Early return to breeding areas is widely acknowledged to be ‘a good thing’ but why? Some people suggest that early migrants can choose the best territories, others argue that early chicks have a disproportionately high chance of fledging but there are other explanations too. In their paper in Ecology & Evolution, Catriona Morrison and her colleagues ask how much of the advantage of being an early migrant could be associated with having an option to nest again, if the first attempt fails.
This Act drives destruction of native wildflower species so essential to the survival of pollinators & other wildlife. Plants targeted by the Act include common & creeping thistle – both rich sources of nectar, ragwort with its 177 pollinators & dock an important food plant for many insects.
In a changing world, with more chaotic weather patterns and rapidly altering habitats, migratory birds are faced with opportunities and challenges. Long-term monitoring of colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits, during a period of range expansion and phenological change, has revealed that individuals behave consistently over time but that the behaviour of new generations is moulded by the conditions they encounter.
Carsington Water Visitor Centre
Join Wild Justice (Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery) for the UK’s 6th Hen Harrier Day. Learn more about our Hen Harriers, discover the TRUTH behind their disappearance in the UK and find out what you can do to help.
You may remember the Heritage Lottery Funded Box Woodland Project (2013 – 2015) led by Sarah Wright which introduced many of us to the rich cultural history of the Chilterns Box Woodland. The largest native Box Woodland in the UK can be found near Great Kimble and remnants of other Box Woods, sometimes existing as an understorey to other woodlands, can be found scattered across the Chilterns. The slow growing dense wood has been used for centuries for engraving, medieval woodwind musical instruments, early printing blocks and lace-makers bobbins, used locally to produce the famous Bucks Point Lace. Click here to learn more about Chilterns Box Woodlands.
England’s House Sparrow population fell by 70% between 1977 and 2016, and this once ubiquitous species is now absent from many urban areas. New research involving the BTO has found evidence that malarial parasites may be linked to this species’ decline.
Butterfly numbers have dropped by one-third in the past two decades in the US, echoing declines seen in Europe. These figures raise alarm bells for the health of other insect populations, because butterflies face similar environmental changes and are used as a proxy for studying insects in general.
There are some plants we all know at first glance, the bright red poppy, or the tiny daisy, but could you tell the difference between upright hedge parsley and burnet saxifrage? If you came across a beautiful wildflower, on a walk in a woodland or amongst unmown grass in your local park, how would you go about finding out what it is?
What steps can you take to make identifying a wildflower that little bit easier?
We’ve created a Wildflower ID template to help you, and your friends and family, look at wildflowers more closely and to help you begin to build a botanical vocabulary. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but we hope it will help you pay closer attention to wildflowers and develop the eyes, and noses, of a botanist!
Small Copper butterfly at Llanymynech Rocks Nature Reserve, Shropshire by Peter Hassett 06Aug15
This page lists the larval foodplants used by British butterflies. The name of each foodplant links to a Google search. An indication of whether the foodplant is a primary or secondary food source is also given.
A Nasa-funded study found instability in the Thwaites glacier meant there would probably come a point when it was impossible to stop it flowing into the sea and triggering a 50cm sea level rise. Other Antarctic glaciers were likely to be similarly unstable.
The Parks Trust is holding open days at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve every Thursday in August (in addition to the usual Open Sunday).
Come and explore the wildlife of Linford Lakes, the best kept secret in Milton Keynes. Activities will range, but may include: bug hunting, pond dipping, bird watching, and our Wildlife Detective Trail and Challenges. All activities are completely free and suitable for all ages. This event is being run by the Parks Trust and the Friends of Linford Lakes Nature Reserve.
Open every Thursday during the Summer Holiday between 10.30 and 3.00.
Please note, as this is a nature reserve, no dogs are allowed. Visiting is usually by permit only, so if you would like to visit the site outside of these days, please sign up for a permit or come to one of the Friends of Linford Lakes open Sundays (see our website for further details).
Chris Packham meets with a group of experts to unravel the horrific story of one male hen harrier caught in an illegally set trap in an area managed for grouse shooting, and discovers more about the long history of raptor persecution in this area.
Marauding caterpillars with toxic hairs have brought parts of Germany to a standstill, leading to closures of swimming pools, restaurants, public parks and sections of the motorway.
Oak processionary moth caterpillars, named after the nose-to-tail processions they form to travel between the oak trees they devour, have fine, long hairs with an irritating toxin that can cause blistering rashes, feverish dizzy spells and asthma attacks.
In July 2018 there was a call for people to express their opinions on the issue of hunting Black-tailed Godwits and Curlews in France. This blog aimed to bring together some background to inform the discussion. The government decided to maintain the current situation until 30 July 2019: to shoot Curlew in some circumstances but to maintain a ban on shooting Black-tailed Godwits. A new Curlew decree has been published and a final decision is expected shortly as to what will happen when the shooting season reopens in August (2019). There is a link to the proposals at the end of this blog.
Climate crisis disasters are happening at the rate of one a week, though most draw little international attention and work is urgently needed to prepare developing countries for the profound impacts, the UN has warned.
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.
However, Dr Richard Bate has tweeted “This picture isn’t a wildflower meadow it’s a monster mix of non natives. It portrays the wrong image of what wildflowers are. This may seem a pedantic and trivial point to some but these flowerbeds are largely ornamental and nowhere near as beneficial to our native invertebrates”
The UK public has been asked to take part in the world’s largest butterfly count, to see if the nation is experiencing a once-in-a-decade phenomenon.
Butterfly Conservation said unusually high numbers of the painted lady butterfly had been spotted flying from Europe to the UK. They usually fly to Britain in the summer, but every 10 years millions arrive in a mass migration.
The UK could be experiencing a once-in-a-decade wildlife phenomenon this year with a mass influx of painted lady butterflies, experts have said.
TV naturalist Chris Packham is urging people to take part in the world’s largest insect citizen science survey, the annual Big Butterfly Count, to see if the painted ladies are arriving in their millions to the UK’s shores this year.
The butterfly is a common immigrant from the Continent to the UK each summer where its caterpillars feed on thistles, but around once every 10 years there is a painted lady “summer” when millions arrive en masse.
Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.
Covering less than 1% of UK land, these remaining isolated fragments are home to an unprecedented richness of species; hundreds of different wild flowers and fungi have co-evolved over millennia with farmers managing the land as hay meadows and pasture. This unparalleled plant diversity provides the life support for our invertebrates, birds, mammals.
Every year, 40-50 million non-native gamebirds (ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchius and red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa) are released in the UK, equivalent to around 46000 tonnes of biomass. Fewer than half these birds are shot, with the remaining birds predated, scavenged or surviving to breed or to be predated in subsequent years. This means there is potentially a large food resource available to predators and scavengers; a resource that has increased year-on-year as the numbers released have grown.
Much of Britain has been basking in glorious sunshine recently. But how do frogs, toads and newtsreact to an exceptional run of hot weather and no rain? It can be a mixed blessing. On the positive side, warmer temperatures in summer can help in a number of ways. Of course, as amphibians rely on external sources of heat; hot weather means they can be active more of the time. It may also mean that their prey are more active and possibly more numerous. Temperature has a crucial influence on the development of amphibian tadpoles (technically known as larvae). Essentially, warmer ponds means faster development for tadpoles. In some years when temperatures are high early in the year we’ve noticed froglets and toadlets emerging earlier from ponds at many sites. We suspect that the emergence of efts (the term for land-based young newts after they transform from larvae) will be earlier in many ponds in those years – this typically happens a couple of months later than frogs and toads.
Last month was the hottest June ever recorded, the EU‘s satellite agency has announced.
Data provided by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the EU, showed that the global average temperature for June 2019 was the highest on record for the month.
Wild Justice is organising a public event to celebrate the threatened bird the Hen Harrier at Carsington Water, Derbyshire on Sunday 11 August. We’d like to thank Severn Trent Water for their enthusiastic support. This will be a family-friendly event with lots of speakers to inspire you. The Hen Harrier is a threatened bird of prey that is illegally killed on grouse moors. All three Wild Justice directors have a long association with campaigning for proper protection of this bird. Here are the details of the event, so far, but we’ll keep you updated on the lists of speakers and events as we get closer to the 11 August.
Geolocators* have provided fantastic information about the movements of migratory birds – making links between countries, revealing previously unknown stop-over sites and indicating just how quickly birds traverse our planet. A small number of Icelandic Whimbrel have carried geolocators for up to six annual cycles, providing Camilo Carneiro with an opportunity to investigate the annual consistency of egg-laying, autumn departure, arrival in West Africa, departure in the spring, stopover in Western Europe and arrival back in Iceland.
The first Blooms for Bees journal paper ‘Evaluating the ability of citizen scientists to identify bumblebee (Bombus) species’ has been published in PLOS One this week. You can read the full paper on the PLOS One website.
Earlier this year, the government produced its first comprehensive clean air strategy, the result of years of campaigning, public outcry and finally a series of court actions ending in victory for activist lawyers over resistant ministers.
For the first time, that strategy promised action on the key role that ammonia plays in the cycle of air pollution – previous pronouncements on air pollution concentrated on transport and industrial emissions.
Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumblebees, but look closely and there are smaller furry bees moving from flower to flower. There are around 20,000 described bee species worldwide. Most of these bees are known as solitary bees with only 250 bumblebee species, 9 honey bee species and a number of social stingless bees worldwide. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. These bees can be amazingly effective pollinators and as the name suggests tend not to live in colonies like bumblebees and honey bees.
Regular readers will know that I’m on something of a mission: for the past 20 years, I’ve been beavering away trying to make my garden as wildlife-friendly as possible, and sharing my experiences in regular blogs and articles and books.
After 50 years of looking at British nature, I conclude that the most entrancing of its parts is a flower-rich meadow. Once England had 4m acres of them; now 1% remains, like these at the southern edge of the Peak District national park.
Tree-planting in England fell well short of targets in the past year new figures show, despite government promises to restore and plant new woodland across the country to combat the climate change crisis.
Today the charity I work for, People Need Nature, publishes its latest report, investigating the tax system and how it affects farmland. “Where there’s muck there’s brass: revealing the billions hidden in farmland tax shelters” lays out the many, varied, and some frankly bizarre tax breaks available to farmers and landowners. And we argue that these are providing no benefit to society, and in some cases are operating against things society might want.
Throughout Europe, birds associated with agricultural habitats comprise the highest proportion (23%) of threatened species, with breeding waders among the most vulnerable. Despite these conservation concerns, only Ruff and the Baltic population of Dunlin feature on the EU Birds Directive list of threatened species, while all except Dunlin can be hunted in many EU member states under certain restrictions.
Curlew, with their characteristic downward-curved bill and call evoking the wild British countryside, is a unique and much loved species. But these calls may not be echoing across our skies forever, and the problem is in no way confined to our shores. Seven out of the 13 wader species in the Numeniini (curlew and godwit) tribe are Near Threatened, Globally Threatened or Critically Endangered. This tribe’s ground-nesting habits (making them susceptible to predation), and long, perilous migrations across the globe leave them especially vulnerable. Numeniini also tend to favour specialist habitats, making them likely to decline further as these habitats disappear. Collaborative research led by the BTO identifies the main reasons for these declines and suggests conservation measures that could be implemented to halt them.
The home of an elusive UK butterfly is at risk of being destroyed by road, rail and housing developments, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) can reveal.
The Black Hairstreak lives and breeds on one unique stretch of butterfly habitat between Oxford and Peterborough – an area earmarked for projects like the high-speed HS2 railway and proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.
A major survey of farmers’ attitudes to changes in the Government’s agricultural policy , shows that English farmers recognise the need for the environment and animal welfare to be prioritised in future Government policy, and acknowledge the key link between a thriving natural world and successful farming. The in-depth research showed 80% of farmers believe the health of the natural environment is important or very important for their farm business.
Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies engage in one of nature’s great spectacles, migrating from sites across North America to refuges in either central Mexico or coastal California, where winter temperatures are more tolerable. They fly south for thousands of miles, propelled by some innate sense of direction to places that neither they nor their parents have ever visited. But not all of them make the journey. Not all of them know the way.
Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
That old adage about waiting for buses comes to mind… we have been waiting for years for good news about UK marine protected areas (MPAs), and so far, in just ten days, June has seen three big announcements come our way.
We welcomed the good news from Secretary of State Michael Gove, on June 3rd, that 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) will be designated in seas around England and Northern Ireland. MCZs are a ‘light-touch’ type of MPA, they allow multiple uses of the marine environment so long as those activities do not threaten the ‘features’, meaning those listed species and habitats the MCZ is set up to protect.
Curlews have various requirements in terms of the ‘patchwork’ of habitats they choose to call home.
First up is some good-quality feeding habitat… to replenish after migration and fatten up for energy-sapping exploits that lie ahead – advertising a territory, attracting a mate, laying eggs, fending off predators…
Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to turn farmland into a haven for breeding waders. The only tools you have at your disposal are tractors and cows and we will give you permission to pump water out of nearby rivers when conditions allow. That’s how it started. These days the diggers look big enough to use on a motorway construction site!
Can be seen feeding at flowers, such as Bugle, louseworts and Marsh Thistle. Can be confused with the Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth (H. fuciformis), although that species has broader bands on the outer edges of the wings, in particular on the hindwing.
Habitat loss and climate change are the two culprits most regularly blamed for the decline of butterflies and moths, but now a third suspect, nitrogen deposition, is increasingly coming under the spotlight as a key driver of decline.
The woodland landscape in Britain has changed enormously over the last century, most notably through the planting of large areas of North American conifers (Sitka spruce and lodgepole pine) and larches from Europe and Japan. Prior to these plantations, the native Scots pine was the only conifer available to common crossbills when irrupting crossbills arrived from the European continent.
The UK Wild Otter Trust has just received hugely exciting news: we have the chance to turn a site near Winkleigh, Devon, into one of the UK’s largest rehabilitation centre for otter cubs!
We’ve been offered 2 acres of ancient woodland to turn into a full rehab centre. We’ve produced a basic estimate of what we think it will cost to transform the site – all of our labour will be done by dedicated volunteers and helpers for free, so all of your funds will go directly towards purchasing the necessary building materials and equipment needed to make the site cub-safe. Once it’s built, we hope that we’ll be able to rehabilitate up to 10 cubs at a time, which would make us one of the leading rehabilitation units in the country!
Thank you so much for your help, support, and donations. Everything you give helps us to help our cubs. We’ve taken on a growing number of orphaned cubs in the past year or two, and this will allow us to make even more of a difference to otters in the UK.
Turtle Dove, Julie’s garden, Julie Lane, January 2014
Plants that produce suitable seeds for turtle doves can be encouraged using a variety of measures, for more information on land management click on the tab: Create Turtle Dove Habitat. However, practical ways of delivering suitable seed to turtle doves in the early breeding season (Mid April to June) is particularly challenging. For this reason, and due to the steep and worrying decline in numbers of this bird in the UK, we are now recommending supplementary feeding as an important additional conservation measure that could be helpful in all areas where Turtle Doves still breed.