Category Archives: Society News

Early-purple Orchid by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

Trip Report – Linford Wood 15 April 2018

About a dozen MKNHS members and others assembled at Linford Wood at 2.15pm on Sunday afternoon 15th April 2018 at Breckland, by the north-west entrance to the wood. The weather was warm but cloudy and rain arrived shortly before the walk finished. There had been a rush of plants coming into flower over the preceding week of warmer weather and the first migrant birds had arrived not many days before.

In 2017, the MKNHS visit to Linford Wood had been on a Tuesday evening more than three weeks later (5th May) so this daytime visit, earlier in the season, provided a very different view of the wood and its flora. Mike LeRoy gave a brief introduction which was set out more fully in three handouts: 1) a map of the whole wood and its compartments; 2) a background note about the history, ecology and management of the wood; and 3) a note of ‘What to look and listen for’.

Five leaved Herb Paris by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

Five leaved Herb Paris by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

The group walked together on an anti-clockwise route along the western and southern sides of the wood, past compartments 13 and 7a which have been extensively coppiced and thinned during the past winter. At the south-east corner, we headed back towards the centre of the wood and diverted briefly onto the western woodchip path to find Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia before heading back to Breckland along the main horse-riding path as a shower started.

The main questions the group focused on were:
1. What plant species are flowering?
2. Where do you see Dog-violets or other Violets?
3. What bird species can you hear calling?
4. What woodpecker sounds do you hear?
5. Which Bumblebee species do you see?
6. What Bee-fly species do you see hovering?
7. Which of the ponds can you see?

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa had been in flower for a couple of weeks and there must have been tens of thousands to see, scattered throughout most of the wood. Although it was the most dominant plant in flower, there were also considerable numbers of Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis nemorosa still in flower alongside the paths. There were also still plenty of clumps of Primrose Primula vulgaris in flower in and among the trees and along the edges of the ditches. The delicate leaves of Pignut

Pignut ©Peter Hassett, Pilch Field 8 May 2011

Pignut ©Peter Hassett, Pilch Field 8 May 2011

Conopodium majus were seen in a few locations on ditch and path edges. Only a few Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta were beginning to show. Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria were still in flower, but Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea had yet to emerge and no flowering Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon were seen. The first few Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia were just emerging into leaf, but had not quite flowered. The group found a few clumps of Strawberry which turned out to be Barren Strawberry Potentilla sterilis (identified by Mary Sarre).

Violet sp.  ©Peter Hassett Stanton Wood, 12 May 2010

Violet sp. ©Peter Hassett Stanton Wood, 12 May 2010

With the undergrowth yet to burst into full growth, Dog-violets and other Violets Viola spp. were more evident and found in small numbers through much of the wood. Most of the trees were barely into leaf so there were clear views well into the wood.

Although tree species were not a main focus of what we looked for, Mary Sarre noted at the edge of the wood near Breckland some Norway Maple Acer platanoides which flower with bright yellow-green flowers before they leaf and have been widely planted in Milton Keynes. Mike LeRoy mentioned Ash Fraxinus excelsior trees close to Breckland with their brief display of purplish-brown male flowers.

Aside from the permanent ponds, there were many areas of the wood with water lying on the surface. At one pond on the western side Martin Kincaid found Pond-skaters Gerris spp.

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

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

As we walked, we noticed numerous Bumblebees hunting low down within the vegetation rather than searching for nectar. Species seen included: Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius and Buff-tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Another insect present in many places was the Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major. Less common was the Hairy-footed Flower-bee Anthophora plumipes. In several places we found 7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata.

Male Blackcap by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 17 April 2016

Male Blackcap by Harry Appleyard, Tattenhoe, 17 April 2016

Sue & Andrew Hetherington led the recording of birds, almost entirely by calls and songs. In all they noted 17 species: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Jay and Magpie. Other species known to be sometimes present, but not seen or heard on this occasion, are: Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail and Stock Dove.

Postscript

Early-purple Orchid by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

Early-purple Orchid by Peter Hassett, Linford Wood 2 May 2017

A week after our visit the Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta are out in profusion. The first Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea have emerged. A few stems of Yellow Archangel Lamiastrum galeobdolon have been found, but are not quite in flower. And the first of the Early-purple Orchid Orchis mascula are just emerging.

There are species of flower in Linford Wood worth looking for in mid-April and others that don’t tend to emerge until late April into May. The wood is worth visiting at both these times to see how the season is changing.

Mike LeRoy
22nd April 2018

Grand Union Canal by Peter Hassett

MK Branch – Inland Waterways Association events 2018-19

At our recent joint meeting with the Milton Keynes Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, the talk by Richard Bennett from the Canal and Rivers Trust highlighted the enormous amount of work that goes into maintaining the canals and the wildlife they support. A couple of events were mentioned which are open to all who’d like to go along.

On Saturday 28 and Monday 30 April there will be a work party to re-paint the Wolverton Train Mural. For details contact Athina Beckett at athina.beckett@waterways.org.uk or 01908 661217.

On 25-27 May (possibly 28th too), there will be fundraising event at Three Locks, Soulbury, with  demonstrations of how to work a boat through the locks  There will be activities for children, and the Buckingham Canal Society will have a book and bric-a-brac stall.

Other events are listed in the IWA events diary.

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Weather Watcher profile: Harry Appleyard

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Snow dusted crocuses in February ©Harry Appleyard

Harry Appleyard, one of the great photographers within the Milton Keynes Natural History Society, contributes photos to the BBC’s Weather Watchers.

The BBC has published an article and a section of Harry’s beautiful photographs which you can view using this link: Article – BBC Weather Watchers

 

You can see more of Harry’s nature photos in the Members Photos section of the website.

50th anniversary celebration badge label in golden color

50th Anniversary Celebration

On Tuesday 27th March 2018 we held our 50th Anniversary event at the beautiful Chrysalis Theatre at Camphill in Milton Keynes.

It was a wonderful evening of celebrating our 50 years of existence. Our initial fears that the Theatre which seats 200 might feel rather empty were completely unfounded as there were very few available seats left and the foyer was full to bursting at the interval. There was a lovely atmosphere of people meeting old friends and catching up, a real buzz!

The evening started slightly tensely as our poor speaker Patrick Barkham was held up in traffic on the A14 and only arrived 10 minutes before the talk was due to start. In his words he was ‘a bit flustered’ at the beginning but he recovered quickly and gave an excellent talk which left many of us yearning to visit some of the many islands dotted around our large island.

Peter Hassett had prepared a presentation about the Society from its beginnings to the present day which was a lovely start to the evening (you can view the presentation here). Lewis our new Chairman said a few words to introduce himself and at the end of the evening the Mayor of Milton Keynes David Hopkins presented our esteemed President Roy Maycock with a painting of a badger to mark his 50 years as a founder member and pillar of the Society.

The evening was a wonderful team effort by all concerned which just goes to show what a special Society we have. Here’s to the next 50 years!

What follows is just a few of the many comments we have received starting with one from the Mayor:

“Susan and I found the evening enlightening and compelling with the guest speaker Patrick Barkham truly engaging as he took us on an animated tour of Britain’s finest islands. Please pass on my congratulations to your President Roy Maycock for fifty outstanding years of committed service to the Society. I felt privileged to present him with the splendid picture of the badger.”

“Last night was very special.”

“What an excellent evening! The speaker this evening was absolutely amazing. And what turn out. The evening was almost perfect.”

“Nice to catch up with many people that we don’t get to see very often.”

“Tuesday was a fantastic evening in every way and a fitting celebration of the Society’s 50 years.”

“Well done to everyone for putting on a fantastic evening, which seemed to go down with everyone. A good engaging speaker and great venue.”

“Thank you very much for such a wonderful evening we had a really good time and now want to go on a small island for a holiday too!”

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image or  visit our photo gallery to see all the photos from this special evening.

Special thanks to Julie Lane and Lewis Dickinson for writing this article and to Paul Lund for providing the photos.

 

The Chrysalis Theatre

The Chrysalis Theatre

Julie Lane opens the event

Julie Lane opens the event

The auditorium

The auditorium

Patrick Barkham giving his talk

Patrick Barkham giving his talk

Teo (Theatre Manager) and Carol (Head Barrister) plan for the interval

Teo (Theatre Manager) and Carol (Head Barrister) plan for the interval

Refreshments are served in the interval

Refreshments are served in the interval

Martin Kincaid (vice-president) asks David Hopkins (Milton Keynes Mayor) to make a presentation to Roy Maycock (President)

Martin Kincaid (vice-president) asks David Hopkins (Milton Keynes Mayor) to make a presentation to Roy Maycock (President)

Roy Maycock (President) accepts his painting from David Hopkins (Milton Keynes Mayor)

Roy Maycock (President) accepts his painting from David Hopkins (Milton Keynes Mayor)

Patrick Barkham signing books

Patrick Barkham signing books

Falco peregrinus

Stadium MK Peregrines – update

Falco peregrinus

Peregrine by Harry Appleyard, Hazeley Wood, 29 May 2016

Mike Wallen of Buckinghamshire Bird Club has kindly agreed to let us publish this update on our local peregrines:

The birds have finally decided that the purpose built platform put up for them is desirable after all and the female is on it, sitting on at least 2 eggs. I was very happy to receive this news today. There is a camera ( plus other security) on this platform, no plans to stream the images to the public yet, but we’ll see how things develop in the coming weeks.

Good Birding
Mike

28 March 2018

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve visitors enjoying an Open Sunday

Planning Application Linford Lakes – Result of Appeal March 2018

Dear All
I am delighted to inform you that the appeal against the refusal of planning permission at Linford Lakes has failed and the appeal has been rejected.
I have copied the Planning Inspector’s summary below – but in short he has found that although MK Council have failed to demonstrate a 5 year housing supply, in this case the considerations of Landscape and Ecology (Biodiversity) outweigh the National Planning Policy Framework’s presumption in favour of development.
I believe this decision has been significantly influenced by the evidence and submissions of those who attended the enquiry and spoke against the appeal and all those who wrote in to oppose the appeal on grounds of ecology.
It is a tremendous validation of the power of persuasion by people who truly deeply care about our environment and local resources.
I congratulate all of you who took the time and effort to get involved.
Tony Bedford
Chair FoLLNR
Inspector’s Conclusions
 
Compliance with the development plan
  1. The appeal proposal would conflict with MKLP Policy S10 by being located in the countryside. It would also conflict with Policy S11 by failing to protect or enhance the Area of Attractive Landscape, and with Policy NE1 by adversely affecting the Wildlife Corridor’s biodiversity.
  2. In relation to Policies S12 and KS3, the scheme would to some extent advance the aims of those policies in respect of public access to the Ouse Valley Linear Park and Linford Lakes areas. But it would conflict with S12’s requirements as to landscape and nature conservation matters.
  3. Looking at all of these relevant policies together, I find that the appeal proposal is in clear conflict with the development plan as a whole.
Other material considerations
98. The Council has been unable to demonstrate a 5-year supply of land for housing, and the development plan is silent as to how this shortfall is to be made up. Consequently, even though none of the policies directly affecting the appeal site are concerned with housing, the ‘tilted balance’ in NPPF paragraph 14 is engaged.
  1. On the positive side, the appeal proposal would provide 250 dwellings towards the Borough’s housing shortfall, and 30 per cent of these would be for affordable housing. In the light of the evidence, these dwellings are required to meet housing needs that would otherwise be unmet, and this carries significant weight. The economic benefits carry moderate weight. For the reasons already explained, the provision of public access to the ‘blue’ land also carries moderate weight; but any proposed landscaping or new habitat creation, either on- or off-site, would be essentially mitigatory or compensatory, and these therefore carry no more than neutral weight.
  2. But on the other hand, the development would intrude into the countryside, and into a designated AAL and Wildlife Corridor. It would cause substantial and irreversible harm to the Ouse Valley’s valued landscape. It wouldpermanently destroy priority habitats, threaten important wildlife, and weaken ecological networks. It would also take 15 ha of land from the Linear Park, reducing the scope for informal and passive recreation uses in the future.
  3. Cumulatively, it seems to me that these adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits that have been identified. The scheme therefore does not benefit from the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Overall conclusion
 
102. Having regard to the requirements of section 38(6) of the 1990 Act, these other material considerations do not indicate a decision contrary to the development plan. I have taken account of all the other matters raised, but none changes this conclusion. The appeal therefore fails.
John Felgate
INSPECTOR
Many thanks to the Friends of Linford Lakes for allowing us to publish these details.
Crows ©Julie Lane, Olney 28 March 2018

Murder of crows

Crows ©Julie Lane, Olney 28 March 2018

Crows ©Julie Lane, Olney 28 March 2018

I have a large group of crows outside my room all cawing their heads off. Why would they be doing this? There are usually only two local crows but it seems they have all come together for a meeting and are making an awful racquet!

Photo and text by Julie Lane

©Peter Hassett, Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Trip report – Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve 4 March 2018

Our most recent winter walk took place at Floodplain Forest, Old Wolverton on 4th March 2018. With the chaos brought about by ‘The Beast from the East’ over the previous 2-3 days, leaders Joe Clinch and Martin Kincaid had considered calling off the walk. On Friday the conditions were treacherous and the access road into Manor Farm Court was impassible. However, by Sunday the thaw had set in and conditions were much improved. No fewer than 23 Society members and guests arrived for the 2pm start.

We divided into two groups with Joe taking a group clockwise around the nature reserve and Martin taking his anti-clockwise. The first sighting of note was a very large flock of Canada geese grazing in the fields below the farm buildings. Joe’s group soon had binoculars and cameras trained on one of the local little owls as it sat up in its usual ash tree roost. These tiny owls nest around Manor Farm each spring – look out for them through the spring in the dead trees behind the Farm Hide. The many water bodies were still largely frozen so wildfowl numbers were down but among the commoner duck were 10 goosander and about the same number of shoveler. A few snipe were also observed by both groups, usually as they flew away from us at speed.

There was very little in flower compared with the same time in 2017, but the bright yellow flowers of colt’s foot were seen on the muddy banks and wild plum was in blossom. At the eastern end of the reserve, Martin’s group spotted kestrel and, a rarity on this site, little grebe. Eagle eyed Sue also picked out a solitary female pochard among the wigeon and tufted ducks. Passerines were still few and far between but a few small charms of goldfinch were spotted and we enjoyed watching a wren work its way along flood debris in the river.

Fortunately, Alan Piggott had brought his scope and he set this up by the Iron Trunk hide. We had noticed one of the male goosanders displaying to the females. This courtship display is similar to that of the goldeneye, with the male bird stretching his neck straight up and giving a little flurry. As we watched, one of the females went into a submissive posture, with her head below the water. The drake swam around her several times, almost as if he didn’t know what to do, before quickly mounting and mating with her! None of us had every witnessed this behaviour before so we felt quite privileged to have seen it today. Goosander have been breeding in our area for at least 7 years now and regularly nest at Olney and Newport Pagnell. As we stopped to view the little owl in his tree, a large flock of wigeon came out of the water to graze on a patch of ground close to the Farm Hide. We had a fine view of these handsome ducks. Here too we had a grisly discovery – the half-eaten carcass of a lapwing, presumably the work of a fox.

The two groups merged again to walk back up the hill to the car park. We had all enjoyed getting outdoors after the big freeze and had amassed a fairly respectable list of birds. Thanks to everybody for braving the elements and making this meeting a success.

Birds: Great Crested Grebe; Little Grebe; Cormorant; Mute Swan: Canada Goose; Greylag Goose; Goosander; Mallard; Gadwall; Teal; Wigeon; Shoveler; Tufted Duck; Pochard; Grey Heron; Little Egret; Snipe; Coot; Moorhen; Black-headed Gull; Herring Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Kestrel; Woodpigeon; Little Owl; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Carrion Crow; Rook; Jackdaw; Magpie; Wren; Blackbird; Redwing; Fieldfare; Robin; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Goldfinch.

Flowering Plants: Colt’s-foot; Wild Plum.

Briefing at the start of the walk

Canada Geese near from buildings

Canada Geese near farm buildings

Little Owl ©Julian Lambley, Floodplain Forest NR 4 March 2018.jpg

Little Owl ©Julian Lambley, Floodplain Forest NR 4 March 2018.jpg

Colt's-foot, by ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR 25 March 2016

Colt’s-foot, ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR 25 March 2016

Wren ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Wren ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Cormorants ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Cormorants ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Goosander ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Goosander ©Peter Hassett Floodplain Forest NR, 4 March 2018

Goosanders mating

Goosanders mating ©Peter Hassett

Goosanders mating ©Peter Hassett

Goosanders mating ©Peter Hassett

Goosanders mating ©Peter Hassett

Goosanders mating ©Peter Hassett

 

Brimstone nectaring on Sanfoin, Pitstone Quarry, 28 May 2017

MKNHS 2018 Photo Competition results

MKNHS Photo Competition 2018

The Society’s annual photos competition was held on Tuesday 23 January 2018.

Each member could enter a maximum of 2 prints in each of the following categories:-

1) Birds
2) All other animals, including mammals, fish, insects, etc.
3) Plants and fungi.
4) Habitats, geological, astronomical.

MKNHS Photo Competition 2018

Sixty photos were entered. Each member present at the meeting was asked to select their first and second choice in each of the four categories giving us a shortlist of 8 photos.

In the second round of voting, members were asked to select their first second and third choice.

The winning photos were:

First place – Brimstone nectaring on Sanfoin by Peter Hassett

Second place – Laccaria amethystina by Peter Hassett

MKNHS Photo Competition 2018

Third place – Wood White by Paul Lund

You can view the shortlisted photos in the photo gallery.

Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny by Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny CC by 4.0

Rare Lacewing discovered in Milton Keynes

Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny by Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny CC by 4.0

Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny by Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny CC by 4.0

A rare lacewing, Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae) has been found in Milton Keynes by the well known entomologist Mark G. Telfer who has kindly provided this article.

Sympherobius klapaleki is a brown lacewing in which the basal two segments of the antenna are yellow-brown, strongly contrasting with the remaining segments which are all blackish. The first British specimen was reared from a pupa found on dead oak twigs at Silwood Park, Berkshire, in April 1994 (Whittington, 1998). Three further British records are known to the author, from South Essex, Nottinghamshire and Hertfordshire (Colin Plant and David Gibbs, pers. comms) (Table 1). David Gibbs’ Nottinghamshire record was of a female swept from tree foliage in an area of coniferised woodland.

Table 1: Previous British records of Sympherobius klapaleki in chronological order.

Locality Grid reference Vice county Date Collector
Silwood Park c. SU9468 22 April 1994 Mark Shaw
Larks Wood TQ382928 18 15 Jun 1999 D. Hackett
Shooters Brake, Pittance Park, Edwinstowe (Center Parcs Sherwood Forest) SK6364 56 22 Sep 2007 David J. Gibbs
West Road, Bishops Stortford TL485205 20 31 May 2008 Colin W. Plant
Figure 1: Aerial bottle trap outside a branch socket on the veteran oak at Kingsmead Spinney.

Figure 1: Aerial bottle trap outside a branch socket on the veteran oak at Kingsmead Spinney.

Two females of S. klapaleki were captured by an aerial bottle trap during 11 May to 2 June 2017 in Kingsmead Spinney, Milton Keynes (SP82433381; VC 24). The trap was suspended outside a decaying branch socket on the trunk of a hollow veteran oak Quercus on the southern boundary of the spinney (Figures 1, 2). Flight interception trapping in such a position is intended to capture saproxylic insects (especially beetles) which are either emerging from within the trunk, or are attracted towards access holes into tree trunks. This record of S. klapaleki is suggestive evidence for breeding in oaks but not conclusive; though the two females may have been flying out of or heading into the hollow trunk, it is also possible that they were captured incidentally.

Figure 2: The veteran oak on the southern boundary of Kingsmead Spinney.

Figure 2: The veteran oak on the southern boundary of Kingsmead Spinney.

The Kingsmead Spinney record appears to be the fifth British record and the first record for Buckinghamshire (VC 24), though the records to date are suggestive of a widespread and rather under-recorded species.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Martin Kincaid of The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes, for arranging the survey, and David Gibbs and Colin Plant for sharing records and information.

Reference

Whittington, A.E. (1998). Sympherobius klapaleki Zeleny (Neur.: Hemerobiidae) new to Britain. Entomologist’s record and journal of variation, 110, 288 – 289.

50 years of Milton Keynes Natural History Society!

25th Birthday Celebration

25th Birthday Celebration

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Milton Keynes Natural History Society. It began with an article in a local newspaper on 8 February 1968 inviting those interested in forming a natural history group to meet.  At this time development of the new city of Milton Keynes was just beginning and there was concern about the possible impact on local wildlife. From these beginnings, the Society has grown to around 100 members and developed interests and expertise in a very wide range of species, habitats and environmental concerns.

40th Birthday Celebration

40th Birthday Celebration

Some of the original members are still very active in the Society today. You can find out more about the history of the Society by clicking here.

The Society meets every Tuesday. In the winter, talks are held in the City Discovery Centre at Bradwell Abbey. Between May and September, we explore local natural history sites. Have a look at our current programme for more information.

You can also find out what wildlife can be seen locally by visiting our Recent Sightings  and Wildlife Sites pages.

To celebrate this special occasion, the Society is delighted to welcome Patrick Barkham to talk on the subject of “Islanders”. Apart from being a natural history writer for The Guardian, Patrick Barkham is also the author of a number of excellent books including “The Butterfly Isles” and “Badgerlands”. Recently he has published “Islander:  a journey around our archipelago”, which is an exploration of eleven of the smaller islands of Britain, in search of their special magic. This latest project will be the focus of his talk which is on the evening of Tuesday 27th March at the Chrysalis Theatre in Japonica Lane, Willen Park South, Milton Keynes, MK15 9JY.

Save the date and look out for further details!

 

Grey Heron by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 19 April 2016

MKNHS Photo Exhibition at Howe Park Wood Visitor Centre

If you missed our wonderful photographic exhibition at MK Library earlier this year, fear not – you have another chance to see it in all its glory! The fabulous banner, displaying beautiful photographs taken by many Society members, is now on display at The Parks Trust’s Howe Park Wood Visitor Centre.

The exhibition will be housed here until at least January 2018 and hopefully beyond. The Visitor Centre and café are open 9am-3pm on weekdays and from 9am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

BBOWT 2017 AGM and conference - featured image

BBOWT 2017 AGM and conference

BBOWT 2017 AGM and conference

BBOWT 2017 AGM and conference

This Saturday 14th October I attended the BBOWT AGM and conference in Oxford. The AGM in the morning was, as is usual for these events, not particularly exciting but after an excellent lunch there was a very good debate about The Future of Food, Farming and Nature.

Prof Dieter Helm from Oxford chaired the debate, which included speakers from conventional (NFU deputy president) and conservation farming, a former civil servant who worked in Brussels and The Wildlife Trusts representative. It was an extremely interesting couple of hours which allowed for plenty of input from the audience. I won’t even try to summarise the discussion here, but I was very glad that I made the effort to go and would recommend the day to members in future years. You don’t have to be a member of BBOWT to attend the afternoon conference.

The following videos were played during the conference:

Our fantastic year 2016-2017
Highlights of the year 2016 – 2017

Julie Lane

HRH Prince Cambridge visits MK exhibition

HRH Duke of Cambridge meets MKNHS

On 26th September 2017 His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge paid a visit to the Milton Keynes Rose in Campbell Park, as part of a special visit to celebrate the city’s 50th birthday.He met a number of community leaders before joining a ceremony at the Milton Keynes Rose which for those of you who don’t know features a calendar of days important to local people represented by 105 pillars arranged in the geometric design of a flower.

The Duke made a short speech before unveiling a new pillar to celebrate the city’s founders. However before the ceremony the Duke attended a festival zone in the park showcasing the city’s innovations, diverse communities, cultural aspirations and green heritage. And MKNHS was one of the organisations that was invited to welcome him! Myself, Joe Clinch and Tony Wood arrived in the early morning mist to set up our display.

We were one of four organisations in the green zone alongside The Parks Trust, The Canal and River Trust and the new electric car system that is due to operate from the Train Station in the not too distant future. We had our new information boards on display showcasing the work of the society and whilst the Duke spent only about a minute with us talking about the the society, he commented in particular on the large amount of green space in the city and also the importance of involving and enthusing the younger generation, which I assured him was one of our priorities.

It was a privilege to be part of the occasion and is perhaps a reflection of the importance that the city places on its natural history and the reputation of MKNHS itself.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Words and photos by Julie Lane

HRH Prince Cambridge visits MK exhibition

HRH Prince Cambridge visits MK exhibition

HRH Prince Cambridge visits MK exhibition

HRH Prince Cambridge visits MK exhibition

 

 

Field Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe Paperback – by Alan Birkett

Field Guide to The Trees of Britain and Europe by Alan Birkett


I’m delighted to announce that our resident tree expert, Alan Birkett has published a Field Guide to The Trees of Britain and Europe.

The ISBN is 9781921517839. The book is available on-line from Waterstones or Amazon UK or from any bookseller quoting the ISBN above.

The ever-popular subject of trees is covered in this fantastic field guide which includes more than 150 species that are likely to be encountered in Britain and elsewhere in northern and central Europe. This includes native species such as Hawthorn, Wild Cherry, English Elm and Sessile Oak together with trees which have been widely introduced from other parts of the world. The book’s USP is its ingenious set of identification keys at the start of the guide, which cover broadleaf and conifer leaves, buds, cones, catkins, flowers, fruit and bark and cross reference with the tree species and families in the main sections of the book.

The guide is suitable for beginners and more knowledgeable readers and the text has been written in an easy-to understand style while there is a detailed glossary at the end of the book to explain any technical terms. Each species account covers a spread and includes a photo of the whole tree together with close-up detail of other features such as leaves, bark and so on while the accompanying text describes key characteristics for identification, including a useful ‘Quick ID’ section.

In short this is a wonderful new field guide. The author, who has also taken all of the images himself, has been working on the idea and format for many years and is confident that the title offers something new in this market and that the book will be among the very best available in its category.

Alan has also produced an app for the iPad “Tree Guide UK” which is available from the Apple app store in Standard and Premium editions.

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley, Edgewick Farm 1 August 2017

Changes to News section on our website

Society Posts sidebar

Society Posts sidebar

We are keen to receive more articles on natural history.

We have made changes to the Milton Keynes Natural History website To place more emphasis on members’ contributions:

We have split news in the sidebar and new menu into:

  • Society News, and
  • Other News

We hope this will encourage you to send articles or links to items of interest to info@mknhs.org.uk

Society Posts menu

Society Posts menu

Loughton Brook - Briefing in the car park

Trip Report – Loughton Brook – 22 August 2017

With only two weeks remaining until the Society returns to its traditional home at Bradwell Abbey, we made a premature visit for the start of our latest summer walk, meeting at the upper car park. There was a distinctly autumnal feel to this walk – both sun and rain flirted with us but most of the walk took place under heavy cloud. However, there was still plenty of flora and fauna to enjoy.

Walking south from the car park, we took our time at the edge of the Loughton Brook. The water here is very clear in places allowing good views of the gravel beds. For once we were able to concentrate on fish, with large shoals impressing us with their speed and coordination. We saw Minnows, 3-Spined Stickleback, Rudd, Perch and Common Dace – and probably several other species which we couldn’t identify! But it was a good indication of just how much life small watercourses like this can support.

Few birds were seen (the stretch is particularly good for kingfishers) but a Little Egret flew overhead and large parties of Long Tailed Tits delighted us as they moved along the hedgerows. We heard, but did not see, a small party of Bullfinches.

Among the plants growing along the brook were Knotgrass, Purple Loosestrife, Marsh Woundwort, Himalayan Balsam and Meadow Cranesbill. We crossed the brook and walked through an area of old ridge and furrow grassland where we added Agrimony and Lady’s Bedstraw to our list.

The return leg took us along the course of the railway, through some flower rich areas and scrubby woodland. Roy pointed out some attractive ferns on the railway bridge. As the skies darkened, we began to find Mother-of-Pearl moths in good numbers and then, as dusk closed in, the bats appeared. Both Common and Soprano Pipistrelles were flying around us on the edge of Bradwell Village and were easily identified with bat detectors.

The finale was a walk through the somewhat atmospheric railway tunnel over the brook. Here we saw lots of Spiders on the walls (which, illuminated by the tunnel lights, looked superb) and a good number of impressive Old Lady moths clustered on the brick work. We arrived back at the car park just as it began to rain but before we left there was one more highlight, as a pair of Brown Long-eared Bats started hunting along the fence line of the pony paddock.

It was nice to see some new faces among the 28 people who attended this meeting. Everyone agreed that it had been a different sort of evening and we had seen an interesting variety of habitats and wildlife.

Text by Martin Kincaid
Photographs by Peter Hassett

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Briefing in the car park

Briefing in the car park

Looking for fish in Loughton Brook

Looking for fish in Loughton Brook

Spleenwort in wall of old railway bridge

Wall Rue growing in old railway bridge

Wall Rue growing in old railway bridge

Old Lady moth (Mormo maura) ©Julie Lane, Loughton Brook 23 August 2017

Old Lady moth (Mormo maura) ©Julie Lane, Loughton Brook 23 August 2017

Toadflax growing beside the railway line

Toadflax growing beside the railway line

Wood White ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Trip Report Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Bucknell Wood, just to the north of Silverstone, is a relic of the once extensive Whittlewood Forest. Owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, it is reputed to be one of the best butterfly sites in Northamptonshire and certainly lived up to this reputation when 16 MKNHS members and one other visited last Saturday. Following Martin’s request, members car shared as much as possible, but it was still something of a squeeze in the car park.

We were blessed with blue skies and warm conditions as we met at 11am. Even as we assembled in the car park, we were treated to views of White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies drifting around.

Butterflies were certainly the main focus of the walk and before long we had added the common browns, whites and skippers as well as a number of purple hairstreaks who would occasionally descend from the high oaks to tantalise us with brief views.

Martin had mentioned how long the wood white butterflies were lasting and sure enough, one appeared before long. These dainty little butterflies are currently the subject of a three year habitat restoration project in the Silverstone woods and as is so often the case, this individual led us a merry dance as it flitted along the main ride but refused to alight on any plants.

We eventually saw four or five wood whites and Paul Lund was lucky enough to see a female egg-laying on one of its food plants, meadow vetchling and get some fine shots. These late wood whites were the last of the brood which began way back in April and it will be interesting to see if the warm summer weather triggers a rare second brood this year.

The stars of the show though were the Silver Washed Fritillaries, of which we saw dozens in including several pairs in cop. Few of us had seen this many before.

Marsh Tit and Coal Tit were both heard calling and brief views were obtained with 2 Buzzards and a Red Kite soaring over the wood. A Common Lizard was glimpsed as it scuttled across a fallen branch.

A surprising sighting enjoyed by a few was a Bank vole which was climbing along a blackthorn branch. We all had fantastic views of Emperor dragonflies and Brown and Southern Hawkers were also on the wing.

Early July is usually the best time to see the elusive Purple Emperor butterfly, but they had emerged in the third week of June this year so the chances of seeing a male low down were slim. We had to settle for a brief view of one soaring regally over the oak canopy and of course more Purple Hairstreaks. A lucky view got a very close look at a White Letter Hairstreak on bramble flowers before a thuggish Ringlet chased it off.

We were joined by a local butterfly enthusiast Kevin Boodley, and he was a great help in spotting some of the more unusual species. The last target before we left was the rarer Valezina form of the Silver Washed Fritillary and Kevin said he has seen several earlier in the day moving between two large bramble patches in a large clearing.

We searched and searched but got no more than brief views of a single Valezina female. However, we did see her ovipositing low down on an oak. There were many more White Admirals in this area too.

We made our way back to the car park at about 2.15pm, a little weary but delighted with what we had seen. Those who had visited Bucknell Wood for the first time were keen to re-visit.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image. You will find more pictures from the field trip on our Members’ Photos page.

Text by Martin Kincaid.

Photos from top to bottom:

Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett  

Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett

Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund

Wood White egg laying ©Paul Lund

Wood White egg ©Paul Lund

White Admiral ©Paul Young

Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young

Ringlet ©Paul Young

Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young

Large Skipper ©Paul Young

Gatekeeper ©Paul Young

Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden

Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett

 

Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Wood White egg ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017
White Admiral ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritallary (male)©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Ringlet ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Large Skipper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Gatekeeper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Paul Young has provided this amazingly comprehensive species list from our visit to Bucknell Wood:

Species Common name Taxon group
Stachys officinalis Betony flowering plant
Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum Tree Bumblebee insect – hymenopteran
Satyrium w-album White-letter Hairstreak insect – butterfly
Myodes glareolus Bank Vole terrestrial mammal
Lomaspilis marginata Clouded Border insect – moth
Milvus milvus Red Kite bird
Apatura iris Purple Emperor insect – butterfly
Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone insect – butterfly
Periparus ater Coal Tit bird
Zootoca vivipara Common Lizard reptile
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury flowering plant
Pyronia tithonus subsp. britanniae Gatekeeper insect – butterfly
Rhagonycha fulva Common Red Soldier Beetle insect – beetle (Coleoptera)
Aeshna grandis Brown Hawker insect – dragonfly (Odonata)
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff bird
Thymelicus lineola Essex Skipper insect – butterfly
Anax imperator Emperor Dragonfly insect – dragonfly (Odonata)
Thymelicus sylvestris Small Skipper insect – butterfly
Vespa crabro Hornet insect – hymenopteran
Leptidea sinapis Wood White insect – butterfly
Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap bird
Potentilla anserina Silverweed flowering plant
Favonius quercus Purple Hairstreak insect – butterfly
Ochlodes sylvanus Large Skipper insect – butterfly
Columba oenas Stock Dove bird
Buteo buteo Buzzard bird
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet flowering plant
Pieris napi Green-veined White insect – butterfly
Prunella modularis Dunnock bird
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren bird
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral insect – butterfly
Turdus merula Blackbird bird
Limenitis camilla White Admiral insect – butterfly
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal flowering plant
Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown insect – butterfly
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort flowering plant
Sitta europaea Nuthatch bird
Pieris brassicae Large White insect – butterfly
Aphantopus hyperantus Ringlet insect – butterfly

Linford Lakes Development – Letter of Objection

Below is the draft letter which Milton Keynes Natural History Society is sending to Milton Keynes Council in objection to the proposed housing development, adjacent to Linford Lakes Nature Reserve,  we need to encourage as many people as possible to fight this development and  to write to Paul Keen at MK Council. They can either email him at paul.keen@milton-keynes.gov.uk or send a letter to the Civic Offices. It is important that the Ref No. 17/01937OUT is quoted in all correspondence.

Please use as much info in this template as possible but please put things in your own words as much as you can. I have been advised that the deadline for comments is 15th August 2017

Dear Mr Keen 07.08.17

Ref: Planning Application 17/01937/OUT Land at Linford Lakes, Milton Keynes

We are writing to you with reference to this proposed development of up to 250 hours. We wish to express our deep concern about this proposal on behalf of the members of Milton Keynes Natural History Society, an action supported by our committee on 31/07/2017.

The land in question forms part of an Area of Attractive Landscape in the Milton Keynes Local Plan (2001-2011). The Society has commented with respect to Policy SD10 in the recent Draft Plan:MK Consultation that “the Society strongly endorses the policy statement relating to the Linford Lakes Area. It forms a key component of the Ouse Valley extended linear park and wildlife corridor as well as an ‘ecological resource’ in its own right. This is undoubtedly one of the most biodiverse areas in Milton Keynes and its importance cannot be overstated. Any development next to Linford Lakes is likely to have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity”.

The proposed development is immediately next to Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, owned and managed by The Parks Trust. This area of lakes, species-rich grassland, scrub and wet woodland is arguably the most important ecological site in Milton Keynes. Established as a wildfowl centre in the early 1970s, the site is now known to local bird-watchers and naturalists for its biodiversity. Among the many protected species which thrive here are otter, water vole, hedgehog, barn owl, cuckoo, great crested newt and at least eight species of bat. All of these are nationally rare and/or declining. No other single site in Milton Keynes can match this in terms of rare species. Twenty three species of butterfly and over 400 species of moth have been recorded in the past three years. A botanical survey in 2016 listed over 240 plant species.

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve and its Study Centre are open to the public on an annual permit basis. This means that everyone who visits the site has bought a permit and has a vested interest in the flora and fauna the site supports. It is one of the very few locations in Milton Keynes where cats and dogs do not visit and to some extent this explains the abundance of wildlife.

The site also has long been used as a centre for environmental education, originally by Milton Keynes Council and latterly by The Parks Trust who purchased the nature reserve in 2015. Generations of local school children have enjoyed education sessions here, learning about the natural environment and the variety of wildlife on their doorstep. Again, low visitor numbers and the absence of dogs make this site ideal for this purpose.

In my opinion, if this development goes ahead, there will be enormous and irreversible damage to this very important ecological site and the surrounding landscape. We can expect many of the vulnerable species to decline or disappear due to disturbance from humans and pets. Additionally, the site will lose its value as an education resource as visitor numbers increase and habitats are damaged. Fragmentation of landscape and habitats are a major cause of the decline in UK wildlife. Currently, the land in question is attractive to wildlife but the construction of houses here would leave many species isolated.

The Environmental Impact Assessment that the developer was obliged to carry out concluded that there would be a ‘significant negative effect on biodiversity at a county level’. The survey concludes that the zone of impact that the development would have could extend to 2km, which would of course include the nature reserve.
We can think of nowhere in Milton Keynes less suitable for housing than this site. If biodiversity has any future at all in our city it is vital that this development is not approved.

Yours sincerely

Julie Lane, Joint Chairman Linda Murphy, Joint Chairman

Martin Kincaid, Vice President

Milton Keynes Natural History Society

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley, Edgewick Farm 1 August 2017

Trip Report – Edgewick Farm 1st August 2017

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley, Edgewick Farm 1 August 2017

Field Vole ©Julian Lambley,

The farm was a former dairy farm now maintained for local people. To find out more about this site, please visit our Wildlife Sites page.

Today members met in the town car park and, before reaching the farm fields, swifts were in the eaves of the local chapel.

Viola led the walk and was not hopeful of seeing lots to interest us. Wrong! Before long, in the second field visited, a Purple Hairstreak butterfly was seen, captured, viewed by all and then released. Several oak tree surrounded the field. After a few minutes a Short-tailed (=Field) Vole was seen taking a stroll through the short grass. This, too, was captured, viewed and released. How lucky was that!

Birds that took our interest were House Martins, Swallows and a Kestrel. Plants in flower were few – like Nipplewort, Birds’-foot Trefoil and Shepherd’s Purse. Immature Grasshoppers and Shield Bugs were plentiful but not able to be identified to species level.

Further into the site a wet area (erstwhile a pond) was encountered with Lesser Spearwort (evidence of the acid conditions). Leaving the fields we continued the walk along the adjacent footpath. Here a few brave souls were encouraged to take a quick nibble of a small bit of a leaf of Water-pepper. Within a short time the strong flavour was evident – not to be forgotten.

Time then to return to our cars by following the footpath and pavements between the houses. At one point along the path was a memorial seat behind which was the “flower of the evening” – Elecampane – a rare plant in Bucks. Thanks Viola for a good evening .

Article kindly supplied by Roy Maycock

Trip Report – Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

No less than thirty society members turned up for this walk which was led by Gordon Redford together with Ian Richardson of the Greensand Trust. The threatened rain and thunderstorms held off for the walk although the storm later in the evening was quite spectacular.

Ian gave us a brief introduction to Rushmere Country Park standing on the viewing deck at the Visitor Centre. Here we had great views of the lake and heronry. Although most of the herons fledged some time ago, there were one or two late nests.

We had a fairly brisk ninety minute walk around the woods and meadows. Among the highlights were a Slow Worm, spotted by Harry Appleyard as it crawled through the leaf litter, calling Goldcrests, a Spotted Flycatcher and Purple Hairstreaks flitting around mature oak trees in the late
evening sunshine. We also saw a couple of tiny Common Toads and Brown Hawker dragonflies around Black Pond. Along the way we nibbled the leaves of Wood Sorrel (very tasty) and listened to grasshoppers singing. Towards the end of the walk we stopped in an area of acid grassland with lots of Ragwort plants. Some of these were covered in the distinctive larvae of the Cinnabar moth whilst other plants had already been stripped of their leaves. We netted a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper for a closer look and heard, but did not see, Dark Bush-Cricket.

A big thank you to Gordon for stepping in to lead this walk and to Ian Richardson for his time.

Text by Martin Kincaid
Photos ©Harry Appleyard:

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Society members viewing the heronry and ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Society members viewing the heronry and ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

The Black Pond ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

The Black Pond ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Slow Worm ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Slow Worm ©Harry Appleyard, Rushmere Country Park 18 July 2017

Wood White ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Trip Report Bucknell Wood – 8 July 2017

Bucknell Wood, just to the north of Silverstone, is a relic of the once extensive Whittlewood Forest. Owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, it is reputed to be one of the best butterfly sites in Northamptonshire and certainly lived up to this reputation when 16 MKNHS members and one other visited last Saturday. Following Martin’s request, members car shared as much as possible, but it was still something of a squeeze in the car park.

We were blessed with blue skies and warm conditions as we met at 11am. Even as we assembled in the car park, we were treated to views of White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies drifting around.

Butterflies were certainly the main focus of the walk and before long we had added the common browns, whites and skippers as well as a number of purple hairstreaks who would occasionally descend from the high oaks to tantalise us with brief views.

Martin had mentioned how long the wood white butterflies were lasting and sure enough, one appeared before long. These dainty little butterflies are currently the subject of a three year habitat restoration project in the Silverstone woods and as is so often the case, this individual led us a merry dance as it flitted along the main ride but refused to alight on any plants.

We eventually saw four or five wood whites and Paul Lund was lucky enough to see a female egg-laying on one of its food plants, meadow vetchling and get some fine shots. These late wood whites were the last of the brood which began way back in April and it will be interesting to see if the warm summer weather triggers a rare second brood this year.

The stars of the show though were the Silver Washed Fritillaries, of which we saw dozens in including several pairs in cop. Few of us had seen this many before.

Marsh Tit and Coal Tit were both heard calling and brief views were obtained with 2 Buzzards and a Red Kite soaring over the wood. A Common Lizard was glimpsed as it scuttled across a fallen branch.

A surprising sighting enjoyed by a few was a Bank vole which was climbing along a blackthorn branch. We all had fantastic views of Emperor dragonflies and Brown and Southern Hawkers were also on the wing.

Early July is usually the best time to see the elusive Purple Emperor butterfly, but they had emerged in the third week of June this year so the chances of seeing a male low down were slim. We had to settle for a brief view of one soaring regally over the oak canopy and of course more Purple Hairstreaks. A lucky view got a very close look at a White Letter Hairstreak on bramble flowers before a thuggish Ringlet chased it off.

We were joined by a local butterfly enthusiast Kevin Boodley, and he was a great help in spotting some of the more unusual species. The last target before we left was the rarer Valezina form of the Silver Washed Fritillary and Kevin said he has seen several earlier in the day moving between two large bramble patches in a large clearing.

We searched and searched but got no more than brief views of a single Valezina female. However, we did see her ovipositing low down on an oak. There were many more White Admirals in this area too.

We made our way back to the car park at about 2.15pm, a little weary but delighted with what we had seen. Those who had visited Bucknell Wood for the first time were keen to re-visit.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image. You will find more pictures from the field trip on our Members’ Photos page.

Text by Martin Kincaid.

Photos from top to bottom:

Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett  

Members of the Society enjoying the walk©Peter Hassett

Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund

Wood White egg laying ©Paul Lund

Wood White egg ©Paul Lund

White Admiral ©Paul Young

Silver-washed Fritallary (male) ©Paul Young

Ringlet ©Paul Young

Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young

Large Skipper ©Paul Young

Gatekeeper ©Paul Young

Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden

Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett

 

Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Members of the Society ©Peter Hassett enjoying the walk in Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Wood White in flight ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Wood White egg ©Paul Lund, Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017
White Admiral ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritallary (male)©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Ringlet ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Purple Hairstreak underside ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Large Skipper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Gatekeeper ©Paul Young, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017
Silver-washed Fritillary (valezina form) ©Kevin Booden, Bucknell Wood 8 July 2017

Emperor Dragonfly (male) ©Peter Hassett Bucknell Wood, 8 July 2017

Paul Young has provided this amazingly comprehensive species list from our visit to Bucknell Wood:

Species Common name Taxon group
Stachys officinalis Betony flowering plant
Bombus (Pyrobombus) hypnorum Tree Bumblebee insect – hymenopteran
Satyrium w-album White-letter Hairstreak insect – butterfly
Myodes glareolus Bank Vole terrestrial mammal
Lomaspilis marginata Clouded Border insect – moth
Milvus milvus Red Kite bird
Apatura iris Purple Emperor insect – butterfly
Gonepteryx rhamni Brimstone insect – butterfly
Periparus ater Coal Tit bird
Zootoca vivipara Common Lizard reptile
Centaurium erythraea Common Centaury flowering plant
Pyronia tithonus subsp. britanniae Gatekeeper insect – butterfly
Rhagonycha fulva Common Red Soldier Beetle insect – beetle (Coleoptera)
Aeshna grandis Brown Hawker insect – dragonfly (Odonata)
Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff bird
Thymelicus lineola Essex Skipper insect – butterfly
Anax imperator Emperor Dragonfly insect – dragonfly (Odonata)
Thymelicus sylvestris Small Skipper insect – butterfly
Vespa crabro Hornet insect – hymenopteran
Leptidea sinapis Wood White insect – butterfly
Sylvia atricapilla Blackcap bird
Potentilla anserina Silverweed flowering plant
Favonius quercus Purple Hairstreak insect – butterfly
Ochlodes sylvanus Large Skipper insect – butterfly
Columba oenas Stock Dove bird
Buteo buteo Buzzard bird
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet flowering plant
Pieris napi Green-veined White insect – butterfly
Prunella modularis Dunnock bird
Troglodytes troglodytes Wren bird
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral insect – butterfly
Turdus merula Blackbird bird
Limenitis camilla White Admiral insect – butterfly
Prunella vulgaris Selfheal flowering plant
Maniola jurtina Meadow Brown insect – butterfly
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort flowering plant
Sitta europaea Nuthatch bird
Pieris brassicae Large White insect – butterfly
Aphantopus hyperantus Ringlet insect – butterfly

MK50 public walk at Willen North Lake

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Briefing before we set off for the walk

On Tuesday 4th July 2017 a large crowd of society members were joined by a few members of the public and one small dog for a beautiful walk around the lake at Willen. It was a lovely sunny evening and there was so much on the wing both on the lake and in the meadow near the hide that it took over an hour to reach the hide (and that was all of us not just Roy!!). However the consensus was that it was such a glorious evening that we should press on and do the whole lap of the lake. Arriving back at the cars as the sun was setting we all agreed that it was one of the best outings this summer. Thank you to Martin for doing the introduction.

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Sunset over Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Butterflies: Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Peacock larvae

Moths: Brown Plume Moth, Cinnabar, Shaded Broad Bar, Smoky Wainscot, Silver-y, pupae of Burnet moths.

Other insects: Roesel’s bush-crickets, meadow grasshoppers, Emperor dragonfly, Brown Hawker

Flowers: Agrimony (v. common), Perforate St.John’s Wort, Marsh Woundwort, Lady’s Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw, Flowering Rush, Yellow Water Lily, Purple Loosestrife, Ox-eye Daisy.

Walk, Willen Lake 4 July 2017

The  bird hide,  Willen Lake 4 July 2017

Birds: Little egret, Grey heron, Ringed plover, Common terns with young and at least two Artic Terns, Black headed gulls, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Sedge warbler, Cettis warbler, Lesser whitethroat, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, a flotilla of Coot, Tufted duck, Great crested grebe, lots of Mute swans on the lake.

Photographs and text by Julie Lane

Milton Keynes Natural History Society – new logo

Milton Keynes Natural History Society logoWe hope that you like our smart new logo which we will be using on our website, display boards and posters.

We ran a competition inviting our members to design a new logo. Paul Lund come up with the winning design.

Out thanks are due to Paul Lund for creating the design and Ian Saunders for working his magic in Photoshop.

 

Introduction to Bird Song

Song Thrush by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 30 April 2016

Song Thrush by Harry Appleyard, Howe Park Wood 30 April 2016

In recent years, a number of Society members have expressed an interest in learning how to identify bird species by sound. Here at last is the opportunity!

A three-part introductory course aimed at Milton Keynes Natural History Society members in April/Mary 2017. Each session will be based at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve and we will also include a visit to nearby Little Linford Wood. By the end of the course attendees should be able to:

• Recognise up to 20 bird species by song alone.
• Distinguish between full bird song and other vocalisations.
• Improve their listening skills.

The course will be delivered by Society Members Peter Garner and Martin Kincaid. There will be no charge for this training course. To reserve a place, or for more information, please contact Martin at mkincaid1971@outlook.com

“What’s About” is now “Recent Sightings”

Recent Sightings graphicSince the website was launched, we have posted details of recent sightings of wildlife in the Milton Keynes area. These sightings have been published as weekly news items called “What’s About”.

Our members have said that they would prefer a single page with all sightings, rather than the individual weekly news items.

From January 2017, we have introduced a new page on the website called “Recent Sightings”. You can access the page from the menu at the top – choose “News”,  then “Recent Sightings”. There is also a quick link in the right hand sidebar under the Magpie logo called “Click Here For Recent Sightings”.

Sightings are listed in date order with the most recent at the top of the list.

We hope you like this change. Please send your sightings and photos to sightings@mknhs.org.uk so that we can share them with everyone interested in wildlife in the Milton Keynes area.

The new sightings mailbox has been added to the contact form on the contact us page.