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.
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-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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
A newly discovered Madagascan lizard uses a strange tactic to escape predators.
Researchers have found a new gecko species, Geckolepis megalepis, which is able to easily lose both its scales and a layer of skin to avoid predation.
Sixteen bison have been transported 400km from Elk Island National Park to Banff National Park. The animals have been absence from Banff for over 100 years and mostly pregnant females are being reintroduced.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Air pollution is having a devastating effect on Britain’s wild flowers by helping nettles, hogweed and other “thuggish” species turn the countryside into “monotonous green badlands”, major environmental groups have warned.
This topic has been covered by a number of Sources:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com to discuss a group booking at a discount from the full (March) prices.
Most birds sense when their clutch is complete via tactile stimulation of their brood patch, the featherless area on their bellies that warms the eggs. But there is evidence that some species count their eggs by sight.
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.
Bring friends and family and explore the reserve.
Come and see returning birds.
Refreshments, home-made cakes and facilities available
Crafts, second-hand books and bird seed for sale.
Viewing gallery open, also display of wildlife.
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.
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 […]
Butterfly Conservation have produced a collection of species factsheets and habitat downloads can be used to provide an overview on species ecology, assist with species identification and advise on best practice management for specific species and habitats.
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.
BMERC 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental Records Centre Manager
Historic and Natural Environment Team
Transport, Economy and Environment
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission is edging tantalisingly closer. After a workshop with scientists in Monrovia, California, three potential sites have been chosen for drilling, each of which could have once supported life on the red planet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
iRecord Butterflies is a free app that will guide you through the identification of any butterfly that you see in the UK and allow you to add your sighting to millions of other valuable records that inform the work of 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.
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.
The 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
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.
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.