Category Archives: News

Non-Native Invasive Dragonflies

Five non-native damselfly and eight non-native dragonfly species have been recorded in Britain as a result of accidental introductions, either as eggs or larvae in imported aquatic plants. Most have been found in the greenhouses of importers of tropical pondweeds. However, at least one species (Ischnura senegalensis) has been discovered at a garden pond, to which it was probably moved with recently imported pondweed. Although unlikely, there is a possibility that these or other dragonfly species could be encountered, particularly near commercial aquatic greenhouses. Some may also emerge from domestic indoor aquaria after sale. As the species concerned have originated in hot climates, it is unlikely – although not impossible – that successful establishment could occur in the wild, as happened with Oriental Scarlet (Crocothemis servilia, pictured right) in Florida, USA.

Source: Non-Native Invasive Species | british-dragonflies.org.uk

Flower-rich habitats increase survival of bumblebee families

New research led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has revealed for the first time that flower-rich habitats are key to enhancing the survival of bumblebee families between years.The results, which come from the largest ever study of its kind on wild bumblebee populations, will help farmers and policy makers manage the countryside more effectively to provide for these vital but declining pollinators.

Source: Flower-rich habitats increase survival of bumblebee families | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

International Team Discovers Large Cave-Dwelling Spider

Researchers at the San Diego Natural History Museum, along with experts from Mexico and Brazil, have described a new species of large cave-dwelling spider, the Sierra Cacachilas wandering spider (Califorctenus cacachilensis). Related to the notoriously venomous Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria fera), the Sierra Cacachilas wandering spider was first discovered on a collaborative research expedition in 2013 into a small mountain range outside of La Paz in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Four years later, after careful documentation and peer-review, the species and genus was deemed new to science and the discovery was published in Zootaxa on March 2, 2017.

Source: International Team Discovers Large Cave-Dwelling Spider

The Big Bluebell Watch

 

Bluebells by Alan Piggott

Bluebells by Alan Piggott taken in Kings Wood across the road from Stockgrove Park car park.

Over half the world’s population of these iconic wildflowers grow in the UK. Help us to find out where they are.

Be part of our most accurate bluebell survey ever. Your records will help to monitor the status of the UK’s bluebells over time and will help us to secure the future of native bluebells and their woodland home.

From beautiful ancient woods to your back garden, look out for bluebells and put your sightings on the map.

Click on the link for more information : The Big Bluebell Watch – Woodland Trust

Survey for Duke at Pitstone Hill and NT Bradenham estate

Hello everyone, I hope you wont mind me contacting you but the National Trust, who survey for the Duke on their land at Ivinghoe, would like us to do the same on Pitstone Hill in the coming late spring and early summer.

As you are probably aware the Duke is now extinct in Oxfordshire. Reduced to perhaps a single site in Berkshire (it wasn’t reported at all in 2016) and is hanging on in three sites in Bucks.. By far the largest of the three extant colonies is at Ivinghoe and the National Trust have not only been caring for it there but also managing Pitstone Hill so that it’s condition becomes suitable for the species to spread. This is essential if we are to make a successful job of saving the Duke. It must expand from its relatively small breeding areas into new patches of suitable habitat. The Natioanl Trust’s own volunteers will be surveying the large expanse of the Ivinghoe complex for the species but they feel that they cant adequately survey Pitstone Hill as well.

I plan to hold an initial meeting at Pitstone Hill at 11.00 on Thursday 25th May. (OS ref. SP955148 , Nearest postcode: LU7 9EN

http://www.ukcarparks.info/pitstone-hill-car-park-pitstone#sthash.iJTu5vqr.dpbs  )

We will take a walk to see the areas where the Duke is most likely to set up a new colony and with luck see the butterfly, its eggs and maybe even a larvae. Even if we don’t have any luck I shall show you images of the butterfly, egg, larvae and the type of feeding damage the larvae causes on leaves, which are readily spotted and make surveying for the Duke fairly straightforward. This meeting will last about 2 hours and after that you will be able to go back and survey at times to suit yourself, and we can also agree on two further search dates, to resurvey as a group if you would prefer to search with others.

This  is a chance to take part in a very worthwhile exercise. It would be brilliant to discover a new colony of the Duke, the first for decades. Even if we don’t succeed this year, we will establish a group to return each year, because eventually the Duke will make it the 500 m or so from the edge of the Ivinghoe colony to the slopes of Pitstone Hill.

There is also a previous event at NT Bradenham estate (meeting point to be decided, probably the cricket ground), this initial visit will be 17th May.

If you think you might be able to help with this work, even only making a single visit; please email me (Nick Bowles <nick.bowles@ntlworld.com> ) so that I can add your name to my list of those receiving updates. Thank you.

best wishes Nick Bowles
Chair, Upper Thames branch / BC
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How can I survey and monitor my grassland?

Save Our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife.

They have produced some useful guides:

  • Surveying and monitoring grassland habitats
  • Surveying and monitoring grassland species

Click on the link to view the guides: Magnificent Meadows

Hollington Wood – Bluebell Day 1 May 2017

Bluebell Day 2017
Bank Holiday Monday
1st May
10am – 5pm

ARRANGEMENTS AS PER PREVIOUS YEARS…

Free admission (but all donations are very gratefully received) and you are free to explore all of the wood for the day.
Nearest free parking in Prospect Place.

REMEMBER: PARKING IN THE WOOD MUST BE PRE-BOOKED – see http://www.hollingtonwood.com/product/car-parking/

  • Guided walks (11am & 2pm)
  • Refreshments available, incl primrose wine nouveau
  • Kids activities with Anna
  • Airsoft taster with Carlos
  • Nature experts on hand…

View the Hollington Wood 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 fossilised flower in amber – with its pollinator!

There have been only a handful of occasions in my professional life when I’ve been sent a manuscript to review that has caused my jaw to hit the floor with amazement.  The last time it occurred was July 2016 when I received a request to review a study that claimed to have found a fossil flower in amber, with an associated pollinator.  Not only that, but the flower appeared to belong to a species of asclepiad (Apocynaceae subfamily Asclepiadoideae) – the plant group on which I have focused a good deal of my attention over the years.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: A fossilised flower in amber – with its pollinator! | Jeff Ollerton’s Biodiversity Blog

Hedgehog Awareness Week 30 April – 6 May 2017

Hedgehog Awareness Week runs from 30th April to 6th May 2017 and hedgehoggy events are being organised all around the country already!

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and takes place every year.  It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.

Click on the link for more information: Hedgehog Awareness Week 2017 – The British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents

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

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

Estimates suggest that perhaps a quarter of a billion birds are killed by traffic annually across the world. This is surprising because birds have been shown to learn speed limits.

Birds have also been shown to adapt to the direction of traffic and lane use, and this apparently results in reduced risks of fatal traffic accidents. Such behavioural differences suggest that individual birds that are not killed in traffic should have larger brains for their body size.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents | Open Science

Identification Guides and Recording pages added MKNHS website

New Menus April 2017One of the Society’s initiatives this year is to encourage more people to report their sightings to create biological records.

To help people we have produced a list of recommended Identification Guides covering:
Birds
Fungi and Lichen
Insects
Mammals
Millipedes and Centipedes
Plants
Reptiles and Amphibians
Slugs and Snails
Spiders and Harvestmen
Woodlice
Miscellaneous

There is also a new page on Recording and our indoor meeting on 25th April 2017 is entitles “How to Record”

You can find the new pages under the  menu.

We will put our new found knowledge into practice by recording our sightings in our outdoor meetings which you can view here.

Celebrate Milton Keynes’s 50th birthday with the Society

On 23 January 2017 Milton Keynes was 50 years old. There are celebrations throughout the year to celebrate.
MKNHS is joining in the celebrations and we’ve added the MK50 page to the website covering:

MK Festival of Nature logo colour png

  • Photographic Exhibition 30 June- 30 July 2017
  • Self-Guided Nature Walks:

Tattenhoe page added to Wildlife Sites

Male Willow Emerald Damselfly by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Valley Park 14 October 2016

Male Willow Emerald Damselfly by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Valley Park 14 October 2016

Ian Saunders has produced another of his excellent guides for the Wildlife SItes section of the website.

This time he describes Tattenhoe. Click here to visit the page in the Wildlife Sites section of this website.

But that’s not all. Ian’s guide is based on an extensive description of the site with wonderful photos produced by local naturalist Harry Appleyard. Harry has also produced a self-guided walk for this must see park.

View Harry’s extensive description of the site here.

View Harry’s self-guided walk here.

RSPBNBLG Walk – Paxton Pits NR 23 April 2017

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip to Paxton Pits Nature Reserve on 23 April 2017:

Location: Map ref TL 195 629, at W edge of Little Paxton, just off the A1 N of St.Neots
Postcode: PE19 6ET (Google map)

75 hectares of lakes, meadow, grassland, scrub and woodland next to the river Great Ouse, near St.Neots. A visit at this time of year to this particular location is all about Nightingales – hence the early start! Leader TBD. The café and toilets open after 10am.

Time: 08.30 am

Price: Free

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Garden Bird Watch 2016 – interactive analysis tool

Robin by Peter Hassett, College Lake 29 December 2016

Robin by Peter Hassett, College Lake 29 December 2016

Most of 2016 was warmer than average, but this didn’t mean that life was always easy for birds. Mild temperatures over the 2015/16 winter probably resulted in good over-winter survival of small garden birds, and numbers of Wrens, Coal Tits and Goldcrests were all high in gardens during the early part of the year. However, although birds escaped severe freezes, they were battered by storms and wet weather.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: GBW Annual Results 2016 | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

100-million-year-old insect found preserved in amber

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a 100-million-year-old insect preserved in amber with a triangular head, almost-alien and “E.T.-like” appearance and features so unusual that it has been placed in its own scientific “order” – an incredibly rare event.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Ancient, scary and alien-looking specimen forms a rarity in the insect world – a new order | News and Research Communications | Oregon State University

Red Admiral migration

Have you seen a Red Admiral? Please record it!

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a migratory butterfly colonising Central and Northern Europe every year from the South. In autumn, the offspring of these spring arrivals migrate southwards.

We investigate the migration of the Red Admiral by the help of citizen science. Thanks to the more than 40 citizen science portals across Europe that share their data with us, we are now able to study Red Admiral occurrence in an unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution.

Now we need you to help our project! Please report any records of Red Admirals

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Red Admiral migration | Insect Migration & Ecology Lab

Who’s the daddy? 

Garden bird enthusiasts might be surprised – shocked even – to discover the goings on in their own back gardens. Between the well-kept flowerbeds and over neatly-trimmed lawns, nesting garden birds flit to and fro, their endeavours to rear their young a shining example of what hard-working, faithful couples can achieve. Or so, until relatively recently, it was presumed.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Who’s the daddy? | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

We share the planet with 60,000 tree species

A list of tree species around the world has been compiled by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) in conjunction with 500 member organisations.

The assessment has created Global Tree Search, the first complete database of tree species and country distributions, published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: We share the planet with 60,000 tree species | Discover Wildlife

State of UK Birds 2016

The main theme of The State of the UK’s Birds report (SUKB) 2016 is the latest Birds of Conservation Concern 4 list – BoCC4 published in 2015 – and the species whose status has changed. The increase in the Red list by 15 species is due to problems in all habitats including farmland, woodland and coasts but most notably in uplands with five new upland species moving onto the red list. One of these is Curlew.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: State of UK Birds 2016 | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Fungi walk Rushbeds Wood 17 April 2017

Buckinghamshire Fungus Group (BFG) are hosting a Fungi walk in Rushbeds Wood 17 April 2017.

Details of the event can be found here.

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

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Singing bird provides hope in Galápagos

The mangrove finch has been a focus of captive-rearing efforts for the past three years in the Galápagos Islands and it looks like all this work has been successful.

A captive-reared male mangrove finch has been observed singing in the wild, representing the first released bird to have been seen exhibiting this breeding behaviour.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Singing bird provides hope in Galápagos | Discover Wildlife

Bumblebee identification course 30 April 2017

Bumblebee Identification and Field Techniques with Ivan Wright. 30 April 2017, 10am – 4pm.

A welcome into the wonderful world of bumblebees! There are approximately 24 species of Bumbleebee in the UK and they are fascinating creatures, but under-recorded.

This training day will mostly deal with the accurate identification of bumblebees for recording purposes. It will also be covering what is – and is not – possible in the field with a pragmatic understanding of recording some difficult species e.g. transect work. The workshop will also include hands-on survey and specimen preparation experience – including a chance to practice field and bench techniques.

Click on the link for more information: TVERC training courses: Bumblebee identification 30 April 2017 | Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 16 April 2017

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

Bring friends and family and explore the reserve.
There will be a nature hunt for families to take part in,
With rewards on completion for the younger family members.
Come along and see the herons on their nests.
Refreshments, home-made cakes and facilities available
Crafts, second-hand books and bird seed for sale.
.

World’s spiders devour 400-800m metric tons of insects yearly

The world’s spiders eat 400-800m tonnes of insects every year – as much meat and fish as humans consume over the same period, a study said Tuesday.

In the first analysis of its kind, researchers used data from 65 previous studies to estimate that a total of 25m metric tonnes of spiders exist on Earth.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: World’s spiders devour 400-800m metric tons of insects yearly – experts | Environment | The Guardian

Petition to keep the ban on bee-killing pesticides

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

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

38 Degrees are running a petition to the ban on bee-killing pesticides.

Britain’s bees are in danger. Powerful lobbyists want to spray toxic pesticides that kill bees all over our fields this summer. These pesticides are so deadly that there’s a ban on using them – so the lobbyists must convince the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom to lift the ban.

Andrea Leadsom is fairly new to the job – and this is the first time she’s had the fate of our bees in her hands. But so far, the only people she’s heard from are lobbyists. Together, we can change that. A huge petition, delivered straight to her, would prove that the public expect her to protect our bees – and keep the ban in place

Please can you sign the petition right now and demand that the ban on bee-killing pesticides stays in place? It takes less than a minute to add your name:
http://bit.ly/2n18De6

RSPBNBLG Talk – Wildlife of Transylvania 13 April 2017

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

Location: Cruck Barn, City Discovery Centre, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes
Postcode: MK13 9AP (Google map)
Andy, the Bucks Bird Recorder for the last 28 years, also leads overseas natural history tours. He’ll draw on all of his experience to take us on a virtual tour of this spectacular landscape where traditional farming and herding practices allow biodiversity to thrive. Birds, flowers, butterflies and moths … and maybe a bear!

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.

How do animals see in the dark?

On a moonless night, light levels can by more than 100m times dimmer than in bright daylight. Yet while we are nearly blind and quite helpless in the dark, cats are out stalking prey, and moths are flying agilely between flowers on our balconies.

While we sleep, millions of other animals rely on their visual systems to survive. The same is true of animals who inhabit the eternal darkness of the deep sea. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the world’s animals are primarily active in . How is their formidable visual performance possible, especially in insects, with tiny eyes and brains less than the size of a grain of rice? What optical and neural strategies have they evolved to allow them to see so well in dim light?

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: How do animals see in the dark?

Butterfly Conservation’s Upper Thames Branch meeting 28 October 2017

Butterfly Conservation’s Upper Thames Branch, which covers Berks, Bucks and Oxon, is holding its annual Members’ Day on

Saturday 28th October 2017, 10.00 – 17.00,  

Amersham Community Centre, Chiltern Avenue, Amersham, Bucks.

We are opening the event to members of other wildlife and conservation organisations. It is an all-day event with illustrated talks, displays, a members’ photo competition and a stall selling butterfly books. An excellent buffet lunch is served. We have some good speakers coming this year. It is a great opportunity for you to find out about the butterflies and moths in our area and to chat to people who are involved in their conservation. The programme, directions and map will be on the events page of our web-site

www.upperthames-butterflies.org.uk

The event is free, although a donation of £5 to cover the cost of the lunch would be appreciated. Numbers are limited so, if you would like to join us for all or part of the day, please book with

Brenda Mobbs at bc.upperthames@gmail.com or 01494 712486 before 11th October.

If you are already a Butterfly Conservation member you do not need to book.

Buckinghamshire Recorders Seminar 29 April 2017

The Buckinghamshire Recorders Seminar will be on

Saturday 29th April at The Coach House, at Green Park, Aston Clinton, HP22 5NE.

In attachment you will find the programme. If you would like to attend (and also if you’d like to have a display on the day) and you haven’t already informed us, please send a completed booking form (also in attachment) or an email to:

Environmental Records Centre erc@buckscc.gov.uk or

Bernardini, Claudia cbernardini@buckscc.gov.uk

Any problems or queries please do not hesitate to contact us

Kind regards

Claudia

Dr Claudia Bernardini
Environmental Records Officer
Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre
Transport Economy Environment
Tel: 01296 382431
Email: cbernardini@buckscc.gov.uk;
Buckinghamshire County Council, County Hall, Walton Street, Aylesbury. Bucks. HP20 1UY

Foxcote Reservoir – Permits & Gate Code

Due to continued problems with unauthorised access to the BBOWT reserve at Foxcote Reservoir and occasions in the last few weeks where both gates have been found unlocked and open, it has been decided to replace the combination locks and to introduce new access codes.  We do not believe that the problem is a result of permit holders forgetting to close the gate when they leave, but by unwanted visitors who have learned the codes by some means.

The lock will be replaced with a new code around midday on Wednesday 5th April.

As a reminder, all visitors to this reserve should be in possession of a valid permit issued by BBOWT HQ. This is not to restrict the number of visitors to the reserve – it is a condition of the lease and access agreement that BBOWT has with Anglian Water.

You can obtain a permit free of charge by contacting BBOWT HQ on 01865 775476.  Current permit holders will also need to contact the same number to obtain the new code (available from tomorrow, Tuesday 4th April 2017).  Please do not contact me for the new code.

We regret the inconvenience that this will cause some visitors but hope you understand the need for making the change.

If anyone does see any signs of unwelcome visitors at Foxcote, please contact myself or BBOWT HQ and we will inform local police; they have agreed to include both Foxcote Reservoir and Calvert Reserve on their regular patrols.

Good birding,

Bill

Volunteer Reserve Manager, Foxcote Reservoir

Sciomyzidae (snail-killing or marsh flies)

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

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

Click on the link to for more information

Help Fight Tree Disease

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

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

Bee-fly Watch 2017

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

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

Source: Bee-flies | Soldierflies and Allies Recording Scheme

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

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

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

Effects of light pollution on pollination by nocturnal Lepidoptera

MKNHS members mothing at Linford Lakes NR by Julie Lane9 July2016

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

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

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

Curlews and godwits – the vanishing tribe

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

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

Lacewing Love In

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

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

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

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

The presenter is Edward Mayer

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

Click on this link for more information:

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Flower use of the Meadow Brown butterfly

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

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

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

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

Complex Life Could Be Vastly Older Than Thought

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

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

NASA study show the stress of space travel

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

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

Scientists Discover Real-Life Kermit The Frog

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

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

Desert crossing for high flying butterfly

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

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

Why peregrine are kings of the urban jungle

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

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

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

Are spiders getting bigger?

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016

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

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

RSPBNBLG Walk – Harrold Odell Country Park 2 April 2017

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

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

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

Time: 10.00 am

Price: Small car park fee.

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

MKNHS is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. You should check details of any events listed on external sites with the organisers.

Science takes to the skies with remote sensing drone technology

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

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

Impact of inert pesticide on honey bee larvae

Tree Bumblebee at Howe Park Wood by Harry Appleyard

Tree Bumblebee at Howe Park Wood by Harry Appleyard 3Feb16

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

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

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

Artificial night lighting inhibits feeding in moths

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting to discuss development of 250 houses at Linford Lakes

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

Members of the general public are welcome to attend.

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

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

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

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


Jane Grisdale
FoLLNR Events Co-ordinator.

When jumping spiders show their true colours

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

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

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

Reducing pesticide use while preserving crop productivity and profitability 

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

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