Category Archives: News

FSC Course – Bats and their Natural History 2 September 2017

Daubenton’s bat by Chris Damant

Daubenton’s bat by Chris Damant

During this introductory day and evening course in Bushy Park we will look at bats in general, but with emphasis on the 17 species of British bats. Starting with their biology, evolution and environmental requirements for feeding, living and breeding, etc, we will then cover classification and names of our native species and how we identify them in the hand, with the assistance of some live bats. We will also learn how bat detectors can be used to identify bats in flight, using their echolocation calls, and there will be a practical session in the Park in the evening, using bat detectors to find and identify some of our common bats in flight.

Click on the link for more information: Bats and their Natural History – 66149 – FSC

New scanning process allows unprecedented look inside live insects

Until now, insects have been too wriggly to make good subjects for scientists wanting to understand more about insect innards.
But an interdisciplinary team of biologists and imaging specialists from Western University has worked out a novel micro-imaging solution that’s leading to unprecedented new ways of viewing insect development.

Click on the play button to watch the video

Click here to read the rest of the article: New scanning process allows unprecedented look inside live insects

Cock Marsh – wetland plant walk 9 September 2017

tland Plant Walk 9th Sept 2017

Wetland Plant Walk 9th Sept 2017

Wetland Plant Walk – Cock Marsh (Cookham)

Saturday 9th September, 10:30-12:00

Join us for a guided walk around the Cock Marsh Ponds and discover more about the wetland plants that make this site so special.

Cock Marsh is one of 70 selected flagship sites. Flagship Sites are the best of the best ponds and pond landscapes in England and Wales. Cock Marsh itself supports several of our rarest and most threatened wetland plants. With the help of local volunteers and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund we are working to protect these ponds for the long term.

From 12pm onwards there will be chance to learn how to identify a selection of rare wetland plants before trying your hand at surveying them across the site.

No booking is required to this free event.

For more information or to let us know about any special requirements please email Peter at

4th World Shorebirds Day 1-7 September 2017

Gyorgy Szimuly has provided the following information about this year’s World Shorebirds Day which runs from 1-7 September 2017

Dear Friends,

The 4th World Shorebirds Day is around the corner and in a month hundreds of birdwatchers are going out for counting shorebirds. The Global Shorebird Counting is a popular program of World Shorebirds Day that will take part between 1-7 September 2017. Registration is already open and available at this link:

For committed and returning counters a loyalty program was announced last year. I encourage you to register through the form embedded in our blogpost and give yourself a chance to win one of the fantastic prizes. Please find the post at this link:

It would be fantastic to hit an all time high record in the registered sites in 2017. Results of the previous year’s counting will be published later (hopefully shortly).

Follow and subscribe to our blog at

Looking forward to seeing you among the supporters of World Shorebirds Day.

Very best wishes, Szimi

Birds avoid crossing roads to prevent predation

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine by Harry Appleyard, Hazeley Wood, 29 May 2016

Roads can be dangerous to wildlife. Animals making the perilous journey against the traffic run the risk of meeting an untimely death. Until recently, it was widely believed, unlike other animals, birds were largely unaffected by the presence of roads and traffic, simply because they could fly.

A new study, published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, reveals this is not the case. Birds can find roads challenging too – they are less likely to be found next to roads and are hesitant to cross them.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Birds avoid crossing roads to prevent predation

There’s a way to save hedgehogs – and all of us can help

Nesting Hedgehog by Susie Lane, Skelton, Cumbria 20 May 2017

Nesting Hedgehog by Susie Lane, Skelton, Cumbria 20 May 2017

Today (15 August 2017) sees the launch of the “hedgehog housing census”. All over the country, thousands of people are going to the trouble and expense of building or buying hedgehog homes. We want to know how important this is to the lives of one of our most loved animals – and how we can improve the way we help hedgehogs in the future.

Click on the link to find out more: There’s a way to save hedgehogs – and all of us can help | Hugh Warwick | Opinion | The Guardian

Observatree – help spot tree disease

Volunteers play an essential role within Observatree. They are critical ‘citizen scientists’ who help perform a number of functions.

How anyone can help – Increasing surveillance and reporting

This could be you! We aren’t looking for any huge commitment. All we ask is that you keep an eye out when you’re out and about around trees:

Click on the link for more information: Observatree – the official project website

Why gardeners should protect caterpillars

Elephant hawk moth Caterpillar, Deilephilia Elpenor by Julian Lambley, Old Wolverton Mill, 11 September 2016

Elephant hawk moth Caterpillar, Deilephilia Elpenor by Julian Lambley, Old Wolverton Mill, 11 September 2016

Caterpillars are not pests. I know the cabbage white will make light work of your tea, the clothes moth will leave your finery in tatters and the tomato moth will munch through your ripening tomatoes, but for every one that is after your crops or clothes, there is another that brings beauty to your garden. And not just in the obvious fluttering way: those fat teenaged blue tits ganging around your garden right now are almost pure caterpillar. They are an essential part of the food chain.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Why gardeners should protect caterpillars | Life and style | The Guardian

Urban indicators for UK butterflies

Silver-washed Fritallary (male)©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

•Urban abundance trends were negative for all 28 UK butterfly species considered.
•Trends were more negative in urban versus rural areas for 25/28 species.
•Declines in composite abundance were significantly more negative for urban areas.
•Urban populations generally showed earlier emergence and longer flight periods.
•Indicators are vital for monitoring populations pressurised by urbanisation.

Click here to read the rest of the article Urban indicators for UK butterflies – ScienceDirect

Wild flower hour

At 8pm every Sunday, we all share pictures of flowers we have found growing wild in Britain and Ireland over the preceding week. Of course, if you’re busy at that time, you can always post something during the week – but 8-9pm is when we have a proper party.

Click on the link for more information: About us – #wildflowerhour

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 20 August 2017

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 20 August 2017 10:00-16:00hrs.

Activities for the family today.

Simon Bunker has two sessions on;-

An Introduction to Grasshoppers & Bush Crickets.

Morning session 10:30- 12:30.  Afternoon session 13:30 – 15:30.

No need to book, just turn up.

Crafts, bird seed and refreshments & home-cakes on sale.


FSC Course – Introduction to Beetles and True Bugs 19 August 2017

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle by Peter Hassett at Grangelands NR. 23May15

This course will provide an introduction to the many families within these two large insect orders and cover the identification of more distinctive species. You will gain an insight into the varied biology of these insects and become familiar with some of the field techniques required to find them. Based in Bushy Park.

Click on the link for more information: Introduction to Beetles (Coleoptera) and True Bugs (Hemiptera) – 66154 – FSC

Grass-carrying wasp, Isodontia mexicana new to Britain

Grass-Carrying Wasp, Isodontia mexicana (de Saussure), is recorded as new to Britain. Morphological characters are given, and illustrated, to establish its identity and a key is provided to distinguish it from other British Sphecidae. Notes are provided on bionomics, the circumstances of its arrival and its status in Britain.

Source: Grass-carrying wasp, Isodontia mexicana (de Saussure), genus and species new to Britain (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) (PDF Download Available)

Hundreds of rare natterjack toadlets spotted at Sandy RSPB lodge

CONSERVATIONISTS are celebrating a revival in numbers of one of the country’s rarest amphibians at a Bedfordshire reserve, despite difficult breeding conditions.

Last month RSPB wardens and volunteers counted more than 300 of the thumnail-sized natterjack toads emerging from the pools at the RSPB’s nature reserve at The Lodge, in Sandy.


Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Baby boom as rare natterjack toadlets spotted in their hundreds at Sandy RSPB lodge | Bedfordshire News

Comprehensive plant database released

Kew GardensThe Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has launched the first online database of the world’s flora.

Plants of the World Online (POWO) contains information on identification, distribution, traits, threat status, molecular phylogenies and uses of all known seed-bearing plants around the world.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Comprehensive plant database can be accessed by everyone | Discover Wildlife

The Importance of Nest Sites for Birds and Bees

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

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

Over the last century, land use in the UK has changed drastically. Small mixed-crop farms, traditionally separated by lanes, hedgerows and wild meadows have been replaced with larger, more specialised facilities. At the same time, the density of grazing animals such as sheep and cattle has also risen substantially. This combination of land-use change and agricultural intensification has contributed significantly to habitat degradation and biodiversity loss, and has led to huge, often dire, changes for the wildlife that call these places home.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Red Admiral spotting seeking a butterfly revival

Red Admiral butterfly by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 20 December 2016

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 20 December 2016

By any standards, it was a poor day to count butterflies. Denbies Hillside, on the south-facing flank of the North Downs – supposedly a summer haven for lepidopterists – was swept by wind and heavy showers. Butterflies, like humans, take a poor view of such conditions and had made themselves scarce.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Red Admiral spotting: desperately seeking a British butterfly revival | Environment | The Guardian

Volunteers wanted for MiaFest

Would anyone be happy to help at the event below? It would be great if someone from the society can give them a hand.

From: Kirstin McIntosh 



“Hello there,

I am the co-founder of a children’s environmental charity, Mia’s Wood (registered charity number 1169919), which is located on a small 2 acre newly planted woodland site just outside Little Horwood (the entrance is on the Little Horwood Road towards Great Horwood.)

We hold an annual children’s nature festival, MiaFest, and we are always looking for naturalists and knowledgeable folk who might be willing to speak to children to teach them about different aspects of nature.  I have found this quite challenging so far, as many of the big groups provide online resources rather than hands-on experience. This year, MiaFest will be held on Saturday 23rd September 12 noon-late and I’d love it if we could find a way to share your members’ nature knowledge with our little MiaFesters.

MiaFest is a free children’s nature festival where we have 500 people who come along to enjoy a magical day of fun together.  There are all kinds of nature crafts and activities, as well as music, food and experiences.   Here’s a link to our website and you can find MiaFest here, as well as some of our activities.

Mia’s Wood is a children’s environmental charity which has been set up in the memory of our daughter, who died unexpectedly at the age of 13 months.  Even at that age, she loved the outdoors, and we want Mia’s Wood to be a way for children to experience the wonder of nature.

We have two Forest Schools using Mia’s Wood, and we hold regular events at the site to maintain the little woodland and nature activities.

For MiaFest, we have previously had Kate from BBOWT and her team to support us, but otherwise, it has proved very challenging to have an educational element around nature for children.  We know the Parks Trust quite well, but they always have an event clash with MiaFest, and otherwise, groups like The Woodland Trust are not able to support us as so much of their material is online learning only.

Ideally, I would love someone who could help us to engage children in observation skills – perhaps something as simple as insect identification and why they are different, or even learning about different types of trees and leaves.  I’d be very happy to discuss further if it would help.

Why midsized animals are the fastest on Earth

An elephant should run faster than a horse—at least in theory. That’s because big creatures have more of the type of muscle cells used for acceleration. Yet midsized animals are the fastest on Earth, a trend that researchers have long struggled to explain. Now, an analysis of nearly 500 species ranging from fruit flies to whales has an answer

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Why midsized animals are the fastest on Earth | Science | AAAS

Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership

Tree Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 24 February 2017

Tree Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 24 February 2017

Many insect pollinators are becoming less widespread in Britain and elsewhere and we have limited understanding of the effect of these changes on the pollination services they provide. This is largely due to the lack of long-term, standardised monitoring of their populations.

Source: Establishing a UK Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

A New Dragonfly Species in MK

Scarce Chaser Dragonfly by Martin Kincaid, Linford Lakes NR 27 July 2017

Scarce Chaser Dragonfly by Martin Kincaid, Linford Lakes NR 27 July 2017

On Thursday 27th July, Martin Kincaid spotted a dragonfly at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve which turned out to be a Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva. This species, once restricted to East Anglia, has undergone a period of range expansion in recent years and has been found across Northants. This however is the first record for this species in Milton Keynes. Similar to the more common Black Tailed Skimmer, this species can be told apart by the blue tinted eyes and slightly thicker abdomen.

Picture and text by Martin Kincaid


Planet Nine: ‘Extreme’ objects in the far reaches of our solar system

In 2014, a bold – and somewhat controversial – study claimed there was a mystery planet lurking in the far reaches of our solar system. Dubbed Planet Nine, it was “spotted” in January 2016 using mathematical modelling and computer simulations and was said to be interfering with the orbits of known objects in the Kuiper Belt.

Source: Planet Nine: ‘Extreme’ objects in the far reaches of our solar system hint at mystery world | Alphr

Tardigrades, toughest animals in the world?

Tardigrades are arguably the toughest animals on earth, as Brett Westwood discovered when recording Natural Histories. With the appearance of a hoover bag and powers that put most sci-fi heroes to shame, these micro-animals can withstand being boiled, frozen or blasted into outer space…
Here are 10 tough facts to put you in your place.

Source: BBC Radio 4 – Natural Histories – What Are Tardigrades?

Go rockpooling for research!

Natural History Museum Rockpooling research

Natural History Museum Rockpooling research

The Big Seaweed Search gathers data for research into the effects of sea temperature rise, ocean acidification and the spread of non-native species on UK shores. We need more data points to robustly address our research questions.

If you’re heading to the coast this summer, please download a survey guide or request a hardcopy by emailing your name and address to

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

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

Beavers as ecosystem engineers  in habitat restoration


  • Restoration attempts often fail, but may benefit from utilising ecosystem engineers.
  • Impacts of beaver released onto drained pasture were studied for 12 years.
  • Beaver increased habitat heterogeneity and plant richness at plot and site scales.
  • Ecosystem engineers can contribute significantly to meeting common restoration goals.

Source: Using ecosystem engineers as tools in habitat restoration and rewilding: beaver and wetlands

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.

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 |

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

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