Category Archives: Other News

Other News – Please send your news items to webeditor@mknhs.org.uk

Nine red-listed UK waders

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

Bringing beavers back to Sussex

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

Hunting Beetles in Winter

One of the good things about recording beetles is that you can do it at any time of the year, since many beetles overwinter as adults. In summer techniques like sweeping and beating are used to find active insects, but in winter the emphasis shifts to finding insects that have tucked themselves away in various hideouts to await more favourable conditions. Habitats like litter piles, loose bark, crevices and rotholes in trees, and particularly the base of grass tussocks, are all worth exploring.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Beavers released on National Trust land

Beaver number one was in no hurry to exit her safe, straw-lined wooden crate. After a tense six-minute wait, Derek Gow, a wildlife expert, reached a hand into the creature’s temporary home, grabbed her gently by the rear end and encouraged her out.

Click here for more information:
BBC
The Guardian

the connection between peat and nature?

Scotland’s peatlands are host to characteristic species of plants and animals that have adapted to living in harsh conditions. Peat forms in areas of high rainfall and most often where there is low availability of nutrients. Consequently, peatland habitats are waterlogged, acidic and nutrient poor.

Source: Peatland ACTION case study: What’s the connection between peat and nature? | Scottish Natural Heritage

Moths’ flight data helps drones navigate complex environments

The flight navigation strategy of moths can be used to develop programs that help drones to navigate unfamiliar environments, report Ioannis Paschalidis at Boston University, Thomas Daniel at University of Washington, and colleagues, in the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Moths’ flight data helps drones navigate complex environments

How to build a bug mansion

An average garden accommodates more than 2,000 different species of insect! Very few of these creatures cause significant damage to our prized plants, and there are many more insects that actually help us to control the ones that do! By providing the right habitats, we can greatly increase the number of ‘beneficial’ insects in the garden.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: How to build a bug mansion | The Wildlife Trusts

Predicting the next wildlife “invasions” heading for Antarctica

A new study undertaken by British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the UK Centre for Ecology and Conservation (UKCEH) and a team of international scientists provides a list of 13 species most likely to threaten biodiversity and ecosystems in the Antarctic Peninsula region.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Predicting the next wildlife “invasions” heading for Antarctica – Discover Wildlife

The 2019 breeding season; a year to remember for Blackcaps and Blue Tits

Blue tit, CC BY_NC_SA Peter Hassett, Rhayader 14 May 2014

Blue tit, CC BY_NC_SA Peter Hassett, Rhayader 14 May 2014

Information collected by British Trust for Ornithology volunteer bird ringers and nest recorders provides an insight into how some of our resident and migratory birds fared during the 2019 breeding season.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: The 2019 breeding season; a year to remember for Blackcaps and Blue Tits, news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Hedgehog petition success

It is hard to ignore 622,000 people with hedgehogs on their mind – at least that is what Bovis Homes have discovered. The lobbying work done by you all – and in particular those individuals who have made direct contacts with developers – has born great fruit. Here is what Bovis had to say:

“In an industry-first initiative, Bovis Homes, part of the newly-formed Vistry Group, will install hedgehog highways to its existing developments and all future sites wherever possible, as part of a campaign that will also help other small mammals, birds, frogs and insects.”

Click here for more information.: Petition update · Petition success story! · Change.org

Study shows crop yield increases when biodiverse environments surround farms

As winter sets in over Punjab, one can hear the humdrum of hundreds of machines harvesting rice across lakhs of hectares of paddy fields. In Maharashtra, villages in Vidarbha lug their snowy cotton harvest to the market. Years ago, these landscapes were a sprawling array of forests, grasslands, wetlands and multiple crops cultivated on a shifting basis. But in the last five to six decades, many such natural landscapes have been converted into permanent farms that grow only one or two crops while extensively using resources such as water and chemicals in the form of pesticides and herbicides.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Friendly neighbours? Study shows crop yield increases when biodiverse environments surround farms | Research Matters

Dip into the world of dabbling ducks

Winter is a wonderful time to see wildlife, particularly for fans of our feathered friends. As the cold grip of the Arctic winter takes hold on the lakes, pools and marshes of Northern Europe and Russia, huge numbers of swans, ducks and geese retreat to the relative warmth of the UK. Our lakes, rivers, reservoirs and coasts are a winter home for an estimated 2.1 million ducks!

Click here for more information.: Dip into the world of dabbling ducks | Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants

The Butterflies of Northamptonshire in 2019

The fantastic butterfly season during 2018 was always going to be a difficult act to follow and although some species were down in 2019 the year still held some great success stories. Among 2019’s achievements was a very welcome spike in Peacock numbers, a Painted Lady invasion, the continued colonisation by Dark Green Fritillaries and the incredible news of the first Chequered Skippers to emerge in the wild in the county for nearly half a century.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

New report from Committee on Climate Change doesn’t go far enough – The Wildlife Trusts

Wildlife Trust Logo

Wildlife Trust Logo

The Wildlife Trusts are disappointed that the new report from the Committee on Climate Change fails to recognise the full array of natural solutions available in the UK, and their immense value for achieving net zero emissions.

Click here for more information.: New report from Committee on Climate Change doesn’t go far enough | The Wildlife Trusts

Brussels wants to stop unfettered growth in beehives

Come springtime, the RTBF reports, the Brussels region’s environment agency Bruxelles Environnement will take up the beehives it manages at nature sites in Brussels, and remove them permanently.

The move forms part of a plan by the region to tackle the recent huge growth in members of the public keeping bees – a trend inspired by concerns about pollution, climate and biodiversity. Bees have become something of a mascot for this movement, in part because they are an excellent barometer of environmental conditions, and in part because of their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Brussels wants to stop unfettered growth in beehives

Conservation action has reduced bird extinction rates by 40%

We’ve all heard of species brought back from the brink of extinction, but have you ever wondered how impactful conservation actually is? A new study shows that global conservation action has reduced the effective extinction rate of birds by an astonishing 40%. But is it all good news?

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Conservation action has reduced bird extinction rates by 40%, #ornithology #conservation news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Young sea eagle takes up residence among Oxfordshire’s red kites

It is one of the country’s top predators, with a 2.4-metre (8ft) wingspan and a preference for plucking fish from the ocean.

So a young sea eagle’s choice of landlocked Oxfordshire as its home is unexpected. More surprising still is that the bird has lived for four months almost completely unnoticed by the public close to the M40 and the commuter belt.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Young sea eagle takes up residence among Oxfordshire’s red kites | Environment | The Guardian

Breaking Down the Social Stigma of Invasive Species

Harlequin Ladybird ©Peter Hassett at Preston Montford 4 August 2015

Harlequin Ladybird ©Peter Hassett at Preston Montford 4 August 2015

While climate change and habitat loss seem to keep making all the headlines when it comes to environmental damage, invasive species are still chugging along comfortably as the second biggest threat to our planet’s biodiversity. New cases are popping up all the time, with the Burmese python, Crucian carp and the emerald ash borer beetle recently reaching new levels of notoriety.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Breaking Down the Social Stigma of Invasive Species with Professor Helen Roy | Ecology for the Masses

Get your ear in

Birds bring a wonderful soundtrack to spring, and even in towns and cities the array of voices can be quite dazzling. If you are trying to develop your skills in identifying bird songs, you are best off initially trying to familiarise yourself with a few of the more frequent songsters. In early spring, four of the key species to listen out for are Robin, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Dunnock.

Click here for more information.: Get your ear in | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology

Scientists formulate a roadmap for insect conservation and recovery

A growing number of studies are providing evidence that a suite of anthropogenic stressors — habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, invasive species, climate change and overharvesting — are seriously reducing insect and other invertebrate abundance, diversity and biomass across the biosphere. These declines affect all functional groups: herbivores, detritivores, parasitoids, predators and pollinators. Insects are vitally important in a wide range of ecosystem services of which some are vitally important for food production and security (for example, pollination and pest control). There is now a strong scientific consensus that the decline of insects, other arthropods and biodiversity as a whole, is a very real and serious threat that society must urgently address. In response to the increasing public awareness of the problem, the German government is committing funds to combat and reverse declining insect numbers. This funding should act as a clarion call to other nations across the world — especially wealthier ones — to follow suit and to respond proactively to the crisis by addressing the known and suspected threats and implementing solutions.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: International scientists formulate a roadmap for insect conservation and recovery | Nature Ecology & Evolution

Solved: mystery of ‘ornamented’ coot chicks has surprising explanation

The American coot is a somewhat drab water bird with gray and black feathers and a white beak, common in wetlands throughout North America. Coot chicks, however, sport outrageously bright orange and red feathers, skin, and beaks. A new study explains how the bright coloring of coot chicks fits in with the reproductive strategy of their less colorful parents.

Click here for more information.: Solved: mystery of ‘ornamented’ coot chicks has surprising explanation, #ornithology research news via @RareBirdAlertUK

Another mass poisoning in Zululand causes alarm for the future of vultures in the region

Unfortunately, yet another mass poisoning incident occurred in Africa, ending 2019 on a sad note for vulture conservation. Two days before Christmas in Northern Zululand, 16 vultures met a tragic fate. The continuation of such poisoning incidents are causing alarm for the region’s diminishing vulture populations fearing that they could face extinction. This has been an overall unfortunate year for vultures affected by poisoning in Africa, with more than 1,200 vultures estimated to have been deliberately poisoned across Southern and Eastern Africa, according to the Endangered WildLife Trust (EWT).

Source: Another mass poisoning in Zululand causes alarm for the future of vultures in the region, #WildlifeCrime news via @RareBirdAlertUK

UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction

Almost a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected by the end of the decade to stop and reverse biodiversity decline that risks the survival of humanity, according to a draft Paris-style UN agreement on nature.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction | Environment | The Guardian

UK Wildlife Podcast – Pond life in Winter

The main topic is what pond creatures, such as the pond oilve mayfly, do to survive the cold in winter, and give some tips on how to look after your pond when it freezes over.

Neil and Victoria’s News
Victoria talks about a trip to German museum with a amber collection and Neil mentions his productive Christmas period photography trips, with sparrowhawk, cattle egret and kestrel photos.

Readers questions
We answer questions on kestrels decline, and what our first memory of wildlife in the garden was, along with what surprises us about nature.

Click here for more information.

Country diary: orb-weaver spider

Orb spider (Tetragnatha montana) on Agrimony by Peter Hassett, Bucknell Wood 26 July 2019

Orb spider (Tetragnatha montana) on Agrimony by Peter Hassett, Bucknell Wood 26 July 2019

While the ubiquitous garden cross spider (Araneus diadematus) perishes in late autumn, another species of orb-weaver remains active throughout the winter. Common and widespread, Zygiella x-notata is typically found close to human habitation, its webs strung under guttering, and spanning door and window frames. Though similar in appearance to the two-dimensional, concentric-circle webs constructed by its more familiar relative, its orbs usually have a distinctive wedge-shaped segment missing from an upper quadrant, hence the spider’s common name, missing-sector orb-weaver.

Source: Country diary: a living jewel and her handiwork adorn the kitchen window | Environment | The Guardian

HS2 could threaten irreplaceable natural habitats, report warns

HS2 risks dividing and destroying “huge swathes” of “irreplaceable” natural habitats, including 108 ancient woodlands, a report has warned.

The Wildlife Trust said the high-speed rail line linking London and northern England could wipe out rare species.

Click here for more information:
HS2 could threaten irreplaceable natural habitats, report warns – BBC News
The Guardian

Plants make galls to accommodate foreigners

Gall formation by plants is a commonly-seen phenomenon that occurs in response to foreign entities (here called “gall-inducers”) such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, etc. In this review Harris and Pitzschke set out criteria for what is and is not a gall;

 

Rediscovering the moths of Whittingehame

A year ago, as I set out to explore the life of Alice Balfour and her moths, I didn’t give much thought to what I might find or where it might lead. I wanted to discover more about the moths she encountered and was interested to learn more about the pursuit of natural history in the Edwardian era, but mostly I was starting ‘a project’ to add purpose to my own everyday moth recording in East Lothian. Making lists of moths from different sites is all very well, but it is much more rewarding to put these lists into some sort of context. Scientific or otherwise.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: 2019 – Lessons learned – Rediscovering the moths of Whittingehame

Australia’s bushfires push countless species to extinction

Close to the Western River on Kangaroo Island, Pat Hodgens had set up cameras to snap the island’s rare dunnart – a tiny mouse-like marsupial that exists nowhere else on the planet.

Now, after two fires ripped through the site a few days ago, those cameras – and likely many of the Kangaroo Island dunnarts – are just charred hulks.

“It’s gone right through the under storey and that’s where these species live,” said Hodgens, an ecologist at Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, a not-for-profit conservation group. “The habitat is decimated.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.: ‘Silent death’: Australia’s bushfires push countless species to extinction | Environment | The Guardian

Grow your own slime moulds

Dogs Vomit Slime Mould ©Julian Lambley

Dogs Vomit Slime Mould (Fuligo septica) ©Julian Lambley, Great Brickhill 24 October 2019

Movement, memory and problem solving are abilities we normally associate with animal behaviour and a nervous system but is that always the case? Could a brainless organism exhibit intelligent behaviour, could it be capable of learning and if so, can we learn anything from it?

Source: Slime Moulds

2020: time to walk the talk on climate and nature

This post is by Tony Juniper CBE, chair of Natural England and Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency.

As we start the New Year, it’s clear that 2020 is our last chance to bring the world together to take decisive action on climate change, to protect our communities and reverse the alarming loss of wildlife we have witnessed in recent years.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: 2020: time to walk the talk on climate and nature | Inside track

Saving the endangered pool frog in the UK

The end of the summer marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for over a hundred young pool frogs released into the wild in Norfolk this year. The pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) became extinct in the 1990s in the UK but thanks to collaborative efforts by Natural England, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC), Norfolk Wildlife Trust, ZSL and partners, the species persists in protected areas where ancient ponds have been restored to provide optimal habitat.

Click here for more information.: ZSL lends a helping hand to save the endangered pool frog in the UK | Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

England-wide data for great crested newts now available

Natural England has now uploaded baseline survey data on great crested newts (GCN) to create a map of where they are across the whole of England. The project – which took three years to complete – is the largest ever survey of its type for GCN across England, and was funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Click here for more information.: Natural England’s Geoportal: England-wide data for great crested newts now available – Natural England

What is that wildflower? And why don’t we know?

Early Dog Violets Viola reichenbachiana, ©Janice Robertson Willen Lake 10 April 2018

Early Dog Violets Viola reichenbachiana, ©Janice Robertson Willen Lake 10 April 2018

How many people know our common wildflowers? The charity Plantlifecommissioned a poll by YouGov two years ago to find out if people could identify wildflowers and discovered a shocking lack of knowledge. Most could not identify, or mis-identified, the common dog-violet, one of the most widespread wildflowers found in 97% of the UK, and only 6% of 16- to 24-year-olds correctly named it. There were similar results for red clover, another common wildflower. But most people said they would like to identify more wildflowers, although only about half of young people were so enthusiastic.

Click here for more information.: Plantwatch: What is that wildflower? And why don’t we know? | Science | The Guardian

Committee Against Bird Slaughter 2019 Annual Report

In 2019, the various campaigns and operations coordinated by Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) once again saved countless migratory birds from doomed fate being killed, caught or prematurely destined for a cooking pot. As ever, our main field campaigns focused on the bird poaching hotspots in the Mediterranean region, with CABS teams active in Italy, Malta, France, Spain, Cyprus and Lebanon during the migration period. The primary aim of our fieldwork is the same everywhere: Take direct action to stop poachers, document illegalities and to persuade authorities to intervene, with public support and international political pressure.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Annual Reports / Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V.

Lawn-mowing reduction can help wildlife, says study

Third Place, Hummingbird Hawk Moth ©Janice Robertson

Third Place, Hummingbird Hawk Moth ©Janice Robertson

Rewilding gardens may be growing in popularity but even a modest reduction in lawn mowing can boost wildlife, increase pollinators and save money, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières found that reducing the intensity of trimming lawns in urban areas can also reduce pests and weeds that cause allergies.

Click here for more information.: Lawn-mowing reduction can help wildlife, says study | Environment | The Guardian

Surrey Small Blue Stepping Stones Project

In 2019 we completed a project to help the Small Blue Butterfly on the Surrey Downs. The project has helped to create an extensive network of sites between Guildford and Box Hill, with individual butterflies now more able to move between different areas and sites, enabling the creation of a strong and sustainable metapopulation.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Surrey Small Blue Stepping Stones Project

Pond Ponderings – Story of a Small Pond So Far

Emperor dragonfly ©Janice Robertson Caldecotte Business Park ponds 30 June 2019

Emperor dragonfly ©Janice Robertson Caldecotte Business Park ponds 30 June 2019

Building work needed on the old neglected and abused Victorian house took priority, then in March 2018, I built a small wildlife pond into the middle of the garden. From the start, it was aimed at dragonflies plus other insects, plant life and nature in general.

Click here to read the rest of the article.: Pond Ponderings – Story of a Small Pond So Far, by Dan Brawn – British Dragonfly Society

National Trust State of Nature report 2019

Butterflies fluttering, a kittiwake diving into ice-blue waves and the sweet song of skylarks first thing in the morning. These sights and sounds are becoming even rarer with 41 per cent of species in decline since 1970. We need to act now to stop this loss, creating more homes for wildlife and calling on governments to introduce stronger environmental protections.

Click here for more information:
State of Nature report 2019 | National Trust
The Guardian

Short-eared Owl Tracking

Short-eared owls appear to be nomadic, breeding almost prolifically in suitable habitat in some years, yet in others appearing to be absent. Adults owls can be seen flying during daylight hours when they have dependent young, but at other times they can be largely nocturnal, making the population hard to monitor. The best evidence that we have suggests that the population has declined, perhaps by as much as 50%. The reasons underlying these changes are poorly understood, but recent advances in technology have presented new opportunities for research.

Source: Short-eared Owl Tracking | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology