Bucks Fungus Group have just announced that they have been awarded a three year grant of £9700 by the City of London Corporation to apply DNA sequencing to the study of fungal diversity at their two Buckinghamshire sites, Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common.
The report on The State of Britain’s Larger Moths 2021 is now available from Butterfly Conservation (link below). It summarises current knowledge of the state of Britain’s c.900 species of larger moths, presenting analyses of long-term change based on millions of records gathered through the Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) and National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS).
Architect’s impression of how the HS2 rail tunnel will be integrated with the Colne Valley Western Slopes. (Photograph: Courtesy of Grimshaw Architects)
The Guardian reports (in an article by Patrick Barkham) on the plan announced this week to rewild 127 hectares around its 10-mile tunnel through the Chilterns:
The area is to be seeded with 70 grass and flower species and planted with native trees to create wood pasture,
A couple of opportunities for those who are interested:
London Natural History Society is offering a free, online series of talks on Thursday evenings at 18.30. To view the programme and register for any of them, follow the link.
Also, the Zoological Society of London is offering a series of lunchtime talks in February and March which you can either join, or watch on YouTube after the event. Go to:
Members living in Bedfordshire may be interested in nominating a local project for a CPRE Bedfordshire Living Countryside 2021 award. For full information go to
Here’s a note taken from a Bucksbirding googlegroup posting from our County Bird Recorder about BUCKS URBAN PEREGRINE PROJECTS. This is such great news for us all, especially peregrine fans! So, we have two MK sites for people near enough to keep an eye on during local exercise walks and a webcam hopefully coming on stream at Aylesbury again that we’ll all be able to watch from the comfort of home. [Sue Hetherington]
I thought I’d bring you up to speed with our breeding/ territorial Peregrines as I’m sure we could all do with some positive news during these tough times.
Pair in residence and little doubt they’ll utilise the platform inside.
On-going project to erect a platform on the chimney, currently at the meetings and planning stage, hopefully progress soon.
New cameras are being purchased, one with sound and both with night vision. With the kind assistance of a local ‘internet’ firm we hope to have these up and running and a nice clean platform within a couple of weeks. I’ll update when there’s developments.
Project being run by ‘Wild Marlow’, a platform is currently being constructed and the plan is to have camera’s on that too.You will not be able to see the platform from the outside.
High Wycombe (Church)
Project with Dave Parmenter, we added some gravel to a hoped for nest site last year, and have plans to improve the site but Church currently closed due to the pandemic.
There are Peregrines, including pairs at other sites in the county. A favoured nest site in rural areas is pylons (old crows nests), so please be careful when submitting records to GoingBirding database at times when the species is not ‘blocked’.
Putting a record in for the site/ area can be really useful, but if there’s a pair around then please leave out- Pylon.
County Bird Recorder
The Field Studies Council are offering short online courses about Beetles, Bees and the use of iRecord over the next few months, plus a range of one hour online talks about a wide variety of organisms from slugs to flies and hedgehogs to arable plants.
For information go to
For those who have been fired up by this year’s MKNHS Photo Competition, and wondering where else to submit your photos, BMERC’s Photo Competition 2021may be just the opportunity for you – see the details below extracted from their email to Recorders. Submission deadline is Monday 1st March.
You might also like to view the winners of the Natural History Museum’s People’s Choice Award 2021, for which the public can vote among 25 photos selected from the 49,000 entries to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition: peoples-choice
As we quite rapidly approach this year’s Recorders Seminar the whole BMERC Team are focussed on all manner of preparations, a key one currently is this year’s Photo Competition. We are keen to encourage entries be they from total beginners dabbling in the visual arts to those of you who have been keen on the media for many years in a non-professional way; all are welcome. Its free to enter; there are prizes!
So, as they days start to lengthen and all our thoughts turn to looking for spring, how about we dig out those hidden gems and give them a gentle airing. The deadline for submissions is March 1st. This year we have gone for a broader theme to give everyone more flexibility – “The Beauty and Magnificence of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes: 2020 and beyond”.
To enter please fill in the attached form, rules and conditions are explained on the second page. The form along with your photos should be sent to email@example.com Please clearly mark the email as a Photo Competition Entry.
Both the guidance and the entry form are attached to this email, but can also be downloaded from the BMERC website at https://www.bucksmkerc.org.uk/seminar-2021
[The last link contains all the details for the BMERC Recorders Seminar, scheduled for Saturday 13th March, 2021.]
Julia Carey and The BMERC Team.
Environment Team, Planning, Growth and Sustainability Directorate
Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre (BMERC)
Buckinghamshire Council, 6th Floor, Walton Street Offices, Walton Street, Aylesbury HP20 1UY
Tel: 01296 382431
Our friends at North Bucks Bat Group have very generously offered free admittance to any of the remaining talks from their winter programme to MKNHS members. Their programme can be found here. The final meeting, on 21st April 2021 might be of particular interest as it is about the “Bats in Churches” project that I have mentioned several times.
If any member is interested, please email Rhona Bate at firstname.lastname@example.org stating which talk(s) are of interest. Rhona will then add you to the mailing list for when she sends out the invite for that particular talk or talks.
Peter Meadows has kindly drawn to our attention the latest Beds, Cambs and Northants Wildlife Trust eNewsletter which includes information about two online talks in February;
Wednesday 10 February 2021, 7.30pm – 9.30pm
KBAs for Conservation: Lessons from Africa and Applications to Britain (Online Talk) Identifying key biodiversity areas for conservation from Africa & applying them to Britain by Andy Plumptre.
Wednesday 17 February 2021, 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Flies: The good, the bad and the ugly with John Showers (online and optional outdoor). Come and join John Showers online as he shares some interesting facts about flies and their ecology.
You can book through the link above, or by going to the events page on the BCN website www.wildlifebcn.org
A photographer friend has also recommended the Nature 365 website to me. When you sign up you will receive one email a day for the whole of 2021 showing a video clip of wildlife in Minnesota and elsewhere around the world.
The following link gives a flavour of what to expect:
Alternatively, go to the Nature 365 website, and select ‘Archives’, where you will find the video clips so far posted this year.
I am looking forward to it and think it is something that others might enjoy as well. We all need uplifting moments in nature at present and as we can’t travel far from our local patch this is a way of escaping into the wild without actually leaving our homes.
The New Year Plant Hunt is an annual event run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland when people – whether absolute beginners or experienced naturalists – across Britain and Ireland head out to see how many wild or naturalised plants (not garden plants) they can find in bloom in their local area at midwinter.
Take part to find out how our wild flowers are responding to changes in autumn and winter weather patterns. But be quick as it ends on 4th January…
More information can be found here: New Year Plant Hunt
Jenny Mercer has sent the link below to a lovely item about a hazel dormouse who had fallen asleep in a bird feeder as he had eaten so much he couldn’t get out. The link – to PTES’s Facebook page – is here:
Sue has suggested that the BMERC newsletters may be of interest to members – these are a relatively new development, since the first lockdown. For example, the latest issue (Autumn 2020) includes a great write up about the activities of the North Bucks Dormouse Group, among others of interest (not least one written by Sue.)
You can sign up to receive these newsletters on a regular basis, contacting BMERC.
East-West Rail: Environmental surveys underway
For those who are interested in, or concerned about, the potential environmental impact of the East-West Rail link between Oxford, MK, Bedford and on to Cambridge, their website is very informative about plans and progress. https://eastwestrail.co.uk/
Of particular interest may be the environmental surveys they are conducting, which can be found here: https://eastwestrail.co.uk/the-project/land-and-property
“As we develop the project we need to undertake surveys in and around the area, to learn as much as we can about the land and local environmental features. Understanding these important characteristics at this early stage of the project will help us identify the potential benefits and impacts of the project and get the right design for the communities we’re serving and the environment.”
There is also a potentially useful interactive map, which you can access through the Community Hub part of the site.
Peter Meadows has suggested the following may be of interest to members:
The latest newsletter from the Forest of Marston Vale contains news of their tree planting plans, including two new sites adjacent to Houghton House (between Ampthill and Houghton Conquest), as part of the government’s Trees for Climate progamme. These will comprise a total of 54 hectares, the first 16ha site being planted with native trees and shrubs by March 2021. See: https://www.marstonvale.org/news/trees-for-climate-launch
And Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northants Wildlife Trust latest news contains news of ‘an exciting new landscape project’: Bedfordshire Chalkscapes. “The Chilterns Conservation Board has been awarded £232,600 of development funding by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to design Chalkscapes. This exciting new landscape project looks to inspire a wide range of communities in Central Beds, Luton and Herts to take action for nature and wildlife. You can read more at: https://www.wildlifebcn.org/news/bedfordshire-chalkscapes
Extract from a recent email sent by Penny Cullington to members of Bucks Fungus Group, of which MKNHS is one:
Though the group’s activities have been somewhat curtailed this year I just wanted to alert everyone to the amazing achievement of those members who’ve been contributing to our Members’ Finds Autumn 2020 project, ongoing since the beginning of September online. We seem to have reached the staggering total of 500 different species all photographed across the county!
Contributions have been sent in by 34 members, mostly requiring identification by me (with Derek’s advice at times), sometimes named by the sender either with or without the use of a scope and then confirmed by me, a few collections have even required molecular sequencing and have proved to be exciting finds. May I thank all of you who’ve sent me photos – it’s been a fascinating exercise which I’ve much enjoyed. On our lengthy list we have many species previously recorded only once or twice in Bucks, 32 species entirely new to the overall county list, two of which are now molecularly proven to be new to the UK and several more awaiting testing may prove to be equally significant. Wow, what an autumn season!
Photos and information about the finds can be found on the BFG website:
Natural England has decided to enlarge the boundaries of the King’s Wood and Rushmere National Nature Reserve (NNR) for a second time. On 8th December 2020 they announced that they have increased the area of this NNR by a further 43 ha, from148 ha to 191 ha, some of which is in Buckinghamshire. The new areas that have been added include Bragenham Wood, Rammamere Heath and Shire Oak Heath.
King’s Wood became a NNR in 1993, with the name King’s Wood Heath & Reach. It was substantially enlarged and renamed in 2016 as King’s Wood and Rushmere NNR when large areas of Rushmere Country Park were included within it.
Many MKNHS members know Rushmere Country Park from the Society’s visits there or will have seen information about it on our website Wildlife Sites pages (number 15). The Country Park and the NNR straddle the borders of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The NNR now includes ancient woodland, heathland, grassland and wetland. One of the distinctives of this site is native lily of the valley within the woods, but there are also purple emperor butterfly and barbastelle bats, and many other species characteristic of ancient woods and heathland. This King’s Wood is not to be confused with Kings Wood SSSI between Ampthill and Houghton Conquest, which is also close to the Greensand Ridge Walk. Nor is it to be confused with King’s Wood in Rockingham Forest Northamptonshire, and probably many other King’s Woods.
The King’s Wood and Rushmere NNR site is managed by several different owners: Central Bedfordshire Council, Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, The Greensand Trust, and Tarmac.
There are only 229 National Nature Reserves in England. These are among the most important areas protected for nature conservation
The Greensand Trust set up an appeal last year to raise funds for management of their area of King’s Wood:
The Natural England Declaration and map of the site:
The Government press release:
11 December 2020
Peter Meadows has sent this update from the Forest of Marston Vale Reserve, It includes an article about where bugs go in the wintertime, as well as news of what’s happening at the Reserve,
I would like to strongly recommend the following film to anyone who has access to Netflix. It’s called My Octopus Teacher and is an amazing documentary about a diver and photographer in South Africa who forms a relationship with a wild common octopus. It was filmed over the period of a year in a cold underwater kelp forest at a remote location in False Bay, near Cape Town.
The photography is stunning and it gives a wonderful insight into the life of the octopus and the effect it has on the man himself. Very moving and beautiful!
If you want to keep up to date on this issue, and haven’t already done so, you might like to sign up to receive news up-dates by email from the No Expressway Group (email@example.com) or check out their website( https://www.noexpressway.org/).
The latest news forwarded by Mary Sarre includes details of the Group’s activity between March and October and of up-coming virtual meetings which are open to the public.
There are two free webinars with opportunity for Q/A:
On Tuesday, 17th November from 1200 to 1330hrs the Arc Leadership Group (ALG, under the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, MHCLG) will hold a virtual meeting on “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: A global asset and national investment priority”
For a few more details, and to register, please use this link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3626036926728955916
Before the meeting, you may like to read the ALG’s “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc: Economic Prospectus” document that you can find here: https://www.semlep.com/modules/downloads/download.php?file_name=2132
On Friday 20th November from 1330 to 1430hrs the Arc Universities Group (AUG) will hold a virtual meeting on “Building a green economic region: the environmental ambitions of the AUG”
For a few more details, and to register, please use this link:
The Arc Universities’ Group home page is here: http://arcuniversities.co.uk/
Linda Murphy / Mary Sarre
The map shows the “preferred corridor” announced by Highways England in September 2018. No final decision on the route has yet been taken.
Those of you who’ve taken part in Society Field meetings at Totternhoe Knolls in previous years may be interested in the latest news from the reserve https://www.wildlifebcn.org/blog/north-chilterns-team/totternhoe-2020-update
Thanks to the BCN Wildlife Trust for this update on their website, sent in by Peter Meadows.
(Photo: Fruit of the Spindle)
The Latest News from the Forest of Marston Vale (sent in by Peter Meadows) highlights some of the berry bearing shrubs that you may see on your ‘lockdown walks’ and that will be providing a banquet for birds over the winter. If you collect starling murmurations, check, out the video from Stewartby Lake!
The Forest of Marston Vale is a good place to go for autumn colour. ‘Nature News’ this month includes information and some ID tips for trees you will see in the forest. Follow this link: Nature News 26th October
Thanks to Peter Meadows for alerting us to the latest Newsletter from Marston Vale.
(Photo credit to Tony Crofts)
Photo: Amanita muscaria with Chalciporus piperatus Turville Heath 12.09.2020 (Bucks Fungus Group)
Autumn 2020 is proving to be a very good season for fungi. We have recently received the following news from Bucks Fungus Group with information about how you can get help with identifying what you find. They are keen to add more specimens from north Bucks. Happy hunting!
“Bucks Fungus Group has cancelled all activities for the rest of 2020 due to Covid 19 restrictions. However, we have a new project up and running on our website at www.bucksfungusgroup.org.uk/finds.htm which may be of interest. BFG Members are sending in fungi photos taken in the county to Penny Cullington for naming (where possible) and if suitable these are then uploaded to the web page Readers Finds Autumn 2020 with helpful notes on recognition etc. As we have very few photos taken from the north of the county, do join in and send to Penny at firstname.lastname@example.org . Photos must show all features needed for identification including gills, stem, etc. with information about the date found, the site, the habitat and substrate. “
The photo at the beginning of this item is a good example of what they require.
Here’s a picture of a bee seen in early September at the Urb Farm in Wolverton, which we have identified as a non-British species, the Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (Megachile rotundata)
While honeybees get much of the fame, Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees are actually 15-20 times better at pollinating than honeybees. The female leafcutter bee carries pollen on the underside of her hairy abdomen, scraping it off upon returning to her nesting hole to create a pollen loaf (food) for her egg. Using her large jaws she will cut a perfectly circular hole from nearby leaves (generally only up to 300 feet from her nesting hole) to create a cocoon of leaves for her egg to develop. A solitary bee, the Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee is often found nesting alongside its neighbours in bee hotels and these fascinating creatures are well worth having in your garden!
We have plenty of habitat just perfect for leafcutter bees, so we have been pleased to welcome them. We have seen a fair few different types of leafcutter/solitary/bumble bee at the farm over the years, and particularly this year.
Urb Farm, Wolverton
I’m a life member of Durrell (aka Jersey Zoo) – inspired many years ago by Gerald Durrell’s books. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT) reacted to the recent oil spill close to the coast of Mauritius by rescuing a few little reptiles back to Jersey to act as an insurance policy to prevent species extinction (that’s actually the whole raison d’etre of DWCT) . I thought members might like to share a mini doc from Jersey – a bit of good news for once, something actually being done rather than just telling us how bad things are and making us feel helpless.
YouTube video: Mauritian Reptile Rescue
or you can read about it on Durrell’s website: Rescue mission for Mauritian reptiles
This is a passionate reminder of why we need to look after the only home we have, Planet Earth! I probably don’t need to remind you that Mauritius is where our species made the dodo extinct. The dodo was chosen as DWCT’s emblem to emphasise what they are about.
Thanks to Sue Hetherington for this item about the Global Bird Weekend, over 2 days on 17-18 October – which is organised by Tim Appleton of Global Birding In association with BirdLife International, eBird and Swarovski Optik.
Tim Appleton was the first warden of Rutland Water and the “inventor” of Birdfair which he organised for many years until “retiring” recently. Global Birding is his “baby”. The Weekend is the biggest ever low carbon birdwatching event. It’s all, of course and as per usual, on its own website https://globalbirding.org/.
In essence, Covid-19 made people more aware of their local natural surroundings. The event aims to encourage everyone to show their love for nature and birds worldwide in their own local patch.
The October Big Day is aiming at a world record for the largest number of birds seen (over 6,000 species) by the greatest number of people globally.
We hope that at least 25,000 participants will go out Birdwatching on Saturday 17 October 2020 and tell us what they see on this peak migration weekend. To date there have been registrations from over 70 countries.
The aim is to record as many different species of bird as possible, with a target of more than 6,000 bird species. Let us know by recording your sightings on eBird: https://ebird.org/home
Then on Sunday 18 October take your camera, phone, friends and/or sketch pad to your favourite birdwatching area and share those places with your new Global friends on our social media pages using
and upload your images to eBird’s dedicated Global Bird Weekend page. You can still upload your bird sightings to eBird that day too!
The final aim is to raise funds for the birdlife conservation project: to help stop the illegal trade in birds.
You can click here to register for the world record event.
Members may like to join Birdlife International’s zoom webinar about bird migration on Wednesday 14th October, 13.30-15.30 . There’s no catch or anything to pay – you just have to register to get the zoom link.
As a taster, there are some awesome facts about bird migrations.
Did you know?
- The longest recorded non-stop flight of a migratory birds was 11,600 KILOMETRES. A satellite-tagged Bar-tailed godwit travelled from Alaska to New Zealand in a single, 9-day flight.
- Arctic terns see more daylight than any other creature on the planet. They breed during the Arctic summer in the North and then migrate to enjoy the Antarctic summer in the South.
- Bar-headed geese are one of the highest-flying migrants, crossing the Himalayas at an altitude of 9,000 – 10,000 meters.
- Red knots reduce their gizzards and grow their flight muscles just before migration. After their arrival on the wintering grounds birds are famished but need to wait till their gizzards have grown enough to accommodate food again.
Join us and be inspired by our experts from across the flyways, on Wednesday 14th October, from 13:30 BST (London), by registering at the link below. The magic of migration is worth it.
There is also a recording of a recent webinar on Vultures which you might find interesting. You can find it on Birdlife International’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
More news from Peter Meadows about the Forest of Marston Vale https://www.marstonvale.org/blog/nature-news-28th-september
Of particular interest may be the reports of the sighting of a clouded yellow butterfly and on the varieties of fungi which may be seen.
(Photo: Julie Lane)
Anne Baker from Henley on Thames (to whom thanks) has sent in this photo of a dormouse in her garden. She writes:
“We have seen a Hazel Dormouse quite a few times in Middle Assendon *, Henley on Thames. The first time my husband spotted him walking to the bird food outside our kitchen window. We have filmed him/her a few times as well at night and in the daytime. We also found a dead one about a year ago in an old bird box so they are obviously around here quite a lot.
We have a wild garden with a lot of hazelnut trees and honeysuckle which I believe they like too. Maybe that is why they are here. They seem to be nesting close to the house by the look of it and don’t seem to be frightened. ”
Sightings like this are worth submitting to the local county environmental records office (see https://mknhs.org.uk/recording/).
*Middle Assendon is close to BBOWT’s huge Warburg Nature Reserve (106 ha) which has a known population of dormice.
Thanks to Mike Wallen of Bucks Bird Club for this news, written on 6th September:
For those not already aware there are significant developments at Willen and we are going to get some waders !!
The North lake has a problem with a valve on the sluice; to repair it they’ve had to dig down a way and have created a large breach to the lake. They have tried to dam it but the dam has collapsed.
So far the South lake has dropped by about half a metre and mud is developing around the edge! This is because the south lake is draining into the North lake in the south-east corner. However the water is leaving the North lake much quicker than it’s coming in, and 30% at least of the North lake area is now mud!! I’d estimate the water level there to be down well over a metre already.
This morning (6th) it has already attracted a Dunlin, then 2 x Black-tailed Godwit flew in, shortly afterwards another 2 x Black-tailed Godwit flew in.
Over the next week (and hopefully longer) this could be seriously good for waders.
(Photo of Willen Lake North, taken from W, midday on 7th Sept. Photo: Martin Ferns)
The Birdguides website (www.birdguides.com) reported, in a blog by Ben Ward on 4th July, that 46,026 swifts were seen passing Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire on 29th June 2020. This is considered to be the highest single-site count made in Britain, surpassing the previous highest of 31,350, which was also made at Gibraltar Point, on 31 July 2019. For the full story, including short videos, go to a-british-record-day-for-common-swift-passage
This annual celebration of bats sees bat events for the public taking place across the country. This year (2020) International Bat Night is 29-30th August! https://www.bats.org.uk/support-bats/international-bat-night
This celebration of bats is held by bat groups and the Bat Conservation Trust, to coincide with International Bat Night (formerly European Bat Night) which is organised by Eurobats. We aim to encourage thousands of people across the country to see and hear bats in their natural environment by taking part in a range of events organised by local bat groups, wildlife trusts, countryside rangers and other organisations across the country.
Through the website you can download a free International Bat Night Pack Inside you will find ideas on how to celebrate bats, help bat conservation, further resources and more! You will find lots of useful hyperlinks throughout the document too so you or you can print the packs or bits of it.
The photo is of a Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus pipistrellus, photographed at Linford Lakes NR on 17th October 2016, by Martin Kincaid.
This year’s National Moth Night takes place over three nights: Thursday 27th-Saturday 29th August. Information about activities can be found at www.mothnight.info
“Organised by Atropos, Butterfly Conservation and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Moth Night is the annual celebration of moth recording throughout Britain and Ireland by moth recording enthusiasts.
Each year a theme is chosen with one or more target species to look out for. [Moth Night 2020 coincides with the flight periods of four of the Red Underwing moths recorded in the British Isles – and this is a theme this year.] But Moth Night is about all moths and participants are encouraged to find and record as many different species as they can. If you are new to moth recording, then go to our Taking Part page for information on how to get started.
In previous years public events have been a feature of Moth Night. In 2020 however, due to the ongoing situation with Covid 19 we are not encouraging or promoting public events as part of Moth Night. We hope to be back with a public event element in 2021. Moth Night is the perfect event for garden participation, however, and we hope that people will make the most of the opportunity to look at what moths occur in their gardens.”
(Photo of Dark Crimson Underwing © Gordon Redford.)
“From diving cormorants and gannets, to delicate hummingbirds and petrels, you can view the winning and shortlisted images from this year’s Bird Photographer of the Year here.
Bird Photographer of the Year is an annual international photography competition which celebrates birds.owned by conservation charity Birds on the Brink, and the money generated from the competition will used to award grants to conservation projects that benefit birds.”
(Based on an item in the BBC’s latest online newsletter, Discover Wildlife.)
Press release from The Parks Trust
MK Festival of Nature is a special programme of activities to celebrate the beautiful and inspiring nature found in Milton Keynes’ green space.
To find out more about the events or to book follow the link here:
This year’s MK Festival of Nature was due to take place in June but due to the situation around COVID-19 we’ve postponed this until August. The festival will now run from 31st August – 6 September 2020. We’ve also adapted the activities that were due to take place to comply with the current government.
So now over this week-long festival, you can join us at one of our ticketed events or can get involved with some of the online activities that we will be sharing via our social channels throughout the week. All of these are designed for you to either do at home or in your local park.
If you fancy getting out and about then why not take part in one of our walks. We have a variety to choose from including; evening Bat walks, where you’ll join our bat enthusiasts for a walk around Walton Lake to discover these nocturnal animals that fly through our parks. Or maybe try a Wellbeing Walk for Families, where you’ll connect with nature, use your senses to take in your surroundings as well as taking part in relaxing activities.
Grown-ups will also be able to join in the fun of the festival in our Foraging Walk for Adults which is being held at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve. This session is designed to give you an introduction to locating and harvesting food for free in our parkland spaces. But not only that it will also help to increase your confidence in identifying wild plants, berries and nuts.
For those budding star gazers why not enjoy our event, Explore the skies with UK Astronomy. In this virtual event you’ll find out more about our solar system and beyond in this fascinating talk by the team.
If you’re looking for something more creative, then you could join local artist Kate Wyatt for a morning of artistic discovery at Great Linford Manor Park. In this session for adults you’ll learn how to record the natural environment through sketching and other artistic techniques. Kate Wyatt is a professional artist based in Milton Keynes and her speciality is British wildlife, flora and fauna. You will be drawing outdoors from life using different media and beginning a journal of ideas and observations of your surroundings.
You may be interested in two upcoming online events which are being run by Beds, Cambs and Northants Wildlife Trust on 20th and 26th August:
1. Introduction to British Bumblebee Ecology and Identification with Ryan Clark (20 August, 7-8.30pm)
Join Ryan Clark, Northamptonshire’s Bees, Wasps and Ants County Recorder, as he introduces participants to the fascinating ecology of bumblebees and guides participants through the identification of the most common species found in Britain.
For booking information, click here
2. Introduction to Pollinators and Pollination with Professor Jeff Ollerton
(26 August, 7-8.30pm)
Join Jeff Ollerton, Professor of Biodiversity in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton, for an introduction to the natural history of pollinators and how they interact with the flowers that they pollinate.
For booking information, click here
Peter Meadows has drawn attention to the August wildlife highlights summary in the latest BBC Discover Wildlife magazine which may interest other MKNS members, as may the news about the DEFRA decision to give wild beavers permanent right to remain in England, following their successful re-introduction in East Devon.
As a postscript to the item below, Sue Hetherington adds:
I’ve just called on my local MP to urge for our governments to protect the wildlife and habitats of our uplands, for nature and for people. Join me and contact your local politicians at http://www.wildjustice.org.uk/sos.
Saturday 8th August was “Hen Harrier Day 7”, an annual event which started in 2014 with “the sodden 570” at the Derwent Dam. It is the day when people stand up and be counted to say they protest at the threatened extinction of the Hen Harrier as a breeding bird in our country. This year, events were planned at 7 locations – Snowdonia, Arne, Rainham, Cairngorms, Sheffield, Aberdeen and Kirriemuir. Wild Justice (Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay) said in March this year “These events are sufficiently far away that it would be premature to fear they won’t happen but it would be a brave person who was sure that they would”. Well, none of us need reminding about the devastation SARS-CoV-2 has wreaked!
Last year, in Derbyshire, Wild Justice organised the largest ever Hen Harrier Day event with at least 1500 attendees. This year we’ve been part of the gang but a new charity, Hen Harrier Action, has organised Hen Harrier Day. When they started they thought that they would be helping lots of local organisers set up their own events, big and small, across the UK but coronavirus put paid to that. Instead we had Hen Harrier Day online going right through from 10am until 4pm. A flavour of the event can be seen from the video of the event’s evening final here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwNB8MCN_qA
The image above is from Hen Harrier Day 6, in Derbyshire. Andrew and I were both there and we are in the photo.
A new invertebrate photography competition has been launched.
The new annual photography awards will celebrate insects and other invertebrates in 10 categories, with judges including Buglife president Germaine Greer, naturalist and BBC Wildlife columnist Nick Baker and professional invertebrate photographers such as Levon Biss.
For further details go to the Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020. https://www.photocrowd.com/photo-competitions/photography-awards/bpa-2020/#section-1199
The Grand Prize winner of the competition will be awarded £2,500 cash and the title of ‘Bug Photographer of the Year 2020’, as well as other prizes. There is also a title available for ‘Young Bug Photographer of the Year’ for the 13-17 age group.
Entries close 7 Sept 2020.
The featured photo of a bee in this item was taken by Paul Lund in his garden, and won first place in the 2015 MKNHS Photo Competition.
(Photo: Kent Wildlife Trust)
With the effects of the climate crisis on the environment becoming increasingly clear, there are some interesting plans to re-wild areas with benefits for wildlife, ecosystems – and people too.
A very local project is the planned introduction of European Bison in Blean Woods near Canterbury, under the management of Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust *:
Another on a much broader scale, led by a group of farmers in East Anglia, is the subject of an article by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian on 14 July:
*Thanks to Peter Hassett for sending the links.
Brian Eversham, Chief Executive of Beds, Cambs and Northants (BCN) Wildlife Trust, outlines their stance on the Ox-Cam Arc, and sets out the principles by which this, and any other development, should abide if the biodiversity crisis is to avoided. Brian has given talks to MKNHS on a number of occasions. BCN Wildlife trust works closely with BBOWT through the Nature Recovery Network and their campaign to strengthen the Environment Bill.
Both trusts together with the RSPB have set out a set of principles For ‘Nature’s Arc’ which can be found in full on the RSPB website. They are encouraging members to contact their MPs to express the importance of strengthening the Environment Bill
You may also be interested in the following critical perspective from George Monbiot:
Perhaps he has a point if it is the case that there is still a chance that the whole project might be dropped. However, given that the same organisations have been campaigning vigorously on this issue for some years with only minor successes, maybe the new approach is more pragmatic. The same debate applies to new development in and around MK – is it better to resist the building of new homes, or accept that it is inevitable (‘people have to live somewhere…’) and work to ensure that the planning of new housing developments both conserves as much wildlife as possible, and where possible provides new opportunities?
You may recall the name David Lindo – he’s The Urban Birder, author, naturalist, media personality etc. – and he generously wrote a piece for The Magpie 50. During the pandemic disruption he is hosting quite a few free hour-long zoom webinars, which you can book to join in live, or you can access a recording later. You just need to go to web address https://theurbanbirderworld.com/live-webinars/ and scroll down to ‘Join In the Conservation’ (yes, that’s a pun – conservation/conversation).
There are upcoming ones which can be booked – mostly these are totally free. You just click on the link and check out as you’d do with any online purchase, except this one has a charge of £0.00. In due course you get an email confirming your order, which gives you a link to click on at the scheduled start time. Easy as that!
Of particular interest is that Edward Meyer was ‘in conservation’ with David on the theme of Save our Swifts on Tuesday 23rd June. This and other past sessions are listed under the upcoming ones, by date. You just click on the one you want to see and it starts there and then.
The ‘In Conservation’ series is in association with Leica Nature and Birding, and is part of the Nature Unwrapped season at London’s Kings Place – in which there a lot of other interesting events, past and planned (moved online until further notice). See https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/nature-unwrapped/
Here’s the latest Marston Vale’s Nature News (18th May), which includes news and a great photo of an osprey seen over the park on 17th May:
Government advice now allows travel to other places in England so you may be thinking of visiting nature reserves further afield. If you are a member of either the BBOWT or BCN Wildlife Trusts you will have received an up-date on the current situation on reserves access. If not, do check out the advice on their websites: https://www.bbowt.org.uk/covid-19-update and https://www.wildlifebcn.org/news/how-we-are-responding-covid-19.
In both cases most reserves are open, but car parks, visitor centres and bird hides remain closed.
Wildlife Trusts warn of effects from neglected reserves and species loss, to fly-tipping and illegal shooting (Caroline Davies, The Guardian, 24.04.2020)
While lockdown has allowed some a greater appreciation of spring and the fun of seeing goats, sheep and deer foraying into urban landscapes, Covid-19 is wreaking havoc with UK biodiversity as vital conservation projects are put on hold.
On Friday conservationists warned of “desperate times” with an explosion in invasive non-native species during prolific spring growth and the deterioration of rare and historic wildlife meadows that could take years to restore. …
The full article can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/24/biodiversity-in-britain-at-risk-from-standstill-due-to-coronavirus
View the winning images from this year’s Mammal Photographer of the Year, which celebrates the mammals, and amateur photographers, of Britain.
Click here for more information.: Mammal Photographer of the Year 2020 winning images – Discover Wildlife
From boxing hares to the joyful sound of the dawn chorus, here is selection of the month’s best wildlife spectacles from around the British countryside in March.
Click here for more information.: Best British wildlife to spot in March – Discover Wildlife
From an octopus playing with a soccer ball to a tiny froglet in an urban pond, view the winning wildlife images from Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020.
Click here to view the photos: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020 – Discover Wildlife
Our climate is changing. 2019 was the Earth’s second warmest year since modern records began in 1880. The average UK temperature has increased roughly 1deg C since the 1960s, leading to warmer and wetter winters, and the evidence is growing that changes in our UK climate are affecting our birds.
Freshwater insects, mosses and lichens are bucking the trend of wildlife losses in the UK and have expanded their ranges since 1970, according to a new study. Reductions in air and water pollution are the most likely reason.
We’re spoiling you with a second new ID guide in less than a week! This time to the genus Pachygaster and allies – small, rounded soldierflies that are easy to overlook. But not any more! We look forward to lots more records of them this year!
A new feature on the website: a list of species recorded in each vice-county. You should be able to filter by species and see which counties it’s been recorded in, or filter by county and see which species have been found there.
We are devastated to report that eleven Griffon Vultures fell victim to poisoning in the area of Klisoura Gorge in Greece. Unfortunately, nine vultures died from the incident, and two are alive but currently in recovery.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Mass poisoning causes a heavy blow to the largest colony of Griffon Vultures in mainland Greece, news via @RareBirdAlertUK
Click here to view the details of upcoming events : North Chilterns Chalk upcoming events
Scientists have found that climate change could accelerate ageing and reduce lifespan, particularly for amphibians and reptiles.
Click on the play button to watch the video (6 minutes)
Source: Where have all our insects gone? Report finds 50 per cent fewer than 15 years ago – Channel 4 News
The Guardian has also published an article about insect decline.
Following the successful trial of the dormouse footprint tunnels last year, we are planning to use them in a few other locations in Northamptonshire to identify where dormice are present along this northern edge of their core range.
To make this work I will need team of local volunteers to help check on the tunnels so if anyone is interested in getting involved these are the locations we are looking at next:
- Hazelborough Woods near Silverstone *NEW SITE*
- Salcey Forest/adjacent hedgerows north of Milton Keynes
- Stoke Wood, adjacent to last year’s survey site near Corby
- Fineshade Forest near Peterborough (joint with Friends of Fineshade)
Click here for more information.: Dormice need your help! | Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants
Sightings reveal that Siamese crocodiles have been breeding in the wild.
Click here for more information.: Largest number of baby Siamese crocodiles spotted by conservationists in Cambodia – Discover Wildlife
In a shallow pool amid a mossy landscape is a trap, a tiny triggered vacuum that sucks in unexpected prey at great speed, absorbs what it needs, then ejects the empty husk of its victim. If you’ve sunk and splashed your way through a peat bog in summer, you may have caught a glimpse of the plant’s more alluring feature, the showy yellow flowers that wave above the water.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: For peat’s sake: how to protect bogs | Alys Fowler | Life and style | The Guardian
After 28,000 wildlife photography fans voted for their favourite photo as part of the LUMIX People’s Choice Award of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and Bristol-based photographer, Sam Rowley’s “Station Squabble” came out on top.
Click here for more information.: Fighting mice wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year people’s vote – Discover Wildlife
The RSPB wants to see nests and not nets, and is appalled to see netting used once again to prevent birds nesting. We are facing a twin nature and climate crisis: wildlife must be allowed to thrive and we all have a role to play in not letting this practice go unchallenged.
Click here to view the Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust newsletter.
Recent research shows that basking sharks, the world’s second biggest fish, travel with family to familiar feeding sites.
Click here for more information.: Family matters for basking sharks – Discover Wildlife
Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say.
Blossom and butterflies, birds and basking snakes; March brings a change for our wildlife as winter fades and a new season begins.
How Ecobat can help:
1. Quantify bat activity relative to local and national datasets – to help identify sites at risk from development
2. Assess nightly variability in bat activity – to help identify sites with roosts nearby
3. Produce easy-to-use, report-ready summaries – to make your life easier
Click here for more information.
Click here to read the RSPB’s Notes on Nature March 2020
Both hawthorn and blackthorn can be seen across the countryside and even in our towns and cities, but how do you tell them apart? Our expert guide explains the differences and best places to see.
Click here for more information.: Identifying hawthorn and blackthorn – with annotated pictures – Discover Wildlife
The latest report, Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom shows that the Wren continues to hold the title of our commonest bird – the last report in 2013 also had Wren at the top of the list but with a population of just over 8.5 million pairs. Wren numbers are known to fluctuate according to environmental conditions and it may be that generally milder winters are benefitting one of our smallest birds.
The puffin population of the Farne Islands remains stable despite the severe downpours of summer 2019, and the resulting loss of many young pufflings.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Puffins show resilience to extreme weather on the Farne Islands – Discover Wildlife
Peat is plant material which is partially decomposed and has accumulated in waterlogged conditions.
Peatlands include moors, bogs and fens, as well as some farmed land.
Peat bogs are particular types of wetlands waterlogged by direct rainfall. Peat bogs grow slowly, accumulating around 0.5 to 1 mm of peat each year, and the water prevents the plants from decomposing. As a result, many areas of UK peat bog have been accumulating gradually for as much as 10,000 years, and can be up to 10m deep. Due to its slow accumulation, peat is often classified as a fossil fuel.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Plantlife :: Why we need to keep peat in the ground – and out of our gardens
Hundreds of India’s bird species, including eagles, vultures, migrating shorebirds and warblers have decreased significantly in the last 25 years.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: India’s bird population in serious decline, finds new study – Discover Wildlife
A new study analysing the relationship between pine martens and squirrels highlights the important role native predators play.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Pine martens help to restore red squirrel population in UK and Ireland, finds research – Discover Wildlife
In a 2020 paper, Mark Whittingham and colleagues show that, in one area of northeast England, the decline in Turnstone numbers is more obvious on mainland sites that are subject to human disturbance than on offshore refuges. Whilst national declines are probably linked to factors affecting productivity in breeding areas in Greenland and Canada, it is interesting that Turnstone seem to be withdrawing into areas where they are subject to less winter disturbance.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Disturbed Turnstones | wadertales
Bee-fly Watch is now into its fifth year, following a bumper year in 2019 when more bee-flies than ever before were recorded, and they broke all previous records by first appearing on 17 February (two sightings), about two weeks before their normal emergence date! These distinctive furry flies are more usually on the wing from March to June, often hovering over flowers and using their long ‘nose’ (proboscis) to feed on nectar. Once again we are asking people to look out for bee-flies and add your records to iRecord.
Click here for more information.: Bee-fly Watch | Soldierflies and Allies Recording Scheme
New research shows how insect symmetrical patterns have evolved to become less obvious to predators.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Moths and butterflies shift their symmetry to improve camouflage – Discover Wildlife
Estimates of population size are a key tool, used alongside population trend information and that on other aspects of bird ecology (such as survival and productivity rates) to assess conservation status. Periodic assessments of the size of breeding and wintering bird populations in the UK and in Great Britain are made by the Avian Population Estimates Panel (APEP). Their fourth assessment ‘APEP 4’ is published in the journal British Birds, and summarised here.
Click here for more information.: APEP 4 – Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology
One of the big questions raised in the analysis of New Year Plant Hunt (NYPH) results by Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science, is around what the impacts of changes in flowering times of wild and naturalised plants might have on pollinators and other insects.
From fruiting fungus to winter birds, here is selection of the month’s best wildlife spectacles from around the British countryside in February.
Once abundant, the UK’s small tortoiseshell butterfly has experienced a population decline of three quarters since the 1970s.
With 97% fewer wildflower meadows now than in the 1940s, and intensive farming practices removing lots of hedgerow habitat, it’s easy to see why these colourful invertebrates need our help.
Rising temperatures mean that phenology is changing.
Scientific studies using Nature’s Calendar data have indicated how phenology is changing and some are beginning to suggest what the impact of this will be:
• Spring events like budburst, leafing and flowering are getting earlier
• Fruiting of trees and shrubs is getting earlier
• Late autumn events such as leaf fall may be delayed
Click here for more information.: Changing phenology – Nature’s Calendar
ur climate is changing, and we need your help to track its effects on Nature.
From snowdrops flowering to frogspawn appearing, from the first time you mow your lawn to the first ladybird you see – we want to know when events like these happen across the UK!
Your help will give scientists a clearer picture of how nature is responding to changing weather patterns. Register online and become a recorder: Natures Calendar
The Breeding Bird Survey started in 1994, and a report is produced every year containing population changes and other results from the scheme.
Click here for more information.: BBS reports | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology
The issue of climate change is in the news on an almost daily basis. We are seeing growing evidence of its impacts on the natural world, from the bleaching of corals in the Indian Ocean, to raging wildfires in Australia, to shrinking ice-sheets affecting polar bears in the Arctic. Closer to home, the fingerprints of climate change are all over the British countryside, but here, the impacts on species are not always negative.
Butterflies and sunshine are as synonymous as polar bears and snow. Think of butterflies and you are instantly transported to a summer’s day. In the UK we are lucky if we get more than a few weeks each year when we can enjoy butterflies, blue skies and colourful flowers. Seeing a butterfly before April and after September is an unusual occurrence. So where do our butterflies disappear to when it is too cold and wet for them to be able to fly?
Click on the link to read the rest of the article: Butterfly Conservation – The Secret Life Of Butterflies
This article describes the hibernation behaviour of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies in my St Albans shed during 2019. It provides an update on an article first published in an abridged form in Butterfly Conservation – Herts & Middx Branch Newsletter in April 2019.
Britain has a new farmed animal, which is kept in barns, milked and moved between high and low pastures – but not by humans.
The pale giant oak aphid, Stomaphis wojciechowskii, has lived undiscovered for thousands of years on English oak trees, where it has been looked after by brown ants.
Why would anyone choose to spend a winter’s night out on a cold Orkney moor? Ben Darvill gives an insight into the dedication of Short-eared Owl fieldworkers, and their amazing discoveries.
Click here to view the details of upcoming events : North Chilterns Chalk upcoming events
What’s the difference between a mouse, vole and shrew?
Find out all about the chaffinch with these five facts from RSPB Scotland’s Jen Mullen.
If you ask British birdwatchers to name the nine wader species that are causing the most conservation concern in the UK, they would probably not include the Ringed Plover. Curlew may well be top of the list, even though we still have 58,500 breeding pairs in the UK*, but would people remember to include Ruff? This blog is written to coincide with the publication of Red67, an amazing collaboration of artists and essayists that highlights and celebrates the 67 species on the current UK red list, nine of which are waders.
Click here to read the rest of the article.: Nine red-listed UK waders | wadertales
Orca, or killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family. These enigmatic animals are apex predators, positioned right at the top of the food chain. No other animals hunt orcas except for humans.
No two days are the same in my role as meadows advisor at the conservation charity Plantlife. My job is to help others create meadows – from small community meadows to large estates – and I am delighted my work is supported by The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund.
India is home to a diverse variety of wildlife and has its own ‘Big Five’ must-see mammals. Our photo gallery features Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, greater one-horned rhinos, Indian leopards, and gaurs.
We’re delighted to announce that on 10th January Natural England granted our application to release beavers into an enclosed area at Knepp. This is one of a number of beaver licenses granted in England for similar introductions so far this year, in a move which could, eventually, see beavers back in the landscape after an absence of around 500 years.
Click here for more information.: Bringing beavers back to Sussex — Knepp Wildland
Individuals within a species may all look alike to the average insect, but one paper wasp species has evolved specialized cognitive abilities to recognize individual faces among their peers. How did complex cognition evolve in just this species?
Click here to read the rest of the article.