Author Archives: admin

Wetland Butterflies and Moths

Wetlands are home to several specialist species, some even able to survive feeding on plants in standing water.

However, other vegetation is frequently present, sometimes with patches of carr woodland or drier land, which also support a wider diversity of species. Lowland raised bogs and upland blanket bog are home to many species, for example the Large Heath. The Swallowtail is only found in the Norfolk fenland of Britain.

Click here for more information.: Wetlands

RSPBNBLG Walk – Delapre Abbey 20 February 2019

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

Location: Delapre Abbey, Northampton. Meet in car park (free). Follow the A508 London Rd from the A45 southern by-pass towards Northampton centre. The drive (with a small lodge) is on right hand side, ½ mile past Queen Eleanor’s Cross. SP 759 591.
Postcode: NN4 8AW (Google map)

The historic house was just restored by Northampton Borough Council. Nearby are splendid mature trees, Victorian shrubberies, a recent plantation, golf course, paddocks and a lake. Hawfinch and many other woodland birds were present in winter 2017-18. Cafe and toilets usually open. Some paths are too muddy for wheelchairs, wellies advised. Walk leader Chris Coppock.

Time: 10 am to 1 pm

Price: Free event

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.

FSC Conifer Identikit

This interactive guide is a resource for anyone who wants to identify one of the 50 or so species of coniferous trees that can be found growing in a naturalised state in Britain or to learn about the features that can be used to identify them. The tools are currently optimised for large-screen formats. We are working on a suite of tools for small screens, e.g. mobile phones, for later in 2018.

Click here for more information.: FSC Conifer Identikit

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 17 February 2019

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Open Sunday at Linford Lakes NR 10:00 – 16:00hrs (hides to close at 15.30)

The reserve is open to friends and family,
Bring the neighbours too.
Stop off at the centre for a fresh cuppa and a piece of home-made cake.

If you would like to accompany Andy Harding on his Wildfowl Count walk around the Reserve, be ready to meet at the Centre at 10:00hrs.

Wild Justice – a new organisation taking the side of wildlife

Wild Justice is a new organisation which launches today. Its founders are Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and myself.

Wild Justice has been set up to fight for wildlife.  Threatened species can’t take legal cases in their own names but, with your help, we will stand up for wildlife using the legal system and seek changes to existing laws.

We will be taking court cases to benefit threatened wildlife.  Our first legal challenge is already in progress – our solicitors have sent, today, a letter to a public body – and we’ll soon be able to tell you all about it.

Visit our website (www.wildjustice.org.uk) and find out more about us, and sign up there for our newsletter so that you can keep in touch. [Note: it works in the usual way; 1. You subscribe, 2. you get an email asking you to confirm your subscription (please check spam box) and 3. after confirming you get another message or are sent back to the website.  Wild Justice already has over 1000 subscribers to its newsletter and we’d like you to join too.  If you do, you may see a strange error message after you click ‘confirm’.  We know about this and are trying to fix it but if you get the error message you are definitely subscribed. Sorry about that – technology eh?].

Chris Packham said ‘Wild. Justice.  Because the wild needs justice more than ever before. The pressures wrought upon our wildlife have reached a crisis point and this is an essential response. The message is clear . . . if you are breaking the law, if the law is weak, if the law is flawed – we are coming for you. Peacefully, democratically and legally. Our simple premise is to work with the laws we’ve got to seek real justice for our wildlife, to reform, refine or renew those laws we have to ensure that justice can be properly realised. Our wildlife has been abused, has been suffering, exploited or destroyed by criminals for too long. Well, no longer. Wild Justice will at last be the voice of those victims and it will be heard . . . and justice will be served. ‘.

Mark Avery said ‘Wild Justice will take on public bodies to get a better deal for wildlife.  It’s a shame that we have to do this but we have little confidence that statutory bodies are fulfilling their functions properly. We aim to hold their feet to the fire in court. I’m reminded of what the great American environmental campaigner, Ansel Adams said ‘It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment’.’.

Ruth Tingay said ‘I know many people who despair about what’s happening to our wildlife but who also feel powerless to help, typically because access to justice can be prohibitively expensive and a daunting arena. Wild Justice provides an opportunity for ordinary citizens to fight back on behalf of wildlife, collectively helping us to challenge poor decisions or flawed policies that threaten to harm our wildlife. With so many potential cases, the difficulty for us will be to decide which ones to take on first’.

Here’s the link to our website again  www.wildjustice.org.uk.

I can also tell you that we are receiving lots of donations – that’s very kind and very important.  We will crowd-fund for particular projects but we also have running costs (web design and building, setting up the organisation, some travel, our accountants etc) so donations that aren’t specifically targetted at projects are very helpful. Wild Justice is a not-for-profit company – none of us will be earning anything from it.

This is Mark Avery’s newsletter so I am not going to keep telling you about Wild Justice here even though it is, even now, very important to me.  Subscribe to the Wild Justice newsletter, through the Wild Justice website so Wild justice can keep you informed.

How moths spend winter

During the first month of #MyMothYear, my field trips have focused on understanding the varying ways in which moths spend the winter months. Heralds, for example, hibernate. Vapourer moths see out the cold as eggs, whereas the nationally threatened Lunar Yellow Underwing spends January as a caterpillar, wiggling in the open air by night. After a fascinating afternoon picking the brains of Butterfly Conservation moth specialists Mark Parsons and Phil Sterling, Mark offered to take me out to see a couple of other stages in the moth life cycle. On the famous Dorset landmark of Portland Bill, Mark cracked open teasels and carline thistles to show me moth caterpillars burrowed within, plucked various leaves to focus my eyes on leaf-miner moth tracks and caterpillars, pointed out the tents of Browntail moth caterpillars and…

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Plants for structure

Gardeners and garden designers like to use the shapes and forms of plants to give structure and texture to their planting, so that it is visually interesting throughout the year. However there is another important aspect to the three dimensional structure of garden plants, which is the help it can provide to wildlife.

When it comes to the value that garden plants can offer for wildlife, most attention is usually focused on plants for pollinators and berry-bearing shrubs for birds. However, plants can also create a complex physical infrastructure that influences much of a garden’s environmental diversity and increases the ability of the garden to support lots of biodiversity. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this ‘architecture’ and it guide your choice in gardening for wildlife.

Here are some of the principal ways in which plant structure influences garden diversity. Note that in all of these examples, the question of whether a plant is native or not is probably irrelevant.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Plants for structure

9 Tons of Pangolin Scales Seized in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Officials in Hong Kong said on Friday that they had intercepted a shipment of nine tons of scales from pangolins, the largest seizure the city has ever made of products from one of the most frequently trafficked mammals in the world. A thousand elephant tusks were in the same shipment, officials said.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: 9 Tons of Pangolin Scales Are Seized in Hong Kong – The New York Times

You can help RSPB Minsmere

RSPB logoRSPB Minsmere in Suffolk is one of our star reserves, with more than 5,600 species. However, there are proposals to build a new nuclear power plant – Sizewell C – right next door.

Click here for more information.

Red Banded Polypore fungus (Fomitopsis pinicola) ©Justin Long, Linford Lakes NR 26 January 2019

Rare fungus Fomitopsis pinicola found at Linford Lakes

Red Banded Polypore fungus (Fomitopsis pinicola) ©∆ustin Long, Linford Lakes NR 26 January 2019

Red Banded Polypore fungus (Fomitopsis pinicola) ©Justin Long, Linford Lakes NR 26 January 2019

 

It is a rare occasion when I find the opportunity to dedicate a really good period of quality time to photography. And when I do, there’s not much I like more than to take a bimble round the woods with camera in hand, finding some fungi to shoot.

And so it was, on a cold but bright January morning, that just such an opportunity presented itself.

My lovely wife was away on a girlie weekend, and nothing else had managed to creep, or even barge its way to the top of my to-do list, so I decided to head up to Linford Lakes Nature Reserve to see what was about.

I had in mind getting some shots of the very photogenic Flammulina velutipes– the Velvet Tough Shank, which grows on hardwoods at this time of year. I already have a photo of this species from a few years back, but it’s not tack sharp, and besides which, my photographic skills and equipment have developed somewhat since then, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Linford Lakes is a good location for another early vernal species too – the Scarlet Elf Cup, and I did indeed find this species, but more about that another time perhaps…

A little technique I have developed over the years is to walk through an area looking for likely specimens or habitats, taking note along the way of anything interesting, and returning to the best spot once I have had a good look around.  I have learned through bitter experience not to spend too much time on the first half decent mushroom that I come across, only to then find a much more photogenic specimen, and no time to do it justice!

And it was on this pre-photo recce that I came across this rather striking bracket fungus that I immediately recognised as Fomitopsis pinicola– the Red Banded Polypore. I say that I immediately recognised it, but in fact I had only ever seen this on the Continent before – in France and in Germany, so I had my suspicions that it might just be something a bit more common masquerading as a rarity.

So I took a number of photos from differing angles, including (importantly) the spore-bearing surface, showing the pores or tubes, from which the spores are ejected. I didn’t take any samples, as if it was indeed the Fomitopsis, I was unsure as to whether it had protected status.

Anyway, with that I headed home to do some research, bumping into Jane Grisdale on the way, and also stopping to get some photos of the aforementioned Scarlet Elf Cup. I mentioned to Jane that we might just have something a bit special here, but didn’t get too over enthusiastic, as identifying species on site, without reference material is always risky – especially for a potential rarity.

It turns out that there are 50 records for Fomitopsis pinicolaon the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland (FRDBI), so I figured that we might be in with a chance of a first for the County. So, with excitement mounting, I checked the locations of each of the records on the database, starting with the first record from 1938.

Liverpool, Gloucestershire, Scotland, Durham… Kershope Forest, Kielder Forest, Wark Forest, Greenham Common…

With each record from a location other than Bucks, the chances of finding a county first at Linford Lakes increased, and before long I had reached the end of the list – all 50 species! But, alas, and you can imagine my disappointment, there it was, on the very last listing in the database – the 50th – a record from 2016, from Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire…

There was still a chance of course that my identification was wrong, but after conferring with friends at the Bucks Fungus Group, and further confirmation from the National Herbarium at Kew, it is now listed as a good record – the 51st.

So a second for the county, and only the second time this has been recorded on alder, it is still a great find for the Reserve, and, I think, time well spent.

Photos and text kindly supplied by Justin Long

Alan Titchmarsh discusses bee orchids

You can take anybody to see ‘nature’s greatest mimic’ – whether they are into flowers or not – because it’s full of wow factor. The bee orchid looks like a bee to attract pollinators, but in Britain they are self-pollinating so the deception is not required. The fact that the plant is also so rare and unusual adds to its appeal.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Alan Titchmarsh discusses why he loves bee orchids – Discover Wildlife

Britain’s most endangered species identified for first time

Britain’s 20 most endangered species have been identified for the first time by a host of wildlife and woodland charities, as Natural England has launched a campaign to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Britain’s most endangered species identified for first time as Natural England launches ‘Back from the Brink’ campaign

Endangered UK plants brought back from brink by driving tractor over them

A crucial but threatened habitat has been revitalised following decades of decline after conservationists decided to run a five-tonne tractor over it.

The unusual action was part of a wider effort to save the marsh clubmoss, an endangered plant that evolved 400 million years ago and forms a vital component of damp heathlands.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Endangered UK plants brought back from brink by driving tractor over them | The Independent

Programme Change 12/19 February 2019

Unfortunately, David Sharp cannot make his slot “Acoustics by the sea” for this coming Tuesday 12 February 2019 so I have agreed to move it back to Tuesday 19 February 2019 Mary Sarre has agreed to bring forward the Summer Planning to next Tuesday 12 February 2019.

Is sphagnum the most underrated plant on Earth?

Sphagnum is probably the most underrated plant on Earth. This humble little moss makes up the bulk of our peat bogs and holds up to 20 times its weight in water. That makes boglands huge sponges that store water, slowing its flow and helping prevent flooding downstream.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Plantwatch: is sphagnum the most underrated plant on Earth? | Science | The Guardian

FSCBioLinks Identikit

The @FSCBioLinks Identikit has recently been developed so that ID resources can be used on mobile devices in the field – even where an internet connection is not available….

…publishing mobile-first implementations of our resources Harvestman of Britain and Ireland and The Conifers of Britain . Other people have already taken advantages of the new features to publish mobile resources, including Nia Howells who has created a mobile-first multi-access key for British Froghoppers

Click here for more information.

National Nest Box Week 14-21 February 2019

National NestBox Week is an established part of the ornithological calendar. Running for a week from 14 February each year, National Nest Box Week provides a welcome focus on nesting birds and encourages everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to support the conservation of our breeding birds. National Nest Box Week was established and developed by BTO and Britain’s leading birdcare specialist Jacobi Jayne. It takes place at a time when tradition has it that small birds pair up ahead of the breeding season

Click here for more information.: National Nest Box Week | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Iguanas reintroduced to Galápagos

Conservationists have released Galápagos land iguanas to Santiago Island as part of the effort to restore the island’s ecological health.

Conservationists have released Galápagos land iguanas to Santiago Island as part of the effort to restore the island’s ecological health.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Iguanas reintroduced to Galápagos island after an absence of 180 years – Discover Wildlife

Gardens as sites for human-nature relationships

Greater Spearwort: first flowers of year, garden pond Stoke Goldington ©Ian Saunders 29 May 2018

Greater Spearwort: first flowers of year, garden pond Stoke Goldington ©Ian Saunders 29 May 2018

Identifying private gardens in the U.K. as key sites of environmental engagement, we look at how a longer-term online citizen science programme facilitated the development of new and personal attachments of nature. These were visible through new or renewed interest in wildlife-friendly gardening practices and attitudinal shifts in a large proportion of its participants. Qualitative and quantitative data, collected via interviews, focus groups, surveys and logging of user behaviours, revealed that cultivating a fascination with species identification was key to both ‘helping nature’ and wider learning, with the programme creating a space where scientific and non-scientific knowledge could co-exist and reinforce one another.

Source: From citizen science to citizen action: analysing the potential for a digital platform to cultivate attachments to nature

Video of Cryptic Wood White courtship

I thought I’d share a video of the Cryptic Wood White courtship, with the male on the left (note the white tips to the undersides of his antennae, and always-closed wings that distinguishes him from a Wood White).

Pesticides found in more than 80% of tested European soils

The industrialisation of agriculture has radically transformed the way most of our food is produced. By making large-scale production possible, it has led to more food being available at lower prices throughout the world. However, we are increasingly seeing the negative side of this chemically intensive system of food production. Today, 2,000 pesticides with 500 chemical substances are being used in Europe. However, data on how such substances affect soil quality is incomplete and fragmented, and fails to clearly reflect their overall impact on soil systems and human health.

Click here to read the views of a UK Farmer

Monarch butterfly population wintering in Mexico increases 144%

The population of monarch butterflies wintering in central Mexico is up 144% over last year, according to new research.

The data was cheered but scientists quickly warned that it does not mean the butterflies that migrate from Canada and the United States are out of danger.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Monarch butterfly population wintering in Mexico increases 144% | Environment | The Guardian

Endangered orchids traded online

Green-winged Orchid ©Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 30 May 2018

Green-winged Orchid ©Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 30 May 2018

In this journal article, Dr Amy Hinsley et al. provide the first overview of commercial orchid trade globally and highlight the main types that involve wild-collected plants.

Click here for more information.

RSPBNBLG Walk – College Lake 10 February 2019

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

College Lake Nature Reserve (Near Tring). Meet in reserve car park (£3 suggested donation) signed off B488 ¼ mile north of canal bridge, Bulbourne. SP 936 138.
Postcode: HP23 5QG (Google map)

This flagship BBOWT reserve has a fine visitor centre, toilets and cafe. The flooded chalk pit always holds a good range of birds (we have recorded 50+ species on some of our previous visits). Paths mostly good, and Mobility Scooter can be booked ahead on 01442-826774.

Walk Leader : Pete How

Time: 10 am to 12.30 pm

Price: Free event

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.

Moth Trends

Clifden Nonpareil moth ©Gordon Redford, Newport Pagnell 16 September 2018

Clifden Nonpareil moth ©Gordon Redford, Newport Pagnell 16 September 2018

Species-level moth trends from the @Rothamsted_RIS light-trap network now available for view at their new website.

Click here for more information.

Valuing Nature webinars – 19 February 2019 – Monetary national capital assessment in the private sector

Tuesday 19 February 2019 – 13-14.00

Rose Pritchard – Monetary national capital assessment in the private sector

‘Businesses have numerous impacts and dependencies upon natural capital which are not captured in normal financial accounting. Much natural capital is freely available, and businesses impact and dependencies on natural capital are therefore not captured in financial accounts. Valuing natural capital in monetary terms makes the invisible visible, and therefore theoretically motivates more sustainable practices.

Monetary valuation of natural capital has only recently begun to gain momentum in the private sector. This synthesis report recognises this trend and aims to provide an accessible overview of the current status of private sector natural capital assessment and to identify key needs for research in this rapidly evolving area.’  Webinar registration

Put in a pond

Building a pond in your garden is one of the best things you can do to help – and attract – wildlife. Water is essential for frogs and toads – they wouldn’t be able to breed without it. But a garden pond will attract a myriad of other creatures too.

Peer into any pond and you will soon see what I mean. Pond skaters skim the surface and water boatmen use their long, oar-like legs to propel themselves along. The larvae of damselflies and dragonflies can be seen darting around – and in summer the adult insects, with their beautiful iridescent colours of red, blue and green, hover near the water.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Wildlife ponds | Little Green Space

World Wetlands Day 2 February 2019

Today is World Wetlands Day (02 February 2019), and a timely reminder of how paramount wetlands conservation is in our fight against climate change and the risk of natural disasters.

Organised by the Ramsar Convention, a treaty bringing together 170 countries committed to conserving these precious habitats, World Wetlands Day is a chance to raise the public profile of this important habitat.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: World Wetlands Day and waste exports – Defra in the media

Holtspur Bottom’s boring beetles

In winter 2017-18 some young Ash trees were felled at Holtspur Bottom Butterfly Conservation reserve, to open up and restore an area to chalk grassland. Logs from this felling were stacked. Last weekend we returned to clear another area, and had to move some of the logs from the previous winter.

n the intervening year rather a lot of beautiful patterns had been sculpted onto the logs, the handiwork of the Ash Bark Beetle Hylesinus varius…

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Holtspur Bottom’s boring beetles – Kitenet

Are you sure your meadow is a meadow?

This is not a wildflower meadow, but a colourful mix of cornfield annuals © Jonathan Billinger [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is not a wildflower meadow, but a colourful mix of cornfield annuals © Jonathan Billinger [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the most frequent enquiry we get at Plantlife is, “How do I grow a wildflower meadow?” This is almost always immediately followed by, “I tried it once and it looked fantastic in the first year, but then it looked rubbish”.

What could be more disappointing and dispiriting? Who’d want to carry on growing wildflowers after that sort of experience?

The problem is that much of the seed sold to grow a “wildflower meadow” is not meadow seed at all. It’s something entirely different.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Are you sure your meadow is a meadow? | The Wildflower Garden

Butterflies of Northamptonshire in 2018

For Northamptonshire’s butterflies 2018 has been a memorable year for many reasons. Not only did we have two national projects in the county but it was also an exceptional season for many of our butterflies. When I first became interested in the serious study of butterflies I’d often hear stories of huge groundings of Purple Hairstreaks, explosive Black Hairstreak years and numerous rare aberrations and colour forms which at the time such spectacles seemed to be confined to the history books so to witness many of these events first hand in 2018 made the year an extraordinary one to say the least.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

February tips for gardeners

Being a committed wildlife gardener means compromising a little on the tidiness of your garden to protect the overwintering sites of insects and other creatures.

Hopefully in the autumn you left some of the seedheads on your border perennials such as Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, Globe Thistle Echinops spp. and Sea Holly Eryngium spp. along with biennials such as Honesty Lunaria annua and Teasel Dipascus fullonum. You might have discovered how beautiful they can look when covered in frost.

Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – Dig It – February tips from the Secret Gardener

RSPBNBLG Talk – Wildlife Down Under (Part 2) 14 February 2019

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

Location: The Cruck Barn, City Discovery Centre, Alston Drive, Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes
Postcode: MK13 9AP (Google map)

Some of you will remember Chris’ talk last season – Part 1 of this “mini-series”. Part 2 will bring you lots more on his memorable three month Australian trip. Highlights include whale watching in Queensland, Sydney and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and a Northern territory adventure visiting Kakadu National Park and other locations near Darwin. Images of iconic mammals and birds, plus some spectacular landscapes as well. Great photographs and an entertaining evening.

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.

Valuing Nature webinars – 13 February 2019 Soil natural capital valuation in agri-food businesses

Wednesday 13 February 2019 – 13-14.00

Jess Davies – Soil natural capital valuation in agri-food businesses

‘Soils are a key natural asset in agri-food supply chains. Yet their valuation is often overlooked as few ecosystems services flow directly from soils to goods, or human benefits. This synthesis report considered what a natural capital approach to soil could offer businesses, existing approaches, and key gaps to implementing this in practice.’  Webinar registration

Compound tool construction by New Caledonian crows

The construction of novel compound tools through assemblage of otherwise non-functional elements involves anticipation of the affordances of the tools to be built. Except for few observations in captive great apes, compound tool construction is unknown outside humans, and tool innovation appears late in human ontogeny. We report that habitually tool-using New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) can combine objects to construct novel compound tools.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Compound tool construction by New Caledonian crows | Scientific Reports

Year of Green Action

Over the course of 2019, Butterfly Conservation (BC) are taking part in an initiative to help make the UK a more wildlife-friendly place. The Year of Green Action(YOGA)  is part of the Government’s 25 year environment plan and is attempting to connect people all around the UK with nature. The YOGA will show …

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Year of Green Action

Mapping seabirds at sea

New maps produced provide powerful tools to help the RSPB advocate for better protection for seabirds at sea. The innovative project analysed tracking data to identify the areas at sea used most by kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and shags in UK and some Irish waters, helpingidentifyy sensitive areas at sea to inform marine planning and highlight key areas for protection.

Click here to see the results and find out more.

Moose “treated” in hospital!

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A moose wandered into a hospital building in Alaska’s largest city and chowed down on some plants in the lobby as workers watched the massive animal in awe.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Love Minsmere – tell EDF what you think

The RSPB is concerned that their Minsmere reserve could be under threat from a new nuclear power station.

The Sizewell Estate, on the southern boundary of Minsmere, is where EDF plan to build a new nuclear power station, Sizewell C. This could be catastrophic for wildlife. The building work may increase erosion, upsetting the delicate balance of the reserve. It could affect the water levels in Minsmere’s ditches, impacting its rare wetland wildlife, which includes bitterns, otters and ducks. Once the construction is in progress, it may increase levels of noise and light pollution. Rare marsh harriers, breeding ducks and geese and wading birds are very sensitive to this. The effects will be long-term.

Click here for more information.: Love Minsmere – tell EDF what you think

Valuing Nature webinars – 6 February 2019 Natural capital trade-offs in afforested peatlands

Thursday 6 February 2019, 13:00 – 14:00

Richard Payne – Natural capital trade-offs in afforested peatlands

‘Large areas of Britain’s peatlands were planted with non-native conifers in the twentieth century. Forest expansion onto peat was promoted to secure domestic timber supply and encourage employment in rural areas, but proved controversial and was ultimately halted. As trees reach harvesting age there are important questions about what should be done with these areas next, with principal options including continued forestry and restoration to open habitats. Change in different forms of natural capital is key to this decision-making.’ Webinar registration

Swap aphids for lettuces!

Part of my fieldwork this season involves trying to catch live aphids on lettuce from various parts of the UK. I would provide you with ~30 lettuces to grow in your garden and I would ask if you see any aphids on the lettuce for them to be sent to me at Rothamsted Research. Costs for postage etc. would be paid for and you will also get a summer’s-worth of free lettuce to eat! This will not require anything other than keeping the lettuce alive and checking them for aphids when you pick one 😊.

If you are not interested but may know someone who could be, please send this on to them.

Thank you in advance.

Dion Garrett

Please email me for further details: dion.garrett@rothamsted.ac.uk.

Valuing Nature webinars – 5 February 2019 The Natural Capital of Floodplains

Wednesday 5 February 2019 – 12.30-13.30

Clare Lawson & Emma Rothero – The Natural Capital of Floodplains

Over the past eighty years there has been a widespread transformation of floodplains from a naturally functioning landscape to a highly modified one, allowing the expansion of intensive agriculture and urban development to occur within the floodplain. Floodplains naturally support a wide range of habitats including species-rich meadows, wet woodland and fens. While these threatened habitats still remain within floodplains, their extent is much reduced.

In a world of public money for public goods, floodplains have the capability of delivering a broad range of ecosystem goods and services. Many of these goods and services result from the interface between terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and the complex relationships between hydrological, physical, biogeochemical and ecological processes and are therefore not obtainable from other landscapes. It is already accepted that species-rich habitats have a vital role to play in the conservation of our natural and social heritage. However, they may provide a wider range of ecosystem service benefits in floodplains when compared to more intensive land-use types.

This webinar will discuss the benefits delivered by floodplains. Using species-rich floodplain meadows as a case study, we will demonstrate that floodplains can sustain productive agriculture in addition to delivering these benefits. We will also explore the potential benefit gain from expanding species-rich habitats within floodplains.’ Webinar Registration

Calling all Young UK Wildlife Photographers

Young Wildlife Photographers UK is an exciting project unveiling wildlife and nature photography and stories to a broader audience. Social networking is our tool to expose young talent and the next generation of British wildlife photographers.

This project isn’t just about photography but also to show that young people are still keen to be in touch with nature and are eager to conserve and protect it.

The project aims to reveal compelling and striking photography of the natural world in the eyes of young people, to share inspirational stories and powerful images that uncover nature or address a strong conservation issue.

Click here for more information.: British winter wildlife in pictures – Discover Wildlife

Wild Boar – The Boaring Truth

An Introduction to Wild Boar in the Forest of Dean

To form an opinion on anything you need to be armed with the facts….

….. here is a short introduction to wild boar, and some information about this special species that inhabits the Forest of Dean, and UK. we will go into more detail in other pages on this website.

The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a true native species to Britain.

Historically they were a favourite festive meat for Royals, because of this, and as a result of hunting, they became extinct across Britain during the 13th century…

Click here for more information.: The Boaring Truth – Home

Managing farm pests biologically

Managing pests biologically requires an integrated approach, including improving our knowledge of pest life cycles & integrating habitat to encourage their enemies. This session will share experience & practical tips from science & practice to help us look to design pest resilient farming systems for the future.
Speaker: Richard Pywell, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Click on the play button to watch the video

Valuing Nature webinars – 24 January 2019 The Natural Capital of Temporary Rivers

Thursday 24 January 2019 – 13:00 – 14.00

Rachel Stubbington – The Natural Capital of Temporary Rivers

‘Temporary rivers are natural ecosystems that can sometimes lose all surface water. In the UK, they range from the ‘winterbourne’ reaches of our celebrated chalk rivers to headwater streams in remote uplands. Although valued during flowing phases for their biodiversity and provision of recreational opportunities, many people see dry channels as symbols of ecological degradation, which overlooks the value of natural temporary streams: dynamic ecosystems that support high biodiversity including aquatic and terrestrial species during wet and dry phases, respectively. In this webinar, Rachel Stubbington – lead author of The Natural Capital of Temporary Rivers – will explore these ecosystems’ natural assets and link these to ecosystem services that people value, such as flood protection, water supply, and pollution control. By suggesting metrics that enable progress towards service provision goals to be tracked, Rachel and her colleagues’ research could enable future valuations of service provision and inform management strategies that maintain and enhance these dynamic ecosystems and the species and services they support.’  Webinar Registration

Programme for  Coleopterists Day 9 February 2019

10.00 – Arrival tea / coffee / biscuits – Annexe – Pemberley Books stall
10.30 – Welcome & Housekeeping – Lecture Theatre
10.35 – Mark Gurney – Fear no weevil [Mark’s photo of Charagmus griseus is shown, right]
10.55 – Jon Webb – Natural England update
11.15 – Katy Dainton– Beetle- eating beetles, and other forest pest biocontrol methods
11.35 – Jeff Blincow & Tim Newton – “If it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone we’ve started – a Saproxylic beetle project at Yardley Chase Training Area”
11.55 – Sue Townsend – FSC Field Studies Council: FSC Find Study Coleoptera
12.30 – 14.00 – Lunch (Museum café, local pub or bring your own – Annexe)
14.15 – Helen Roy, Richard Lewington & Peter Brown – Ladybird field guide Q&A – Annex

Click here for more information.: Programme announced for the 2019 Coleopterists Day | UK Beetle Recording

How to create an insect-friendly garden

Want to attract more beneficial insects to your garden? We share some tips, and suggest six insect-friendly plants to try.

It’s well known that bees are vital for pollinating many of our crops. Around a third of the food we eat – strawberries, apples and tomatoes for example – is pollinated by bees.

Most of us are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but there are also more than 200 species of solitary bee – and they play an equally important role in pollinating flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: How to create an insect-friendly garden | Little Green Space

Wildlife Trust BCN Upcoming Talks and Events in South Bedfordshire Spring 2019

Wed 30th January – Managing reserves for Tomorrow’s Climate – an illustrated talk by Dr Andrew Bladon – Andrew and his team of researchers from Cambridge University have been doing lots of work on our local sites looking at ways to help protect butterflies in particular from the threat of climate change. Dunstable Fire Station 7.30pm £3 (please see attached flyer for more details).

Sat 2nd February – Community Orchard Day – Come and celebrate our Blow’s Downs Community Orchard – 10am-12pm Orchard Management demonstrations including some family-friendly activities and. 12pm-3pm a more in depth look at the heritage, management and conservation of local orchards with local expert Colin Carpenter (St Augustine’s Church). This event is free to attend due to funding from the Orchards East project, donations to the ongoing work of the Wildlife Trust BCN gratefully received (please see attached flyer for more details).

Future Talks:

Wed 20th February – Blow’s Downs and the Busway 5 Years on – an illustrated talk by Esther Clarke, Reserves officer for Bedfordshire. Dunstable Fire Station 7.30pm £3

Wed 27th March – Jewels of the Air – an illustrated talk by Dr Wild Powell showing the diversity of the colourful hummingbirds, which include the smallest bird in the world, and describe some aspects of their fascinating behaviour. Dunstable Fire Station 7.30pm £3

Please do get in touch if you have any questions or to book your place(s) on any of the above events, it will be great to see you.

With kind regards,

Sarah Cowling <Sarah.Cowling@wildlifebcn.org>

Plant–pollinator interactions

False oil beetle, Oedemera nobilis (female), ©Ian Saunders Feeding on spearwort, garden pond, Stoke Goldington 10 June 2018

False oil beetle, Oedemera nobilis (female), ©Ian Saunders Feeding on spearwort, garden pond, Stoke Goldington 10 June 2018

Just 1-2% of pollen grains reach conspecific stigmas. The rest are lost during pollen removal, consumed by floral visitors, covered by other grains, lost to petals, fall to the ground, or land on stigmas of other species.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

RSPB Ouse Washes with Ely cathedral in the background ©Julian Lambley 12 January 2019

Trip Report – RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Eleven go bird watching

A small group of hardy souls set off for the Ouse Washes near Ely in Cambridgeshire this Saturday. We left the rain behind in Milton Keynes and after an hour and a half’s drive which culminated in negotiating the long and somewhat hilarious switch back of an access road we arrived on site.

The Ouse washes is a vast area of flooded fenland bordered by high banks and ditches which form part of the flood control system for this area of the fenland. In the winter the area is flooded and is home to large flocks of duck, geese, swans and waders whereas in the summer the water drains away and the resulting wet fen is great for breeding waders.

Our first port of call was the spacious visitor centre where we could have a coffee and watch the busy bird feeders which thronged with tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, reed buntings, house sparrows and most exciting of all handsome rusty coloured tree sparrows.

We then set off eastwards along the track stopping at five hides en route. The water was fairly busy with rafts of coot and ducks such as mallard, wigeon, shovelors, tufties, gadwall, pochard, teal and the occasional goldeneye. There were a few whoopers and mute swans out there and lapwing flocks and every so often a marsh harrier floated by spooking the ducks into the air, testing their fitness. Sadly we didn’t see the hoped for short eared owl on the fields behind the dam but there were kestrels, a sparrowhawk, buzzard and a pair of stonechats on the track just ahead of us.

After a packed lunch back at the visitors centre we set off in the opposite direction and visited three more hides. There were more lapwing and quite large flocks of golden plover in this direction which made a particularly impressive sight as they wheeled and shimmered in the light with a backdrop of Ely cathedral. There must have been a peregrine around at one point as the whole lot went up in an amazing spectacle but sadly none of us spotted it. We also saw a small group of pintails – such a smart duck!

One of the fields behind the dam had a large flock of whooper swans feeding which was good to see as when I was there two weeks earlier the wash was full of them (see photo).

As the skies darkened we made our way back to the centre a tired but happy bunch.

Many thanks to Julie Lane for leading the walk and writing the trip report.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Species List:

Birds

  1. Tree Sparrow
  2. House Sparrow
  3. Chaffinch
  4. Stock Dove
  5. Collared Dove
  6. Wood Pigeon
  7. Great Tit
  8. Goldfinch
  9. Greenfinch
  10. Chaffinch
  11. Sparrowhawk
  12. Reed Bunting
  13. Treecreeper
  14. Magpie
  15. Little Grebe
  16. Goldeneye
  17. Whooper Swan
  18. Stonechat
  19. Meadow Pipit
  20. Marsh Harrier
  21. Fieldfare
  22. Buzzard
  23. Pintail
  24. Skylark
  25. Jackdaw
  26. Carrion Crow
  27. Lapwing
  28. Kestrel
  29. Starling
  30. Golden Plover
  31. Wren
  32. Pheasant
  33. Grey Heron
  34. Linnet
  35. Black-headed Gull
  36. Common Gull
  37. Greater black-backed Gull
  38. Mallard
  39. Gadwall
  40. Shoveler
  41. Tufted Duck
  42. Teal
  43. Shelduck
  44. Canada Goose
  45. Greylag Goose
  46. Mute Swan
  47. Coot
  48. Wigeon
  49. Pochard
  50. Robin
  51. Barnacle Goose

 

Mammals

  1. Roe Deer
  2. Muntjac Deer
RSPB Ouse Washes with Ely cathedral in the background ©Julian Lambley 12 January 2019

RSPB Ouse Washes with Ely cathedral in the background ©Julian Lambley 12 January 2019

Cathedral View ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Cathedral View ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Julie Lane, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Julie Lane, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Female Reed Bunting ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Female Reed Bunting ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Goldfinch ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Goldfinch ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Hide view ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Hide view ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

House sparrows ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

House sparrows ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Lapwings and Golden Plover

Lapwing and Golden Plover put to flight by a Marsh Harrier. Ely cathedral in the background © Julian Lambley 12 January 2019

Male Tree sparrow ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Male Tree sparrow ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Tree and female House sparrows ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Tree and female House sparrows ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Whooper swan ©Harry Appleyard, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Goldeneye ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019

Goldeneye ©Janice Robertson, RSPB Ouse Washes 12 January 2019