Category Archives: News

Entomologist needed for Bioblitz

Linford Lakes NR BioBlitz by David Easton. 24 June 2016

Linford Lakes NR BioBlitz by David Easton. 24 June 2016

We have been contacted by June Laban-Mitchell who is the Green Gym Officer at intu MK. They are looking for an expert or enthusiast who knows a bit about entomology who could offer a couple of hours of their time during the holidays to help with a bioblitz day for the children of the community. Someone who could inform the children about what is living in the intu area (MK shopping centre) and help upload the results/survey to the relevant website.

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

The BTO Wetland Bird Survey 2015/16

Shelduck by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh 15 May 2017

Shelduck by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh 15 May 2017

The 35th BTO/JNCC/RSPB WeBS annual report Waterbirds in the UK 2015/16 provides an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in waterbirds in the UK and beyond. The latest report features the results of the 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS III) as well as the latest trends and data from WeBS

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

National Meadows Day 1 July 2017

National Meadows Day is a growing event which celebrates wildflower grasslands, providing an opportunity for you to showcase the amazing wildflowers and species you have on your sites and in your communities. Feedback from last year showed that many people attending events were surprised by the diversity of the flora and sheer number of insects and reptiles found in the meadows they visited. This really reinforced the importance of meadow preservation, and of the role of the National Meadows Day events in educating the public about this important habitat that is fast disappearing.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: National Meadows Day | Magnificent Meadows

You can lead a Magpie to the bird bath but…

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

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

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

Veteran Tree Survey and Ecological History 25 June 2017

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

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

 FSC course – Introduction to Wild Flowers 24 June 2017

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

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

Diet  of urban Peregrine Falcons

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine by Harry Appleyard, Hazeley Wood, 29 May 2016

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Air pollution is killing wildlife and people

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

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

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

Which bees sting?

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

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

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

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

Operation Turtle Dove

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

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

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

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

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 18 June 2017

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

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

RSPBNBLG Walk – College Lake Nature Reserve 18 June 2017

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

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

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

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

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

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

Critically Endangered Stonefly rediscovered

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

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

Access for MKNHS members to Elfield Nature Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to find longhorn beetles, focused searching

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

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

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

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

The leaf and stem mines of British flies and other insects 

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

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

Errors in botanical surveys

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

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

Great British Wildflower Hunt

Plantlife has launched the Great British Wildflower Hunt to:

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

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

Milton Keynes Natural History Society – new logo

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

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

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


Black Hairstreak season is nearly here

The Upper Thames branch of Butterfly Conservation have posted the following message:

Black Hairstreak season is nearly here, but please note that there is now NO ACCESS to the popular M40 COMPENSATION AREA. Instead, you might try some of the sites listed here but please do not stray onto private land or flatten hedgeside vegetation, potentially destroying the habitat of even rarer invertebrates than the Black Hairstreak. And please send in all records of all species seen, thanks.

Site Name Map Ref Last Seen

Asham Meads SSSI Wildlife Trust. SP593 139 18.6.14
Hell Coppice Hdge Btw Yorks Wood F/C SP609 102 5.7.12
Bernwood Meadows Wildlife Trust. SP611 106 9.7.15
Shabbingdon/ Oakley Wood F C SP614 112 23.6.15
Waterperry Wood North End F C SP608 098 18.6.15
Drunkards Corner Waterperry Wd F/C SP609 086 17.6.14
Yorks Wood. Fo C. SP613 105 4.6.11
Blackthorn Hill Rail Cutting. (road bridge)SP617 210 9.6.11
Bletchingdon nr Diamaond Farm. Roadside.SP511173 14.6.11
Bunkers Hill Triangle, Roadside. SP468 185 17.6.07
Calvert Jubilee .Wildlife Trust SP687 247 21.6.15
Finemere Wood. Wildlife Trust. SP719 215 21.6.14
Gavray Drive. Close to Bicester. SP599 221 17.6.14
Grove Wood. Disused Railway. SP697 158 8.6.11
Dorothy Bolton Meadow. Wildlife T SP634 200 17.6.15
Hewins Wood + Bridleway SP703 216 29.6.15
Hogshaw Road, Botolph Claydon to Granborough
SP755 238 17.6.15
Howe Park Wood M K Public Access. SP831 345 30.6.15
Kidlington St Mary’s Fields N R. SP497 150 12.6.07
Little Linford Wood.Wildlife Trust SP832 455 1974
Meadow Farm. Wildlife Trust. SP625 190 New Site
North Leigh Common, Public Access SP403 137 24.6.88
Oakhill Wood, M K North Bucks Way. SP815 359 23.6.08
Oak Tree Farm Bridge. Bridleway SP710 217 11.7.13
Otmoor R.S.P.B. Reserve SP571 128 29.6.15
Oxley Meads. Milton Keynes. SP818 348 23.6.14
Piddington Wood WT SP629 161 24.6.15
Piddington Rail Bridge, (road crossing). SP650 175 12.6.07
Prune Farm Cottages, Bridleway SP698 220 12.6.04
Rushbeds Wood (Wildlife Trust) SP664 154 22.6.14
Rushbeds Lapland Farm. Wildlife Trust. SP665 161 17.6.14
Sainthill Copse. (Small isolated colony) SP536 175 13.6.10
Slade Camp, Brasenose, Public Access SP558 051 20.6.14
Shenley Wood. Public access SP824 360 1960s
Steeple Claydon, Disused Rail now Footpath SP702 261 11.6.11
Sydlings Copse Wildlife Trust SP559 096 11.6.08
Tolbrook Corner. Roadside Site. SP518 181 2.6.11
Upper Greatmoor Track. Bridleway. SP700 222 16.6.10
Whitecross Green Wood. Wildlife Trust. SP605 143 24.6.15
Yardley Great Wood, F C SP843 531 10.6.08

Migratory birds arriving late to breeding grounds

Whitethroat by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh, 14 May 2017

Whitethroat by Peter Hassett, Rainham Marsh, 14 May 2017

New research shows climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Migratory birds arriving late to breeding grounds

The dark side of street lighting

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

Herald moth by Martin Kincaid, Manor Farm cellar

Among drivers of environmental change, artificial light at night is relatively poorly understood, yet is increasing on a global scale.

The community-level effects of existing street lights on moths and their biotic interactions have not previously been studied.

Using a combination of sampling methods at matched-pairs of lit and unlit sites, we found significant effects of street lighting: moth abundance at ground level was halved at lit sites, species richness was >25% lower, and flight activity at the level of the light was 70% greater.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: The dark side of street lighting: impacts on moths and evidence for the disruption of nocturnal pollen transport – Macgregor – 2016 – Global Change Biology – Wiley Online Library

Beginner’s guide to identifying British ichneumonids

Beginner’s guide to identifying British ichneumonids

Beginner’s guide to identifying British ichneumonids

What are ichneumonids?

Ichneumonids are wasps (order Hymenoptera, superfamily Ichneumonoidea) with a very narrow wasp waist between the middle (mesosoma, roughly equivalent to the thorax on other insects) and hind (metasoma, roughly equivalent to the abdomen on other insects) body parts. They have powerful chewing mandibles, two pairs of usually transparent membranous wings with complex venation and long antennae with 18 or more segments. They are invertebrates, so don’t have a backbone.

You can download the guide here.

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts | Environment | The Guardian

Securing the Large Blue Landscape in the Polden Hills

The Large Blue Maculinea arion is the UKs rarest butterfly and is globally endangered.

The Polden Hills supports nearly 80% of the Large Blue populations in Britain. The aim of this landscape-scale project is to help secure the Large Blue butterfly in the Polden Hills network by increasing its population and distribution following a programme of habitat management.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – Securing the Large Blue Landscape in the Polden Hills

Experts rush to huge midge swarm at Loch Leven

Nature-lovers are being urged to go to Loch Leven in Fife to see an unusually large swarm of midges that have emerged from the ground.
Experts said it was an “amazing” natural spectacle that would only last for a few days.
The non-biting midges or chironomids do not feed as adults and so are only mating while in the swarm.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Experts rush to huge midge swarm at Loch Leven – BBC News

Trip Report to Linford Wood: Tuesday 2 May 2017

Trip Report - Linford Wood 2 May 2017 - The Briefing

The Briefing

Members assembled at Linford Wood on Tuesday 2nd May 2017 at 7.00pm off Breckland, by the north-west entrance to the wood. Mike LeRoy gave a brief description of the history and ecology of the Wood, which was set out more fully in a handout that also had a map of the whole wood. They then walked together to near the centre of the wood. From here, five groups dispersed to note sightings of different species which they could submit for environmental records. Areas covered were largely in the north, east and centre of the wood.

Jay by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2May 2017


The birds group, led by Harry Appleyard, saw or heard 18 species: Great-spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Robin, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Jay, Green Woodpecker, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Kestrel, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Wren and Stock Dove. These were submitted as sightings to the Buckinghamshire Bird Club website. They also heard Noctule bats in an Ash tree Fraxinus excelsior.

The mosses group, led by Frances Higgs, found nine bryophyte species, which she is submitting to the Buckinghamshire County Recorder for Bryophytes:

Metzgeria furcata Forked Veilwort
Radula complanata Even Scalewort.

Atrichum undulatum Common Smoothcap/Catherine’s Moss
Thamnobryum alopecurum Fox-tail Feather Moss
Hypnum cupressiforme Cypress-leaved Plait-moss
Kindbergia praelonga Common Feather-moss
Brachythecium rutabulum Rough-stalked Feather-moss
Orthotrichum affine Wood Bristle-moss
Orthotrichum diaphanum White-tipped Bristle-moss.

Another group, led by Martin Kincaid, counted the number of stems of Orchis mascula Early Purple Orchid, which they found in four sites across the north of the wood, with a total of 143 stems. A further site with an additional 25 stems was located later, giving a total of 168 stems observed within the wood. Their report with locations and numbers of stems will be submitted to the Buckinghamshire Vice-County Botanical Recorder as potential records to be held by the County Environmental Records Centre BMERC and will also be held by The Parks Trust, the owner of Linford Wood.

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

Five leaved Herb Paris

The ferns group, led by Mary Sarre, found: Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern at five sites and Dryopteris carthusiana Narrow Buckler Fern at a single site. They also found Carex sylvatica Wood-sedge and areas of Paris quadrifolia Herb Paris which is in several clusters across the wood.

Other flora noted included:

Lysimachia nummularia Creeping-Jenny
Ranunculus ficaria Lesser Celandine
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet
Dactylorhiza fuchsii Common Spotted-orchid
Epilobium hirsutum Great Willowherb
Cardamine pratensis Cuckooflower(Lady’s Smock)
Circaea lutetiana Enchanter’s-nightshade
Ajuga reptans Bugle
Crataegus laevigata Midland Hawthorn
Anthriscus sylvestris Cow Parsley
Urtica dioica Common Nettle
Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed
Mercurialis perennis Dog’s Mercury
Galium aparine Cleavers (Goosegrass)
Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
Orchis mascula Early-purple Orchid
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Potentilla sp. Cinquefoil
Hypericum tetrapterum Square-stalked St John’s Wort
Vicia sepum Bush Vetch
Deschampsia caespitosa Tufted Hair-grass
Brachipodium sylvaticum False Brome
Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail.

Early-purple Orchid by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

Early-purple Orchid

There were also many swathes of Hyacinthoides non-scripta Bluebell and Anemone nemorosa Wood Anemone, the latter nearing the end of flowering.

Mike LeRoy
8th May 2017

Photos by Peter Hassett

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)

Black Bee-fly found in UK for first time

The black bee-fly, known scientifically as Anthrax anthrax, has been found and photographed for the first time in the UK near Cambridge by Buglife member Rob Mills.

This species of bee-fly is found in many parts of Europe, including France and Germany, and was thought to have been in the UK for some time. The photograph of the black bee-fly, on a bee hotel, is the first positive proof of its presence here.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Fly species found in UK for first time | Discover Wildlife

Insect Training Courses

Soldier Beetle by Peter Hassett at Grangelands NR. 23May15

Martin Harvey has worked in biological recording for over 15 years, with the Open University’s iSpot project, the national Biological Records Centre, Wildlife Trusts, and local records centres.

He carries out entomological surveys, and as a volunteer runs two insect recording schemes. He is a qualified tutor, and has led many workshops on wildlife identification and recording for FSC and other organisations.

Click here to view courses that Martin will be leading.

Are robotic bees the future?

There have been a number of scientific papers published in recent years discussing the possibility of building miniature flying robots to replace bees and pollinate crops. Clumsy prototypes have been tested, and seem to crudely work. If crops could be pollinated this way, farmers wouldn’t have to worry about harming bees with their insecticides. With wild bee populations in decline, perhaps these tiny robots are the answer?

Source: The blog of David Goulson : University of Sussex – SPLASH

Common scoters makes ‘remarkable’ recovery

A species of duck, decimated by one of the worst oil spills in shipping history over 20 years ago, is making a ‘remarkable’ recovery, Natural Resources Wales has reported.

Common scoters were the worst affected casualties when the Sea Empress tanker floundered off the Pembrokeshire coast, spilling 72,000 tonnes of crude oil in the process.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: LandLove – News – Once decimated species makes ‘remarkable’ recovery

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 |

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  )

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 <> ) 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
Butterfly Conservation will never swap, sell or rent your details to anyone. We will always follow the strict code of conduct set out by the Fundraising Standards Board.  You can change how you hear from us or unsubscribe from our mailing lists at any time, just let us know.

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


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.


  • 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.

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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

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