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Climate change is forcing butterflies and moths to adapt – but some species can’t

Butterflies are rather like Goldilocks, preferring conditions to be neither too hot nor too cold, but “just right”. Under climate change, the temperature at any given time of summer is, on average, getting warmer, leaving butterflies (and their nocturnal cousins, the moths) with the challenge of how to remain in their optimal temperature window.

Source: Climate change is forcing butterflies and moths to adapt – but some species can’t

How insect orders got their names

Anyway, after some fun time with my Dictionary of Entomology, (which is much more of an encyclopaedia than a dictionary), and of course Google, I have great pleasure in presenting my one stop shop for those of you who wonder how insect orders got their names.  Here they are, all in one easy to access place with a few fun-filled facts to leaven the mixture.

Source: Twisted, hairy, scaly, gnawed and pure – side-tracked by Orders | Don’t Forget the Roundabouts

Pond Ponderings: From a Redesigned Mature Pond in Suburban Suffolk!

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

“I have loved nature for as long as I can remember, certainly before I was old enough to go to school. I used to spend hours peering into our garden pond in the 1960’s and marvelling at the different creatures to be found living there. There were many frogs, toads and newts that used the pond for spawning and I would watch the progress of their tadpoles each year. There was much invertebrate life there too which was also a fascination to me. We lived about a mile from Gatwick airport and one negative aspect of this was that I often had to use newspaper on the surface of the pond to take off the thin coating of oil that accumulated, presumably from fuel dumping.

Click here for more information.: Pond Ponderings: From a Redesigned Mature Pond in Suburban Suffolk! – British Dragonfly Society

I spied-a spider: Microscope work isn’t as daunting as it appears!

There are around 650 species of spider in the UK alone. That’s a lot! Some spiders can be identified by eye, others require hand lenses and many even require microscopes to correctly identify them to species level. Most people find spiders creepy though, so never get close enough to identify them in the field, let alone choose to look at them down a microscope. Earlier this year, however, I attended the Tomorrow’s Invertebrate Recorders course run by the FSC Biolinks team during which I chose to spend a whole day learning microscopic identification of spiders.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: I spied-a spider: Microscope work isn’t as daunting as it appears! | Biodiversity Projects

The year of the fly – Exploring the families of British Diptera

Since 2019 is the Year of the Fly I thought it was time to dust off my boyhood interest in flies and see how many families of flies I could see through the year. Each time I see one from a new family I will write a post, and by the end of the year I hope to know my way around them.

Click here for more information.: The year of the fly – Exploring the families of British Diptera

Help hazel dormice

There are two issues in dormouse conservation that need addressing – population decline and range decline.

The rate of population decline, stated most recently in People’s Trust for Endangered Species State of Britain’s Dormice 2019 report is that populations of hazel dormice have fallen by half since 2000. The range decline refers to the 17 counties where dormice are now extinct since the end of the 19th century.

Click here for more information.: Help hazel dormice – People’s Trust for Endangered Species

Red Knot pay the price for being fussy eaters!

In a fascinating comparison of weight gained by Red Knot and Ruddy Turnstone during spring migration in Delaware Bay, on America’s east-coast flyway, Anna Tucker and colleagues show that Knot are far more vulnerable to annual variations in their main food supply than more flexible Turnstones, which target the same food if it is available. Given that changing weather patterns, associated with a warming climate, are expected to make resource availability harder to predict, the authors suggest that populations of migrant shorebirds (waders) that rely on a specific resource being available at the right time are likely to be more vulnerable – as has become apparent for Delaware Bay Knot.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Red Knot pay the price for being fussy eaters! | wadertales

Lions face new poaching threat for body parts

Lion populations across Africa have declined by 43% over the past 21 years, due range of factors, including conflict with cattle farmers, loss of prey and habitat, and at times, unsustainable trophy hunting, according to the wild cat conservation charity PantheraThey are now facing a new threat – poaching for body parts.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Lions face new poaching threat for body parts – Discover Wildlife

Wild Bird Populations in the UK, 1970-2018 report has been published

The latest Wild Bird Populations in the UK, 1970-2018 report has been published by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), analysing the populations of British birds. Skylarks and song thrushes show short-term increases, but some birds such as turtle doves are in steep decline.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Skylarks fly high, while turtle doves tumble – Discover Wildlife

White-faced Darter Reintroduction Project, Delamere Forest

White-faced Darter is a specialist of lowland peatbogs, and spends most of its life as aquatic larvae living in deep bog pools. Unfortunately, lowland peatbogs in England have experienced decades of decline as a result of human activity, including drainage to create farmland, as well as the planting of commercial forests. As peatbogs disappeared, so did the White-faced Darter, until only a handful of their original sites remained, and the species became one of the UK’s rarest dragonflies. White-faced Darter were absent from Cheshire for over a decade, until Cheshire Wildlife Trust developed an ambitious project to help bring the species back.

Click here for more information.: White-faced Darter Reintroduction Project, Delamere Forest – British Dragonfly Society

Biodiversity boost for housing association sites

There’s a growing body of evidence that shows access to high-quality green spaces and an environment rich in biodiversity brings benefits for human health and well-being. But what if you live in an estate where there is a lot of housing? Or an urban area dominated by road infrastructure? It might be difficult to even see a green space, let alone spend time in one. Everyone should have an opportunity to support wildlife in their local area and get the same benefits associated with urban green space.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Biodiversity boost for housing association sites | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

No place like home

Many insects moving north in response to climate change find they have nowhere to go in Britain’s intensively managed landscapes, according to new research.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: No place like home

Two white-tailed eagles vanish in suspicious circumstances

RSPB logoOnce persecuted to extinction, white-tailed eagles are making a comeback in Scotland, following several reintroduction projects dating back over 40 years. And recently, some young white-tailed eagles have also been released in the south of England.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Two white-tailed eagles vanish in suspicious circumstances – Investigations – Our work – The RSPB Community

Bee nutrition and parasites

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

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

Bee nutrition and parasites are getting quite some attention these days. Which I’m very happy about, as I prefer to see bee health in a broader context than only the absence of diseases. I discussed this already in some posts like recently the one on honey bee welfare or the One Health Concept and the risks from managed bees for non-managed pollinators. However, I didn’t go in-depth with the role nutrition plays in bee health.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: About bee nutrition and parasites – diversity for healthy bees – BeeSafe

Images offer glimpse into life of endangered Florida panther

The Guardian logo

The Guardian logo

The discovery of a female Florida panther lying with a broken leg on a verge outside the town of Naples, south of Tampa, triggered a widespread rescue dash.

Conservationists, who had previously fitted a tracking collar to the animal, were aware she had recently given birth. The kittens would not survive long on their own, they realised, and so an urgent search for them was launched.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Images offer glimpse into life of endangered Florida panther | Environment | The Guardian

Challenging misinformation about satellite tags

One of the greatest conservation tools to emerge in recent years has been satellite-tagging technology. Whether following the journeys of migrating cuckoos or shedding light on the dangers facing UK birds of prey, these tiny pieces of technology are becoming increasingly valuable in the conservationist’s mission to save nature.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Challenging misinformation about satellite tags – Scottish Nature Notes – Our work – The RSPB Community

‘Winners’ among British moths

Leopard Moth ©Gordon Redford, Barn Field, near Olney 6 July 2019

An appreciation of how some species are becoming more common despite unprecedented anthropogenic pressures could offer key insights for mitigating the global biodiversity crisis.  Research to date has largely focused on declining species, while species that are becoming more common have received relatively little attention. Macro-moths in Great Britain are well-studied and species-rich, making them an ideal group for addressing this knowledge gap. Here, we examine changes in 51 successful species between 1968 and 2016 using 4.5 million occurrence records and a systematic monitoring dataset. We employ 3D graphical analysis to visualise long-term multidimensional trends in prevalence (abundance and range) and use vector autoregression models to test whether past values of local abundance are useful for predicting changes in the extent of occurrence. The responses of Anthropocene winners are heterogeneous, suggesting multiple drivers are responsible. Changes in range and local abundance frequently occur intermittently through time, demonstrating the value of long-term, continuous monitoring. There is significant diversity among the winners themselves, which include widespread generalists, habitat specialists, and recent colonists. We offer brief discussion of possible causal factors and the wider ecosystem implications of these trends.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Bucking the trend: the diversity of Anthropocene ‘winners’ among British moths

Volunteer recorders play vital role in monitoring the state of nature

A partnership of 70 wildlife organisations, research institutes and government agencies has produced the third State of Nature report, the clearest picture to date of the status of UK plant and animal species. The 2019 report, which follows similar assessments in 2013 and 2016, has revealed average declines in distribution and abundance of five per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, since 1970. Dr Jack Hatfield of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, one of the co-authors of State of Nature 2019, says volunteer recorders are essential to this comprehensive analysis of the health of our natural world…

Source: Volunteer recorders play vital role in monitoring the state of nature | Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Male Stonechat ©Harry Appleyard, Otmoor 19 October 2019

Trip Report – Otmoor 19 October 2019 

Nine members of the Society met at Otmoor on a pleasant autumn afternoon which turned out to be a lot warmer than the last Society visit! We were even treated to some late afternoon sunshine which showed off the colours of the Teal and Shoveler that had come out of eclipse, along with at least a dozen snipe snoozing on an island in front of the first screen.

Four Stonechats posed nicely on reeds by the track to the second screen, along with a Reed Bunting. Brown Hares were clearly enjoying the sunshine too. Overhead, flocks of Lapwing and Wigeon sparkled, while Marsh Harriers, Red Kites and Kestrels were seen over the meadows of Greenaways and the reed beds.

Despite reports of sightings of Bearded Tit the previous day, we didn’t manage to see any and had to be satisfied with Marsh Tit. Migrant Hawkers “buzzed” us on the tracks and Cetti’s Warbler provide a soundtrack. Other sightings included Stock Dove and Whinchat along with a strange goose that turned out to be a mix of Canada and Greylag.

Text by Linda Murphy
Photos by Harry Appleyard

 

Gardenwatch 2019 results – first findings 

Understanding our garden wildlife is becoming increasingly important. Gardenwatch, the UK’s biggest-ever garden audit, was launched on BBC Springwatch in May 2019, and asked people for information on garden features and wildlife across the country. The responses have given us fascinating new information on how people help wildlife in their gardens, and where there is still more that can be done. For example, relatively few people reported leaving leaf litter piles, long grass or rock piles in their gardens, and only a small proportion of people provided homes for wildlife such as bat boxes or Hedgehog houses. The maps show interesting variation across the UK, including the fact that climbers, including autumn-flowering Ivy, are less common in gardens in northern areas.

Click here for more information.: Gardenwatch results – first findings | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Travel advice for Sanderling?

Have you ever seen a colour-ringed Sanderling and perhaps wondered why it spends the non-breeding* season on a British or Irish beach rather than on one in Portugal, Ghana or even further south? Why fly from Greenland to Namibia, a distance of over 20,000 km, when spending the winter months in the UK or Ireland requires a flight of as little as 3,700 km? Perhaps the chance of survival is greater in other countries or perhaps birds that travel further have a larger lifetime breeding output? A paper by Jeroen Reneerkens and colleagues provides some of the answers.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Travel advice for Sanderling? | wadertales

Moths and climate change

Moths and other wildlife are being affected by climate change. Species have always evolved to adapt to changing conditions and will continue to do so. The problem with man-made climate change is that it is happening so quickly that our wildlife may not be able to evolve and adapt fast enough.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Moths and climate change

The best wildflowers for wild bees

Meadow flowers by Peter Hassett, Sharpenhoe Clappers 4 August 2019

Meadow flowers by Peter Hassett, Sharpenhoe Clappers 4 August 2019

Governmental agri-environment schemes (AES) aim to improve pollinator abundance and diversity on farmland by sowing wildflower seed mixes. These often contain high proportions of Fabaceae, particularly Trifolium (clovers), which are attractive to some bumblebee species, but not to most of the ~ 240 solitary bee species in the UK. Here we identify wildflowers that are attractive to a greater range of wild bee species.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: The best wildflowers for wild bees | SpringerLink

Changes to the published programme October – December 2019

Martin Kincaid has provided details of the following changes to the published programme:

22nd October:  Chas Anderson – Whales and Dolphins of the tropics.
12th November: Practical Evening – Fungi (Postponed form 24th September). Justin Long will lead this microscopy session to look at fungi. Please bring along any specimens you can find on your local patch.
10th December: Kate Wyatt – Wildlife Art.  Kate Wyatt is a society member and a renowned wildlife artist based at Westbury Arts Centre. She will talk us through the process of capturing her subjects, including hares, lapwings and goshawks, from first sighting of the animal to a finished artwork.
See our Programme page to view all our planned events

 

Find out about Bird Calls in the UK

Redwing ©Peter Hassett, Shenley Church End 18 December 2017

Redwing ©Peter Hassett, Shenley Church End 18 December 2017

Bird songs are common sounds to us all, but why do birds sing? Imagine you’re a male willow warbler, and you’ve just flown 2,400 miles (4000 km) from Africa. It’s spring, and you need to find a mate quickly. However, your home is a woodland and you’re the colour of leaves. What better way of advertising to a passing female that you are here and would make a fine father for her chicks than by having a clear, loud and recognisable song?

Click here for more information.: Bird Songs | Find out about Bird Calls in the UK – The RSPB

3rd brood meddled hen harrier ‘disappears’ in suspicious circumstances

Following the news that two of this year’s five brood meddled hen harriers had ‘vanished’ on grouse moors in the north of England in September 2019 (one in County Durham here and one in the Yorkshire Dales National Park here), we now learn that a third harrier has disappeared, also in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: 3rd brood meddled hen harrier ‘disappears’ in suspicious circumstances | Raptor Persecution UK