Category Archives: News

Big Blue Pinkgill fungus discovered

A fungus previously unknown to world science has been discovered on land looked after by the National Trust. What was thought to be one species, Big Blue Pinkgill (Entoloma bloxamii), has been proven by mycologists at Kew Gardens to be at least four different species in a ground-breaking find.

Click on the link for more information: Delight for biologists as new scientific discovery made in the UK | National Trust

Black-tailed Godwit pairs – the importance of synchrony

Colour-ringing enabled Tómas Gunnarsson to follow the lives of pairs of Black-tailed Godwits nesting near his parents’ home in Iceland. In this world, that is ruled by timing and opportunity, the pairings, divorces and re-pairings could form the plot for a TV soap-opera. The studies turned into a fascinating Nature paper that was written up in The Telegraph newspaper. The two main characters were christened Gretar and Sigga  by the journalist but they’re more commonly known as RY-RO and RO-RO.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Black-tailed Godwit pairs – the importance of synchrony | wadertales

Identifying individual Great Spotted Woodpeckers by their drumming

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Peter Hassett, College Lakes 18 June 2017

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Peter Hassett, College Lakes 18 June 2017

Animals—including conservation biologists—use acoustic signals to recognise and track individuals. The majority of research on this phenomenon has focused on sounds generated by vocal organs (e.g., larynx or syrinx). However, animals also produce sounds using other parts of the body, such as the wings, tail, legs, or bill. In this study we focused on non-syrinx vocalisation of the great spotted woodpecker, called drumming. Drumming consists of strokes of a bill on a tree in short, repeated series, and is performed by both males and females to attract mates and deter rivals. Here, we considered whether the great spotted woodpecker’s drumming patterns are sex-specific and whether they enable individual identification. We recorded drumming of 41 great spotted woodpeckers (26 males, 9 females, 6 unsexed). An automatic method was used to measure the intervals between succeeding strokes and to count strokes within a drumming roll. The temporal parameters of drumming that were analysed here had lower within- than between-individual coefficients of variation. Discriminant function analyses correctly assigned 70–88% of rolls to the originating individual, but this depended on whether all individuals were analysed together or split into males and females. We found slight, but significant, differences between males and females in the length of intervals between strokes—males drummed faster than females—but no difference in the number of strokes within a roll. Our study revealed that temporal patterns of drumming in the great spotted woodpecker cannot be used for unambiguous sex determination. Instead, discrimination among individuals may be possible based on the intervals between strokes and the number of strokes within a roll. Therefore, it is possible that differences in the temporal parameters of drumming may be used by birds to identify each other, as well as by researchers to aid in census and monitoring tasks.

Source: Vocal individuality in drumming in great spotted woodpecker—A biological perspective and implications for conservation

Greensand Trust Talk: Dormice of Maulden Woods 19th April 2018

Did you know that Maulden Woods are home to an endangered and much-loved mammal species – the dormouse?

Join our Greensand Trust Educational Volunteers Ann de Winter and Helen Gabler to hear how they have been monitoring and looking after these rare and beautiful creatures whose habitat is now under threat.

Click here for more information and to book tickets: The Greensand Trust | Greensand Trust Talk: Dormice of Maulden Woods

TRAPPIST-1 planets could hold 250 times as much water as Earth

Each of the five lightest planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system could have 250 times more water than Earth’s oceans, according to new study of the distant worlds.Identified as one of our best chances for finding an Earth-like planet capable of sustaining life, new information is being gleaned about the TRAPPIST-1 system thanks to the planets’ tendency to “tug” at each other.

Source: TRAPPIST-1 planets could hold 250 times as much water as Earth | Alphr

Nest Box Challenge

Male Chaffinch by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 7 February 2017

Male Chaffinch by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 7 February 2017

To get the most out of putting up your nest box, take part in Nest Box Challenge and help us to monitor the breeding success of birds in Britain’s green spaces. To take part, simply register your nest box online and then give us regular updates on whether it is used, what birds are using it, and the progress of any nests.

Click on the link for more information: Nest Box Challenge | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Which animals are more likely to survive climate change

As our planet continues to warm up quicker than a jacket potato, researchers have identified another detrimental consequence of climate change. Not only is our planet’s temperature in complete disarray, but some species may have a harder time than others adapting to a changing climate, potentially altering the balance of Earth’s biodiversity forever.

Source: Birds live. Frogs die. Researchers predict which animals are more likely to survive climate change | Alphr

Blooms for Bees Project review

It’s 11th January 2018 as I write this, sadly my last day of work for the Blooms for Bees project (though I will stay in touch with the project and continue to support Gemma and Judith in any way I can). One of the big winter jobs for Judith and I was analysing the data you all sent in. As verifier, I was interested in the number of bumblebee species recorded and how well our citizen scientists were able to identify them. I was able to achieve both by comparing the provisional identifications with the photographs submitted by users. So here are some stats:

Click here to read the rest of the article: Steven’s blog – bumblebee ID and farewell | Blooms for Bees

White cheeks are more titillating

Male blue tits with white cheeks are healthier and more likely to mate with higher quality partners than their counterparts with duller cheek feathers. Having purer white cheeks also indicates that a blue tit was better able to overcome an infection with parasites during the previous year.

Click here to read the rest of the article: White cheeks are more titillating: New bird study shows that the health and attractiveness of male blue tits is linked to the whiteness of their cheek feathers — ScienceDaily

The Butterflies of Northamptonshire in 2017

Weather wise 2017 proved to be a mixed bag and started with a nice spring which caused many butterflies to emerge early, in fact some of the spring butterfly species emerged two weeks earlier than they had the year before. Unfortunately despite the year being one of the warmest on record the weather took a serious turn for the worst during late June when high winds hit the county and then unsettled conditions dominated as the storms battering the USA made their way across the Atlantic to us.

Click here to read the rest of the article: David James Wildlife Diary: The Butterflies of Northamptonshire in 2017

Darwin’s Other Bird—The Domestic Pigeon

If you do a Google search for “Darwin bird” you will find endless references to the finches of the Galápagos Islands. But it took a long time for Charles Darwin to recognize their significance. When he collected them he did not even realize that they were related, considering some to be “grosbeaks,” others true finches, and others blackbirds. He even considered one warblerlike finch to be a kind of wren.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Darwin’s Other Bird—The Domestic Pigeon | All About Birds

England’s only narrow-headed ants are toughing out winter

A soggy mound amid the grass stopped me in my tracks. I had spent the best part of an hour searching the heathland reserve, eyes to the ground, before I chanced across it close to a clump of gorse. It was nothing much to look at, admittedly. After a winter of heavy downpours the dome-shaped structure covered with tiny snippets of vegetation had slumped so that it resembled a spadeful of old lawn clippings. Yet beneath the bedraggled thatch was buried treasure: an exceptionally rare colony of narrow-headed ants (Formica exsecta) toughing out the colder months hidden from view.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Country diary: England’s only narrow-headed ants are toughing out winter | Environment | The Guardian

A free introduction to Butterfly and Moth Identification, Surveying & Recording 18 March 2018

Atlas of Butterflies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire

Atlas of Butterflies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire

The Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation are hosting a free training session on Butterfly and Moth Identification, Surveying & Recording.

It helps land managers to know both which species are breeding on any patch, but how their management affects numbers.  So, accurate records you supply can make an enormous difference to efforts to conserve wildlife, locally and nationally. Plus, extra knowledge boosts the enjoyment of any walk, even in your own garden.

Date: 18 March 2018
Venue: Howe Park Wood Education & Visitor centre, H7, Chaffron Way, Milton Keynes, MK4 3GG
Programme:

09.45 Doors open; tea and coffee available
10.00 – 10.10 Welcome and details of the day
10.10 – 11.15 Identification of the butterflies of Berks., Bucks. & Oxon.
11.15 – 11.35 A quick butterfly i.d. quiz during tea/coffee and biscuits
11.35 – 12.30 Separating moths into their families – a start to moth identification and recording.
12.30 – 13.00 Transect recording methodology– why and how
13.00 – 13.30  Lunch (please bring a packed lunch) tea/coffee and biscuits are provided and including  a quick moth family quiz.
13.30 – 14.30 Practice transect walk
14.30 – 15.10 Conducting timed count and standardised surveys
15.10 – 15.25  Tea/coffee and biscuits
15.25 – 15.45 Record submission – and how it helps conservation
15.45   Closing remarks and departure

If you wish to attend either day please email nick.bowles@ntlworld.com

– all places are free and open to members and non-members of UTB/BC; but are subject to availability. Applicants must be able to explain how they will increase their recording after the course.  Electronic versions of all presentations can be copied to attendees’ memory sticks but are too large to send by email. Please do not attend without pre-booking.

Big lessons from a small island talk 22 February 2018

STEM LECTURE: Big lessons from a small island:

Skokholm is a small island off the coast of Wales with internationally important breeding populations of seabirds. The island houses the third largest colony of Manx Shearwaters in the world (15% of the global population) and holds 20% of Europe’s population of storm petrels. Rightly so, these species, and other nesting seabirds, have been the focus of conservation action on the island and Skokholm is a National Nature Reserve for this reason. However, the smaller landbirds of the island have often been overlooked, yet the island has a remarkable long-term historical record of such birds. This talk presents some of the findings of recent research into the landbirds of Skokholm and the lessons they hold for ecological theory and conservation more generally.

Click here for more information and to book your free ticket.

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.

Pilch field work party 17 February 2018

Pilch Field sign

Pilch Field sign

The next work party  at Pilch field will be on Saturday 17 February 2018 1-4pm.

The task is to tackle an area of scrub so it will be cutting back brambles etc and burning them.

Pilch field is situated on the bend of Pilch Lane, which can be accessed from the A421 or Great Horwood. The postcode of the chicken farm next door is MK17 0NX and the map reference is SP 748 321. Parking is on the verge only. Click here for a map.

I would appreciate it if any interested people could let me know they are coming, either by email or text or they can phone me

landline 01296 714052

mob 07961960802

many thanks

Ann Biggins

Prehistoric spider-like arachnid found preserved in amber

If you’re one of the many people who have a fear of spiders, going back in time 100 million years apparently wouldn’t have done you any good. A new, bizarre spider-like creature has just been discovered in Southeast Asia, having been encased in amber during the Cretaceous period some 100 million years ago, and it might be more terrifying than any of the creepy-crawlies lurking in the dark corners of your basement.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Prehistoric spider-like arachnid found preserved in amber, and it even has a tail

RSPBNBLG Walk -Linford Lakes NR 17 February 2018

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to Linford Lakes NR, Milton Keynes

Location: Meet at car park (free) 1/3 mile off Newport Road, just east of the Black Horse pub.
This is normally a "permit only" sire, but free to us for this visit.

SP843 429

Leader : Pete How
Postcode: MK14 5AH (Google map)

Our regular visit to this Ouse Valley reserve, run by Milton Keynes Parks Trust and a great Friends group. Lakes, wet woodland and three hides.

Time: 10 am to 12 noon

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.

Woodpeckers show signs of possible brain damage

Green Woodpeckers by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 11 April 2016

Green Woodpeckers by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 11 April 2016

With each peck, woodpeckers absorb more than ten times the force it would take to give a human a concussion. But they seem fine. Researchers examined the brains of woodpeckers in museum collections and saw that the brains showed a build-up of a protein that’s a sign of brain damage in humans. The woodpeckers might not have sustained brain damage themselves, though — the researchers think that protein build-up could possibly be beneficial to the birds.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Woodpeckers show signs of possible brain damage, but that might not be a bad thing — ScienceDaily

How artificial lighting is harming the natural world

It’s a summer night near a forest lake in Germany and something unnatural is going on. Beyond the dark waters lapping at the shores, a faint glow emanates from rings of light hovering above the surface. Nearby, bobbing red torchlights — the least-disruptive part of the visible spectrum — betray the presence of scientists on the shoreline. They are testing what happens when they rob the lake creatures of their night.

Click here to read the rest of the article: The dark side of light: how artificial lighting is harming the natural world

Lifting the petals on the snowdrop

The bobbing white blooms of snowdrops fluttering on the road verge or carpeting the woodland floor put a spring in the step of us all during the bitter winter months. Their early appearance and dazzling petals make them a firm favourite with nature lovers and wildflower watchers across the United Kingdom. But despite their soaring popularity, some of the snowdrop’s charms remain swaddled under snow.

Click on the link for more information: Winterwatch 2018 – Winterwatch 2018 – BBC

Rock and Fossil Day 17 February 2018

Rock and Fossil Day 2018 posterThis is a free event, the museum does however collect entry donations if you so wish. You can meet the members of the Bucks Geology Group, who’d like to encourage you to bring your own mystery fossils or interesting pieces of rock to see if we can help you with identification or pointers on where to start. Displays include specimens from here in Bucks from the Museum’s collections, some of which are not normally on public display so it’s a great chance to see them in the flesh, as well as some more exotic minerals and all manner of other geological artefacts.

The Museum is sited in the heart of old Aylesbury in Church Street. HP20 2QP.  More information is available of the website at www.buckscountymuseum.org

For those wishing to discover more about the Bucks Geology Group the main website is at http://www.bucksgeology.org.uk/index.html  membership forms can be collected on the day from the Museum event.

It’s a great informal event, ideal for families and children of all ages!

Black hole breakthrough reveals wobbling jets

With the help of pioneering supercomputer simulations, scientists have made a tantalising breakthrough to understanding how black holes interact with space-time.Black holes are known for gobbling particles and light with their colossal gravitational effects, but there is a mysterious material that does manage to escape their maw. Known as “relativistic jets”, they shoot out from black holes across millions of light years.

Click on the link for more information: Black hole breakthrough reveals wobbling jets spotted by supercomputers | Alphr

Big Garden Beak Watch

Beak deformities in wild birds are unusual, with fewer than one in 200 adult birds thought to be affected. However, a number of reports from BTO Garden BirdWatchers have caught our eye and we are keen to find out more about the deformities being seen in British and Irish gardens.

Blackbird by Jim Easton

Blackbird with decurved upper mandible

Please participate in our Big Garden Beak Watch survey to help us find out more!

Click on the link for more information: Big Garden Beak Watch | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Spring moult in Black-tailed Godwits

Before they return to Iceland in April or early May, wintering Black-tailed Godwits have got a lot of extra feeding to do, both to fuel their journeys north and to undertake a complete change of body feathers. The grey plumage that has protected them since the autumn is discarded, to be replaced by summer finery. Although more colourful, these feathers provide cryptic camouflage in the habitats in which the birds nest – and they have less odour too.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Spring moult in Black-tailed Godwits | wadertales

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying

Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying.

The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

Click here to read the rest of the article: Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying | Environment | The Guardian

Well-travelled Ringed Plovers

Waders breeding in Chukotka, in the north-east corner of Russia, have a long way to travel at the end of the summer, in search of suitable habitats in which to spend the non-breeding season. A new study, using geolocators, shows that Ringed Plovers from this area fly between 8,900 and 12,100 km each autumn and in a very different direction to most other shorebirds that breed in the same area.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Well-travelled Ringed Plovers | wadertales

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 18 February 2018

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 18 February2018 10:00-16:00hrs.
Tea and coffee, home-made cakes available.
Second-hand books on sale as well as crafts and bird seed.

Wader Quest.
Rick Simpson will be at LLNR on Sunday 18th Feb.
Rick and Elis Simpson run a charity, Wader Quest, to help conserve waders around the world.
As part of their fund-raising Rick and Elis will be at LLNR selling
Raffle tickets for a unique oil painting. The draw for the winner is to take place at the end of April.

Dragonfly Acrobatics in Slow Motion

Sam and Si head pond-side to see some of the best aerial carnivores in action – dragonflies. Using a little plastic toy – they capture a stunning shot of a dragonfly going head to head with a Lego man! Sam explains what’s behind their amazing pilot skills as Si gets more stunning high speed footage.

Talk – moths of an English country garden 21 February 2018

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve showing observation deck by Peter Hassett

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve showing observation deck by Peter Hassett

Presentation from Andy Harding:

‘What’s flying tonight – the moths of an English country garden’

Over 320 species of large moths found in an Old Stratford garden.
The talk covers the life cycle of moths, differences from butterflies, numbers, camouflage, differences between the sexes, strange names and the importance of accurate moth recording. However it is a light-hearted, hopefully humorous talk, illustrated by 85 pictures, to promote an appreciation of this amazingly varied and wonderful group of insects.

Date: Wednesday 21st February 2018
Time: Doors open 19:00hrs for 19:30 hrs start.
Location: Linford Lakes Nature Reserve
Tickets: £3.50 for adults, no booking required. 

Longhorn Beetle Atlas 2018 published

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

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

The Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme collates records for beetles in family Cerambycidae. The scheme (under the name Cerambycidae Recording Scheme) has been running since 1982, and published an atlas in 1999.

The Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme have produced a new draft Atlas which can be downloaded using this link: Draft Longhorn Beetle Atlas.pdf

Water found close to the surface on Mars

Scientists have found reserves of “water ice” on Mars, a discovery which makes human visitation to the planet much more viable. The reserves were found around the mid-latitudes of Mars, with images of the planet revealing bands of blue material – assumed to be water ice – emerging from between eroded cliffs.

Click on the link for more information: Enormous water ice reserves found close to the surface on Mars | Alphr

New antbird species discovered in Peru

It was July 10, 2016 when Dan Lane, Fernando Angulo, Jesse Fagan, and I rolled into the coffee-growing town of Flor de Café in north-central Peru. This town lies in the Cordillera Azul—a picturesque series of outlying Andean ridges hardly explored by ornithologists. In fact, the first ornithological inventory in the region was only in 1996, when a team of researchers from the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science (LSUMNS), bushwhacked into the extremely remote eastern Cordillera Azul. It was on this expedition that Dan, then a beginning graduate student at LSU, discovered the distinctive Scarlet-banded Barbet (Capito wallacei) on “Peak 1538”. Now, twenty years later, we were back to see this iconic species, which graces the cover of the Birds of Peru field guide.

Click here to read the rest of the article: New antbird species discovered in Peru, #ornithology news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Plant theft is a crime

Snowdrops by Harry Appleyard , Tattenhoe 4 February 2017

Snowdrops by Harry Appleyard , Tattenhoe 4 February 2017

Snowdrops are appearing, but in recent years they have become so popular it’s led to snowdrop bulbs being stolen from the wild and from gardens to sell on the black market. This is part of a much wider trend. From the theft of snowdrops and bluebells to rare orchids and ferns, stealing plants is a problem that goes largely unreported, but it’s a crime that can have disastrous impacts on plant populations.

 

Click here to read the rest of the article: Plantwatch: from snowdrops to rare orchids – plant theft is a crime | Science | The Guardian

Spider silk could offer breakthrough in hearing

A recent study on spider silk is providing promising possibilities for the way hearing aid microphones will be able to manage background noise — and may even change the way you look at the eight-legged creatures the next time you encounter one. The fiber they spin could be the future of directional microphone technology in hearing aids, improving the quality of sound wearers experience across all frequencies.

Source: Spider silk could offer breakthrough in hearing aid microphones

Circle of Life

Rewilding Europe regularly organises webinars for members of the European Rewilding Network (ERN) to discuss rewilding related topics and share insight and experience. The network currently boasts 61 members from 26 countries across Europe.

This latest webinar saw members come together to discuss the Circle of Life project, which aims to increase the availability of carrion in nature for the benefit of Europe’s scavengers. Rewilding Europe and Dutch NGO ARK Nature have recently published the Circle of Life brochure, which provides readers with ecological insight and practical ways of bringing back the close relationship between carrion and scavengers.

Click here to read the rest of the article: European Rewilding Network webinar covers Circle of Life — Rewilding Europe

“Ecological Armageddon” – more evidence for the drastic decline in insect numbers

Four years ago a group of German entomologists reported that there had been a huge reduction in the biomass of insects caught using Malaise traps sited in 63 German nature reserves since 1989 (Sorg et al., 2013). This shocking observation went almost unnoticed until a reanalysis of the data appeared recently (Hallmann et al., 2017). The latter paper generated a flurry of media activity and the phrase “Ecological Armageddon” swiftly circled the globe. Although not denying the decline reported, there are a number of caveats that should be considered when reading the two papers; the data are based on biomass, not species, the sites were not sampled continuously and are not globally representative (Saunders, 2017). The authors of the German study were not able to link the observed decline to climate change or pesticide use; although agricultural intensification and the practices associated with it, were, however, suggested as likely to be involved in some way. The link between habitat, insect diversity and abundance has been recognised for more than a century as illustrated by the following quotation,

Click on the link for more information: “Ecological Armageddon” – more evidence for the drastic decline in insect numbers – Leather – 2017 – Annals of Applied Biology – Wiley Online Library

Waders are long-lived birds! | wadertales

Will this Redshank live for another 10, 20 or 30 years?The BTO longevity record for a wader is held by an Oystercatcher that was ringed as a chick by Adrian Blackburn in Lincolnshire (east coast of England) on 14 June 1970 and last caught by the Wash Wader Ringing Group on 16 July 2010, in virtually the same bit of the county. The time between ringing and last capture was 40 years 1 month and 2 days. Perhaps the bird is still alive?

Click here to read the rest of the article: Waders are long-lived birds! | wadertales

BMERC are now on Twitter

We’re delighted to see that Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre –  @BucksMKERC  – are now on Twitter! You may want to follow them…

Are honey bees the most important pollinator?

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

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

Pollination is a complex process. It’s not as easy as an insect simply visiting a flower.

This is important to remember when talking about which species are the ‘best’ or ‘most important’ pollinators. Simply observing an animal visiting a flower is not, on its own, evidence that the animal is pollinating the flower.

Click on the link for more information: Flower Visitors vs. Pollinators: no evidence that honey bees are the most important pollinator worldwide – Ecology is not a dirty word

 National Fox Welfare Society


More than just fox rescue: Dedicated to the Red Fox in the UK for over 25 years, The National Fox Welfare Society provide free mange treatment to householders feeding foxes in their gardens with Sarcoptic Mange and this alone means each and every year we don’t just help a few foxes, not even hundreds, but thousands! All foxes we rescue will be seen by a Veterinary Surgeon in the first instance and price is never put before the life of a fox.

Click on this link to find out more about the work of this organisation and how you can help foxes: NFWS Fox Rescue and Sarcoptic Mange Information Site | National Fox Welfare Society | Free Mange Treatment For Foxes | Injured Foxes | Sick Foxes | Fox Cubs | Fox Rescue | Mange Treatment Advice and Rescue Service |

How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable 

It turns out mushrooms aren’t just great to eat – they played an essential role in creating an atmosphere suitable for animal life, according to a new study. The earliest plants to dwell on land did not have well developed roots or vascular systems. Fungi, among the earliest colonizers of land, helped facilitate the transfer of phosphorus from rocky soil to primitive plants, which required the mineral to photosynthesize. “The results of including data on fungal interactions present a significant advance in our understanding of Earth’s early development,” said Benjamin Mills, co-author of a report on the research published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. “Our work clearly shows the importance of fungi in the creation of an oxygenated atmosphere.”

Click here to read the rest of the article: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

January plant spotter sheet for children

If you’re reading this site, it’s probably because you have at least a fleeting interest in nature. Yet wild flowers are not just disappearing from our countryside; they’re also vanishing from children’s lives and their language. The Oxford Junior Dictionary has been cutting out the names of common plants over the past few years, because children just don’t encounter or know bluebells and other wild plants any more.

We want to change this in 2018. Wild flowers are fascinating and magical, and children deserve to have their lives and understanding of the world enriched by meeting them.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Introducing #herbologyhunt – #wildflowerhour

The State of the UK’s Birds 2017

BTO The State of the UK's Birds 2017 report

BTO The State of the UK’s Birds 2017 report

The British Trust for Ornithology has published, the latest State of the UK’s Birds Report which highlights how our birds are doing. Some of our summer migrants are arriving earlier, the distributions of others are moving north and some are just beginning to colonise. The report is only possible due to the efforts of volunteers who take part in BTO surveys.

Bullfinches stick together for years

Scientists and many bird enthusiasts have long assumed that Bullfinches mate for several years, and perhaps even for life.

But believing and knowing are two different things. A professor emeritus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has 24 seasons of field observations that now confirm this is indeed true.

“Although guides and reference works have claimed that Bullfinches live as bonded pairs throughout the year and for life, this was based on assumptions,” says Professor Emeritus Olav Hogstad at NTNU’s Department of Natural History.

lick here to read the rest of the article: Confirmed – Bullfinches stick together for years, #ornithology news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Natural England’s long term monitoring network 2009 – 2016

Natural England - Taking the long view

Natural England – Taking the long view

Natural England’s Long-term Monitoring Network project (LTMN) began in 2009 with the aim of developing, with our partners, a cost effective network of sites to provide evidence on the effects of changing climate, air pollution and land management on the natural environment. It is a set of intensively monitored sites across England, selected to cover the whole country and to include some of our most valuable habitats. LTMN extends and complements the UK Environmental Change Network (ECN) which was established in 1992.

lick here to read the rest of the article: Taking the long view – an introduction to Natural England’s long term monitoring network 2009 – 2016 – NERR070

Weevil Guides

Parts of a Weevil

Parts of a Weevil

These are draft guides to genera or species groups of weevils. It is being tested; if you have any ideas for improving the design or content, please send them to mgwildlife@gmail.com or @MarkGurn on Twitter. This is a guide to the genera or groups of weevils of Britain and Ireland.

Source: Weevil Guides | Tomorrow’s Biodiversity

Global warming is changing Earth’s Shape

Melting glaciers have become the poster child of the symptoms of global warming. As temperatures rise, large bodies of ice around the poles are losing mass at an unprecedented rate, driving up sea levels and reducing feeding and breeding grounds for animals.Now, a new study has revealed these events are having another, significant impact. The weight of these glaciers is causing the bottom of the ocean to sink.

Source: Global warming is changing Earth’s SHAPE: Melting glaciers are causing the bottom of the ocean to sink | Alphr

What a year it has been! — Rewilding Europe

Now is a good time to reflect on both our achievements and our hopes and expectations.  Rewilding Europe celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2017, and we can now add one more year to our initiative’s young history. The twelve highlight stories (presented below) demonstrate that last year was a hugely productive one for us, with more progress than ever and good traction in many areas of our work.

Click on the link for more information: What a year it has been! — Rewilding Europe

Goldfinch Feeding Survey preliminary results

Between November 2015 and February 2016 an amazing 5,183 households across Britain and Ireland took part in our Goldfinch Feeding Survey to help us determine what it is about our gardens Goldfinches are attracted to. With households seeing an average of eight Goldfinches at a time, the survey highlighted the fact that the population of this colourful bird has been increasing in gardens and is now reported by 70% more Garden BirdWatch participants than twenty years ago.

Click on the link for more information: Goldfinch Feeding Survey preliminary results | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Starlings murmuration by Ann Strutton, Otmoor 13 January 2018

Trip Report – Otmoor RSPB Reserve 13 January 2018

16 Members of the Society joined our second Winter Walk at the RSPB Otmoor reserve in Oxfordshire. We were lucky to have a dry, calm afternoon, if rather overcast.

The reserve has just celebrated its 20th anniversary as the first land was purchased here by the RSPB in 1997 and the area of reserve has been consolidated and extended considerably since then.

One of the early tasks was the planting of an extensive reed bed, a back-breaking task as testified by members of the Society who helped to complete that planting! The aim was to encourage reed bed, specialists such as the Bittern, to move in and to increase availability of managed reed beds less vulnerable to rising sea-levels and coastal flooding.

It has certainly paid off as in 2013 the first booming bittern was heard and they have subsequently bred at the reserve. In 2015, Marsh Harriers bred successfully for the first time and in the same year a pair of cranes also attempted to breed in the reed bed. They have returned subsequently and it is hoped they will return again this year.

We began our walk by inspecting Brown Hairstreak eggs in the Blackthorn hedge near the car park, before checking out the feeders where a Marsh Tit showed well among the other tits and finches.

Moving on along the main track a Cetti’s Warbler was calling as we watched Marsh Harriers and flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover overhead along with the occasional snipe.

During the afternoon, we saw at least 4 Marsh Harriers and some of the group were lucky enough to see a wintering Hen Harrier too. A visit to the hide rewarded some with sightings of a male Brambling and several Yellowhammers amid the mixed flock of Linnets, Reed Buntings and Chaffinches taking advantage of the seed scattered on the lane beside the hide.

Others made their way direct to the first screen, past big flocks of Wigeon, Golden Plover and Lapwing on the fields next to the track, to be in position for the arrival of the starlings at dusk and to spend some time watching the variety of ducks on the areas of open water.

The starlings didn’t disappoint! Soon after 4pm the flocks were gathering from all sides and gave us an excellent display before funnelling down into the reed bed in front of the screen. A great finale to the walk!

To see a short video of the brilliant murmuration (thank you Janice Robertson) click here.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Many thanks to Linda Murphy for leading the walk and providing the trip report.

Group photo Milton Keynes Natural History Society at Otmoor 13 January 2018

Setting off ©Janice Robertson

Reed bed and drainage channel ©Harry Appleyard

Reed bed and drainage channel ©Harry Appleyard

Watching Marsh Harriers Otmoor 13 January 2018

Watching Marsh Harriers ©Harry Appleyard

Brown Hairstreak Egg by Harry Appleyard, Otmoor 13 January 2018

Brown Hairstreak Egg ©Harry Appleyard

Golden Plover Overhead

Golden Plover ©Harry Appleyard

Brambling ©Janice Robertson

Brambling ©Janice Robertson

Starling Murmuration ©Harry Appleyard

Starling Murmuration ©Harry Appleyard

Starlings murmuration by Ann Strutton, Otmoor 13 January 2018

Starlings murmuration ©Ann Strutton,

Autumn 2017 edition of BTO magazine Life Cycle has been published

Issue 6 of LifeCycle features articles on whoosh netting in your garden, spring trapping Red Kites and developing a nestbox project for Willow Tits. There is also a review of a new sexing and ageing guide for ducks, a tester’s view of Demography Online as well as details of how to get involved in a new research project on Blackcaps.

A Tour Of The World’s Weird And Wonderful Flies

You may be most familiar with the flies that hover around your fruit basket or kitchen. But some of these insects have the most unusual lifestyles on Earth. There are the “thuggish” robber flies, capable of killing hummingbirds; the delicate and nearly invisible midges that pollinate cocoa plants; and an assortment of bot flies that can live under human skin, inhabit the stomachs of rhinos, or dwell in the nasal cavities of reindeer. Erica McAlister, senior curator at the Natural History Museum in London, affectionately refers to these flies as ‘snotbots.’

Click here to read the rest of the article: A Tour Of The World’s Weird And Wonderful Flies

Blackbird – a common bird that’s often overlooked

It is easy to dismiss the Blackbird as just another common, year-round, garden resident. But to do so would overlook some fascinating behaviours. Research, for example, has revealed that at least 12% of the Blackbirds present in Britain and Ireland during the winter are immigrants from elsewhere in Europe and, far from just feeding on fruit and earthworms, Blackbirds have even been observed to take tadpoles and newts from the shallows of garden ponds.

Click on the link for more information: Blackbird | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Parks Trust events marking World Wetlands Day, 2nd February 2018

Water Rail by Mark Lynham, Linford Lakes NR 12 February 2017

Water Rail by Mark Lynham, Linford Lakes NR 12 February 2017

For the first time, The Parks Trust will be marking International World Wetlands Day in 2018 with a number of special events.

2nd February 2018 is World Wetlands Day – commemorating the signing of the Ramsar Convention, the international accord on sustainable wetlands management in 1971. Wetlands are among the richest and most diverse wildlife habitats on earth and of course are crucial to human beings as well.

Here is the programme of the events being held between 1-3 February 2018:

Thursday 1st February:

Wetlands of the World talk. Biodiversity Officer Martin Kincaid will talk about conservation of important wetlands around the world, from the Pantanal to Willen Lake! Linford Lakes Study Centre. MK14 5AH. 7.30-9pm. £3 per person.

Friday 2nd February:

Guided Walk – Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve. 10.30am. Park at Manor Farm Court, Old Wolverton. MK12 5NN.  Learn about the creation of Milton Keynes’ newest wetland nature reserve. £2 per person.

Guided Walk – Birdwatch at Caldecotte Lake. 10am. Park at car park off Monellan Crescent, South Caldecotte. MK7 8NA. A winter walk to see the variety of wildfowl and other winter birds. £2 per person.

Open Day – Linford Lakes Nature Reserve. 10am-2pm. Park at the reserve car park, off Wolverton Road, Great Linford. MK14 5AH. A rare chance to visit this first class nature reserve on a week day – specially opened for World Wetlands Day. The study centre will be open and the Friends of Linford Lakes will be on hand to serve tea, coffee and cakes. The four bird hides will be open with volunteers on hand to show visitors the wildlife.

Saturday 3rd February:

Guided Walk – Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve. 10.30am. Details as for 2nd Feb.

To book a place for any of these events please visit The Parks Trust website at: http://www.theparkstrust.com/whats-on/whats-on

 

Introducing the Lesser Butterfly Orchid

Lesser Butterfly Orchid © Donald Macauley 21 June 2015

Lesser Butterfly Orchid © Donald Macauley 21 June 2015 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

My interest in orchids started as a teenager, working in my school holidays on a nature reserve in the Chilterns, which at the time had more orchid species recorded there than at any other site in the UK. The diversity of orchids present there with their varied colours and floral structures was not only interesting in its own right but also inspired a broader interest in, and passion for, wild flowers that has continued with me to this day.

Source: Introducing the Lesser Butterfly Orchid – Back From The Brink

Red Kite Survey

Red Kite

Red Kite by Peter Hassett

Greenfinch destined for UK Red List?

Greenfinch by Andy Morffew, Itchen Abbas 6 November 2012

Greenfinch by Andy Morffew, Itchen Abbas 6 November 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

The 20th annual BirdTrends report from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has been published, notably highlighting the rapid and alarming decline of Greenfinch.

Though still a familiar garden bird, Greenfinch has declined by 59 per cent in the UK in just 10 years, prompting concerns for its status. The species was not classified as of conservation concern when the UK’s list was last updated in 2015 but, should the current rate of decline continue, it could be moved straight to the Red List in the next update. The decline is caused by a widespread and severe outbreak of a disease called trichomonosis, which was first noted affecting bird populations in 2006.

Click here to read the rest of the article: Greenfinch destined for UK Red List? – BirdGuides