Nymph of Roesel’s Bush Cricket by Paul Lund, Linford Lakes NR 16 June 2015
Monitoring biodiversity over large spatial and temporal scales is crucial for assessing the impact of global changes and environmental mitigation measures. However, large-scale monitoring of invertebrates remains poorly developed despite the importance of these organisms in ecosystem functioning. Exciting possibilities applicable to professional and citizen science are offered by new recording techniques and methods of semi-automated species recognition based on sound detection.
Static broad-spectrum detectors deployed to record throughout whole nights have been recommended for standardised acoustic monitoring of bats, but they have the potential to also collect acoustic data for other species groups. Large-scale deployment of such systems is only viable when combined with robust automated species identification algorithms. Here we examine the potential of such a system for detecting, identifying and monitoring bush-crickets (Orthoptera of the family Tettigoniidae). We use incidental sound recordings generated by an extensive citizen science bat survey and recordings from intensive site surveys to test a semi-automated step-wise method with a classifier for assigning species identities. We assess species’ diel activity patterns to make recommendations for survey timing and interpretation of existing nocturnal data sets and consider the feasibility of determining site occupancy.
Exactly how tall is Mount Everest? That’s what scientists in India are trying to figure out.
This week, India’s surveyor general announced that the government is going to remeasure Mount Everest, in a bid to determine whether the world’s tallest peak shrank (or grew) following a devastating earthquake in 2015. The expedition is the first Indian survey of the mountain in more than 60 years, but experts say obtaining an accurate measurement will be a tall order, and determining the earthquake’s effect on it may be even tougher.
House Spider by Peter Hassett, Preston Montford 25 September 2016
Australia has an incredible diversity of native spiders, including the potentially lethal funnel-web, the ubiquitous huntsman, and the charming peacock spider. Only two can be deadly for humans – the funnel-web and redback spiders – and we have antivenom for both.
Perhaps concerned that life on Earth isn’t quite interesting enough, SpaceX’s next move will be to do something that you imagine a wise old scientist in a science-fiction movie would advise against, before being overruled and watching everything go to hell. In a break from the usual flowers and chocolates, this Valentine’s Day Elon Musk’s private space company will be sending a lethal, antibiotic-resistant superbug into orbit.
Rock and Fossil Day – Bucks County Museum 25 March 2017
Rock and Fossil day at the County Museum, on Saturday 25th March. It’s a free event, 11am – 3pm and fabulous opportunity to meet group members, bring in your mystery finds to see if we know what they are (no promises on that!) and to find out a bit more about Buckinghamshire’s deep and mysterious past. Suitable for adults and children alike, and a good family activity in the main museum itself which is always worth a wider visit.
Today, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs announced that in 2016 1,054 rhinos were reported killed in the country. This is a decline from 1,215 in 2014 and 1,175 in 2015.
Enhanced enforcement efforts in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s biggest wildlife reserves and home to the world’s largest population of white rhino, also resulted in a decline in the number of rhinos killed. The number fell from 826 in 2015 to 662 in 2016 (a 20 per cent reduction) despite an increase in the number of reported incursions in the 19 500km2 park.
LED street lighting can be tailored to reduce its impacts on the environment, according to new research by the University of Exeter.
The UK-based study found predatory spiders and beetles were drawn to grassland patches lit by LED lighting at night, but the number of species affected was markedly reduced when the lights were dimmed by 50% and switched off between midnight and 4am.
South Beds. Wildlife Trust Local Group are hosting a talk entitled ‘Talking Trees’ on Wednesday, 22 March 2017 at Dunstable Community Fire Station Lecture Theatre at 7.30pm. Please note: doors open 7.15pm.
The 2017 ATOM Festival of Science and Technology will take place in Abingdon between Wednesday 22nd and Sunday 26th March. The Festival has a full programme of talks, school events and a Fair in the Market Square on Saturday 25th.
Your members and their families may be particularly interested in the talks on “What makes us human”, “Dinosaur hunting in Africa” (aimed at a family audience) and “Antarctica: Treasury of climate data” although, of course, they will be most welcome at any of the talks or events. We would be very grateful if you could inform your members of the Festival, perhaps via your newsletter or any regular emails that you send out.
Full details of all of the talks and events can be found on the Festival web site, www.atomfestival.org.uk where tickets can be purchased for any of the talks. There is also an early bird discount for those booking before the end of February, or a Festival pass for those wishing to attend a number of talks. In addition, if your organisation would like to arrange for a group of ten or more to go to one of the talks please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a group booking at a discount from the full (March) prices.
Most birds sense when their clutch is complete via tactile stimulation of their brood patch, the featherless area on their bellies that warms the eggs. But there is evidence that some species count their eggs by sight.
When you hear ‘bees’ and ‘drone’ in the same sentence, you think of the low, continuous hum that the insects omit. What you don’t think is expensive gadget used to film smug family’s Jamaican getaway. Nonetheless, the scientific community’s concerns about the imminent demise of honeybees has instigated the development of drones – of the tangible persuasion – to carry out artificial pollination.
Bring friends and family and explore the reserve.
Come and see returning birds.
Refreshments, home-made cakes and facilities available
Crafts, second-hand books and bird seed for sale.
Viewing gallery open, also display of wildlife.
France has passed a new law to ensure all plastic cups, cutlery and plates can be composted and are made of biologically-sourced materials. The law, which comes into effect in 2020, is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth – an ambitious plan that aims to allow France to make a more effective contribution to tackling climate change. Although some ecologists’ organisations are in favour of the ban, others argue that it has violated European Union rules on free movement of goods.
Weathering the storm Trees live a long time, which means they have to be able to cope with change. But is the climate changing too fast for them to keep up? Conversely, how can trees help us adapt to the new regime of extreme weather, such as heatwaves and floods? The Ankerwycke Yew, under […]
Butterfly Conservation have produced a collection of species factsheets and habitat downloads can be used to provide an overview on species ecology, assist with species identification and advise on best practice management for specific species and habitats.
Rooks mobbing Short-eared Owl by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 19 October 2016
Dive bombing a much larger bird isn’t just a courageous act by often smaller bird species to keep predators at bay. It also gives male birds the chance to show off their physical qualities in order to impress females. This is according to a study in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology on predator mobbing behavior of birds where potential prey approach and harass would-be predators such as owls. The study was led by Filipe Cunha of the University of Zurich in Switzerland and the Federal University of Ouro Preto in Brazil.
BMERC has been asked by the Bucks Geology Group to circulate information about an event which is happening this week at The Museum Resource Centre, Halton. NB this is part of Bucks County Museum but for those wishing to come it is not the main public galleries in Aylesbury; it is in fact near Wendover, in Halton Village, about 5 miles further south.
The speaker rarely gets into Bucks so the group are extremely please to have managed to secure a talk from him on a section of the south coast which many of us may be familiar with. See attached poster for details. For those who can’t open the poster the key details are:-
The event is from 7:15 – approximately 8:30 in the evening.
Thursday 9th March
Bucks County Museum Resource Centre, Rowborough Road, off Tring Road, Halton. HP22 5PL.
Free event but spaces strictly limited.
Please note booking is essential – and should be done by contacting Mike Palmer either by telephone on 01296 325223 or by email email@example.com
Environmental Records Centre Manager
Historic and Natural Environment Team
Transport, Economy and Environment
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission is edging tantalisingly closer. After a workshop with scientists in Monrovia, California, three potential sites have been chosen for drilling, each of which could have once supported life on the red planet.
Red-Tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 11 April 2016
The British Trust for Ornithology have produced a report on their recent research
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the UK’s leading independent research organisation studying birds and their habitats, with considerable expertise in the design and implementation of monitoring and research projects, from intensive studies to extensive surveys. The BTO also collects, analyses and shares information on other taxa, both through its core monitoring schemes and through the other projects with which it is involved, often working in partnership.
One of the great strengths of the BTO is its volunteer networks, and the organisation’s expertise in working with and supporting volunteers delivers valuable monitoring outputs across a broad range of taxa, from deer and butterflies through to bats and bush-crickets. Many of those interested in birds and birdwatching are also interested in other wildlife, and the BTO recognises the contribution that its volunteers can make to our knowledge of habitats and wildlife.
The State of European Cetaceans is ORCA’s report series, documenting the results of its survey findings, and more importantly, drawing conclusions about what the results mean for whales, dolphins and porpoises in the wild. With significant and emerging threats continuing to adversley impact these animals and their habitats, ORCA’s findings are crucial in providing evidence to conserve these animals in the future.
ORCA’s first report, ‘The State of European Cetaceans (2006 – 2015)‘, is the culmination of 10 years’ worth of sightings and environmental data collected during the 376 ORCA surveys conducted between 2006-2015 using vessels of opportunity (namely ferries and cruise ships). This report summarises the distribution and range of cetacean populations in and around Europe’s waters and identifies marine areas and species that are of greatest importance. This insight is crucial to make authoritative and informed decisions about the protection required for cetaceans.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker numbers have declined considerably here in recent years, and this bird is now on the UK red list. The reasons for this decline are not fully understood, but RSPB research has suggested that the birds have not been breeding successfully but it is not clear whether this is a widespread problem.
In the last few years since the completion of the RSPB project very few lesser spotted woodpecker nests have been reported and monitored. However, two conservationists, Ken and Linda Smith, are now aiming to help bird watchers rectify this. With over 30 years experience of monitoring woodpecker nests they are hoping to build up a clearer picture of where the birds are and how well they are breeding. They began their research in 2015, and so far have been able to follow 10 nests each year, finding out whether the woodpeckers are successfully raising their young. In 2017 they hope to be able to study more.
Over the next three winters, a new study focusing on Blackcaps wintering in Britain and Ireland will help reveal how novel migratory changes arise and spread. The study will look at genetic and morphological differences between breeding populations and migration strategies, as well as investigate aspects of wintering behaviour, movements and survival of individuals wintering in Britain.
iRecord Butterflies is a free app that will guide you through the identification of any butterfly that you see in the UK and allow you to add your sighting to millions of other valuable records that inform the work of Butterfly Conservation.
A butterfly that spends most of its life underground? Why? What is it doing? What does
it eat? Professor Jeremy Thomas solved the puzzle for the large blue butterfly Maculinea
arion in the 1970s just before it became extinct in the UK. Fortunately his findings were
used to successfully re-introduce the enigmatic species into England. Now, with the help
of partners, David Simcox and Sarah Meredith are continuing to discover more about this
iconic butterfly and they are using their knowledge to help it to thrive and to survive
threats such as habitat loss and climate change.
Twin-spotted Quaker by Gordon Redford taken at Linford Lakes NR 03Apr15
The early spring period is just round the corner, and for many mothers this is one of the most exciting times of the year, especially after a long winter of rather extreme weather with only a few windows of trapping opportunity.
Following the very cold early winter of 2010–11 there was a bumper crop of macro-moths in March and April of that spring. The majority of these consisted of noctuids in the genus Orthosia. A cold second half to this winter could trigger another good emergence if the temperatures rise quickly in March.
This time last year we dealt with Challenging Chestnuts using a selection of images to illustrate variations among this tricky species duo. This year we will look at the range of Orthosias and observe some routine moths and later, some variations and potential pitfalls along the way.
The RSPB North Bucks Local Group are hosting a talk:
Location: Cruck Barn, City Discovery Centre, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes
Postcode: MK13 9AP (Google map)
As Biodiversity Officer for the Trust, Martin Kincaid is perfectly placed to give us an insight into how they are conserving wildlife. In particular, he’ll be telling us about the Floodplain Forest reserve, which he believes is “the most exciting habitat creation scheme in Milton Keynes’ young history.
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.
A decade ago, scientists first detected fast radio bursts (FRB). They’re so-called because they’re incredibly powerful bursts of radio signals, but they’re extremely short-lived: a few milliseconds in length. Last year, scientists finally managed to catch one happening in real-time. And now we’ve managed to pinpoint where a repeating signal – FRB 121102 – is coming from. What is causing it is still open to speculation.
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.
“In 1795, the renowned naturalist Gilbert White observed that the first celandines usually appeared in his Hampshire village of Selborne on the 21st February. A hundred years later, exactly the same average date was observed…”
Yellow Dung fly by Peter Hassett, Whipsnade Zoo, 6 September 2016
Flies have some of the most elaborate visual systems in the Insecta, often featuring large, sexually dimorphic eyes with specialized “bright zones” that may have a functional role during mate-seeking behavior. The fast visual system of flies is considered to be an adaptation in support of their advanced flight abilities. Here, we show that the immense processing speed of the flies’ photoreceptors plays a crucial role in mate recognition.
The year 2016 was remarkable for British whale records but perhaps the most exciting place to be was Shetland towards in late autumn when humpback whales were reported in the north-east of the archipelago.
An illustration shows the view from just above one of the middle planets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system, which is now known to host seven Earth-size worlds. ILLUSTRATION BY M. KORNMESSER, SPACEENGINE.ORG/ESO
The Earth-size worlds orbit a star just 39 light-years away, and most may have the right conditions to host liquid water on their surfaces.
The image reveals the conchae inside the nasal cavity of a song sparrow, taken from a 3D reconstruction built on enhanced-contrast micro-CT scans. Credit: Eric Gulson and Mary Margaret Ferraro
Whether stubby, slender, spoon-shaped, flattened or sharply pointed, bird beaks can be highly specialized, and now, researchers have found that some even have built-in AC.
For the first time, scientists were able to image tiny structures inside nasal cavities in song sparrow beaks. These structures function like air conditioning units, cooling airflow during breathing and helping to reclaim moisture in dry habitats.
Previous studies have examined the role that beaks’ sizes and shapes play in regulating birds’ body temperatures, and how certain bill types are linked to particular climates. But far less was known about how beaks’ internal structures were involved
Red-Tailed Bumblebee by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe 11 April 2016
Many flowers are attractive to bees, with different types of bee varying in their particular preferences. In particular, long-tongued bumblebees such as Bombus hortorum tend to favour deep flowers, and of course short-tongued bumblebees such as Bombus terrestris prefer shallow flowers. Sometimes short-tongued bees rob deep flowers by biting a hole in the side of the flower so they can reach the nectar.
In general herbs and cottage garden perennials are good, and annual bedding plants are best avoided (because they have been intensively bred and have often lost their rewards or become so mishapen that insects cannot get in to them – also, many have been drenched in insecticides).
Poster – Wildlife in Milton Keynes talk 13 March 2017
Stony Stratford in Bloom have arranged a talk in Stony Stratford Library on Monday 13 March 2017 at 7 p.m., when Martin Kincaid of the Milton Keynes Parks Trust will speak on ‘Wildlife in Milton Keynes (focusing on Ouse Valley Park)‘.
Wine, juice and cake will be provided after the talk. For tickets, contact Judy Deveson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01908-562876.
Tickets are free of charge, but donations will be requested on the night to cover costs.
With the app you can:– Identify reptiles and amphibians:Identify adult reptiles and amphibians as well as their eggs, larvae and calls. Simple questionnaires, illustrations and photographs will help you identify animals, and you can compare photographs of different species to make sure you’ve identified the animal correctly.– Report a sighting.Submit your records quickly and easily using the recording form. Use your phone’s GPS function to determine your location or manually input your location. Use this form to submit information about dead or diseased animals to help track the spread of deadly diseases in the UK.
Bee by Paul Lund. Taken in Paul’s garden using two flash guns to freeze motion.
Research on urban insect pollinators is changing views on the biological value and ecological importance of cities.
The abundance and diversity of native bee species in urban landscapes that are absent in nearby rural lands evidence the biological value and ecological importance of cities and have implications for biodiversity conservation.
Lagging behind this revised image of the city are urban conservation programs that historically have invested in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation results.
We synthesized research on urban bee species diversity and abundance to determine how urban conservation could be repositioned to better align with new views on the ecological importance of urban landscapes. Due to insect pollinators’ relatively small functional requirements—habitat range, life cycle, and nesting behavior—relative to larger mammals, we argue that pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach. In a rapidly urbanizing world, transforming how environmental managers view the city can improve citizen engagement and contribute to the development of more sustainable urbanization.
The first ever European Red List of Habitats reviews the current status of all natural and semi-natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats and highlights the pressures they face.
Using a modified version of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems categories and criteria, it covers the EU28, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the Balkan countries and their neighbouring seas. Over 230 terrestrial and freshwater habitats were assessed.
Tom.bio has been working with moth trap designer Paul Palmer to produce a series of short films, designed to accompany his book ‘How to Build Your Own Moth Trap’. Paul has designed a low cost, lightweight and highly portable moth trap which can be easily built at home using household tools and a few bits of specialist equipment.
Active Hedgehogs were being seen in gardens well into December, according to reports from the British Trust for Ornithology’s weekly Garden BirdWatch (BTO GBW) scheme. Volunteer Garden BirdWatchers reported more Hedgehogs in November and December than in previous years.
Before the onset of winter Hedgehogs are busy foraging for earthworms and insects to gain plentiful fat reserves. These reserves are crucial for surviving during their hibernation, which is normally from November to March. However, timing of hibernation varies between individuals and depends on weather conditions. This year results from Garden BirdWatch show that more Hedgehogs were active later in the year than usual, likely as a result of mild weather.
Tadpoles and Sticklebacks by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 23 May 2016
Julia Carey of the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre has asked for help to record frog and toad spawn.
We have been asked by the Freshwater Habitats Trust (Pond Action or Pond Conservation Trust for those of us who have known them a while…) to forward information on this year’s survey effort for frog and toad spawn. See below and attachments for information. Looks simple, and even the BMERC staff can manage this one!
If anyone has trouble opening the forms can they let us know at email@example.com and we will see if we can get a different version for you. If needed, I’m sure we can also print some paper copies for those who aren’t happy to record straight onto the web. The data will be collected direct by the FWHT, and once considered like other Record Centres we will welcome a copy of it back to local centres so whatever you capture will be back in Bucks later. No need to copy us in. NB for those not in Bucks, it doesn’t matter, the survey is national.
Given how warm and sunny it is today this may be of use sooner rather than later.
Since the website was launched, we have posted details of recent sightings of wildlife in the Milton Keynes area. These sightings have been published as weekly news items called “What’s About”.
Our members have said that they would prefer a single page with all sightings, rather than the individual weekly news items.
From January 2017, we have introduced a new page on the website called “Recent Sightings”. You can access the page from the menu at the top – choose “News”, then “Recent Sightings”. There is also a quick link in the right hand sidebar under the Magpie logo called “Click Here For Recent Sightings”.
Sightings are listed in date order with the most recent at the top of the list.
We hope you like this change. Please send your sightings and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can share them with everyone interested in wildlife in the Milton Keynes area.
The new sightings mailbox has been added to the contact form on the contact us page.
The winter months are normally a busy time for Blue Tits in our gardens. However, the latest figures from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show that numbers are down, probably due to a wet summer.
During the winter months a lack of food in the wider countryside encourages both adult and juvenile Blue Tits into gardens, to make use of feeders. However, this November BTO Garden BirdWatchers reported the lowest numbers of Blue Tits in gardens since 2003, thought to be due to a lack of young birds this year.