 12 noon two clear working days before the meeting. Once the committee start the discussion of the plan no further public comments will be possible.


Jane Grisdale
FoLLNR Events Co-ordinator.

When jumping spiders show their true colours

While most arachnophiles will likely find tiny spider dancers who can “swagger like Jagger” entertaining, it’s more than the dance that captures the fascination of one NSF-funded University of Cincinnati researcher.

It’s their ability to see color and the bright and bold color patterns on the male body parts that has Nate Morehouse, UC biologist, looking inside the many eyes of two groups of vividly coloured jumping spiders.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: When jumping spiders show their true colors, biologists look through the lens for the reasons

Reducing pesticide use while preserving crop productivity and profitability 

Pesticide is a threat to the environment and human health. Whether reducing pesticide would necessarily undermine crop productivity remains elusive. Analyses of data from 946 farms in France show that reducing pesticide rarely decreases productivity.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Reducing pesticide use while preserving crop productivity and profitability on arable farms : Nature Plants

Monitoring of bush-crickets with acoustic monitoring of bats

  1. Nymph of Roesel's Bush Cricket by Paul Lund, Linford Lakes NR 16 June 2015

    Nymph of Roesel’s Bush Cricket by Paul Lund, Linford Lakes NR 16 June 2015

    Monitoring biodiversity over large spatial and temporal scales is crucial for assessing the impact of global changes and environmental mitigation measures. However, large-scale monitoring of invertebrates remains poorly developed despite the importance of these organisms in ecosystem functioning. Exciting possibilities applicable to professional and citizen science are offered by new recording techniques and methods of semi-automated species recognition based on sound detection.

  2. Static broad-spectrum detectors deployed to record throughout whole nights have been recommended for standardised acoustic monitoring of bats, but they have the potential to also collect acoustic data for other species groups. Large-scale deployment of such systems is only viable when combined with robust automated species identification algorithms. Here we examine the potential of such a system for detecting, identifying and monitoring bush-crickets (Orthoptera of the family Tettigoniidae). We use incidental sound recordings generated by an extensive citizen science bat survey and recordings from intensive site surveys to test a semi-automated step-wise method with a classifier for assigning species identities. We assess species’ diel activity patterns to make recommendations for survey timing and interpretation of existing nocturnal data sets and consider the feasibility of determining site occupancy.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Potential for coupling the monitoring of bush-crickets with established large-scale acoustic monitoring of bats – Newson – 2017 – Methods in Ecology and Evolution – Wiley Online Library

Is Everest shrinking?

Exactly how tall is Mount Everest? That’s what scientists in India are trying to figure out.

This week, India’s surveyor general announced that the government is going to remeasure Mount Everest, in a bid to determine whether the world’s tallest peak shrank (or grew) following a devastating earthquake in 2015. The expedition is the first Indian survey of the mountain in more than 60 years, but experts say obtaining an accurate measurement will be a tall order, and determining the earthquake’s effect on it may be even tougher.

Click this link to read the rest of the article: This expedition is trying to find out if the tallest mountain in the world shrank – The Verge

Spiders are a treasure trove of scientific wonder

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

Australia has an incredible diversity of native spiders, including the potentially lethal funnel-web, the ubiquitous huntsman, and the charming peacock spider. Only two can be deadly for humans – the funnel-web and redback spiders – and we have antivenom for both.

Found all across the country, spiders play an important role in the environment as generalist predators. Increasingly, their venom is being used to develop novel human therapeutics and to create new, selective, sustainable insecticides.

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Source: Spiders are a treasure trove of scientific wonder

SpaceX is blasting a superbug into orbit

Perhaps concerned that life on Earth isn’t quite interesting enough, SpaceX’s next move will be to do something that you imagine a wise old scientist in a science-fiction movie would advise against, before being overruled and watching everything go to hell. In a break from the usual flowers and chocolates, this Valentine’s Day Elon Musk’s private space company will be sending a lethal, antibiotic-resistant superbug into orbit.

Source: SpaceX is blasting a superbug into orbit | Alphr

Rock and Fossil Day – Bucks County Museum 25 March 2017

Rock and Fossil Day - Bucks County Museum 25 March 2017

Rock and Fossil Day – Bucks County Museum 25 March 2017

Rock and Fossil day at the County Museum,  on Saturday 25th March. It’s a free event, 11am – 3pm and  fabulous opportunity to meet group members, bring in your mystery finds to see if we know what they are (no promises on that!) and to find out a bit more about Buckinghamshire’s deep and mysterious past.  Suitable for adults and children alike, and a good family activity in the main museum itself which is always worth a wider visit.

South Africa is still losing three rhinos a day

Today, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that in 2016 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in the country. This is a decline from 1,215 in 2014 and 1,175 in 2015.

Enhanced enforcement efforts in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s biggest wildlife reserves and home to the world’s largest population of white rhino, also resulted in a decline in the number of rhinos killed. The number fell from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016 (a 20 per cent reduction) despite an increase in the number of reported incursions in the 19 500km2 park.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Latest official poaching figures show that South Africa is still losing three rhinos a day | WWF

LED lighting could have major impact on wildlife

LED street lighting can be tailored to reduce its impacts on the environment, according to new research by the University of Exeter.
The UK-based study found predatory spiders and beetles were drawn to grassland patches lit by LED lighting at night, but the number of species affected was markedly reduced when the lights were dimmed by 50% and switched off between midnight and 4am.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Featured news – LED lighting could have major impact on wildlife – University of Exeter

Alien bird species mapped for the first time

Scientists from University College London have studied the movement of ‘alien’ bird species between 1500 and 2000AD.

They found that there was a sharp increase in the rate of introductions in the 19th century when Europeans exported birds such as ducks, geese and pheasants to new territories.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Alien bird species mapped for the first time | Discover Wildlife

You will find more information here Mapping movements of alien bird species — ScienceDaily

Talking Trees presentation 22 March 2017

South Beds. Wildlife Trust Local Group are hosting a talk entitled ‘Talking Trees’ on Wednesday, 22 March 2017 at Dunstable Community Fire Station Lecture Theatre at 7.30pm. Please note: doors open 7.15pm.

Click on this link 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.

ATOM Festival of Science & Technology 22-26 March 2017

The 2017 ATOM Festival of Science and Technology will take place in Abingdon between Wednesday 22nd and Sunday 26th March. The Festival has a full programme of talks, school events and a Fair in the Market Square on Saturday 25th.

Your members and their families may be particularly interested in the talks on “What makes us human”, “Dinosaur hunting in Africa” (aimed at a family audience) and “Antarctica: Treasury of climate data” although, of course, they will be most welcome at any of the talks or events. We would be very grateful if you could inform your members of the Festival, perhaps via your newsletter or any regular emails that you send out.

Full details of all of the talks and events can be found on the Festival web site, www.atomfestival.org.uk  where tickets can be purchased for any of the talks. There is also an early bird discount for those booking before the end of February, or a Festival pass for those wishing to attend a number of talks. In addition, if your organisation would like to arrange for a group of ten or more to go to one of the talks please contact me at dave.pennington21@virginmedia.com to discuss a group booking at a discount from the full (March) prices.

If you have any other questions about the Festival, please contact us at organisers@atomfestival.org.uk.

We look forward to seeing some of your members at the Festival.

Startled honeybees give a little ‘whoop’

Recent research has shed new insight into this vibrational pulse emitted by honeybees, scientists have concluded they ‘whoop’ when surprised!

Once thought to initiate food-giving behavior, the vibration is most widely accepted as the ‘stop signal’, directed at bees advertising a particular foraging site through their ‘waggle dance’.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Startled honeybees give a little ‘whoop’ | Discover Wildlife

Photography Event at Linford Lakes NR 21 March 2017

Photography Event at Linford Lakes NR on Tuesday 21 March 2017

Doors open 19:15, presentation 19:30hrs

£2:00 each.

 David Harris.

www.flickr.com/photos/g8ina/albums/

David is an experienced photographer with several awards

to his name. He is also a member of the Northampton Natural

History Society.  www.nnhs.info/photo

 Infra red & Macro Photography.

Infrared : Hardware, Software, Techniques & Examples.

Macro: Hardware, Techniques, Examples.

Please bring your kit for advice, if needed.

This drone could pollinate your entire garden

When you hear ‘bees’ and ‘drone’ in the same sentence, you think of the low, continuous hum that the insects omit. What you don’t think is expensive gadget used to film smug family’s Jamaican getaway. Nonetheless, the scientific community’s concerns about the imminent demise of honeybees has instigated the development of drones – of the tangible persuasion – to carry out artificial pollination.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: This drone could pollinate your entire garden | Alphr

Fungi walk Finemere Wood 19 March 2017

Buckinghamshire Fungus Group (BFG) are hosting a Fungi walk in Finemere Wood 19 March 2017.

Details of the event can be found here.

Please note that, if you are not a member of BFG, you are asked to contact Penny Cullington if you would like to attend any meetings.

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.

France bans plastic cups, plates and cutlery

France has passed a new law to ensure all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically-sourced materials. The law, which comes into effect in 2020, is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth – an ambitious plan that aims to allow France to make a more effective contribution to tackling climate change.  Although some ecologists’ organisations are in favour of the ban, others argue that it has violated European Union rules on free movement of goods.

Source: France bans plastic cups, plates and cutlery | The Independent

RSPBNBLG Walk – Floodplain Forest NR, Wolverton 18 March 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to RSPBNBLG Walk – Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve on Wolverton 18 March 2017:

Location: Map ref SP 816 421. Not our usual car park, which always seems too small for the numbers attending, but the one off the Haversham Road at the eastern end of the reserve.

Another visit to this excellent reserve on the northern edge of Milton Keynes, formerly called Manor Farm and much improved by the MK Parks Trust with new paths and 3 hides. Leader Brian Pratt.

Time: 10.00 am

Price: Free

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 and Trees

Weathering the storm Trees live a long time, which means they have to be able to cope with change. But is the climate changing too fast for them to keep up? Conversely, how can trees help us adapt to the new regime of extreme weather, such as heatwaves and floods?   The Ankerwycke Yew, under […]

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Climate Change and Trees –

Birds of a feather mob together

Rooks mobbing Short-eared Owl by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 19 October 2016

Rooks mobbing Short-eared Owl by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 19 October 2016

Dive bombing a much larger bird isn’t just a courageous act by often smaller bird species to keep predators at bay. It also gives male birds the chance to show off their physical qualities in order to impress females. This is according to a study in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology on predator mobbing behavior of birds where potential prey approach and harass would-be predators such as owls. The study was led by Filipe Cunha of the University of Zurich in Switzerland and the Federal University of Ouro Preto in Brazil.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Birds of a feather mob together

Talk – Geology of The Jurassic Coast by Simon Penn 9 March 2017

Poster - Talk Geology of The Jurassic Coast by Simon Penn 9 March 2017BMERC has been asked by the Bucks Geology Group to circulate information about an event which is happening this week at The Museum Resource Centre,  Halton. NB this is part of Bucks County Museum but for those wishing to come it is not the main public galleries in Aylesbury; it is in fact near Wendover, in Halton Village, about 5 miles further south.

The speaker rarely gets into Bucks so the group are extremely please to have managed to secure a talk from him on a section of the south coast which many of us may be familiar with. See attached poster for details.  For those who can’t open the poster the key details are:-

  • The event is from 7:15 – approximately 8:30 in the evening.
  • Thursday 9th March
  • Bucks County Museum Resource Centre, Rowborough Road, off Tring Road, Halton. HP22 5PL.
  • Free event but spaces strictly limited.

Please note booking is essential – and should be done by contacting Mike Palmer either by telephone on 01296 325223 or by email mpalmer@buckscountymuseum.org

Julia Carey
Environmental Records Centre Manager
Historic and Natural Environment Team
Transport, Economy and Environment

BTO Beyond Birds: working across other taxa

Red-Tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 11 April 2016

Red-Tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 11 April 2016

The British Trust for Ornithology have produced a report on their recent research

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the UK’s leading independent research organisation studying birds and their habitats, with considerable expertise in the design and implementation of monitoring and research projects, from intensive studies to extensive surveys. The BTO also collects, analyses and shares information on other taxa, both through its core monitoring schemes and through the other projects with which it is involved, often working in partnership.

One of the great strengths of the BTO is its volunteer networks, and the organisation’s expertise in working with and supporting volunteers delivers valuable monitoring outputs across a broad range of taxa, from deer and butterflies through to bats and bush-crickets. Many of those interested in birds and birdwatching are also interested in other wildlife, and the BTO recognises the contribution that its volunteers can make to our knowledge of habitats and wildlife.

Click on this link to read the rest of the report

The State of European Cetaceans Report (2006 – 2015)

The State of European Cetaceans is ORCA’s report series, documenting the results of its survey findings, and more importantly, drawing conclusions about what the results mean for whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild. With significant and emerging threats continuing to adversley impact these animals and their habitats, ORCA’s findings are crucial in providing evidence to conserve these animals in the future.
ORCA’s first report, ‘The State of European Cetaceans (2006 – 2015)‘, is the culmination of 10 years’ worth of sightings and environmental data collected during the 376 ORCA surveys conducted between 2006-2015 using vessels of opportunity (namely ferries and cruise ships). This report summarises the distribution and range of cetacean populations in and around Europe’s waters and identifies marine areas and species that are of greatest importance. This insight is crucial to make authoritative and informed decisions about the protection required for cetaceans.

Click on the link for more information: The State of European Cetaceans Report | Our Work | ORCA – Looking out for Whales and Dolphins

Birders asked to help find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nests

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker numbers have declined considerably here in recent years, and this bird is now on the UK red list. The reasons for this decline are not fully understood, but RSPB research has suggested that the birds have not been breeding successfully but it is not clear whether this is a widespread problem.

In the last few years since the completion of the RSPB project very few lesser spotted woodpecker nests have been reported and monitored. However, two conservationists, Ken and Linda Smith, are now aiming to help bird watchers rectify this. With over 30 years experience of monitoring woodpecker nests they are hoping to build up a clearer picture of where the birds are and how well they are breeding. They began their research in 2015, and so far have been able to follow 10 nests each year, finding out whether the woodpeckers are successfully raising their young. In 2017 they hope to be able to study more.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Birders asked to help find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nests, #ornithology news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Where do our wintering Blackcaps come from?

Over the next three winters, a new study focusing on Blackcaps wintering in Britain and Ireland will help reveal how novel migratory changes arise and spread. The study will look at genetic and morphological differences between breeding populations and migration strategies, as well as investigate aspects of wintering behaviour, movements and survival of individuals wintering in Britain.

Source: BTO Bird Ringing – ‘Demog Blog’

Rare woodlouse found to glow in the dark

The spiky yellow woodlouse is Critically Endangered and found on St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

It is one of a number of endemic and rare species on the remote island.

The spiky yellow woodlouse is the only the second woodlouse species known to glow under ultraviolet (UV) light, a feature that is more commonly seen in scorpions.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Rare woodlouse found to glow in the dark | Discover Wildlife

A butterfly that lives underground

Large Blue Butterfly (c) Butterfly Conservation

Large Blue Butterfly (c) Butterfly Conservation

A butterfly that spends most of its life underground? Why? What is it doing? What does
it eat? Professor Jeremy Thomas solved the puzzle for the large blue butterfly Maculinea
arion in the 1970s just before it became extinct in the UK. Fortunately his findings were
used to successfully re-introduce the enigmatic species into England. Now, with the help
of partners, David Simcox and Sarah Meredith are continuing to discover more about this
iconic butterfly and they are using their knowledge to help it to thrive and to survive
threats such as habitat loss and climate change.

Click on the link for more information: A butterfly that lives underground? An evidence case story – EIN023

Moths of the season: Spring Quakers and Drabs, Part I

Twin-spotted Quaker by Gordon Redford taken at Linford Lakes NR 03Apr15

Twin-spotted Quaker by Gordon Redford taken at Linford Lakes NR 03Apr15

The early spring period is just round the corner, and for many mothers this is one of the most exciting times of the year, especially after a long winter of rather extreme weather with only a few windows of trapping opportunity.

Following the very cold early winter of 2010–11 there was a bumper crop of macro-moths in March and April of that spring. The majority of these consisted of noctuids in the genus Orthosia. A cold second half to this winter could trigger another good emergence if the temperatures rise quickly in March.

This time last year we dealt with Challenging Chestnuts using a selection of images to illustrate variations among this tricky species duo. This year we will look at the range of Orthosias and observe some routine moths and later, some variations and potential pitfalls along the way.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Moths of the season: Spring Quakers and Drabs, Part I

RSPBNBLG Talk – Peregrines, Pyramids and Purple Emperors 9 March 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are hosting a talk:

Location: Cruck Barn, City Discovery Centre, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes
Postcode: MK13 9AP (Google map)
As Biodiversity Officer for the Trust, Martin Kincaid is perfectly placed to give us an insight into how they are conserving wildlife. In particular, he’ll be telling us about the Floodplain Forest reserve, which he believes is “the most exciting habitat creation scheme in Milton Keynes’ young history.

Time: Doors open 7.15 pm for a prompt 7.45 pm start
Price: Group members £2.50, Non-Group members £3.50, Children £1

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

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Scientists pinpoint location of unexplained space radio signals

A decade ago, scientists first detected fast radio bursts (FRB). They’re so-called because they’re incredibly powerful bursts of radio signals, but they’re extremely short-lived: a few milliseconds in length. Last year, scientists finally managed to catch one happening in real-time. And now we’ve managed to pinpoint where a repeating signal – FRB 121102 – is coming from. What is causing it is still open to speculation.

Source: Scientists pinpoint location of unexplained space radio signals | Alphr