Category Archives: News

Long-tailed tit retrap record

Long Tailed Tit by Peter Hassett, College Lake 18 June 2017

Long Tailed Tit by Peter Hassett, College Lake 18 June 2017

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!!

These are the details supplied by the British Trust for Ornithology:

Here are the details of a recovery of one of your birds.
Species: Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) Scheme: GBT Ring no: HRX352

Ringing details
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
Remarks: –
Ringer: D J Gruar, 4538
Finding details
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
Remarks: –
Duration: 441 days Distance: 41 km Direction: 252deg (WSW)
Finder: Northants Ringing Group, 9187

Caterpillars key to urban blue tits’ low breeding

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 , their preferred nestling food.

Source: Caterpillars key to urban blue tits’ low breeding

25 black-tailed godwits released

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

Thrips, flies and wasps – some thoughts!

PARTY (For Thrips) by Maurice

PARTY (For Thrips) by Maurice (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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 🙂

Julie Lane

Silphidae Beetle Recording workshop 9-10 September 2017

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.

Source: Silphidae Beetle Recording workshop 9th-10th September 10am-4pm

How eggs got their shapes

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

Africa to Britain with the Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Park 5 June 2016

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

Trip Report – Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

No less than thirty society members turned up for this walk which was led by Gordon Redford together with Ian Richardson of the Greensand Trust. The threatened rain and thunderstorms held off for the walk although the storm later in the evening was quite spectacular.

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.

Society members viewing the heronry and ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Society members viewing the heronry and ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

The Black Pond ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

The Black Pond ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Slow Worm ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Slow Worm ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Theft of Swallowtail caterpillars and food plant

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

Important new seabird data from 5-year GPS study

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

FSC Course – Ecological Introduction to Bushy Park 23 July 2017

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

FSC course – Introduction to Butterflies 22 July 2017

Brimstone nectaring on Sanfoin, Pitstone Quarry, 28 May 2017

Brimstone nectaring on Sanfoin, Pitstone Quarry, 28 May 2017

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

Hobbies hatched at The Lodge

RSPB logoThe hobby’s are busy feeding and looking after their two chicks, which (we think) hatched on Monday

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.

Butterfly Walk North Bucks Way & Oakhill Wood 15th July 2017

White Admiral ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

White Admiral ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

The Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation are holding a butterfly walk on the North Bucks Way & Oakhill Wood, Milton Keynes, Bucks

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.

Trip Report Bucknell Wood – 8 July 2017

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


Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Wood White egg ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017
White Admiral ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritallary (male)©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Ringlet ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Large Skipper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Gatekeeper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

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)
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff bird
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
Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap bird
Potentilla anserina Silverweed flowering plant
Favonius quercus Purple Hairstreak insect – butterfly
Ochlodes sylvanus Large Skipper insect – butterfly
Columba oenas Stock Dove bird
Buteo buteo Buzzard bird
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet flowering plant
Pieris napi Green-veined White insect – butterfly
Prunella modularis Dunnock bird
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren bird
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral insect – butterfly
Turdus merula Blackbird bird
Limenitis camilla White Admiral insect – butterfly
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal flowering plant
Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown insect – butterfly
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort flowering plant
Sitta europaea Nuthatch bird
Pieris brassicae Large White insect – butterfly
Aphantopus hyperantus Ringlet insect – butterfly

Howe Park Wildlife Fun Day 1 July 2017

Howe Park Wood Education and Visitor Centre

On the 1st July 2017 the Society took part in the third Family Fun Day at Howe Park Wood as part of the MK50 celebrations.

Our first event at Howe Park, in conjunction with The Parks Trust and The Wildlife Trust, was held in memory of one of our founder members Bernard Frewin.

Milton Keynes Natural History Society display boards at Howe Park Wood

MKNHS display boards at Howe Park Wood. Photo courtesy of The Parks Trust

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.

Howe Park Family Wildlife Day held in memory of Bernard Frewin

Howe Park Family Wildlife Fun Day held in memory of Bernard Frewin by Julie Lane

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.

Julie Lane

FSC Course -Orchards 15 July 2017

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 Dragonfly Challenge 15-23 July 2017

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 |

MK50 public walk at Willen North Lake

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Briefing before we set off for the walk

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.

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Sunset over Willen Lake 4 July 2017

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.

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

The  bird hide,  Willen Lake 4 July 2017

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

Rare Beetles found in MK Woods!

False Click Beetle Eucnemis capucina by Udo Schmidt

False Click Beetle Eucnemis capucina by Udo Schmidt (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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.

Atomaria pulchra by Mark Teller

Atomaria pulchra by Mark Teller

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

Why is rewilding so controversial?

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.

Source: ‘It is strange to see the British struggling with the beaver’: why is rewilding so controversial? | Environment | The Guardian

Ravens remember people who tricked them

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

FSC Course – Forensic Ecology 8 July 2017

Five leaved Herb Paris by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

Five leaved Herb Paris by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

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

How does a duck change its sex?

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.

Source: How does a duck change its sex? – BBC News

Ten favourite (and free) apps for wildlife 

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

MK Photo Exhibition goes live!

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.

MKNHS Photo Exhibition in Milton Keynes Library July 2017

MKNHS Photo Exhibition in Milton Keynes Library July 2017

RSPBNBLG Walk – Salcey Forest on 5 July 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to Salcey Forest on 5 July 2017:

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.

Cold-associated species face dual threat

Snipe by Tony Woods at Willen Lake, 4 February 2017

Snipe by Tony Woods at Willen Lake, 4 February 2017

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

Mapping wildlife for better planning

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).

Click here to explore the map.

Entomologist needed for Bioblitz

Linford Lakes NR BioBlitz by David Easton. 24 June 2016

Linford Lakes NR BioBlitz by David Easton. 24 June 2016

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 aim of the project is to manage/improve several green spaces around the intu shopping centre which has one very naturalised site.
If interested please contact June
 T: 01234 217553  M: 07740 899633
  The Conservation Volunteers
  The Gate House
  Foster Hill Road
  Bedford, MK41 7TD

The BTO Wetland Bird Survey 2015/16

Shelduck by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh 15 May 2017

Shelduck by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh 15 May 2017

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

Source: The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

National Meadows Day 1 July 2017

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

You can lead a Magpie to the bird bath but…

You may like this short video clip shot in my garden on 13th June 2017.

There is a large bird bath on the left and the small bowl for hedgehogs by the hedgehog feeder on the right!

Click on the play button to watch the video (30 seconds)

Veteran Tree Survey and Ecological History 25 June 2017

This important historical parkland of Greenwich Park, much of it on steep slopes giving stunning views across the Thames estuary (in good weather), is also the setting for an array of veteran trees. We will survey their ecology and importance as a habitat and look at the development of the parkland within its landscape.

Source: Veteran Tree Survey and Ecological History – 66160 – FSC

 FSC course – Introduction to Wild Flowers 24 June 2017

An informal, beginners guide to flowering plants in Bushy Park, one of London’s Royal Parks. During the day you will see a variety of species and learn more about how to identify them correctly. There will be time spent in our flower-rich meadows and on the grazed acid grassland. By the end of this course participants will have: – Discovered more about the wildflowers of Bushy Park. – Have an understanding about how to identify wildflowers. – Be aware of where to find further information.

Click on the link for more information: Introduction to Wild Flowers – 66155 – FSC

Diet  of urban Peregrine Falcons

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine by Harry Appleyard, Hazeley Wood, 29 May 2016

Despite extensive research on city-dwelling Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus in mainland Europe and other parts of the world, little has been undertaken and published in the UK. We analysed the diet of Peregrines in three cities in southwest England – Bristol, Bath and Exeter – between 1998 and 2007.

The wide range of prey species taken included many species associated with a variety of non-urban habitats. Some prey species appear to be hunted at night, while on migration.This paper summarises the diet of Peregrines in urban areas and reviews their night-time hunting behaviour.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Air pollution is killing wildlife and people

Wild orchids, as seen here in the Peak District, Derbyshire, are among plants that are sensitive to increases in nitrogen levels. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Measures to cut air pollution need to be extended beyond urban areas, say representatives of six wildlife organisations. Plus Dr Richard Carter warns that avoiding main roads won’t protect you from small particulates

Source: Air pollution is killing wildlife and people | Letters | Environment | The Guardian

Which bees sting?

Red-tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 14 March 2017

Red-tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 14 March 2017

A great many people are wary of bees because they fear being stung, but the truth is that bees are far more interested in going about their business foraging for pollen and nectar than they are in stinging human beings. Only in rare cases will a bee sting without being seriously provoked – and many species of bee don’t sting at all.

Source: Brigit Strawbridge: WHICH BEES ‘STING’ AND WHICH DON’T?

Operation Turtle Dove

This pic by @acorncarver @RSPBNorfolkLinc #TitchwellMarsh shows size difference between turtle dove & woodpigeon!

This pic by @acorncarver @RSPBNorfolkLinc #TitchwellMarsh shows size difference between turtle dove & woodpigeon!

Turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) are in trouble; they are vulnerable to global extinction (IUCN Red List of Endangered Species). They have suffered a 91% UK population decline since 1995 and a 78% decline across Europe since 1980. At this current rate of change if we don’t help this species scientists calculate that complete UK extinction as a breeding species will be a real possibility.

Click on the link for more information: Home – Operation Turtle Dove

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 18 June 2017

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 18 June 2017 10:00-16:00hrs.

Come along and spend Fathers-Day out and about the reserve,
Bring friends and family.
See if you can spot birds with young.
Also butterflies and dragonflies aplenty.
Refreshments, home-made cakes and facilities available
Crafts, second-hand books and bird seed for sale.

RSPBNBLG Walk – College Lake Nature Reserve 18 June 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to College Lake Nature Reserve  on18 June 2017:

A return visit to this flooded former chalk pit, maintained by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. A popular and easy walk around the lake, usually with an excellent bird list, and returning for optional refreshments at the Visitor Centre cafe. Leader Brian Lloyd

Recent sightings include Spotted Flycatcher, Oystercatcher (with 3 chicks), several broods of Lapwing chicks, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank & chicks, Yellow Wagtail & Little Ringed Plover.

Lots of Butterflies, Dragonflies and Damselflies too and at this time of year we should also see some orchids (white helleborine, common spotted, twayblade – maybe even some bee orchids) and the cornfield wildflowers will be in full bloom.

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.

Critically Endangered Stonefly rediscovered

After a 22-year absence the critically endangered stonefly Isogenus nubecula has been rediscovered in the River Dee in North Wales by John Davy-Bowker of the Freshwater Biological Association. Part of an ancient group of insects that have changed little since the Permian period 250 million years ago, stoneflies are typically found in cool, well oxygenated waters and are particularly susceptible to pollution. Generally taking a year to mature, they grow as nymphs clinging under stones in fast flowing areas of streams and rivers, in the spring emerging into winged adults which mate and lay the next generation of eggs.

Source: Critically Endangered Stonefly (Isogenus nubecula) Rediscovered after 22 Year Absence | Freshwater Biological Association

Access for MKNHS members to Elfield Nature Park

The largest pond at Elfield Park by Andrew Coupe. 14 July 2007

The largest pond at Elfield Park by Andrew Coupe. 14 July 2007

Elfield Nature Park, situated close to The National Bowl and Furzton, is a hidden gem. This site was adopted by The Parks Trust in 2006 and is used exclusively for environmental education sessions – for both children and adults – and wildlife conservation. Because the site has a history of motorcycle use, it is closed to the general public.

In recent years Martin Kincaid and other Parks Trust staff have opened up the site for summer visits by MKNHS and a number of members will have visited. Although small (4 hectares), Elfield Nature Park boasts a good variety of habitats with oak woodland, mature scrub, open grassland and a series of ponds connected by a drainage ditch. Since the site is quiet and usually undisturbed, it abounds with wildlife.

The Parks Trust is now offering exclusive visitor access to this site for MKNHS members who would like to record flora and fauna here.  Relatively few ecological surveys have been undertaken so far, although we do have records of dragonflies, bees, butterflies, nesting birds and bats. The site is particularly rich in invertebrate life. Among the many species recorded thus far are Willow Emerald Damselfly, Purple Hairstreak, Water Stick Insect and the nationally scarce bee Lasioglossum pauxillum. However, as some of you know, the site also produces interesting plants, fungi, birds and mammals as well as being arguably the best amphibian site in Milton Keynes! It should be possible to leave kit on site here (e.g. trail cameras, pit fall traps) without fear of human disturbance. We would simply ask that all species records you make at Elfield Park are shared with The Parks Trust and Bucks and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC).

As this is a secure nature reserve, anyone wishing to visit to watch and record wildlife will need two keys – one for the gates and another to open the security barrier off Watling Street. These keys, together with an info pack about the site, will be provided to Society members on receipt of a refundable £10 deposit. This sum will be refunded on return of the keys.

If you would like to apply for a set of keys, please contact Martin by email:  Alternatively, speak to Martin at one of our outdoor meetings over the summer.

How to find longhorn beetles, focused searching

Longhorn beetle (Stranglia maculata) by Peter Hassett Silverdale 18 July 2009

Longhorn beetle (Stranglia maculata) by Peter Hassett Silverdale 18 July 2009

Longhorn beetles (LHB) are a fascinating group of beetles, mostly large and colourful but even the smaller and plainer species have their own charm. Finding them can be a little difficult sometimes but help is at hand… a short and simple how to find longhorn beetles follows.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: A short how to find longhorn beetles, focused searching. |

The leaf and stem mines of British flies and other insects 

A total of 885 British leaf, stem, twig, bark and samara miners are included in this account. A total of 1, 100 insects are discussed, although not all are miners as all agromyzids recorded in Britain and Ireland whether miner or not are included.

Click on the link to view the website: The leaf and stem mines of British flies and other insects – includes illustrated keys by host genus

Errors in botanical surveys

Errors in botanical surveying are a common problem. The presence of a species is easily overlooked, leading to false-absences; while misidentifications and other mistakes lead to false-positive observations. While it is common knowledge that these errors occur, there are few data that can be used to quantify and describe these errors.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Characterisation of false-positive observations in botanical surveys [PeerJ]

Great British Wildflower Hunt

Plantlife has launched the Great British Wildflower Hunt to:

  • Introduce you (and your family) to your local wildflowers (and their families)
  • Help you discover how vibrant your neighbourhood wildlife is
  • Help wildflowers by putting what you tell us to good use in our conservation work
  • Help to grow the next generation of flower lovers

Click on the link to find out more: Great British Wildflower Hunt

Milton Keynes Natural History Society – new logo

Milton Keynes Natural History Society logoWe hope that you like our smart new logo which we will be using on our website, display boards and posters.

We ran a competition inviting our members to design a new logo. Paul Lund come up with the winning design.

Out thanks are due to Paul Lund for creating the design and Ian Saunders for working his magic in Photoshop.