Author Archives: admin

Meadows and the Agriculture Bill

Ancient meadows have quietly disappeared from under our feet. Without the roar of chainsaws or the sound of mighty oaks crashing to the ground, sites with undisturbed floral histories going back generations can be lost in a single afternoon. Since the 1930s, over 97% of our meadows – a staggering 7.5 million acres – have been ploughed, ‘improved’ or built on. This is a key driver in the higher-profile declines of pollinators and birds – and a loss to us all.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Colouring our countryside: meadows and the Agriculture Bill

RSPBNBLG Walk – 6 June 2018 Calvert Jubilee & Gallows Bridge Farm

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip:

Location: Meet: roadside car park (tiny—please car-share if possible) 300m N of Calvert X-roads: SP 681 250. Short walk, but uneven in places.

Two BBOWT reserves. Calvert, a former clay-pit, has “chalkland” butterflies like green hairstreak, dingy and grizzled skippers. Scrub holds many warblers, incl. possibly nightingale. Three miles on, Gallows Bridge Farm, part of the important Upper Ray Meadows, has breeding curlew.

Leader: Chris Coppock

All welcome

Time: 10 am to 1 pm

Price: Free

See the RSPB North Bucks Local Group website for more information

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

Kew Gardens’ Temperate House restored – in pictures

Click here for more information: Kew Gardens’ Temperate House restored – in pictures | Science | The Guardian

Cranes by Sue and Andrew Hetherington, Gallows Bridge 16 May 2018

Cranes in Buckinghamshire 2018

Two cranes arrived at Gallows Bridge BBOWT reserve on Wednesday 16 May 2018.  They remain there to date (21 May 2018) so it is a possibility they will remain.  They are unringed which gives some clues as to where they came from – or rather where they did not come from.  Educated guesses say they may have come from Otmoor.  Some display behaviour has been observed.

Text and photo by Sue and Andrew Hetherington

Waterbirds in the UK – Summary report 2016-17

Teal ©Peter Hassett, Willen 25 January 2018

Teal ©Peter Hassett, Willen 25 January 2018

Waterbirds in the UK presents the results of the annual WeBS report, with digital PDF copies of current and past editions available below. It provides a single, comprehensive source of information on the current status and distribution of waterbirds in the UK for those interested in the conservation of the populations of these species and the wetland sites they use.

Click on the link for more information: Waterbirds in the UK – Summary report | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Celebrate World Bee Day 20 May 2018

Hairy-footed flower bee ©Julie Lane, Olney 2 May 2018

Hairy-footed flower bee ©Julie Lane, Olney 2 May 2018

Slovenia proposed that the United Nations (UN) proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day. On 20 December 2017, following three years of efforts at the international level, the UN Member States unanimously approved Slovenia’s proposal, thus proclaiming 20 May as World Bee Day.

The purpose of the website is to present the initiative and its implementation, raise awareness of the importance of bees and beekeeping, inform the public of major beekeeping events around the world and celebrate World Bee Day.

Click here for more information: Welcome – Celebrate World Bee Day

Record your Red Admiral sightings

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Park 22nd September 2016

Red Admiral by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe Park 22nd September 2016

Have you seen a Red Admiral? Please record it!

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

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

Click on the link for more information: Red Admiral migration | Insect Migration & Ecology Lab

Starlings v Swifts – updated 21 May 2018

My daughter and her partner live in Cumbria and have starlings and swifts nesting in the eves of their house. Last year the starlings nested first and then the swifts moved in once the starlings had fledged. This year as normal the starlings are busy bringing up their babies in the usual place.

However last Saturday 12th May Susies partner heard a cacophony outside the house and saw a starling and swift tumbling together down onto the lawn followed by a tussle where the starling clearly had the upper hand and the swift’s life was at risk. He rescued the swift and after a rest launched it from an upstairs window. However after a while he saw the swift attempt to enter the nesting cavity and again the tussle ensued followed by another rescue and relaunch. Now a stalemate is in place where the swifts regularly fly by but the starlings are on high alert and drive them off.

This year they have erected two more swift boxes hoping to establish a small colony but it seems like this won’t be given a chance to happen until the starling family have fledged and moved out. But it leaves you with questions – does this competition happen regularly and do the swifts loose out. Or was it just because the weather was unseasonably hot that the swifts decided to try and get a move on early an start nesting?

Article by Julie Lane

And now an interesting response from Sue Hetherington:

Starling by Harry Appleyard, 20 April 2016

Starling by Harry Appleyard, 20 April 2016

I was interested to read Julie’s article about the nesting territories under dispute by starlings and swifts. I can’t offer any advice about the eaves of the house. However, Andrew and I have had similar worries about the possibilities of uninvited guests grabbing boxes intended for swifts.

Before our box was used, we found evidence that it had been used for roosting by some bird over the winter and realised a problem could arise. What we then did as autumn turned to winter, we cleaned the box out (which we no longer do, it’s not necessary) and we blocked the entry hole with a bathroom (or car washing) sponge.

We reckoned our swifts came back like clockwork on 3rd – 5th May so about half way through April, we removed the sponge. We always meant to attach a bit of cord to the sponge so it could be pulled out with having to start going up ladders, but of course we always forgot. It always appeared to us that the starlings wanted an earlier slot than the swifts so our sponge method always seemed to work.

I have heard of swifts having savage territorial disputes amongst themselves but hadn’t realised that a swift/startling fight could be so vicious. This competition for nesting sites sounds like yet another problem swifts are struggling against.

Sue Hetherington

Rutland Osprey record year


Osprey ©Peter Hassett Everglades, florida 26 February 2011

Osprey ©Peter Hassett Everglades, florida 26 February 2011

Rutland Osprey Project has reported that Maya (a female osprey) and her mate (known as 33 after his ring number), have successfully incubated a trio of eggs that began hatching during the early May Bank Holiday weekend.

This is the earliest recorded date of osprey eggs hatching at Rutland Water, and follows the earliest return date and egg laying of UK ospreys when Maya was spotted at her nest on 12 March, five days before the previous earliest return date on record.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Save Salcey Forest Treetop Walk

Salcey Forest Treetop Walk is being closed, apparently due to neglect it has now become too dangerous to use.

The treetop walk is a large part of our community and hundreds of visitors, families and walkers will now be missing the opportunity to visit the forest for this fantastic addition to Northamptonshires countryside. We would like to urge the Forestry Commission to undertake the relevant repairs required in order to keep this well-loved attraction open.

Source: Petition · Please stop the closure of the Treetop Walk ·

Upper Thames Wader Project

The Upper Thames area is important for its wet grassland and flower-rich meadows, and has historically supported large populations of breeding waders such as curlews, lapwings, snipe and redshank.
However, surveys in 1994, 1997 and 2005 showed that all four species had suffered significant declines. The project sets out to reverse this decline.
The project area supports large numbers of lowland curlew and lapwing, as well as wildlife such as brown hairstreak and turtle dove. In the face of pressures on habitat, flood risk and climate change, farmers, conservationists and local communities are working together to give nature a home across this landscape.

Source: Upper Thames Wader Birds Conservation Project – The RSPB

Why butterflies matter

Silver-washed-Fritillary by Julian Lambley Bernwood Butterfly trail 24June 2017

Silver-washed-Fritillary by Julian Lambley Bernwood Butterfly trail 24June 2017

Butterflies conjure up images of sunshine, the warmth and colour of flowery meadows, and summer gardens teaming with life. Moths are one of the most diverse group of insects on earth, ranging from spectacular Hawk-moths to small, intricately patterned Footman moths.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – Why butterflies matter

Wildflower-rich meadows

Wildflower-rich meadows are very rare and important habitats. Some of these grasslands support an amazing number of wildflower species as well as providing habitats for many species of birds, invertebrates, amphibians and mammals. In particular they provide very important supplies of pollen and nectar for bumblebees and other insect pollinators.

Source: Wildflower-rich meadows – Farm Wildlife

Finalists Of The 15th Smithsonian Photo Competition  Announced, And They’re Stunning | Bored Panda

It’s that time of the year again, when The Smithsonian Magazine announces the finalists of their hotly contested photo contest. Year after year, the contest continues to blow us away with the quality of entrants, with only the cream of the crop qualifying as the 60 finalists, narrowed down from over 48,000 submissions.

Click here to see some stunning photos: Finalists Of The 15th Smithsonian Photo Competition 2017 Have Been Announced, And They’re Stunning | Bored Panda

White-legged Damselfly Investigation

The White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) is a delicate little insect that can be found fluttering along lushly vegetated margins of rivers, streams, pools and lakes in southern England and Wales. At first glance they can be mistaken for other, more common, species of blue Damselflies, such as Azure Damselflies; as a result, it is likely that White-legged Damselfly are under-recorded. However, on closer inspection the species can be easily be identified by a number of features, the most prominent being its pale legs, which are broad and feathery in males.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: White-legged Damselfly Investigation |

Properties of flexible resilin joints on damselfly wings

Emperor Dragonfly, Stonepit Field, 15Jul14, Peter Hassett

Emperor Dragonfly, Stonepit Field, 15Jul14, Peter Hassett

Resilin functions as an elastic spring that demonstrates extraordinary extensibility and elasticity. Here we use combined techniques, laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to illuminate the structure and study the function of wing flexibility in damselflies, focusing on the genus Rhinocypha. Morphological studies using LSCM and SEM revealed that resilin patches and cuticular spikes were widespread along the longitudinal veins on both dorsal and ventral wing surfaces. Nanoindentation was performed by using atomic force microscopy (AFM), where the wing samples were divided into three sections (membrane of the wing, mobile and immobile joints). The resulting topographic images revealed the presence of various sizes of nanostructures for all sample sections. The elasticity range values were: membrane (0.04 to 0.16 GPa), mobile joint (1.1 to 2.0 GPa) and immobile joint (1.8 to 6.0 GPa). The elastomeric and glycine-rich biopolymer, resilin was shown to be an important protein responsible for the elasticity and wing flexibility.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Morphological and mechanical properties of flexible resilin joints on damselfly wings (Rhinocypha spp.)

Reintroduced Species Stamps

Over the past two centuries, many animals and plants have become extinct in the UK – mostly due to the loss or degradation of habitats leading to increasingly isolated populations. This special collection of stamps and collectibles celebrates the UK’s successfully restored wildlife – including the Eurasian beaver, osprey, pool frog, sand lizard, large-blue butterfly and stinking hawk’s-beard.

Click on the link for more information: Reintroduced Species Stamps and Souvenirs | Royal Mail Group Ltd

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 20 May 2018

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 19 November 2018 10:00-16:00hrs.

Tea and coffee, home-made cakes available.
Second-hand books on sale as well as crafts and bird seed.
Great views through the new windows.
Lots of new arrivals come and hear the Warblers from the Warbler Hide!

Today we have a visit from Opticron Rep Sarah, who will demonstrate some of their products. Bins, scopes and magnifiers will be available to buy. Sarah will undertake some routine maintenance of Opticron products, so bring your bins along.

Hubble captures  “Einstein ring” created by distant galaxies

This image might look like someone left a coffee mug on a photograph of some Christmas lights, but it actually illustrates a fundamental part of our understanding of physics.What you’re looking at is a picture filled with distant galaxies, and in the middle of the image is a particularly dense cluster of galaxies. So dense, in fact, the cluster is distorting spacetime and creating what’s known as an Einstein ring.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Hubble captures a sublime “Einstein ring” created by distant galaxies | Alphr

Report your Asian hornet sightings

It is important to report any suspected sightings of this species as soon as possible.  Vigalence is particularly required in southern parts of England and the areas where other sightings have been made (Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire).  The Asian hornet is active mainly between April and November (peak August/September) and is inactive over the winter.

Click on the link for more information: Species alerts – GB non-native species secretariat

Hollington Wood Bluebell Open Day 7 May 2018

By a quirk of the calendar, this year’s May Day bank holiday falls as late as it could – on the 7th. Thanks in part to The Beast From The East, everything is a week or two late this year so the bluebells will still be at their peak by next Monday. Even the forecast is now looking great, after the final sting in winter’s tail this weekend!

Arrangements for the Open Day as normal –

  • free access to all of the wood 10am-5pm
  • parking on site £10 and must be pre-booked through me (not on the day please!)
  • lots of refreshments and home-made goodies
  • guided walks (11am & 2pm), children’s activities and target practice
  • be ready for lots of mud (although I hope everything will have dried out nicely by then!).

More details on and

For any last minute changes or updates see

Crows have learnt how to eat cane toads

MEMBERS OF THE crow family, the corvids, show a capacity to learn and solve problems that may be unrivalled in the bird world. It seems their greatest skill is an uncanny ability to turn new and tricky situations to their advantage.

Take the scourge of the introduced cane toad (Rhinella marina) for example. As this highly poisonous amphibian disperses across northern Australia, the numbers of predators attempting to eat them are crashing. The most notable victims are quolls, goannas and certain snakes, which have been all but wiped out in some regions. Crows, however, have learnt how to eat toads by avoiding the most toxic parts.

The large parotid glands on the toad’s neck and shoulders are the greatest risk. When a toad is harassed, milky white poison oozes from these glands. Any contact with this ooze is a likely death sentence. In many cases they die before even swallowing the toad.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Clever crows have learnt how to make a meal of cane toads – Australian Geographic

How do cuckoo bumblebees trick other species?

In a bumblebee nest, a single fertile female, the queen, dominates the infertile female workers using a chemical scent – pheromone – identifying her as the egg-laying mother of them all.

Usually, all proceeds peacefully, but in some cases an intruder queen kills the nest’s matriarch and takes over.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: How do cuckoo bumblebees trick other species? | Discover Wildlife

Peregrine Platform at Stadium MK ©Sue Hetherington 28 April 219

Peregrine Platform at Stadium MK

Location: Stadium MK
Date: during first half of MK Dons v Scunthorpe Sat 28/4/18
Message: Just a record shot but it may be of interest to anyone unaware of the existence of a pair of breeding peregrine falcons at Stadium MK.  They are using (for the first time) a platform provided for their use. As will be seen, it is high up, just before the transparent part of the roof, between aisles 10 and 11.  Shortly after the photo taken, an adult peregrine flew from the platform and perched at the opposite end of the stadium.  Andrew and I appeared to be the only people who noticed it.  Having never been to stadium MK before, I had to ask many stewards for information before I discovered the platform location.  One was particularly surprised and exclaimed “I’ve never been asked that before!!!”

Article and photograph kingly supplied by Sue Hetherington

29 April 2017
An update from Mike Wallen of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club

Great news here, the single egg has hatched today and there’s currently a little ball of white fluff in the middle of the platform with Mum looking proudly on.

14May 2018
An update from Mike Wallen of the Buckinghamshire Bird Club

Sad and tragic news that the single chick died yesterday, the female carried it away from the platform in the evening.

You can read the previous update on the Stadium MK peregrines here.

Sue has also provided details of the Derbyshire Peregrine website: For anyone who would like to watch peregrines online, the Derby site is a really good one.  It can be found here Apart from detailed news about happenings at Derby, there is a page that lists all the known peregrine projects.

Birds of a feather, fly together

It’s pleasing to have a flock of Siskins arrive in your garden, and thanks to ringing, we might know where they come from or go to, but can ringing tell us anything about the link between these individuals in the flock? A note in Bird Study by Juan Senar and Jeff and Allison Kew in 2015 revealed that the individuals in Siskin flocks have stable social bonds and move in stable social units.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: BTO Bird Ringing – ‘Demog Blog’: Birds of a feather, fly together

Shaping positive engagements with urban birds

Some bird species provide cultural services, being aesthetically pleasing and having behaviours that people find interesting to watch. Others provide disservices (e.g. gulls, pigeons and corvids) negative for well-being. By documenting how the abundance and richness of species in these two groups correlates with human population density it was apparent that socio-economically deprived areas support low ratios of birds to people, particularly of cultural service species. These results inform management of green space, and provision of feeding and nesting sites, to promote positive interactions between birds and people within urbanised landscapes.

Ulidiidae (wing-waving flies)

Ceroxys urticae female

Ceroxys urticae female

A relatively small family (20 British species) containing some very distinctive picture-winged flies, many of which can be identified in the field with the naked eye or a hand lens. Many of those picture-winged species actively wing-wave as they walk over foliage (e.g. Herina and Seioptera) or tree trunks (Myennis).

Click here for more information

Great Linford Geology Walk Saturday 12th May 2018

Great Linford Manor ©Peter Hassett 7 July 2015

Great Linford Manor ©Peter Hassett 7 July 2015

Dear Bucks Geology Group members, the up and coming events at Great Linford are yet another way of looking at geology but in a slightly unusual manner; and a chance to explore a stone circle  – an unusual feature of Buckinghamshire.

The BGG’s AGM this year will be held at the Art Centre Great Linford, and will be followed  by a local walk.

–       The AGM runs 1-1:30 – members and non-members alike are welcome to join us;  there is then a linked event

–       The walk runs 1:45 – 3:45pm. NB people who’d like to come on the walk but not the AGM are very welcome, the events are separate from that point of view, just sequential for those who wish to come to both.

For the main walk – If you fancy a gentle stroll with us to learn about the Jurassic Blisworth Limestone and its fossils through the building stones of Milton Keynes Arts Centre, St Andrews Church and Great Linford Stone Circle & Old Quarry; ending with a visit to MK Parks Trust’s Stone Pit field well known not only for its limestone surfaces but also wildflowers and insects.

For those who can’t open the attached flyer the key details are as follows:-.

  • AGM only – Saturday 12th May 2018 1:00 – 1:30
  • Following walk , same day running 1:45 – 3:45
  • Approximately 2kmon mostly flat terrain (no big hills!) although in places the ground can be a bit uneven.
  • Wellies and specialist footwear not needed but sturdy shoes / walking boots are advised. Obviously dress for the weather on the day.
  • Meet at the Milton Keynes Arts Centre. Parklands (off Ledgers Drive), Great Linford. Milton Keynes. MK14 5ZD
  • Members free; non-members £3
  • If you’re planning to attend either or both events please let Mike Palmer know on 01296 325223 or email

We look forward to some of you joining us on the day.

Julia Carey
On behalf of the Bucks Geology Group

Environmental Records Centre Manager
Historic and Natural Environment Team
Transport, Economy and Environment
Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre
6th Floor, County Hall
Bucks HP20 1UY

Tel 01296 382431


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RSPBNBLG Talk 10 May 2018 “Migration : The Incredible Journey”

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

Location: The Cruck Barn, City Discovery Centre, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes

Postcode: MK13 9AP (Google map)

Whether it’s a single wind-blown rarity or the sight of thousands of birds on the move together , bird migration is one of the great spectacles of nature. Colin Wilkinson’s talk considers how our knowledge of migration has grown, and looks at how and why even tiny birds undertake such astonishing journeys.
This indoor meeting will start with our short Annual General Meeting

Time: Doors open 7.15pm for a prompt 7.45pm start, ends at 10pm

Price: Group members £3, Non-group members £4, 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.

Woodland edges: why their structure is important for birds 

The patchwork of woods and fields seen across much of lowland Britain contain extensive lengths of woodland edge that could have a big impact on our woodland bird populations.

A new study between Bournemouth University, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the RSPB looked at how the structure of trees and shrubs in Cambridgeshire woods affect bird populations.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Woodland edges: why their structure is important for birds – Saving Species – Our work – The RSPB Community

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

Trip Report – Linford Wood 15 April 2018

About a dozen MKNHS members and others assembled at Linford Wood at 2.15pm on Sunday afternoon 15th April 2018 at Breckland, by the north-west entrance to the wood. The weather was warm but cloudy and rain arrived shortly before the walk finished. There had been a rush of plants coming into flower over the preceding week of warmer weather and the first migrant birds had arrived not many days before.

In 2017, the MKNHS visit to Linford Wood had been on a Tuesday evening more than three weeks later (5th May) so this daytime visit, earlier in the season, provided a very different view of the wood and its flora. Mike LeRoy gave a brief introduction which was set out more fully in three handouts: 1) a map of the whole wood and its compartments; 2) a background note about the history, ecology and management of the wood; and 3) a note of ‘What to look and listen for’.

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 group walked together on an anti-clockwise route along the western and southern sides of the wood, past compartments 13 and 7a which have been extensively coppiced and thinned during the past winter. At the south-east corner, we headed back towards the centre of the wood and diverted briefly onto the western woodchip path to find Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia before heading back to Breckland along the main horse-riding path as a shower started.

The main questions the group focused on were:
1. What plant species are flowering?
2. Where do you see Dog-violets or other Violets?
3. What bird species can you hear calling?
4. What woodpecker sounds do you hear?
5. Which Bumblebee species do you see?
6. What Bee-fly species do you see hovering?
7. Which of the ponds can you see?

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa had been in flower for a couple of weeks and there must have been tens of thousands to see, scattered throughout most of the wood. Although it was the most dominant plant in flower, there were also considerable numbers of Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis nemorosa still in flower alongside the paths. There were also still plenty of clumps of Primrose Primula vulgaris in flower in and among the trees and along the edges of the ditches. The delicate leaves of Pignut

Pignut ©Peter Hassett, Pilch Field 8 May 2011

Pignut ©Peter Hassett, Pilch Field 8 May 2011

Conopodium majus were seen in a few locations on ditch and path edges. Only a few Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta were beginning to show. Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria were still in flower, but Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea had yet to emerge and no flowering Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon were seen. The first few Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia were just emerging into leaf, but had not quite flowered. The group found a few clumps of Strawberry which turned out to be Barren Strawberry Potentilla sterilis (identified by Mary Sarre).

Violet sp.  ©Peter Hassett Stanton Wood, 12 May 2010

Violet sp. ©Peter Hassett Stanton Wood, 12 May 2010

With the undergrowth yet to burst into full growth, Dog-violets and other Violets Viola spp. were more evident and found in small numbers through much of the wood. Most of the trees were barely into leaf so there were clear views well into the wood.

Although tree species were not a main focus of what we looked for, Mary Sarre noted at the edge of the wood near Breckland some Norway Maple Acer platanoides which flower with bright yellow-green flowers before they leaf and have been widely planted in Milton Keynes. Mike LeRoy mentioned Ash Fraxinus excelsior trees close to Breckland with their brief display of purplish-brown male flowers.

Aside from the permanent ponds, there were many areas of the wood with water lying on the surface. At one pond on the western side Martin Kincaid found Pond-skaters Gerris spp.

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

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

As we walked, we noticed numerous Bumblebees hunting low down within the vegetation rather than searching for nectar. Species seen included: Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius and Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Another insect present in many places was the Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major. Less common was the Hairy-footed Flower-bee Anthophora plumipes. In several places we found 7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata.

Male Blackcap by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 17 April 2016

Male Blackcap by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 17 April 2016

Sue & Andrew Hetherington led the recording of birds, almost entirely by calls and songs. In all they noted 17 species: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Jay and Magpie. Other species known to be sometimes present, but not seen or heard on this occasion, are: Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail and Stock Dove.


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

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

A week after our visit the Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta are out in profusion. The first Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea have emerged. A few stems of Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon have been found, but are not quite in flower. And the first of the Early-purple Orchid Orchis mascula are just emerging.

There are species of flower in Linford Wood worth looking for in mid-April and others that don’t tend to emerge until late April into May. The wood is worth visiting at both these times to see how the season is changing.

Mike LeRoy
22nd April 2018

RSPBNBLG Walk – Otmoor 6 May 2018

RSPB logoThe RSPB North Bucks Local Group are leading a field trip:

Location: Meet in the car park (free) a mile down Otmoor Lane from the Abingdon Arms, Beckley
Nearest postcode OX3 9TD)
SP 570 126

Postcode: OX3 9TD (Google map)

This historic wetland was restored from arable land – and our Group helps to fund it!

A May visit for special birds like Turtle Dove and Hobby. Come prepared for little shelter, no toilets and lengthy (though level) walking.

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.

To mow or to mow less?

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

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

Green spaces embedded within the urban matrix, particularly residential yards, could mitigate negative aspects of urban development and provide pollinator habitat.

Lawns represent a dominant green space, and their management consists of frequent mowing to inhibit the growth of ostensibly “weedy” species (e.g., dandelions and clover).

Since widespread population declines of bees and other pollinators from habitat loss are a growing concern, these spontaneous flowers could provide pollen and nectar sources throughout the growing season.

We experimentally tested whether different lawn mowing frequencies (1, 2 or 3 weeks) influenced bee abundance and diversity in 16 suburban western Massachusetts yards by increasing lawn floral resources.

Lawns mowed every three weeks had as much as 2.5 times more lawn flowers than the other frequencies. Interestingly, lawns mowed every two weeks supported the highest bee abundance yet the lowest bee richness and evenness. We suggest these patterns were driven by a combination of more abundant floral resources (compared with 1-week yards), easier access to lawn flowers due to shorter grass and a more drastic impact on grass biomass and floral resources (compared with 3-week yards), and the dominance of a few generalist bees overwhelming our samples, thus driving richness and evenness.

Our results highlight a “lazy lawnmower” approach to providing bee habitat. Mowing less frequently is practical, economical, and a timesaving alternative to lawn replacement or even planting pollinator gardens. Given the pervasiveness of lawns coupled with habitat loss, our findings provide immediate solutions for individual households to contribute to urban conservation.

Source: To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards – ScienceDirect

Grand Union Canal by Peter Hassett

MK Branch – Inland Waterways Association events 2018-19

At our recent joint meeting with the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, the talk by Richard Bennett from the Canal and Rivers Trust highlighted the enormous amount of work that goes into maintaining the canals and the wildlife they support. A couple of events were mentioned which are open to all who’d like to go along.

On Saturday 28 and Monday 30 April there will be a work party to re-paint the Wolverton Train Mural. For details contact Athina Beckett at or 01908 661217.

On 25-27 May (possibly 28th too), there will be fundraising event at Three Locks, Soulbury, with  demonstrations of how to work a boat through the locks  There will be activities for children, and the Buckingham Canal Society will have a book and bric-a-brac stall.

Other events are listed in the IWA events diary.

The sun just developed three new holes

The sun is up to old tricks again, having recently developed three new coronal holes. And it’s us Earthlings that are bearing the brunt, occupying a planet hit by geomagnetic storms.While this might sound like I’m hailing the next rapture, I’m not. Solar holes aren’t uncommon, particularly given that we’re in the solar minimum – a stage in the sun’s 11-year activity cycle in which coronal holes are pretty regular.

Source: Holey moly! Three holes have burst open on the sun hurtling geomagnetic storms towards Earth | Alphr

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Weather Watcher profile: Harry Appleyard

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Harry Appleyard, one of the great photographers within the Milton Keynes Natural History Society, contributes photos to the BBC’s Weather Watchers.

The BBC has published an article and a section of Harry’s beautiful photographs which you can view using this link: Article – BBC Weather Watchers


You can see more of Harry’s nature photos in the Members Photos section of the website.

Go wild for worms

The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens to celebrate wildlife gardening and to encourage people to use their gardens to take action to help support nature. Help us turn the UK’s estimated 24 million gardens into a network of nature reserves, and invite our wildlife back. This year Wild About Gardens is going wild about worms! These wriggly fellows are well known to gardeners all over.

Click on the link for more information: Wild About Gardens

Why Dutch dairy is becoming bird-friendly

For the last few years, VBN/BirdLife Netherlands has been working closely with Dutch farmers in the hopes of making the country’s world-famous dairy products as sustainable and nature-friendly as they are tasty. Gerrit Gerritsen tells us more about a most promising start.International studies recently showed Dutch men to be the tallest in the world, standing on average at 1.84 metres – re

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Milking the cow: why Dutch dairy is becoming bird-friendly | BirdLife

New Nature magazine April 2018 published

New Nature magazine April 2018

New Nature magazine April 2018

New Nature is the only natural history magazine written, edited and produced entirely by young people: by young ecologists, conservationists, communicators, nature writers and wildlife photographers each boasting an undying passion for the natural world. It is intended, foremost, as a celebration of nature, but also of the young people giving their time, freely, to protect it.

Click here to download the magazine

Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years

The warm Atlantic current linked to severe and abrupt changes in the climate in the past is now at its weakest in at least 1,600 years, new research shows. The findings, based on multiple lines of scientific evidence, throw into question previous predictions that a catastrophic collapse of the Gulf Stream would take centuries to occur.

Source: Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show | Environment | The Guardian

White Stork reintroduction project

There is significant evidence to show that White Storks were once a breeding bird of Britain, with an archaeological record stretching back 360,000 years.

White Storks are particularly associated with the county of Sussex. The Saxon name for the village of Storrington, near Worthing, was originally “Estorchestone”, meaning “the village of the storks”. A pair of white storks still features on the village emblem. Other place names in the area, such as Storwood and Storgelond, evoke the stork’s historical presence here.

Together with a number of private landowners in West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey, and in partnership with the Roy Denis Wildlife Foundation, Warsaw Zoo and Cotswold Wildlife Park, Knepp Estate is helping to establish a breeding population of free-living White Storks in Britain once again.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: White Storks — Knepp Wildland