News on the Wing

June 2019 Edition

Sylvia A. Earle – @SylviaEarle
I think one of the biggest discoveries that has been made in my lifetime is recognition that humankind is absolutely dependent on the natural world.

Image

Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum – @OBGHA
Flowering in the Water Lily House is the fox nut (Euryale ferox). Native to eastern and southern Asia this prickly plant is cultivated for its seeds which are eaten as a delicacy.

Image

SEEDBALL

🐝

@seed_ball

Image

Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
If you plant it, they will come… #MakeADifference and grow a bee and butterfly garden! #nature #gardening

Image

Brigit Strawbridge Howard – @B_Strawbridge
Caught in the act! This buff tailed #bumblebee has a short tongue, so can’t reach the nectar through the flower’s entrance. Instead, she’s nibbled a hole directly into its base, and is robbing it of its nectar without pollinating it in return. This is called ‘larceny’…

Image

BTO Garden BirdWatch – @BTO_GBW
Despite suffering a large decline on a countrywide scale (shown by BBS results), Foxes are being seen more regularly within gardens. Last January saw the highest ever recording rate for Foxes in gardens, with 10% of GBW gardens reporting a Fox.

#Springwatch

Image

Butterfly Conservation – @savebutterflies
You can play your part in preventing the destruction of peatland by choosing peat-free alternatives for your garden or creating your own compost! butterfly-conservation.org/gopeatfree If buying, remember to always check the bag for #PeatFree

🌱

#Springwatch

Image

 

RSPB Scotland – @RSPBScotland
One of Scotland’s wildlife superstars, Ospreys, have us on the edge of our seats every year waiting to delight in their return and the antics that follow. RSPB Scotland’s Jen Mullen shares five facts about these impressive birds bit.ly/30Zjdqb #Springwatch

Image

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
Late May sees British hedgerows blushing a delicate pink with one of the nation’s favourite wildflowers, the #DogRose. Have you seen any beginning to flower yet? Let us know on #NaturesCalendar! woodlandtru.st/Z6euR

Image

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
The small blue #butterfly (Cupido minimus) is making a big comeback at our site of Warren Farm, Surrey, with a 20 fold increase in numbers on average over last five years! woodlandtru.st/OhShy #WTPress

Image

Barn Owl Trust – @BarnOwlTrust
Young Tawny Owls go through a phase called ‘branching’, when they walk, climb, jump & flutter around in trees at night! During this phase, it is not uncommon for owlets to spend time on the ground & they are surprisingly good climbers! Find out more here: ow.ly/3YuY50utzuF

Image

Large expansion to ‘blue belt’ of UK’s protected marine areas announced

Conservationists say protection helps stop marine-damaging activities

seahorse
Seahorses are among the species that will benefit from the new protections. Photograph: Julie Hatcher/PA

An area nearly twice the size of England will become a “blue belt” of protected waters after the government created 41 new marine conservation zones.

The short-snouted seahorse, the ocean quahog, ross worm reefs and blue mussel beds are among the species and habitats that will benefit from the new protections, although dredging and other damaging activities can only be halted in zones that lie within inshore waters, up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.

The newly-protected areas ranging from Studland Bay, near Bournemouth, to the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast in Kent will cover 4633 sq miles (12,000 sq km) of marine habitat, eight times the size of Greater London, bringing the total number of marine protected areas around the British coastline to 355.

The environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our ocean – but we know there is more to do. Establishing this latest round of marine conservation zones in this year of green action is another big step in the right direction, extending our blue belt to safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come.”

Critics have in the past dismissed marine conservation zones as “paper parks” with few creating “no-take” zones that prevent all fishing, but conservationists said these zones had begun to make a real difference, with some damaging activities halted.

Joan Edwards, director of living seas at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “They are not paper parks. Many of the sites here in Devon have had scallop dredging banned so the most damaging activities have been stopped.

“The pressure of fishing has been removed from a very large part of our seabed which is good for nature conservation, and good for fishermen because if you have areas that are left alone they will produce more fish.”

After scallop dredging was banned in Lyme Bay in 2008, the seabed’s sea fans, sunset corals and ross corals have flourished.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Indigo Buntings are long-distance migrants—they fly about 1,200 miles each way between their breeding grounds and wintering areas. ow.ly/I5zY30oRcbf

Image

Sussex Wildlife Trust – @SussexWildlife
Did you know we have seahorses in #Sussex? This short-snouted seahorse was spotted off Selsey & will now be protected by the newly-designated Selsey Bill & The Hounds Marine Conservation Zone!

Image

BirdGuides – @BirdGuides
White Storks breeding in Britain for first time in 400+ years:
White Storks nesting in West Sussex
The incubating pair at the Knepp Estate could become the first to successfully breed in England for 400 years.
birdguides.com

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

 

Think your family is strange? Meet the pair of Sandhill Cranes in Michigan raising a goose this year, documented by Jocelyn Anderson (

): ow.ly/Dudb30oJAf9

Image

 

First Common Crane chick at Wicken Fen for 120 years

A Common Crane chick has hatched at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire for the first time since the conservation charity acquired the nature reserve in 1899. However, the Trust suspects that it could actually be the first chick to be born at the reserve in more than 500 years.

Common Crane is an impressive species, with adults growing to more than a metre in height. It is on the UK’s Amber conservation list and is one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds, with only around 54 pairs recorded in 2018. There is a small nesting population in Norfolk and a reintroduction scheme has been established in the West Country. Smaller numbers have also gained toeholds in west Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in recent years, and cranes can be seen at any time of year at Wicken Fen.


The two parent Common Cranes with their young chick (Michael Holdsworth/National Trust).

Martin Lester, Countryside Manager at Wicken Fen, said: “UK cranes typically nest in wetland habitats using materials found in the area. As with most species, the female carries out most of the incubation and cares for the chicks when they’re young.

“The successful breeding of this chick is a reflection on the conservation work that we have been carrying out, particularly over the last 20 years. This work includes extending the reserve, and allowing diverse habitats to evolve that have resulted in the return of other species such as otters and water vole.”

Visitors to the reserve should be able to see the new crane family in a few weeks once the young crane grows and becomes more mobile.

 

Downloaded from BirdGuides

 

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
We want to tell you a little bit about the important journey that has led to the fantastic announcement today that the Government are designating a further 41 Marine Conservation Zones

🐙

💙

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
We are delighted that today the Government is designating a further 41 Marine Conservation Zones! These special places support the stunning diversity of marine life found in our seas

🐋

🐟

🦀

🐚

🐠

🌊

🦑

🐙

wildlifetrusts.org/news/new-wave-… #MCZs

Image

RHS Garden Wisley – @RHSWisley
We’ve exciting events in our new Wisley shop from 10th Jun.

Fiona Davison,

Tom Stuart-Smith, Mark Diacono will run demos,talks and Q&As and much more! Limited tickets available here bit.ly/2I74Es3

Image

The English Garden – @TEGmagazine
Late April to June is the best time of year to bask in the blazing beauty of rhododendrons. The following public gardens boast particularly impressive collections of the acid-loving, woodland flower: bit.ly/2IXxjC2 #gardens #ThursdayThoughts

Image

Telegraph Gardening – @TeleGardening

Image

Landscape Dept – @LandscapeSheff
“How is it possible that in a period where climate warming is one of the major issues affecting humanity that street trees are not considered a vital part of the urban ecosystem & integrated into political debate?” Discuss at 2 day conference 19 & 20 Sept: bit.ly/2K8aPyO

Image

Gardeners’ World Mag – @GWmag
Butterflies are declining and need our help. Use our garden wildlife identifier to learn how to identify species visiting your garden, and then find out what to grow for them: bit.ly/2WZXBrv

Image

SEEDBALL

🐝

@seed_ball
Why not choose a hedge over a fence – you’ll make a huge difference for wildlife! Offering food, shelter, roosting and nesting sites for birds and mammals…

Image

BBO Wildlife Trust – @BBOWT
Hitching a lift on the river Thames! Mute swan cygnet at Chimney Meadows nature reserve by Colin Williams.

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
Bilberries, rowan berries and blackberries make up much of a pine marten’s summer diet 

#SpringWatch

Image

American Bird Conservancy – @ABCbirds
This news didn’t get much attention on Twitter, it seems! Could we show some love to the 1st Blue-eyed Ground-Dove chick seen in 75 years?! #endangered #species
Quote Tweet
·
First Blue-eyed Ground-dove chick recorded dlvr.it/R5Kq8h

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Hear the staccato call of these hummingbird-sized jewels of the Caribbean. Cuban Todies are built for catching insects—and they’re unbelievably cute, too. ow.ly/fosf30m31B2

Image

Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
Creating a pond is one of the best things you can do to help wildlife. Via

🐸

💦

#garden #gardening #nature

Image

Butterfly Conservation – @savebutterflies
Rather than being pests, the vast majority of moths play important roles in the food chain and as pollinators. #MothsMatter Discover more about moths: butrfli.es/MothsBattleUnf…

Image

WWT – @WWTworldwide

Precious curlew eggs rescued from RAF airbases in a bid to help their fragile population recover > socsi.in/0wmVw

Image

Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
Planning your garden? Think like a pollinator!

Image

BTO – @_BTO
We all know that being outdoors has a great effect on your mental health, and there is science to back it, too. In this BTO News article, Dr Daniel Cox looks into how nature, and birds, affect our state of mind: bit.ly/DanielCoxNews #Springwatch

Image

Image

BTO – @_BTO
Bullfinches are widespread across the UK, but often heard before they are seen. They prefer woodlands, hedgerows and mature gardens, so you may well see these birds visit your feeders. Have you seen any around? #Springwatch #Gardenwatch

Image

Butterfly Conservation – @savebutterflies

 

Moths and their caterpillars are an important food for many other species, including amphibians, small mammals, bats and many bird species. #MothsMatter In Britain and Ireland, Blue Tits eat an estimated 50 billion moth caterpillars every year! #Springwatch

Image

BTO – @_BTO
As one of the smallest birds in the country, it’s an incredible feat that Goldcrests have clutches of 7–12 eggs! Weighing in at only 5.3 grams, they are tied for the smallest bird of Britain with the closely related Firecrest. #Springwatch

Image

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
#CowParsley, also known as ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ or ‘Mother Die’, can be seen in verges from late spring. Its less charming name was thought to deter children from picking it due to its resemblance to hemlock

woodlandtru.st/0DAWl #FolkloreThursday

Image

Dyfi Osprey Project – @DyfiOspreys
All the Bobs ready for a snack earlier this afternoon. The rain has stopped and the sun is out – great weather for growing osprey chicks.

Image

WWT – @WWTworldwide
There’s lots to love about grebes, but perhaps one of our favourite things is how they carry their tiny chicks around on their backs. The Slavonian grebe is no exception – adorable!

#Springwatch

Image

Albino panda caught on camera in China in world first

Incredibly rare animal is photographed by camera trap in the forests of Sichuan province

a rare all-white giant panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan County, southwest China’s Sichuan province
A rare all-white giant panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan County, southwest China’s Sichuan province. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A nature reserve in China has captured what is believed to be the world’s first image of an albino panda.

The Wolong national nature reserve in the south-western province of Sichuan released a photo taken in April of an all-white giant panda in the wild, crossing through a forest.

Scientists later determined the animal’s appearance – its all–white body and reddish eyes – were caused by albinism, a rare genetic condition in which there is a total or partial lack of the skin pigment melanin.

In a statement, the reserve said the panda appeared “physically strong, with a steady gait”, evidence that the condition had not affected the animal’s normal functioning.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

 

Bumblebees affected by 2018 extreme UK weather, experts say

Hot summer favoured some rare bees but the spring freeze led to a poor year for 24 species

Buff-tailed bumblebee
The buff-tailed bumblebee was among the species that suffered from the the freezing conditions in February and March 2018. Photograph: Les Moore/Bumblebee Conservation Trust/PA

Last year’s weather extremes, from snowstorms to drought, led to a tough year for many of the UK’s bumblebees, conservationists have said.

But several rare species which emerge late and love hot conditions had a very good year, a report from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust reveals.

Data collected by volunteers through the spring and summer showed that freezing conditions late February and early March, as the country was hit by the “beast from the east”, delayed the start of the 2018 bumblebee season.

Most of the 24 species of UK bumblebee got off to a slow start and only reached normal numbers in July. Experts said that suggested the queen bees were late out of hibernation and slow to produce large numbers of workers.

The hot, dry, summer caused further problems for the insects, with many species declining more quickly than normal as the year progressed and the heatwave wilted and parched flowers, reducing the amount of food for them.

 

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

 

Don’t kill moles, warns former catcher Marc Hamer at Hay festival

Author says that despite animals’ tendency to dig up lawns, they should be left alone

‘Not like The Wind in the Willows’... a mole above ground.
‘Not like The Wind in the Willows’ … a mole above ground. Photograph: David Cole/Alamy

Moles are antisocial, horribly violent, terrible parents and could not care less about your garden, but a former mole catcher has called on people to leave the creatures alone.

Marc Hamer was once the only mole catcher in south Wales and for years killed them professionally and, he stressed, humanely.

But he no longer kills them and nor should they be killed, he told Hay festival. “Moles used to be trapped in their tens of thousands; there have been mole catchers around since Roman times, but these days they are not caught so much so the population is absolutely astonishing.

“But it doesn’t matter that it’s astonishing, let them carry on with their lives, we don’t need to catch them.”

If moles are digging up your lawn then grow a wildflower meadow, he said.

Having said that, “they are horribly vicious”, he admitted. “If you pick one up, it will hiss and snarl; they are incredibly violent creatures. They don’t even like each other very much.”

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Climate crisis may be a factor in tufted puffins die-off, study says

Researchers believe 3,150 to 8,500 birds starved in Bering Sea due to loss of prey species

A tufted puffin
Tufted puffins breeding in the Bering Sea feed on fish and other marine invertebrates. Photograph: Yuri Smityuk/Tass

The death of thousands of tufted puffins in the Bering Sea may have been partly caused by the climate breakdown, according to a study.

Between 3,150 and 8,500 seabirds died over a four-month period from October 2016, with hundreds of severely emaciated carcasses washed up on the beaches of the Pribilofs Islands in the southern Bering Sea, 300 miles (480km) west of the Alaskan mainland.

Researchers believe the birds died of starvation partly caused by a loss of energy-rich prey species, which was triggered by increased sea and atmospheric temperatures, as well as reductions in winter sea ice recorded since 2014.

Tufted puffins breeding in the Bering Sea feed on fish and other marine invertebrates, which in turn feed on plankton. The loss of nutritious prey species caused by the climate crisis is also affecting populations of the Atlantic puffin around Britain and Iceland.

Researchers in the journal Plos One documented the Bering Sea “wreck”, or mass die-off, with the help of a citizen science programme in which tribal and community members on St Paul Island recovered more than 350 carcasses of adult birds in the process of moulting, a vulnerable moment in the bird’s lifecycle when they require plentiful food.

According to the study, by Timothy Jones of the citizen science Coasst programme, at the University of Washington, and Lauren Divine, from the Aleut community of St Paul Island’s ecosystem conservation office, puffins typically made up fewer than 1% of recovered carcasses in the region in previous years. In this die-off, 87% of carcasses were puffins, with the remainder being the crested auklet, another North American seabird.

 

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

BTO Garden BirdWatch – @BTO_GBW
We are so excited to share with you the new Gardenwatch survey! It is easy to take part, and your data will contribute to a huge citizen science dataset. To get started with the survey, visit bto.org/gardenwatch! #Springwatch #Gardenwatch

Image

American Bird Conservancy – @ABCbirds
Many migratory birds are on the move at night, navigating in the dark. That’s right: when you’re in bed napping, their wings are flapping. Find out why — and see more fascinating bird migration facts: bit.ly/2XcOlAk

Image

Butterfly Conservation – @savebutterflies
The UK’s moths are battling an unfair reputation. #MothsMatter Around three quarters of the UK population (74%) have some negative opinion of moths, with many people believing the majority eat clothes and are pests, a study has revealed. butrfli.es/MothsBattleUnf…

Image

RSPB – @Natures_Voice
Discover more about the most punk of all the birds, the crested tit in this new #blog from

#Springwatch bit.ly/2W3EUGS

Image

RSPB Scotland – @RSPBScotland

 

There is absolutely no doubt that capercaillie are an incredibly special species and an icon of our beautiful ancient pine forests. That’s why it’s so important to respect them and protect them bit.ly/2W7cFr0 #Springwatch

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Meet the female Rufous Hummingbird, a master nest builder. ow.ly/PZa830bkAsg

Image

BTO – @_BTO

 

The oldest ringed Pied Wagtail was 11 years, 3 months and 21 days old! These little birds rely on insects for the majority of their diet. Learn more about Pied Wagtails at bit.ly/PWagtail. #Springwatch

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
It can be tempting to interfere with cowbird eggs in host nests. But there are many reasons—legal and behavioral—to leave them alone. ow.ly/Y2S630knqsA

Image

Gardeners’ World Mag – @GWmag
The Donkeys Matter Garden designed by Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams is winner of the BBC RHS People’s Choice Award in the Artisan Garden category at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Many congratulations!

#RHSChelsea

Image

Kew Gardens – @kewgardens

 

Did you know…? The centre of Rhododendron diversity is on the border region between China, India, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. This has historically been difficult to access, but Kew (alongside

) has recently made major Rhododendron collections there.

🌺

Image

New project tackles illegal trade in vulture body parts

Across Africa, vultures are being captured and their body parts traded for belief-based use such as traditional medicine. This is putting additional pressure on a group of birds already threatened with extinction. Now, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation is tackling this complex issue head-on.

© Ben Jobson
By Oladapo Soneye

In Nigeria and across Africa, vultures are being killed so that their body parts can be used for various belief-based practices, including traditional medicine. This is a severe threat for a group of birds already beleaguered by poisoning and habitat loss.

But on the 8th of May, scientists, officials and community members gathered at Lekki Conservation Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, to launch an exciting new project to combat this threat. The title: “Combatting the West African illegal trade in threatened vultures and their parts for belief-based use.” Developed by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in partnership with BirdLife Africa and funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), this two-year project aims to tackle this complex issue at its source.

The event was attended by a series of Celebrity Vulture Ambassadors including famous musicians such as Peter Uduak, popularly known as Tito Da Fire, movie producers and actors like voice-over artist and on-air personality Seyi Asurf, producer Tope Alake and actor Mallam Shehu Kano. These ambassadors aim to raise public awareness and change minds throughout the project.

Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director-General of NCF, spoke passionately in his welcoming address, confirming that vultures are being “actively harvested” in Nigeria and across Africa for various belief-based reasons, and highlighting NCF’s work so far. This work includes raising awareness among traditional medicine practitioners of the herbal alternatives to vulture parts, as well as seeking collaboration with security agencies on law enforcement.

“Vultures are very important: they are our unpaid sanitary inspectors,” Dr Aminu-Kano said. “Some people call them garbage collectors, but they are beyond just collectors: they actually clean up the environment and prevent us from catching deadly diseases. They prevent the proliferation of pests that would otherwise feed on the carcasses. If vultures go extinct then we are in trouble.”

Dr. Beckie Garbett, Vulture Conservation Manager for Birdlife International Africa, announced ambitious plans to reduce illegal wildlife trade in Nigeria by 20% by 2021. Illegal wildlife trade has become the highest criminal revenue generator after the illicit drug trade.

Read the full article from BirdLife International here.

 

BBO Wildlife Trust – @BBOWT
Help your garden birds in the warm weather by keeping the bird bath topped up. Birds need water to drink & keep feathers in good condition

Image

BirdGuides – @BirdGuides
Rare continental herons set to nest at

this summer:

Continental herons set to nest at Burton Mere Wetlands
The RSPB has revealed that three rare species are showing signs of breeding at its Cheshire reserve this spring.
birdguides.com

Plantlife – @Love_plants
#EveryFlowerCounts is Plantlife’s brand new #CitizenScience activity, launching this #BankHolidayWeekend – simply count the number of flowers on your lawn and we’ll provide you with your own #PersonalNectarScore bit.ly/EveryFlowerCou…

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Are you visiting the beach this #MemorialDayWeekend? Don’t forget to #ShareTheShore with the many birds who call it their home. ow.ly/Arix30oOkfe

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
After a family of Piping Plovers were forced to nest in a parking lot, a Massachusetts city has made its beach safer for shorebirds: ow.ly/DY7J30oOrV0

Image

Trevor the botanist – @DrTrevorDines
These are the 24 species we’re asking people to count in #EveryFlowerCounts this #BankHolidayWeekend, but you can add any others you find to the results page on the website. Happy counting bit.ly/EveryFlowerCou…

Image

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

 

Ready to start growing bird-friendly plants? Here’s some expert advice on purchasing the right #PlantsForBirds for your home. ow.ly/QAXV30oNSg2

Image

US to strafe crucial nesting area for 3m birds with poison to eradicate mice

World’s largest albatross colony at Midway Atoll.
World’s largest albatross colony at Midway Atoll. Photograph: Andy Collins/NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean was the scene of a crucial naval battle in the second world war. It is now set for a very different sort of conflict – a bombing campaign to rid the area of mice.

The US government is moving ahead with a plan to strafe Midway with poison aimed at eradicating mice that are on a deadly rampage through one of the world’s most important sites for seabirds.

The three low-lying islands, fringing coral reefs and lagoons that make up the Midway Atoll refuge, located about 1,200 miles north-west of Honolulu, cover an area only slightly larger than New York City’s Central Park but are a crucial nesting area for around 3 million birds, including albatrosses and terns.

Over 70% of the world’s Laysan albatross are found on Midway including Wisdom, a 68-year-old creature believed to be the world’s oldest known wild bird. This year Wisdom hatched her 37th chick.

 

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

 

   Garden Design Mag – @GardenDesignMag

 

Let us help you grow beautiful, healthy #peonies in your #garden with our in-depth peony guide: ow.ly/eew750un6A0 ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is a late-blooming herbaceous #peony in Zones 3-8. Makes for a great cut #flower and is blooming now! Photo by Willard & May #bloomingnow

Image

 

Why wildflowers matter

https://www.growwilduk.com/sites/default/files/styles/default_image_style_compressive/public/media/Wildflower-strip-along-side-of-road-960-x-450.gif?itok=aHRJ0cPL

Why is Grow Wild so worked up about wildflowers? And UK native ones at that. Here we try to explain what makes them so important.

Why are wildflowers so special?

Wildflowers and wildflower-rich habitats support insects and other wildlife.

In the UK, we need a wide range of wildflowers to provide pollinators (bees and other insects that pollinate plants) with local food sources across the seasons – including times when crops aren’t producing flowers.

Many of our favourite fruits, vegetables and nuts rely on insect pollination. For example, in the UK strawberries, raspberries, cherries and apples need to be pollinated by insects to get a good crop.

Currently, the insects do this job for free! But if the UK doesn’t have a large enough insect population we may need to develop artificial pollination methods, which takes a lot of time and is expensive.

As many gardeners know, insects and other animals can also help in the fight against crop pests (animals and insects that damage crops and plants). This means that farmers may have to rely even more heavily on pesticides if these ‘good’ animals and insects can’t help.

Wildflowers also contribute to scientific and medical research. Some UK native wildflowers contain compounds which can be used in drugs to treat diseases. For example, foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) contain chemicals used to treat heart conditions. If we were to lose wildflower species, we could lose potential new medicines.

Just as importantly, perhaps, wildflowers are beautiful and provide us with habitats that buzz with life.

There are also strong cultural bonds that exist with recognisable species such as poppies, which remind us of lives lost in world wars, or of dandelions which may remind us of childhood summers.

How do wildflowers help the environment?

Wildflowers provide lots of things that insects need: food in the form of leaves, nectar and pollen, also shelter and places to breed. In return, insects pollinate the wildflowers, enabling them to develop seeds and spread to grow in other places.

The insects themselves are eaten by birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals, all of whom contribute to the cycle of life.

During winter when there is less food available, wildflower seeds can also be an important food source for birds and small mammals.

Wildflowers can also be really helpful to keep soil healthy. When wildflowers become established and spread their roots, they stabilise the surrounding soil.

This means that when there is a lot of rainfall, or irrigation in fields used to grow crops, soil particles and nutrients stored in the ground stick around and the soil stays healthy. This is especially important on hillsides, where sloping ground is easily washed away if there aren’t root systems to hold the soil in place.

Without plants like wildflowers that stabilise the soil, nutrients can get washed away into nearby water systems. This causes a problem called ‘eutrophication’, where algae spread and can make the water toxic to marine animals.

Close up of bright yellow corn marigolds and purple blue cornflowers in a field

What is the difference between UK native wildflowers and other kinds of wildflowers?

A UK native wildflower species is one which is naturally found in the UK, rather than a species which has been introduced from somewhere else, usually by humans.

When the glaciers melted after the last ice age – around 10,000 years ago – these are the species that recolonised the land. However it can be difficult to determine whether a species is truly ‘native’.

Once a species has developed a self-sustaining population, that is once it can continue to grow and reproduce without help, it is considered ‘naturalised’.

Any species that was brought into the UK before 1500 AD (around the time Henry the Eighth became King of England) and has become naturalised is called an archaeophyte.

Any species naturalised after 1500 AD is called a neophyte. And any species that is non-naturalised, or ‘alien’ is called a casual species.

It’s not always obvious if a wildflower is native or non-native by looking at it. But by knowing the name of the species, it’s possible to look up its native distribution (the geographical area in which it is native).

But what’s so great about native wildflowers?

Native wildflowers have grown and evolved for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years here in the climate and environment of the UK.

This means that they have evolved alongside other native wildlife and organisms, often benefiting each other.

For example, many native wildflowers have flower shapes, sizes, colours and the time when they bloom that are attractive to UK pollinators. Some insects, such as some bumblebee species, are very picky about where they get their food and need certain UK native wildflower species to survive.

Native wildflower species have also adapted to environmental conditions here in the UK, so they can be easier to care for than non-natives.

Close up of bright red poppies in a field

What is wrong with non-native wildflowers?

There is nothing ‘wrong’ with non-native wildflowers, but they can have a negative impact on the native wildflowers that are already growing here.

For example, if new species bring diseases, or are competitive for resources like water, space or pollination by insects, the native species can suffer.

Non-native species can also be very difficult to remove once they have developed self-sustaining populations. Therefore, if they are allowed to grow and spread, they can out-compete native plants and threaten local wildflower populations.

Non-native species can ‘hybridise’ (cross-breed) with natives, which over time can dilute the adaptations that natives species have evolved, losing the benefits that a native species provides.

This is the case with the UK native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the introduced Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica). It is now rare to find areas where only the UK native species of bluebell exists.

Close up of bright yellow dandelions with houses in the background

What is the difference between UK native wildflowers and weeds?

Weeds are just plants that are in the wrong place! Invasive, or problematic, weeds are plants that spread quickly and compete with the plants you are trying to grow.

Find out more about weeds from our What is a Weed Anyway? campaign

A lot of UK native wildflowers aren’t competitive enough to be considered problematic weeds, as other species tend to be the first to take over.

That said, there are some native wildflower ‘weeds’. For example, many consider the UK native dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) to be a weed, since their plants spread quickly and can be difficult to remove.

However, dandelion flowers are an important source of food for bees and other pollinators early in the season, as they are one of the earlier-flowering species. So perhaps we should not judge them too harshly!

Many wildflowers grow in crops (known as ‘arable’ wildflowers or ‘cornfield annuals’) are considered to be weeds because they can reduce crop yields and their seeds can contaminate harvests.

However, modern seed cleaning techniques and chemical herbicides have almost wiped out many arable wildflower species, such as corn buttercup and red hemp-nettle. On farmland, wildflowers are now mostly confined to field margins or dedicated wildflower areas.

So how can I help UK native wildflowers?

First of all, help us spread the word about why they’re important! Share this page with your friends and followers. Pick your favourite fact and share it with a stranger.

Large wildflower meadows of UK native species are the best thing for supporting insects and animals, however it is clearly unrealistic to create these in urban areas!

Some pollinators can’t travel too far to find food so it’s really important that there are food sources and refuges dotted around for them to visit. This is especially important in urban areas where the environment is often grey, with few sources of pollen and nectar. It really is a case of every little helps.

Green spaces in urban areas can also help our health and wellbeing, so growing wildflowers in small spaces can also benefit us, as individuals and as a community.

 

Extracted from Grow Wild UK.

 

Seven-mile ‘bee corridor’ coming to London to boost declining population

A seven-mile “bee corridor” of vibrant wildflowers is being planted to encourage the insect’s population in London.

The pathway for bees will be formed of 22 meadows sown through parks and green spaces in the north west of the capital.

These will be in place in time for summer according to Brent council, which says it hopes the move will halt the decline in biodiversity in the borough.

A recent study showed a massive decline in pollinating insect numbers in the UK since the 1980s, with the decline of wildflowers attributed as one factor behind this.

The corridor will be seven miles long (Brent Council)

The flowers will not only benefit bees but can also support other insects as well as species such as butterflies, dragonflies and moths.

Councillor Krupa Sheth, who is Brent Council’s lead member for environment, said: “Bees and other insects are so important for pollinating the crops that provide the food that we eat. We must do all we can to help them to thrive.”

While Kelly Eaton, public Realm Policy, said: “We wanted to do our bit to boost biodiversity.

“The Parks team curated the mix of wildflowers with bees and other insects in mind, choosing varieties that would attract these pollinators.”

Krupa Sheth sowing seeds for the corridor, which is being prepared for summer (Brent Council)

Worldwide bee numbers have been on the decline in recent years and scientists blame a range of factors.

These include insecticides called neonicotinoids, parasites, disease, climate change and lack of a diverse food supply.

Bees are critical pollinators and food making up about a third of the human diet is from plants that are pollinated by insects.

Downloaded from the Evening Standard here.
Gardeners’ World Mag – @GWmag
It’s easy to save seeds from hardy annuals such as calendula. We show you how: bit.ly/2JYinUv

Image

Thousands of HS2 newly planted trees died in drought

Dead trees

Thousands of saplings planted around HS2 have died after they were not watered

Thousands of trees planted along the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) route will have to be replaced after saplings were not watered in last summer’s drought.

Up to 350,000 saplings have so far been planted near the £56bn train line, but two Warwickshire farmers think up to 80% on their land have died.

HS2 said replacing the dead trees was more “cost effective” than watering them.

Campaign groups branded it an “environmental disaster.”

HS2 said the trees died because of last year’s hottest summer on record, and it planned to replant them later this year.

A total of seven million new trees – a mix of oak, hazel, dogwood and holly – are being planted to compensate for the loss of woodland as part of the HS2 programme.

Read the full article from the BBC here.

National biodiversity data centre seeks to turn tide of wildlife decline

Biodiversity is more than a concept – it’s a revelation of what the world could look like

The Green-Veined White butterfly, now  in moderate decline in Ireland. Photograph: Dr Liam Lysaght.

The Green-Veined White butterfly, now in moderate decline in Ireland. Photograph: Dr Liam Lysaght.

Most people walking alongside the restored pond on the Castletown estate in Co Kildare would barely notice the tiny purple wildflower beneath their feet, but for butterfly recorder Pat Bell it provides an important clue to what we might see next.

“It’s a cuckoo flower, also known as ladysmock or cardamine,” he says, bending down to examine it more closely. “The Orange Tip butterfly lays its eggs on the flowers. Butterflies are quite fussy. The Common Blue only lays its eggs on bird’s-foot trefoil.”

It’s early in the season, so there are no eggs yet. But a cloudless blue sky and a temperature of 17 degrees means it’s a good day to spot butterflies, and soon we see an Orange Tip fluttering over a stretch of meadow. It’s a butterfly that’s easy for a novice recorder to spot: it’s white with an orange tip. On a mud beach on the Liffey nearby, we see a small white butterfly, its delicate wings streaked with green – a Green -Veined White. It’s “puddling”, Bell explains, taking in minerals from the mud. Two Peacock butterflies rise up from a warm rock where these cold-blooded creatures have been taking in heat to kick-start their day.

This is the first of five monitoring walks that Bell will do on the Castletown estate this summer, as part of his contribution to the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Butterfly Atlas Project. He also does a regular walk every week along the Royal Canal between April and September. Bell is one of several thousand citizen scientists helping the centre to monitor Ireland’s wildlife.

Butterflies aren’t just beautiful – they’re a significant food source for other animals, including birds, as well as important indicators of habitat loss, soil enrichment and climate change. Since 1990, warmth-loving butterflies have shifted northwards across Europe by 114km, and butterfly populations have declined by 30 per cent.

Read the full article from The Irish Times here.

   Graham Appleton – @GrahamFAppleton

Worried about the lack of local Swallows. Just downloaded some

reporting rate graphs. Bit of a worrying trend here: birdtrack.net #ornithology

Image

Ireland’s biodiversity needs intensive care

Earth’s organs are showing signs of failure and the prognosis could not be more serious

A million animal and plant species  are threatened with extinction – more than at any other time in human history

A million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction – more than at any other time in human history

In our hyper health-conscious times, it’s hard to imagine anyone advocating a lifestyle that encourages people to smoke too much, drink too much, never exercise and gorge on junk food all week. Acts of deliberate self-poisoning, bodily degradation and organ destruction are more frowned upon than they have ever been. Meanwhile, the number of steps you are taking each day is a legitimate conversation topic and almost everyone (myself included) is either on, or promising to soon be on, some form of health kick. It hasn’t always been this way. What happened?
The big thing, I think, is that we got informed. We learned about the effects of certain lifestyles and the ill health they set in store for us later in life, and a lot of us changed – or are trying to change – our behaviour. The benchmark of social acceptability on smoking and binge drinking at least has shifted substantially. How long will it be before a similar shift takes place for nature?
The most comprehensive triage ever undertaken on global ecology was released earlier this month by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It told us in stark and unqualified terms that our land, freshwaters and oceans – and the species that live in, on and under them – are not healthy. They’re malnourished from exploitation, morbidly obese with fertiliser, poisoned with biocides and diseased with invasive alien species, and all the while trying to keep pace with increasingly unstable weather patterns.
Collapse
The prognosis couldn’t be more serious. The organs of the Earth are showing signs of failure, and there is no transplant, no planetary dialysis machine, no intergalactic surgical wizardry that can fix them. Ecosystems and biodiversity are as important to human society as a heart, liver, kidneys and lungs are to you. Yet it’s us that’s causing this worldwide biological systems collapse, despite the fact that our own lives – our food, jobs, homes, governance, security and everything else – quite literally depend on their health.
Read the full article from The Irish Times here.

British spring wildlife in pictures

When the puffins land onto breeding islands in April, they’re often a little nervous as they return and check their burrows. This puffin was walking in and out of burrows for almost 10 minutes- maybe he had forgotten which was his! © Danielle Connor

About the photographers

Young Wildlife Photographers UK is an exciting project unveiling wildlife and nature photography and stories to a broader audience. Social networking is our tool to expose young talent and the next generation of British wildlife photographers.

This project isn’t just about photography but also to show that young people are still keen to be in touch with nature and are eager to conserve and protect it.

The project aims to reveal compelling and striking photography of the natural world in the eyes of young people, to share inspirational stories and powerful images that uncover nature or address a strong conservation issue.

To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.

This is a local vixen I came to know as Rosie, she was very relaxed with me taking her portrait and was always a humbling experience. © Samuel Horne
This is a local vixen I came to know as Rosie, she was very relaxed with me taking her portrait and was always a humbling experience. © Samuel Horne
This photo was the product of dozens of visits to the same site, as I repeatedly tried to recreate the image in my mind of a mute swan with a gosling swimming past some spring vegetation! © Matt Livesey
This photo was the product of dozens of visits to the same site, as I repeatedly tried to recreate the image in my mind of a mute swan with a gosling swimming past some spring vegetation! © Matt Livesey
Whilst I was a volunteer on Lundy island, I spent my free time photographing and filming seabirds underwater, to show how superbly adapted they are to diving to catch. It was an absolutely mind-boggling experience to be surrounded by guillemots diving underwater in the epic sunset light! © Joshua Harris
Whilst I was a volunteer on Lundy island, I spent my free time photographing and filming seabirds underwater, to show how superbly adapted they are to diving to catch. It was an absolutely mind-boggling experience to be surrounded by guillemots diving underwater in the epic sunset light! © Joshua Harris 
One thing I’ve never got round to investing in is an angled viewfinder attachment for super low level photography. Taking this shot meant angling my head really awkwardly just to be able to roughly compose it. I only realised after that I’d captured a spider hanging down from the bluebell’s petals. A welcome surprise. © Yusuf Akhtar
One thing I’ve never got round to investing in is an angled viewfinder attachment for super low level photography. Taking this shot meant angling my head really awkwardly just to be able to roughly compose it. I only realised after that I’d captured a spider hanging down from the bluebell’s petals. A welcome surprise. © Yusuf Akhtar 
With lots of time off after my finals in Exeter I spent a lot of time in the Topsham bird hide, my efforts paid off on a still evening (perfect for reflections) when this heron was fishing close by!” © Olly Johnson
With lots of time off after my finals in Exeter I spent a lot of time in the Topsham bird hide, my efforts paid off on a still evening (perfect for reflections) when this heron was fishing close by!” © Olly Johnson
This vixen was walking slowly towards me. I wanted to create something interesting with the pink spring flowers. I crouched down and manually focused onto the vixen, creating the pink effect. © Danielle Connor
This vixen was walking slowly towards me. I wanted to create something interesting with the pink spring flowers. I crouched down and manually focused onto the vixen, creating the pink effect. © Danielle Connor
Gannet in flight’- photographed at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, thousands of Gannets can be seen soaring through the air following their fishing trips. © Alex Permain
Gannet in flight’- photographed at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, thousands of Gannets can be seen soaring through the air following their fishing trips. © Alex Permain
This photo I find to be very comical from the expression on the deer's face, almost asking me who are you, or can I help!? © Samuel Horne
This photo I find to be very comical from the expression on the deer’s face, almost asking me who are you, or can I help!? © Samuel Horne
I found this Carrion Crow foraging among a flowerbed. I used the colours of the flowers to contrast with the monotone black of the crow. © Gideon Knight
I found this carrion crow foraging among a flowerbed. I used the colours of the flowers to contrast with the monotone black of the crow. © Gideon Knight 
“Throughout the spring and early summer of 2018, I spent my evenings photographing a local badger sett. Over the weeks I began to work out their behaviour and, working with the evening light, was subsequently able to capture close up images of the young cubs. This was the view one evening as I sat a mere couple of metres away from two of the cubs as they emerged to start foraging.
“Throughout the spring and early summer of 2018, I spent my evenings photographing a local badger sett. Over the weeks I began to work out their behaviour and, working with the evening light, was subsequently able to capture close up images of the young cubs. This was the view one evening as I sat a mere couple of metres away from two of the cubs as they emerged to start foraging. © Toby Pickard 
I’ve always admired the bluebells in a local wood a short drive from my house, but last spring I decided to try and get some shots of birds perched with the flowers in the background and foreground – only one bird cooperated with my efforts, but I was more than happy with this robin! © Matt Livesey
I’ve always admired the bluebells in a local wood a short drive from my house, but last spring I decided to try and get some shots of birds perched with the flowers in the background and foreground – only one bird cooperated with my efforts, but I was more than happy with this robin! © Matt Livesey
During late evening, this short-eared owl was making its final hunting trip of the day; patrolling the coastal plains looking for her next meal. © Alex Permain
During late evening, this short-eared owl was making its final hunting trip of the day; patrolling the coastal plains looking for her next meal. © Alex Permain
I was out walking on a warm spring day at a nearby lake when I came across this damselfly perched on a tall blade of grass sticking out over the path. Luckily it was far out enough from the background to be able to isolate it alongside a tip of another blade of grass. © Yusuf Akhtar
I was out walking on a warm spring day at a nearby lake when I came across this damselfly perched on a tall blade of grass sticking out over the path. Luckily it was far out enough from the background to be able to isolate it alongside a tip of another blade of grass. © Yusuf Akhtar
When the puffins land onto breeding islands in April, they’re often a little nervous as they return and check their burrows. This puffin was walking in and out of burrows for almost 10 minutes- maybe he had forgotten which was his! © Danielle Connor
When the puffins land onto breeding islands in April, they’re often a little nervous as they return and check their burrows. This puffin was walking in and out of burrows for almost 10 minutes- maybe he had forgotten which was his! © Danielle Connor
Spring and early summer sees the emergence of foxes from their dens as their young gain confidence. Bristol is home to a large population of urban foxes and the lighter evenings allow for some great photographic opportunities - this was my view of a young adult fox after spending an hour or two with it as it wandered around the local park at dusk. © Toby Pickard
Spring and early summer sees the emergence of foxes from their dens as their young gain confidence. Bristol is home to a large population of urban foxes and the lighter evenings allow for some great photographic opportunities – this was my view of a young adult fox after spending an hour or two with it as it wandered around the local park at dusk. © Toby Pickard

Downloaded from DiscoverWildlife

Great places to see wildlife in the UK: readers’ travel tips

Wildlife can thrive in city centres, as well as in reserves, wild moors and remote islands; you just need to know what to look out for, say our tipsters

Reedbeds, bird hide and Thames inlet on Rainham Marsh, Essex.
Estuary sanctuary … Essex’s Rainham marshes RSPB reserve is on the north bank of the Thames. Photograph: MS Bretherton/Alamy

Winning tip: Rainham, Essex

Cuckoos, kingfishers, water voles, marsh harriers, seals and fantastic views from the coffee shop: inside the M25! Take a bow, Rainham RSPB reserve. A two-mile walk around the reserve (which is only a 20-minute stroll from Purfleet station) yields rich rewards, and even spectacular views of Eurostar trains. Spring is particularly noisy, with warblers of all sorts, and winter, with large flocks of lapwings and a gazillion ducks, is spectacular. There are also rare bearded tits, comfortable hides, simple walking, kids’ events and a great coffee shop with a small playground. The Thames views are wonderful: the sun filling the cafeteria, which has huge windows over the reserve and the river with basking seals, makes one forget the nearby big smoke.
rspb.org.uk
Dan

Peak District, near Oldham, Greater Manchester

A mountain hare amid heather, high on the moors.
A mountain hare amid heather, high on the moors. Photograph: Karen Miller Photography/Alamy

Dove Stone Reservoir on the edge of the Peak District is easily accessible from Manchester including by train (nearby Greenfield station is on the Huddersfield-Manchester Piccadilly line). A gentle 2½-mile loop around the reservoir makes for a delightful amble, with offshoots offering additional paths to extend your day out, such as a 1½-mile trail that leads up through the hills to Chew Reservoir. Bring a picnic, pop yourself down at one of the tables dotted around the tree-lined way, and keep an eye and an ear out for some fabulous birds at this RSPB protected reserve – look out for ravens, curlew, golden plover and peregrines. On the moors, mountain hares can be seen. It’s free to visit..
rspb.org.uk
Megan R

See all the great places to see wildlife in the UK listed in The Guardian’s article here.

 

  Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
From bughotels to hedgehog homes to toad abodes, some ideas for getting the kids out into the garden to create havens for mammals, insects and amphibians: bit.ly/2gBqHdd #nature #wildlife

Image

   The Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs & Northants – @wildlifebcn

Celebrate #wasps (yes, wasps!) in all their beautiful glory this spring. They are an essential part of the ecosystem – and you can learn how to tell the different species apart by their faces. Lord of the Stings: ow.ly/UUBz50ule79

Image

BOU – @IBIS_journal

ANNOUNCING

has moved to double-blind peer-review. We know there are pros and cons with any review system, but we feel that moving to double-blind is a step towards minimising the bias in the peer-review process within our #ornithology community.

Image

   Brigit Strawbridge Howard – @B_Strawbridge
Hi there! My name is Borage. I’m easy to grow from seed, have a long flowering season & refill with nectar every few minutes. I’m not fussy about what kind of soil you plant me in, & when I come to the end of my flowering season I self seed. Bees & other #pollinators love me 🙂

Image

Value farmers if you want to save bees

We need new agricultural policies to encourage biodiversity, says Jean McKendree, while Morris Bradley congratulates the Guardian for changing how it talks about the climate
Letters
Honey bee on flower

‘If we value farmers as custodians of our land, they will respond by making it a better place for all of us, insect and human,’ writes Jean McKendree. Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

Saving bees and other insects is indeed a vital goal for the world (Journal, 18 May). Farming practices do need to change and there are many innovative farmers in the UK who are working hard to improve biodiversity as they provide food for the nation.

We need to ensure that new policies encourage good practice and support farmers. Regenerative farming using diverse crop rotations, no-till planting, use of indigenous seeds and management of livestock grazing to reproduce natural landscape management can reduce or eliminate the need for pesticides and artificial fertilisers while restoring healthy soil. But the transition can take years before the farmers reap the benefits.

We must fight not only for funding set-aside land for wildlife, but for research into natural management of pests like flea beetle and black grass, valorising agricultural waste more effectively, financing training and infrastructure for farmers, and rewarding innovation.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Garden feeders are supporting rising numbers of urban birds

More than half of British homeowners feed birds, maintaining 133 species

Goldfinches on a bird feeder filled with sunflower hearts
Goldfinches on a bird feeder filled with sunflower hearts in West Sussex on a snowy day in January. Photograph: Ian West/Alamy

The increasingly appetising buffet provided for garden birds, from sunflower hearts to suet cakes, is supporting a rising number and greater diversity of species in Britain’s urban areas, according to research.

In the 1970s, half of all birds using garden feeders belonged to just two species, the sparrow and starling, but by the 2010s the number of species making up the same proportion had tripled, with goldfinches, woodpigeons and long-tailed tits soaring in number because of the food on offer.

At least half of British homeowners feed garden birds and researchers writing in Nature Communications found they support 133 bird species – more than half of the country’s species – and are reshaping urban bird populations.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

 

   Wetland Bird Survey – @WeBS_UK

A reminder there is just over a week to apply for the WeBS Counter Network Organiser post here at the

Image

  Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
Wildlife bridges and corridors can help plants and animals move between fragmented habitats. The UK really needs many more of these! (Photo from Switzerland) RT

#wildlife #nature

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

Barred Owls are the most vocal owls in North America. Have you heard any of these calls in the wild? ow.ly/zcC53097eQH

Image

   RSPB – @Natures_Voice

With your help we can help give swifts a home for life. Be a part of something special to save these iconic birds. bit.ly/2VEfyPN

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Nature’s freezer may be breaking down as temperatures warm—bad news for species like the Canada Jay that store their own frozen foods. ow.ly/hVrJ30oK4q0

Image

 

Dredger damaged Loch Carron reef secures protected status

Diver in Loch Carron
Open Seas.  Recreational divers exposed the damage in Loch Carron after the 2017 incident

A fragile flame shell reef which was severely damaged by scallop dredging on Scotland’s north west coast has been granted permanent protection.

Ministers had issued a temporary order banning mobile fishing on Loch Carron in Wester Ross after the 2017 incident.

Divers who visited the reef, which is a nursery ground for scallops, found the area had been “intensively” dredged.

But it now officially has Marine Protected Area (MPA) status which safeguards 23 sq km of the sea loch.

‘Unsung heroes’

Phil Taylor, head of policy at environmental group Open Seas, described the initial devastation as a “wake-up call”.

He added: “These divers are unsung heroes – by showing the damage that is being done to our seabed, they have raised huge political and public awareness of the problem.

“However, Loch Carron is just one small area, and over the past few decades the same degradation has happened elsewhere in our seas.

“We urgently need to regenerate all of our coastal seas – safeguarding seabed habitats will deliver a sustainable long term future for our rural economy and communities.”

Flame shell
Image copyright SNH/Scottish government
Image caption Loch Carron is home to millions of flame shells

Damaged reef

Image copyright Chris Rickard
Image caption Images of the damaged reef captured two years ago

The MPA for Loch Carron, which comes into force on Sunday, means fishermen operating trawlers or dredging boats will not be able to fish.

It will mirror the area covered by existing emergency closure, with the exception of Plockton harbour where there is no evidence of a reef.

Open Seas has been calling for dredging to be banned around Scotland’s coast because of the damaging impact it can have on the sea bed.

But fishing organisations have argued the move is unnecessary and that existing protections are enough.

Loch Carron is home to the world’s largest-known flame shell bed with an estimate 250 million brightly-coloured molluscs.

The scallop dredger which caused the damage was not operating illegally since the area had no protected designation.

But it left the sea bed littered with broken shells and led to calls for dredging to be banned completely.

Read the full article from the BBC here.
  IUCN Red List – @IUCNRedList
Thousands of species are at risk of extinction – find out more about them | ow.ly/gYf550ug4gf #EndangeredSpeciesDay

Image

Rewilding Britain

Read the full article here.

Rewilding vs climate breakdown

We face a climate emergency. 

We need the heating of the planet to be kept below 1.5C to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate breakdown.

It’s no longer enough just to reduce carbon emissions. We also need to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Nature is our greatest ally in locking carbon away and protecting our climate. Rewilding can help nature recover on a massive scale and shape a better future for people.

Report:
REWILDING & CLIMATE BREAKDOWN: HOW RESTORING NATURE CAN DECARBONISE THE UK

Our country is rich is potentially climate-breakdown-busting habitats, including peat bogs, heathland, woodland and marine ecosystems.

This new report outlines the potential for nature-based changes in our land use to reduce emissions and begin drawing carbon back out of the atmosphere.

 

Read the report

Britain’s unique role

Britain’s land and seas have a unique part to play in the global effort to stop climate breakdown. 

We are potentially rich in climate breakdown-busting habitats, including:

Peatland

Healthy peat soaks up carbon as it forms over centuries. Britain has 13% of the world’s peat – but 80% is damaged and needs restoration.

For every hectare, peatland absorbs the equivalent of around 3.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Woodland

Much of our land would naturally support trees that absorb carbon – but at 13% we have some of the lowest tree cover in Europe.

For every hectare, woodland can absorb an average equivalent of around 12.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Wetland

Mosaics of ponds, fenland and lakes can support so much wildlife, and store carbon. The return of beavers could bring back additional benefits.

For every hectare, wetlands can absorb an average equivalent of around 5.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Marine

The seas around Britain and their hidden meadows of seagrass can draw in carbon – if we can give them real protection, not just on paper.

For every hectare, marine environments can absorb an average equivalent of around 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Investing in nature’s recovery

Investing in nature’s recovery can help us hold the heating of the planet below 1.5C.

Those who manage our land and seas should be supported for the important role they play in reducing carbon.

And this doesn’t need to be a choice between feeding ourselves and nature. We already have large areas of land that produce little food.

A world leader in climate solutions

Britain should become a world leader in natural climate solutions. 

We can show the way in responding to the climate emergency.

To enable nature’s recovery on a massive scale and help stop climate breakdown, we are calling on the UK governments to make the political and financial commitment this deserves.

Those who manage our land and seas should be supported to come together to rewild land and seascapes that deliver carbon reductions.

Leaving it to the market alone will take too long. We also need a mandatory carbon pricing mechanism to curb emissions and help fund natural climate solutions.

We are calling on the UK governments to make a political and financial commitment to enable nature’s recovery on a massive scale and help stop climate breakdown.

 

   Raptor Persecution – @RaptorPersScot

Image

   Patrick Barkham – @patrick_barkham

Eriksberg Estate, Southern Sweden, is 2,300 acres of rewilding – bison, wild boar, red deer, wetlands. Loads of small predators and loads of ground-nesting birds. Occasional lynx jumps in over fence. Rewilding was “invented” in 1990s; prescient Bengt Berg founded this in 1938!

Image

Image

Image

Image

  Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust

“‘A Moss-woman!’ the hay-makers cry, And over the fields in terror they fly. She is loosely clad from neck to foot In a mantle of Moss from the Maple’s root, And like Lichen grey on its stem that grows Is the hair that over her mantle flows.” #FolkloreThursday

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Today marks our 107th birthday! On 16th May 1912 Charles Rothschild gathered his friends together to create a new society – the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR)

🎂

🌱

🌻

Image

Rutland Osprey Project celebrates 150th chick

The Rutland Osprey Project has celebrated a major milestone in the form of the 150th chick to be born since the scheme began.

The project, which is a partnership between Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and Anglian Water, has successfully restored a population of Western Ospreys to central England since the first chick was successfully reared in 2001.

Ospreys were wiped out in England by persecution – through egg-collection and taxidermy – and by habitat loss. They were lost as a breeding species in England in the 1840s, even though they had once been widely distributed across areas such as the Fens.

Between 1996 and 2001, 64 six-week-old Scottish ospreys were released at Rutland Water. The first translocated bird returned to breed at its adopted home in 2001 and the number of breeding pairs has gradually increased since then. There are now 25 ospreys in the area, including eight breeding pairs.


Adult Western Osprey at Rutland Water (Brian Anderson).

Maya and her mate, ’33’, proud parents to the landmark 150th chick, have been breeding together at Manton Bay since 2015, and in that time have successfully reared 10 chicks. Maya was the first osprey to return to Rutland Water this season, arriving two days later than in 2018, on 14 March. ’33’ took his time, returning uncharacteristically later than usual on 23 March. The first of four eggs was laid on 2 April and both parents have been incubating devotedly over the past month. Their third chick to hatch this year brings the total up to 150.

Read the full article from BirdGuides here.

 

  Spurn Bird Obs – @spurnbirdobs

Huge thanks to the irreplaceable volunteer team from

who once again came down to help us set up the electric fence around the Little Tern colony this year. Now, it’s all down to the terns and our wardens Sandy and Mick! Fingers crossed for a good season #spurnbirds

Image

BirdLife Europe – @BirdLifeEurope

Thanks to EU nature laws, all wild birds in Europe are protected. Secure their future and vote for a Europe that will always keep them safe #EUElections2019

#IvoteNature #EUGreenWeek

Image

BirdLife Europe – @BirdLifeEurope
Thanks to the EU single-use plastics will be banned by 2021. Vote for a Europe that will continue protecting our oceans #IvoteNature #OceanAlert #EUGreenWeek

Image

   Little Green Space

🐝

@LGSpace
Please say no to poisonous slug pellets, pesticides and weedkillers. Hedgehogs hoover up over 100 invertebrates, such as snails, slugs, worms every night! Pic via

#wildlife #garden

Image

  BirdLife Europe – @BirdLifeEurope

 

Eu forests are in danger. Biomass power plants threaten French forests. Ancient forests are being destroyed in Romania. There’s logging on indigenous lands in Finland & Sweden. The EU can help protect forests. Vote for what you love in #EUelections2019

#IvoteNature #EUGreenWeek

Image

Sussex Wildlife Trust

🐸

@SussexWildlife
Who loves daisies? RT

: The Common Daisy is at peak flowering now, but cos it’s widespread & flowers most of the year, we often overlook it. From Old English ‘daes eag’ meaning ‘day’s eye’, cos it opens at dawn

Image

Image

British Dragonfly Society – @BDSdragonflies

 

#TravelTuesday took our England officers to

for a catch up. Beautiful wetland reserve in #Nottingham with around 20 species of dragonfly. They saw loads of Banded Demoiselle, newly emerged Common Blue Damselfly and Azure Damselfly today

☀️

🐉

Well worth a visit!

Image

Image

Image

Image

10 amazing facts about nightingales and the best places to see them

(Downloaded from: https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/facts-about-nightingale/ )

Slightly larger than a robin, the nightingale is well-known for its lilting, beautiful song but can be surprisingly hard to spot. 

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, perched in tree

Nightingale singing in a tree © Andy Hay

1 Why do nightingales sing at night?

Male nightingales that sing throughout the night are thought to be single birds, trying to serenade migrating females down as they fly over.

2 When do nightingales arrive in spring?

The date when nightingales arrive in the UK is getting significantly earlier, probably due to climate change. For example, the average first nightingale record in Sussex during 1962-93 was 13 April but in 2006-15 was 4 April.

3 Do male and female nightingales sing?

The nightingale and its song is often quoted in literature and poetry as a metaphor for love, beauty and for poetry itself. However these frequently refer to the singing nightingale as a female when it is actually the male that sings.

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, singing from a hawthorn bush, Minsmere, Suffolk, May
Nightingale singing in a hawthorn bush at RSPB Minsmere. © John Bridges

4 Where do nightingales nest?

You might expect a nightingale – a bird of thickets and woodland – to nest in trees, but it builds its nest on or just above ground level.

5 Where do nightingales go in winter?

In 2009, for the first time, some British nightingales were fitted with tiny geolocators. One was re-caught in the UK in 2010, revealing its 4828km outwards journey to wintering grounds in Guinea, West Africa.

6 What do nightingales eat?

Nightingales feed mainly on insects, mainly through foraging on the ground, and in particular are partial to ants and beetles.

7 Are nightingales getting rarer?

Nightingales are estimated to have declined by 90 per cent in the last 50 years, thought to be due to a mix of factors, including climate change but also increased numbers of deer nibbling away all the dense woodland understorey, which the nightingales need to feed and nest in (see fact 4!).

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, side view on branch
Nightingale in a tree. © Andy Hay

8  What threats do nightingales face?

As well as the large-scale issues listed above, nightingales have also faced other threats in the past. In the 19th century, birdcatchers caught large numbers of nightingales for the cagebird trade to try and ‘capture’ its song. Most quickly succumbed in captivity; those that survived until autumn often killed themselves, dashed against the cage bars as they tried to follow their migratory urge.

9  The first song on the radio

The first ever live radio broadcast of birdsong was of a nightingale in ‘concert’ with the cellist, Beatrice Harrison, on 19 May 1924 in Oxted, Surrey. It and repeat performances, on the same date in subsequent years, were so successful that Beatrice received 50,000 fan letters.

10  What makes a nightingale’s song so special?

Nightingales have an astonishingly rich repertoire, able to produce over 1000 different sounds, compared with just 340 by skylarks and about 100 by blackbirds. This is because the part of the brain responsible for creating sound is bigger in nightingales than in most other birds.

Common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing in spring woodland
Common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing in spring woodland. © Bouke Atema/Getty

Where to see nightingales in the UK

In Britain, nightingales favour scrub, often near water, and open or coppiced woodland. They occur south of a line from the Severn to the Humber, and are scarce birds nowadays – so you’re unlikely to encounter them away from favoured haunts.

Here are the ten places you are most likely to hear the birds. Many are nature reserves and offer guided nightingale walks between late April and early June.

1 Fingringhoe Wick, Essex (Essex Wildlife Trust)

2 Blean Woods, Kent (RSPB)

3 Cliffe Pools, Kent (RSPB)

Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) singing in a thorny thicket in April
Nightingale singing in a thorny thicket in April. © bearacreative/Getty

4 Lackford Lakes, Suffolk (Suffolk Wildlife Trust)

5 Alton Water, Suffolk (Anglian Water)

6 Paxton Pits, Cambs (Huntingdonshire District Council/Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve)

7 Whisby Nature Park, Lincs (Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust)

8 Knepp Castle Estate, Sussex (Knepp Wildland Project)

9 Woods Mill, Sussex (Sussex Wildlife Trust)

10 Swillbrook Lakes, Cotswold Water Park, Wilts/Gloucs

Nightingale (Luscinia megarthynchos) on branch
Singing nightingale. © David Tipling/Getty

 

Is it a nightingale? 

One of the commonest mistakes is to assume that any bird singing sweetly after dark is a nightingale; it’s much more likely to be a robin.

Nocturnal singing by robins appears to be on the increase, perhaps triggered by street and security lighting.

Blackbirds and song thrushes also sometimes sing at night. But while both are impressively melodious, neither is a match for the sustained strength and pizzazz of a nightingale, which BBC naturalist Brett Westwood has compared to a “jazz musician, improvising on a theme”.

The nightingale’s song is perhaps most easily confused with that of the blackcap.

Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos
Singing nightingale on migration in Majorca. © Mike Lane/Getty

This common warbler sings by day, often in the same scrubby or open wooded habitats as the nightingale, and it also has a rich, bright, loud voice with real vigour.

However, its song is much less varied in pace and pitch, and lacks the nightingale’s ‘jug, jug, jug’ notes.

 

  RSPB – @Natures_Voice

Did you know solitary bees aren’t like honeybees that live in hives? Building a bee b&b can provide these bees with the five star accommodation to nest in: natu.re/eunhfG

Image

  Amphibian and Reptile Conservation – @ARC_Bytes

Here’s a female slow-worm displaying the characteristic spanner-shaped tongue. #TongueOutTuesday (Thanks for the idea,

!)

Image

Two men convicted after destroying nests of four bird species during out-of-season hedge cutting

Hedge cutting and burning is banned every year between 1 March and 31 August.

(from thejournal.ie)

TWO MEN HAVE been fined by Carlow District Court after they were convicted of four offences under the Wildlife Act for hedge cutting out of season.

The two men were charged with four offences, after a case against them was taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service under the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Under the Wildlife Act 2000, hedge cutting and burning is banned every year between 1 March and 31 August.

The law aims to protect and maintain wildlife diversity by establishing areas where wildlife can thrive during seasons when nests and flowers are more common.

The pair were found guilty of the wilful destruction of birds’ nests and the destruction of vegetation growing in a hedge on dates between 22 and 27 May 2017 at Clogrenan, Co Laois.

Carlow District Court saw evidence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service that one mile of hedgerow vegetation containing the nests of four bird species, including Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren and Wood Pigeon, had been destroyed as a result of their actions.

The two defendants said they did not know that there were bird nests in the hedgerow at the time they were cutting, or that it was an offence to destroy vegetation growing in a hedge during the bird nesting season.

They also said that it was a defence to remove hedgerow vegetation in the ordinary course of agriculture.

However, Judge Colin Daly said that the evidence presented to the court showed that the destruction of vegetation was very significant and outside of the ordinary course of agriculture because it was carried out on an extraordinary scale.

He added that the damage also had significant implications for the protection of birds and the wider environment.

The judge convicted and fined the first defendant €750 on two counts and stated that, as the landowner, he had the greater culpability.

He convicted the second defendant on two counts and fined him €500, before adding that ignorance of the law was no excuse to break it.

Extracted from: https://www.thejournal.ie/two-convicted-hedge-row-cutting-wildlife-act-ireland-4633274-May2019/

  Little Green Space – @LGSpace
Help wildlife in your garden by letting some areas grow wild! Just don’t mow so much, and please ensure your whole garden is free from weedkillers and pesticides. P.S. Councils: all of this works for public spaces too, and you’ll save money – win win! Pic via

Image

  Skomer Island – @skomer_island

First Skomer #GreatBlackBackedGull fully hatched chicks were found today. Gorgeous little things will eventually turn into the greatest #ManxShearwater predator on this island. Best to focus on how cute they are for now 😉

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety


Think your family is strange? Meet the pair of Sandhill Cranes in Michigan raising a goose this year, documented by Jocelyn Anderson (

): ow.ly/Dudb30oJAf9

Image

Why we need birds (far more than they need us)

Can you imagine a world without birds? The benefits birds bring us aren’t just cultural. Birds play an essential role in the functioning of the world’s ecosystems, in a way that directly impacts human health, economy and food production – as well as millions of other species. Here’s how…

Little Spiderhunter © noicherrybeans / Shutterstock
Little Spiderhunter © noicherrybeans / Shutterstock
By Jessica Law

1. Birds control pests

Great Tit © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock
Great Tit © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

It might be a little extreme to say that we’d be wading knee-deep in invertebrates if birds disappeared – but maybe not that extreme. A recent study has shown that birds eat 400-500 million tons of insects a year. In China, two-thirds of the diet of House Swift Apus nipalensis consists of agricultural pests, and in forests across the Americas, Evening Grosbeak Hesperiphona vespertina becomes a superhero during outbreaks of Spruce Budworm, providing biological control worth $1,820 per square kilometre. Birds are so efficient that nest boxes have become a pest control practice throughout Europe.

2. Birds pollinate plants

Long-tailed Sylph © Ondrej Prosicky / Shutterstock
Long-tailed Sylph © Ondrej Prosicky / Shutterstock

When we think pollinators, bees and butterflies flutter to mind – but bird pollinators such as hummingbirds and honeyeaters also make a big contribution, especially in high altitudes or hot climates. In South Africa, for instance, nearly a quarter of Salvia species are bird-pollinated. Such flowers are lacking in scent, since birds favour sight over smell. Their role as pollinators benefits us directly – around 5% of the plants humans use for food or medicine are pollinated by birds. And when they disappear, the results can be drastic: 31 species of Hawaiian bellflowers appear to have gone extinct along with the birds that pollinated them.

3. Birds are nature’s clean-up crew

Ruppell's Vulture © Ian Dyball / Shutterstock
Ruppell’s Vulture © Ian Dyball / Shutterstock

The sight of vultures circling overhead may look foreboding, but it is both their speed of arrival (typically within an hour of death), and their thoroughness which makes them so valuable. It could be days before other less efficient scavengers, such as feral dogs or rats, arrive to pick at the remains, allowing deadly diseases such as rabies and tuberculosis to develop and spread. Over its lifetime, a single vulture provides waste disposal services worth around US$11,600. Following the collapse of Asia’s vultures, India’s feral dog population surged by 5.5 million, spreading rabies and leading to an estimated 47,300 human deaths.

4. Birds spread seeds

Tui © Chris Moody / Shutterstock
Tui © Chris Moody / Shutterstock

When birds travel, they take the seeds they have eaten with them and disperse them through their droppings. They bring plants back to ecosystems that have been destroyed, and even carry plants across the sea to new land masses. Birds have helped to shape the plant life we see around us – and around the world. In New Zealand’s forests, 70% of the plants have seeds dispersed by birds such as Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae. An even greater duty is borne by Micronesian Imperial-pigeon Ducula oceanica; as one of the largest birds in the Palau archipelago: it is one of the main seed dispersers across the entire island chain.

5. Birds transform entire landscapes

American Oystercatcher © gagat55 / Shutterstock
American Oystercatcher © gagat55 / Shutterstock

Habitats like forests, marshes and grasslands affect people across the whole planet, even those living hundreds of miles away – they store carbon, keep the climate stable, oxygenate the air and transform pollutants into nutrients. But without birds, many of these ecosystems may not exist. Birds maintain the delicate balance between plant and herbivore, predator and prey. A perfect example is the salt marshes of south-eastern USA, where cordgrass thrives, filtering local water and protecting the coast from sea erosion. The Salt Marsh Periwinkle Littoraria irrorata grazes upon cordgrass with gusto, and were it not for predators such as oystercatchers, curlews and plovers, these tiny snails would devour the entire marsh leaving only mudflats.

6. Birds keep coral reefs alive

Red-footed Booby © Robert Koss / Shutterstock
Red-footed Booby © Robert Koss / Shutterstock

Birds, especially seabirds, play a key role in cycling nutrients and helping  to fertilise marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. Seabirds travel hundreds of kilometres to feed out in the ocean – and when they return, they deposit layers of highly pungent guano (seabird droppings) at their colonies. This guano leaches into the ocean and fertilises nearby communities such as coral reefs. A study on the Chagos Islands shows what happens when this process is disrupted. On islands free of invasive seabird predators, coral reefs thrived, with fish growing larger and faster for their age, compared to rat-infested islands.

7. Birds inspire science

Medium Tree Finch © Jody O'Connor
Medium Tree Finch © Jody O’Connor

From the technology of flight, to the invention of zippers modelled on the barbules of feathers, humans have drawn inspiration from birds for centuries. Some of these advances have been huge: Darwin’s studies of finches in the Galápagos proved instrumental in shaping his thoughts on evolution through natural selection. But birds play a more important role than just giving us ideas. Birds are the messengers that tell us about the health of the planet. Birds are widespread and respond quickly to changes in the environment. Because of this, they are our early-warning system for pressing concerns such as climate change.

Extracted from BirdLife International – https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/why-we-need-birds-far-more-they-need-us

 

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Hundreds of special wild places are under threat from the Government’s proposed High Speed 2
#HS2 rail network. We think contractors should halt destruction of wildlife havens while the project is currently under review. wildlifetrusts.org/hs2

Image

5:40 AM · May 13, 2019 · Sprout Social

 

Millions of birds vacuumed to death annually in Mediterranean

New research has discovered that millions of birds are being vacuumed up as part of nocturnal suction olive harvesting in the Mediterranean.

From October to January the machinery operates at night and in Andalusia, Spain, an estimated 2.6 million birds are vacuumed to death annually, with the regional government recently putting a stop to the practice. In Portugal, some 96,000 birds are thought to die every winter. The problem is feared to be so vast that Portuguese researchers have recently written a letter to Nature, pleading that nocturnal olive harvesting is ceased.


Roosting birds are helpless as the machines hoover up olives at night (Junta de Andalucía).

Huge numbers of birds from central and northern Europe winter in the Mediterranean, and while they are roosting at night the olive picking machines begin their work. The loud noise and dazzling illumination of the lights is thought to disorientate the birds, who are unable to escape and end up being sucked into the machines in large numbers. The trees are stripped at night because cool temperatures help preserve the olives’ aromatic compounds.

The Andalusian government has already put a stop to the practice, but other Mediterranean countries – including France, Italy and Portugal – are yet to take action. A separate study found that nearly 100,000 birds die annually in Portugal as a result of suction olive harvesting. The research also found that, between December and January in Alentejo, an average of 6.4 birds died per hectare of intensive olive grove farmland.

This sample is small, and further studies will be undertaken when the harvest season recommences in October. However, the figures are worrying and – if Andalusia is a fair example – then suction harvesting consists of a serious threat to species wintering in the Mediterranean.

Read the full article from BirdGuides here.

Monsanto must pay couple $2bn in largest verdict yet over cancer claims

California jury holds makers of Roundup weedkiller responsible for couple contracting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

A jury found the weedkiller Roundup had been defectively designed and its makers acted negligently.
A jury found the weedkiller Roundup had been defectively designed and its makers acted negligently. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

A California jury has ordered Monsanto to pay more than $2bn to a couple that got cancer after using its weedkiller, marking the third and largest verdict against the company over Roundup.

A jury in Oakland ruled on Monday that Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, was liable for the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) cancer of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The jury ordered the company to pay $1bn in damages to each of them, and more than $55m total in compensatory damages.

The victory for the Pilliods follows two consecutive trial wins for families taking on Monsanto over Roundup, the world’s most widely used weedkiller, which research has linked to NHL, a cancer that affects the immune system. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, won a $289m victory in state court last year, and Edwin Hardeman, who sprayed Roundup on his properties, was awarded $80m in the first federal trial this year.

The latest verdict is the largest by far and will increase pressure on Bayer, which has suffered share price drops in the wake of the verdicts and is now facing similar lawsuits from thousands of cancer patients, survivors and families who lost loved ones to NHL.

The juries have repeatedly ruled that Roundup was defectively designed, that the company failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks, and that Monsanto has acted negligently. The cases have uncovered internal Monsanto documents that plaintiffs’ lawyers say reveal the ways in which the company has “bullied” scientists over the years and helped “ghostwrite” research defending the safety of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

 

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

 

The largest falcon in the world, the great white Gyrfalcon reigns over barren tundra and desolate coasts in the high Arctic. You can find the predator in parts of Alaska all year long: ow.ly/imiD30oGJXz

Image

 

Octopus farming is ‘unethical and a threat to the food chain’

Mass-breeding of the highly intelligent creatures is ecologically unjustified, a new study says
An Octopus
Octopuses are curious creatures who can suffer from stress. Photograph: Alamy

Plans to create octopus farms in coastal waters round the world have been denounced by an international group of researchers. They say the move is ethically inexcusable and environmentally dangerous, and have called on private companies, academic institutions and governments to block funding for these ventures.

The researchers say that farming octopuses would require the catching of vast amounts of fish and shellfish to feed them, putting further pressure on the planet’s already threatened marine livestock.

The group, led by Professor Jennifer Jacquet of New York University, argues that octopuses are highly intelligent, curious creatures. Farming them intensively would probably cause large numbers of deaths from stress. “We can see no reason why, in the 21st century, a sophisticated, complex animal should become the source of mass-produced food,” Jacquet told the Observer. “Octopuses eat fish and shellfish, and supplying enough to feed large numbers of them puts further pressure on the food chain. It is unsustainable. Octopus factory farming is ethically and ecologically unjustified.”

There are about 300 species of octopus and many behave in surprisingly sophisticated ways. Some have been shown to use tools, for example. In one experiment, scientists observed octopuses building shelters from pieces of coconut shell. “Once octopuses have solved a problem, they retain long-term memory of the solution,” the researchers state in a paper in Issues in Science and Technology.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

No fishing for 500 miles: the river that runs clean through India

While the Ganges is sacred but heavily polluted, the Chambal’s ‘cursed’ but pristine waters have proved a blessing for locals

Gharials on a sandbank along India’s Chambal river
Gharials are seen on a sandbank along India’s Chambal river. Photograph: Heather Angel/Natural Visions/Alamy

Cold-blooded gharials, a crocodile-like species unique to south Asia, catch the last of the day’s warmth as a setting sun paints the sky crimson above the Chambal river.

Two jackals and a jungle cat scuttle up thorny ravines that box in the expansive blue water, while the orange-beaked Indian skimmer bird glides overhead.

A Ganges soft-shelled turtle on the bank of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh
A Ganges soft-shelled turtle on the bank of the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh. Photograph: Alamy

In a village temple, a short walk away in Nadgawan, local priest Kailash Narayan Sharma says he frequently walks down to the Chambal – but never to pray.

For a spiritual river visit, the gregarious 71-year-old opts instead to travel several hours to the banks of the better-known Ganges or its Yamuna tributary.His reasoning, offered between occasional puffs on his pipe, explains why the Chambal has maintained its wildlife and pristine waters.

“The Ganga and Yamuna are holy. But there’s a lot of pollution,” he says. “The Chambal is unholy, but the water is healthy.”

The Chambal, winding more than 500 miles through central and northern India, provides a sharp contrast to the country’s catastrophically polluted rivers, like the Ganges, which Narendra Modi has vowed to clean – a promise the prime minister has yet to fulfil.

The difference is rooted in thousands of years of stigma. Unlike the sacred Ganges, the Chambal and surrounding land are traditionally regarded as cursed and dangerous badlands.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Sage Spending to Save Species

From Panthera’s Blog, Field Notes (article in full found here)

Fred Launay, Ph.D.

This OpEd was originally featured in Mongabay online here.

NICK GARBUTT

Protective policy for species like the bobcat is all but absent in the United States.

Weeks ago, new research uncovered that “the most deadly pathogen known to science” has, conservatively, caused the decline of over 500 amphibian species, of which 90 are presumed to have gone extinct in the past 50 years.

Now considered a ‘chic’ and celebrity species, the vaquita porpoise, known in Spanish as the ‘little cow’ of the Sea of Cortez, is also vanishing. Classified as the most endangered marine mammal on the planet, half of all vaquitas were lost in 2015 and 2016, with just ten estimated to remain today.

Cautionary tales of lightning-fast, human-induced wildlife decline are frighteningly ubiquitous and increasingly symptomatic of a fissure in the global conservation paradigm, specifically the ways in which species are prioritized, receive funding and garner international awareness due to how close they sit to the precipice of extinction. The architecture of the current conservation funding structure is in need of an overhaul to allow greater distribution of resources across all species, regardless of their conservation status, in order to strategically and wisely allocate the life-saving dollars bestowed upon the environmental community.

Since its evolution in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has been considered the globally recognized authority on the conservation status of animal and plant species, ranking them from ‘Not Evaluated’ to ‘Extinct’. This ‘Barometer of Life’ very much guides the global barometer of conservation funding, with the most threatened species on one end of the scale receiving the vast majority of dollars ($211.8 million this year from the Endangered Species Act alone), while the species that are more common, at least for now, receive far less.

The Canadian lynx, which is commercially hunted in North America, and the bobcat, considered ‘vermin’ in states like Texas where hunting is permitted 24/7/365, are two species on one end of the scale where protective policy is all but absent. Investment per species at this level is minor and options for conservation actions abundant.

Ranging from Mexico to Argentina, the jaguar is another species around which conservation efforts are still wide-ranging and beneficial for both people and biodiversity, including innovative carbon bond partnerships with multinational energy companies, prevention of jaguar-livestock conflict by breeding territorial bulls and investment in sustainable land developments.

 

Thousands of orchids stolen from German nature reserve

Around 3,000 plants of several orchid species have been dug up and stolen in Germany’s famous Taubergiessen Nature Reserve.

Scores of flowering Early Spider, Late Spider and Bumblebee Orchids were among those vandalised by the thieves over an area spanning several hectares of the reserve, which is situated along the River Rhine close to the French-German border, north of Freiburg.

 


Late Spider Orchid was among the species targeted by thieves at Taubergiessen late week (Josh Jones / www.joshrjones.com).

Dietmar Keil, a local biologist who was heavily involved in ensuring Taubergiessen was designated as a nature reserve 40 years ago, commented: “It will take at least 50 years for affected varieties to recover to some extent – if they can be saved at all.”

Local police, who are now patrolling the area to ensure the remaining flowers are not also stolen, are appealing for witnesses to what they described as an “unprecedented environmental crime”, which took place at some point between 1 and 5 May.

Unfortunately, this incident is not the first to have taken place on site. In 2018, some of the reserve’s few Lizard Orchids were dug up while, in 2017, a number of Pyramidal Orchids disappeared from the meadow. At the time, executives went along with the theory that the damage must have been cause by Wild Boar. However, that theory has now been thrown out the window, says Keil, who has offered a €5,000 reward for identifying the perpetrators.

The orchids are likely to have been stolen for sale on the internet, where considerable demand remains – some buyers are rumoured to pay in excess of €100 for a single plant – which makes them a lucrative target for criminals. Using this value, the police estimate around €250,000 worth of damage at Taubergiessen.

This latest incident highlights the precarious situation of orchids across Europe which, because of their beauty and desirability, are regularly targeted by criminals. The localities of some particularly rare species are routinely kept secret, while others are closely guarded by volunteers – sometimes round the clock – to safeguard them.

Extracted from: https://www.birdguides.com/news/thousands-of-orchids-stolen-from-german-nature-reserve/

 

BBC Wildlife – @WildlifeMag

The art of camouflage in the animal kingdom
Central American eyelash vipers have a wide range of morphs, from bright yellow to dark green, but their coloration is only effective if the snake waits in ambush on vegetation that matches. © Joe and Mary Ann McDonald.
The art of camouflage in the animal kingdom
Eat or be eaten. Fundamentally, that’s what life boils down to, and animals have evolved countless ways to either avoid being eaten or to increase their chances of obtaining a meal, sometimes…
discoverwildlife.com

Derek Thomas – @Coffeewarblers

My bird of the day. Like so many of our once common birds, Chaffinches have declined significantly in recent years, and I hear relatively few now as I visit my regular haunts. buff.ly/YzhtAa #birds #nature

Image

RSPB – @Natures_Voice

‘On a cliff edge’ Check out Nature’s Home magazines latest photo of the week! natu.re/zbnmpw
Image
BirdLife Malta – @BirdLife_Malta

On the 25th of May we need to stand up to be counted! The

elections are the perfect opportunity to put the environment on the agenda. If you love nature, you have to vote. #EUelections2019

#IvoteNature

Image

RSPB – @Natures_Voice

Why not give the mower a rest, and create a lively feeding and nesting ground for insects, birds and small animals? Read more about creating a wildflower meadow here: natu.re/jxYC7z

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Spring is the perfect time to get introduced to this common, playful family and all its rainbow members. These are six eye-catching warblers that deserve your attention: ow.ly/fhIO50u3BU9
Image

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust

From warm winters to soggy summers, the UK’s weather is increasingly unpredictable. Read our guide to hardy plants and #trees that are perfect for planting in your #garden and attracting #wildlife woodlandtru.st/beIha
Image
Irish Wildlife Trust – @Irishwildlife

First brown bear sighting in Portugal in over a century

There are some 330 bears in the Cantabrian mountain range in Spain
There are some 330 bears in the Cantabrian mountain range in Spain

The first brown bear sighting in Portugal in more than a century was confirmed by wildlife experts today, after reports of an animal in the northeast of the country.

The bear, which most likely belongs to a population living in the western Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain, is thought to have wandered across the border.

“The reappearance of individuals from this species in Portugal… has now been confirmed by the ICNF,” the Portuguese Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) said.

Brown bears have been extinct in Portugal since the 19th century.

“The last reports of a stable presence of brown bears in Portugal are between the 18th and the end of the 19th century. They then died out,” the ICNF said.

The animal was spotted in the Montesinho Natural Park and Braganca commune in northeastern Portugal.
The town of Bragance is about 20km from the Spanish border.

Media reports say the last living bear in Portugal was killed in 1843 in the northwest mountainous region of Geres.

“The fact that a bear has crossed our border does not mean that there is a bear established in Portugal. At the moment we have a stray animal,” said Paulo Caetano, an author of a book on bears, on Portuguese radio.

The animal is probably a young male looking for “a peaceful territory, a companion and food,” he said.

The bear population in the Cantabrian mountain range, which extends east to west over four Spanish regions, has been increasing since the 1989 adoption of a relocation plan.

In 2018, some 330 bears were counted in the mountains there, according to the environmentalist foundation Oso Pardo.

Extracted from: https://www.rte.ie/news/europe/2019/0509/1048398-brown-bear-portugal/

Rewilding Britain – @RewildingB
Useful addition to the debate about the future of Britain’s grouse moors #rewilding
Grouse moors have destroyed Britain’s natural heritage – so we must rewild them | The Spectator
Britain’s hunting estates were once beautiful. Walking through the New Forest, we can all appreciate how the purchase of land for hunting can radically protect our countryside. Almost a thousand…
spectator.co.uk
BirdLife International – @BirdLife_News
How will climate change affect bird migration? #WMBD2019 #WorldMigratoryBirdDay
The Arctic Tern migrates from pole to pole © Tony Brindley
The Arctic Tern migrates from pole to pole © Tony Brindley
How will climate change affect bird migration? Our scientists explain
Science Showcase: we talk to BirdLife scientists about a recent paper they have been working on that has expanded our knowledge of birds and conservation. This time, our Chief Scientist Stuart…
birdlife.org
The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Feeding suet products to garden birds provides adults with an energy boost in the busy breeding season. Our friends

have a variety to choose from and you’ll be helping your garden birds and supporting our work too! wtru.st/2P10cOM image: Nicholas Watts

Image
BirdGuides – @BirdGuides

Crowdfunder launched to save key Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering site – can you help? bit.ly/2WC77kp

Crowdfunder launched to save key Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering site
Rainforest Trust and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand hope to purchase and manage saltpans at Pak Thale for the benefit of shorebirds.
birdguides.com

The Inner Gulf of Thailand has long been recognised as a significant site for shorebirds, providing crucial sustenance for both passage and wintering species, as well as residents and local dispersants. A Key Biodiversity Area, the Inner Gulf is Thailand’s most critical habitat for coastal shorebird abundance and diversity. Pak Thale is situated within the Inner Gulf, which makes up part of the Pak Thale-Laem Phak Bia Flyway, an area prioritised by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

Familiar to many western birders who have made winter birding jaunts to Thailand, Pak Thale comprises about 123 acres and hosts more than 7,000 waterbirds during the northern hemisphere winter. Of the 50 shorebirds species recorded there, several regular visitors are globally threatened, including the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Endangered Great Knot, Nordmann’s Greenshank and Far Eastern Curlew.


Spoon-billed Sandpiper winters at Pak Thale in small numbers each year (Baz Scampion).

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway is the most threatened flyway in the world for migratory birds. Rapid economic development of the vital tidal flats, compounded by the increasing impacts of climate change, threaten this ecosystem’s future. For migratory birds, losing these critical staging grounds for resting and refuelling ultimately triggers population declines. The Inner Gulf of Thailand is in a unique position as some of these key sites are still undeveloped and available for private ownership.

Read the full article here.

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
Arctic terns make the world’s longest migration – 96,000km. Over a lifetime that’s far enough to reach the moon and back almost 4 times!
Image
BBCT – @BumblebeeTrust
Thank you to Rhydian Evans for sharing this picture he took of a #bumblebee nest he found in an old coat in his shed! He has donated the coat to the #bees & is planting more bee-friendly flowers. (Photo: possible Heath bumblebee, Bombus jonellus due to pale hairs on hind legs)

Image


May 2019 Edition

Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life

Scientists reveal one million species at risk of extinction in damning UN report

Forest clearance in Indonesia
Forest clearance in Indonesia. Scientists have warned of the impact of deforestation on animals. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace

Human society is in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems, the world’s leading scientists have warned, as they announced the results of the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.

From coral reefs flickering out beneath the oceans to rainforests desiccating into savannahs, nature is being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10m years, according to the UN global assessment report.

The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%, natural ecosystems have lost about half their area and a million species are at risk of extinction – all largely as a result of human actions, said the study, compiled over three years by more than 450 scientists and diplomats.

Bleached coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Bleached coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Photograph: Nette Willis/AFP/Getty Images

Two in five amphibian species are at risk of extinction, as are one-third of reef-forming corals, while other marine animals by down by close to one-third. The picture for insects – which are crucial to plant pollination – is less clear, but conservative estimates suggest at least one in 10 are threatened with extinction and, in some regions, populations have crashed. In economic terms, the losses are jaw-dropping. Pollinator loss has put up to $577bn (£440bn) of crop output at risk, while land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of global land.

The knock-on impacts on humankind, including freshwater shortages and climate instability, are already “ominous” and will worsen without drastic remedial action, the authors said.

“The health of the ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ibpes). “We have lost time. We must act now.

The warning was unusually stark for a UN report that has to be agreed by consensus across all nations. Hundreds of scientists have compiled 15,000 academic studies and reports from indigenous communities living on the frontline of change. They build on the millennium ecosystem assessment of 2005, but go much further by looking not just at an inventory of species, but the web of interactions between biodiversity, climate and human wellbeing.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN HERE.

Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’

bees
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pollination is vital for food production

On land, in the seas, in the sky, the devastating impact of humans on nature is laid bare in a compelling UN report.

One million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

Nature everywhere is declining at a speed never previously seen and our need for ever more food and energy are the main drivers.

These trends can be halted, the study says, but it will take “transformative change” in every aspect of how humans interact with nature.

From the bees that pollinate our crops, to the forests that hold back flood waters, the report reveals how humans are ravaging the very ecosystems that support their societies.

Three years in the making, this global assessment of nature draws on 15,000 reference materials, and has been compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It runs to 1,800 pages.

The brief, 40-page “summary for policymakers”, published today at a meeting in Paris, is perhaps the most powerful indictment of how humans have treated their only home.

It says that while the Earth has always suffered from the actions of humans through history, over the past 50 years, these scratches have become deep scars.

The world’s population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, while international trade has increased 10 times over.

To feed, clothe and give energy to this burgeoning world, forests have been cleared at astonishing rates, especially in tropical areas.

Between 1980 and 2000, 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost, mainly from cattle ranching in South America and palm oil plantations in South East Asia.

Faring worse than forests are wetlands, with only 13% of those present in 1700 still in existence in the year 2000.

Our cities have expanded rapidly, with urban areas doubling since 1992.

All this human activity is killing species in greater numbers than ever before.

According to the global assessment, an average of around 25% of animals and plants are now threatened.

Global trends in insect populations are not known but rapid declines in some locations have also been well documented.

All this suggests around a million species now face extinction within decades, a rate of destruction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years.

“We have documented a really unprecedented decline in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different than anything we’ve seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the scale of the threat,” said Dr Kate Brauman, from the University of Minnesota and a co-ordinating lead author of the assessment.

nature

Image copyright Getty Images

“When we laid it all out together I was just shocked to see how extreme the declines are in terms of species and in terms of the contributions that nature is providing to people.”

The assessment also finds that soils are being degraded as never before. This has reduced the productivity of 23% of the land surface of the Earth.

Our insatiable appetites are producing a mountain of waste.

Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold since 1980.

Every year we dump 300-400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes into the waters of the world.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC here.

Rewilding Britain – @RewildingB

‘In central Germany, within the province of Hesse, a new natural forest will start to develop. Within the designated size of 6 400 hectares, there will be no forestry, solely natural development.’ New natural forests for Germany from

New natural forests for Germany
Within the designated size of 6 400 hectares, there will be no forestry, solely natural development for potential Wilderness.
wilderness-society.org

Australia’s political parties urged to act as UN panel issues grim extinction warning

Leadbeater’s possum at Melbourne zoo. Australia’s political parties are facing calls to explain what role they will play in securing a global deal to save nature
Leadbeater’s possum. Australia’s political parties are facing calls to explain what role they will play in a global deal to save nature. Photograph: Zoos Victoria

Environmentalists say Australia should be at the forefront of a global deal to save nature

Australia’s major political parties are facing calls to explain what role they will play in securing a global deal to save nature and the human populations reliant on it after a major scientific report warned a million species across the world face extinction.

The first-of-its-kind assessment by an international scientific panel convened by the United Nations, known as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, warns species are declining at a rate unprecedented in human history, with three-quarters of land-based environments and two-thirds of the marine environment significantly altered.

Compiled by 450 scientists and diplomats over three years, the assessment says accelerating species extinction is likely to have significant implications for humans and urgent systemic change is needed to reverse the decline and restore lost ecosystems.

With countries to meet in Kunming, China next year to set targets as part of the global convention on biological diversity scientists and environment groups urged the next Australian government to take a lead.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s nature program manager, Basha Stasak, said Australia, as a developed nation with mega-diverse native life, should be at the forefront of the push for a meaningful deal.

She said the report made clear protecting species and landscapes would require fundamental change, including increasing funding to the national environmental budget – down more than a third since 2013 – and reversing the loss of more than 7.4 million hectares of threatened species habitat since the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was introduced 20 years ago.

She called on the next government to back measurable targets and obligations, including a goal of protecting 30% of Earth’s land and waters by 2030.

“Scientists tell us [it] is key to tackling mass wildlife extinctions and climate change,” Stasak said. “Us being in the room and pushing for a strong agreement in China, and the meetings leading up to that, is critically important. We have a unique voice that we can add to this debate and we haven’t in the past.”

The WWF conservation scientist Martin Taylor cited government data that showed Australia had the highest rate of native mammal extinction over the past 200 years, having lost 27 species. It is the only developed country on a list of 11 global deforestation hotspots.

He said Labor’s election commitments, including new national environmental laws, a federal environment protection authority and a native species protection fund, were welcome promises but at this stage no more than that.

Read The Guardian’s full article here.

Little Green Space – @LGSpace

So many communities have little green spaces that can be #MicroNatureReserves. Just don’t mow and see what flowers, or try sowing native wildflowers. And don’t use weedkillers. It can make a big difference to bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other pollinating insects!

Image

Country diary: the swallows are back at Tesco

Norwich, Norfolk: The supermarket put up nets to stop them returning to their nesting place – but now sense has prevailed

Swallow flying low
‘They zip over the heads of shoppers, bringing beakfuls of mud, leaves and hair, and swirl over the rooftops and parked cars, catching insects.’ Photograph: Chris Grady/Alamy Stock Photo

They are back! The news has me rushing to the supermarket to see for myself. Oh, that elegantly forked tail, that midnight-blue head and back, the blood-red glow of the throat! There is no bird I love so much as the swallow, our bringer of British summer and teller of intrepid journeys.

The Tesco swallows are nest-building, seemingly blithely unaware both of the fact that they are near to the entrance of a busy supermarket and that they are celebrities. They zip over the heads of shoppers, bringing beakfuls of mud, leaves and hair, and swirl over the rooftops and parked cars, catching insects.

It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago Twitter was ablaze with outrage on behalf of these birds, after their traditional nesting spot under the eaves of the trolley park was netted to prevent them returning. Following five days of complaints, good sense prevailed and the nets were removed. After all, the swallows had faced trials enough while crossing the Sahara desert on their way from South Africa.

This incident shows that we still have a lot to learn about how to treat wildlife, but at least we have made some progress. A few centuries ago, it was thought that swallows simply hid themselves in the mud at the bottom of lakes throughout the winter – where else could they be? By the end of the 19th century, the ringing of migratory birds provided enlightenment.

The birds I am watching are probably male – they often arrive back first, to re-establish the nesting sites. The nearby river and marshland provide a source of mud for nest construction, ready for the first clutch of eggs to be laid.

A lady exits Tesco holding a lamp and a bunch of bananas at the exact moment that a swallow flies over her head, carrying a feather. There are fewer of them than last year. I’d hoped they would flood in with the warm Easter weather, but not yet. I’ll keep watching out for them.

One rests on the corrugated rooftop of the supermarket, a tiny scrap of silence and fragility amidst the bustle of shoppers below. This is what hope looks like.

Article extracted from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/04/country-diary-the-swallows-are-back-at-tesco-norwich-norfolk?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Direct_Message

The battle to save the world’s biggest bumblebee from European invaders

The Patagonian bumblebee on lavender flowers. The insects are under threat from the import of species native to Europe. Photograph: Michael Grant Wildlife/Alamy

In Chile the beloved native bee is venerated as carrying the spirit of the dead, but its numbers are dwindling as farmers use imported species infected with parasites to pollinate crops

The first time José Montalava saw the world’s largest bumblebee he was six years old and visiting his grandfather’s house in rural Chile. “It was in the tomato patch, a huge, loud, fluffy orange thing buzzing around. I remember trying to grab it, but it kept getting away, although it looked too heavy to fly,” he recalls.

During Montalava’s childhood, these giant golden bumblebees (Bombus dahlbomii) – which can measure up to 40mm and have been dubbed “flying mice” – were a common sight in the town where he grew up in central Chile. “It’s such a striking, charismatic, colourful bumblebee that used to herald spring,” says the 36-year-old entomologist. “Now it’s totally disappeared from my hometown and many other areas.”

Montalava says he first became aware the bee was in trouble after he was asked to take part in a study on the potential impact on the native species of importing a European bumblebee.

“In 2003, we would see thousands of the native bumblebees in the gardens of the university just outside the capital, Santiago, where I worked. The flowers were covered with these big, fluffy orange bees.”

A few years later, however, they were nowhere to be seen. And soon they had also disappeared from the coastal cliffs covered in wild flowers that Montalava visited every year for the annual survey. “You hear how species like lions and rhinos could go extinct on the other side of the word, but I grew up with this one and I’m witnessing its disappearance. It’s happened so quickly,” he says.

The cause of the catastrophe was eventually identified, in the form of a creature far smaller than the golden giant. Each year more than 2 million bumblebee colonies are exported from factories in Europe to greenhouses in more than 60 countries. These industrial bumblebees are bred and sold for their fantastic pollination skills: their plump, hairy bodies are perfect to shake the pollen of the male part of the plant to the female. This buzz pollination – so-called because of the sound it makes – can lead to a 30% increase in the yield of tomatoes, compared with pollination by hand, with a wand.

Around the world the industrial bees travel, pollinating fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and blueberries. More than a third of the world’s crop production is reliant on pollinators whose annual services are estimated to be worth up to $577bn (£440bn) to the global economy.

But the growth of the bumblebee trade for agricultural pollination since the 1980s has been identified as one of the top emerging environmental issues likely to affect global diversity.

“Just as European settlers accidentally wiped out native populations in the Americas with a host of European diseases such as measles, which they had no defences against, the European bumblebees can transmit pathogens that kill native bees,” says Cecilia Smith-Ramírez, a researcher in pollination and bumblebees at the University de Los Lagos and Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB) in Chile.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Cornish hedges under threat from developers, say conservationists

Structure of county’s hedges mean they do not get same protection as those elsewhere

A Cornish hedge and stile in Trevalgan Hill, Cornwall.
A Cornish hedge and stile in Trevalgan Hill, Cornwall. Photograph: John Beedle

The Cornish hedge – teeming with flora and fauna and one of the most beloved features of the landscape in the far south-west of Britain – is under threat from developers, conservationists are warning.

Some Cornish hedges are believed to be more than 4,000 years old, making them among the oldest human-built structures in Britain.

Unfortunately, because the Cornish hedge has such a distinctive structure – consisting typically of earth and stone with trees or bushes growing out of the top – it does not necessarily receive the same protection in law afforded to conventional hedgerows across England and Wales.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust has raised concern that precious hedges are being lost when housing estates or industrial sites are built and Cornwall council is asking the UK government to help it save the hedges.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Liz Howe obituary

Ecologist and herpetologist who did much to pioneer the conservation of terrestrial species in Wales
Liz Howe with an Angonoka tortoise in Madagascar.
Liz Howe with an Angonoka tortoise in Madagascar. Photograph: Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru/Natural Resources Wales

The ecologist Liz Howe, who has died aged 59 from cancer, helped produce a modern environmental Domesday Book – Habitats of Wales: A Comprehensive Field Survey, 1979-1997. For 10 years from 1987 she managed a series of survey teams that mapped vegetation across lowland landscapes, complementing similar work in upland areas. Since its publication in 2010, the resulting volume has provided a foundation stone on which to base conservation management, its value as a stable evidence base growing with the passage of time.

The survey information collected under Liz’s watch has proved essential in assessing the conservation value of particular areas and how they can be managed, as well as a basis for identifying potential sites of special scientific interest. It has also helped to define tracts of land that are suitable for public access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

A leading British herpetologist – an expert on amphibians and reptiles – she produced reviews of the ecology and distribution of those animals for A New Natural History of Anglesey (1990).

Working with Chester Zoo and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, she led a captive breeding and re-introduction project to reinstate sand lizards at suitable coastal sand dune sites in Wales.

Read Liz Howe’s complete obituary from The Guardian here.

National Wildlife Federation – @NWF

The brown bears of #BristolBay, Alaska could see their habitat destroyed & food source dwindle if the destructive #PebbleMine project moves forward. Learn more about how to protect this incredible species & the ecosystem that supports the region’s economy: natwild.life/PebbleMine

Image

Countryside versus town? Please don’t turn this into a culture war

Selina Scott’s battle against predatory crows on her farm has been exploited for political purposes. We need to bridge the urban-rural divide

Sunlit tree in field of sheep

Selina Scott is rewilding her 200-acre farm on the edge of the North York Moors. She says she reluctantly decided to control crows to protect endangered ground-nesting birds, including lapwing and curlew, that nest on her new wetlands. But the Yorkshire-born broadcaster- turned-farmer complains she cannot save her threatened birds because her brother, Robin (a former editor of Sporting Gun magazine), is now banned from shooting the crows that prey on helpless chicks.

Scott is the latest figure to denounce Natural England’s decision to rescind the “general licence” that previously allowed landowners and farmers to freely shoot 16 species of “pest” birds. The cancellation of the licences came about after a legal challenge by Wild Justice, a new campaign group led in part by another broadcaster, Chris Packham.

The fallout has been considerable. Forget the haves and the have-nots, Brexiters and remainers, north v south: some people are determined to make our disunited nation’s ultimate binary division the one between town and country. According to the popular caricature, one camp lives in concrete and glass towers, imbibes polluted air and superciliously treats the countryside as a playground for Disneyfied nature. The other resides in leafy lanes, brandishes shotguns and is increasingly besieged and undermined by city dwellers’ laws.

These two tribes, we are told, have clashed over foxhunting – a unique tradition or a barbaric relic according to taste. They’ve battled over badger culling – a vital disease control measure to protect cattle farmers or an unscientific muddle that’s cruel and pointless. And they’ve gone to war over dairy farming – an environmentally friendly and nutritious food production system or a cruel industry that turn animals into machines. The row over bird shooting licences is presented as the latest expression of the great divide. Is it a perverse attack on country livelihoods by townies who are happy to see curlews become extinct and lambs’ eyes pecked out because they hate shooting so much? Or is it an overdue, rational move to bring licences into line with wildlife laws and stop people massacring harmless jays and rooks for fun?

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

RSPB Leighton Moss – @Leighton_moss

We’re getting great views of bittern and up to five #otters are showing daily, much to the delight of our visitors lucky enough to be in the right hide at the right time! And of course, the place is alive with the sound of fabulous #birdsong! #IDCD Photo: copyright Brian Howson

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

Spiders benefit birds, not only as a source of food but also as an important source of nest-building material.
Don’t Kill Spiders
They are part of the web of life
ar.audubon.org

Cornell Lab – @CornellBirds

A huge thanks and congratulations to all 25,000+ people who were part of #GlobalBigDay2019! With reports still coming in, we’re over 6,300 species for the world, with Colombia and Peru each over 1,200 species. See full stats here: bit.ly/2V3pYDg

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Give birds a helping hand with nest building brushing your dog outside. Birds will love to use soft hairs they find for their nest. If you don’t have a pet, nesting wool from

can be used. wtru.st/2LufOfF Image: Margaret Holland

Image

BirdGuides – @BirdGuides
Critically Endangered Colombian bird rediscovered after nearly 50 years:
Critically Endangered Colombian bird rediscovered after 47 years
Antioquia Brushfinch has been found alive and well just 30 km from Medellín.
birdguides.com

People’s Trust for Endangered Species – @PTES

Today marks the start of Hedgehog Awareness Week! Through our #HedgehogStreet campaign, run by

we have already achieved so much. But there’s so much more we can do so follow us this week to join in, share and make a difference #HedgehogWeek #sundayfunday

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
With its brilliant red eyes and haunting call, the Common Loon is one of the most recognizable water birds in North America. It’s also one of 314 North American bird species threatened by #climatechange. Learn more: ow.ly/I8vd30oD1VK

Image

Dave Goulson – @DaveGoulson
Despite decades of valiant work by conservationsist around the world, it seems that we are destroying wildlife faster than at any point in human history. It will take millions of years for our planet to recover…
Nature’s emergency in five graphics
Five graphics that show how nature is disappearing faster than at any other point in human history.
bbc.co.uk

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Creating a pond is one of the best things you can do to help wildlife  wildaboutgardens.org.uk #WildAboutPonds #NationalGardeningWeek
Image

G. J. Liggett – @PoetLiggett

Many people were concerned about netting of hedgerows. A new Facebook page has been opened so Members of Parliament can gather information from the public prior to a debate: facebook.com/UKHouseofCommo…

The RHS – @The_RHS

Grow edible flowers this #NationalGardeningWeek and add colour, flavour and texture to your meals, as well as cordials, oils and butters. Find out about the wide range of annuals and perennial edible flowers that can be grown in your garden: rhs.org.uk/advice/profile…

Image

Chris Collins – @cmcollins_hort

I’m going to finish the day to pay homage to the humble Dandelion, once vilified by gardeners but now in these enlightened times , recognised for its important contribution to our pollinators & soil health

#organic #wildlife

Image

Trevor the botanist – @DrTrevorDines

What are the most abundant flowers in our lawns? Help us investigate their pollinator power by leaving them uncut for #NoMowMay and then, on Bank Holiday weekend 25-27th May take part in #EveryFlowerCounts to get your own Nectar Score plantlife.org.uk/everyflowercou…

Image

Image

Image

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Birds are incredible architects. Ospreys build huge platforms at the tops of trees, long-tailed tits sculpt spheres of moss amongst brambles and reed warblers weave baskets of reed.

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
Nightingales nest in dense scrub, from where they sing their famously beautiful melodies

Image

Rewilding Britain – @RewildingB

“We are in trouble if we don’t act, but there are actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.” The

report on Monday will confirm that we need to act BIG, and act NOW #GlobalAssessment #Rewilding

Climate crisis is about to put humanity at risk, UN scientists warn
‘We are in trouble if we don’t act,’ say experts, with up to 1m species at risk of annihilation
theguardian.com

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust

#Lichens are non-parasitic and don’t harm any plants they grow on. In fact #woods rich in lichens support more #wildlife than any other! woodlandtru.st/nY5yU

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

Growing your own is good for you and good for nature too  #EdibleBritain #NationalGardeningWeek

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

Meet the female Rufous Hummingbird, a master nest builder. ow.ly/PZa830bkAsg

Image

Chicago Ornithological Society – @chicago_birder

Is your morning (and lunch and afternoon) coffee Bird Friendly? Be on the look out the

Bird Friendly certification logo.

Image

American Bird Conservancy – @ABCbirds

Many of the ~40 #toucan species live in hot places, but some toucans also live in cloud forests. That’s where you’ll find our #Bird of the Week, the Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Learn more: abcbirds.org/bird/gray-brea…

#ECOAN

Image

American Ornithology – @AmOrnith

Working on an #ornithology paper? Consider submitting it to an AOS journal. With fast turnaround times, promotion on the AOS blog & social media, & the some of the highest impact factors in ornithology, we strive to be a great home for your work! academic.oup.com/aosjournals

graphic with reasons to submit

New Scientist – @newscientist

Weird chromosome may have spurred evolution of thousands of songbirds bit.ly/2J64TWG
Image

NYT Science – @NYTScience

How avian flight evolved is one of the greatest controversies in paleontology. So scientists strapped sensors and artificial wings to a young ostrich and took it out for a run.
Why Is This Ostrich Wearing an Extra Set of Wings?
Scientists took a creative approach to studying how dinosaurs evolved the flying abilities of modern birds.
nytimes.com

American Ornithology – @AmOrnith

We’ve posted a few small schedule changes for #AOS19AK! Remember to keep checking back for the latest. Schedule at a Glance: amornithmeeting.org/schedule-at-a-… Special Events: amornithmeeting.org/special-events/

Image

American Bird Conservancy – @ABCbirds

Birds are amazing. That’s a key message of “Bringing Back the Birds,” our new book with

&

. ABC’s

shares some fascinating facts about #birds in his essay, excerpted here: abcbirds.org/blog/birds-are… (Photo of Wrenthrush by Owen Deutsch)

Image

Scotland: The Big Picture – @ScotlandTBP

The Big Picture Conference, Scotland’s only event dedicated to #rewilding, comes to Stirling on 21st Sep 2019. The day will be packed full of inspiring and thought-provoking presentations, workshops and networking. Let’s bring rewilding to life! Tickets: scotlandbigpicture.com/conference

Image

Rewilding Europe – @RewildingEurope

At the wild heart of #Italy volunteers are removing abandoned barbed wire in wildlife corridors. By removing barriers the volunteers contribute to #rewilding the habitat of bear and other wildlife species. #rewildingapennines #rewild #centralapennines #wildlifecorridors

Image

RSPB Learning – @RSPB_Learning

Fill our comments with photos of your new nests, eggs & nestlings. #BankHolidayWeekend #nestwatch

Image

Audubon Great Lakes – @Audubon_GL
May is American Wetlands Month! Join Audubon Great Lakes and our amazing partners in celebrating and caring for these important places for birds, wildlife and people at an Indian Ridge Marsh stewardship event. More info and a schedule available here: gl.audubon.org/get-involved/i…

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

The Arctic Refuge provides critical resources that fuel migratory birds as they embark on long journeys across states, countries, and even continents. Read more about this amazing place for birds in a new report from

: ow.ly/uh4V30oBmuV #ProtectTheArctic

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Provide food and shelter for the birds you love by growing bird-friendly plants at home. Our database can help: audubon.org/native-plants #PlantsForBirds

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

In the Dallas, TX area? Join us at Trinity River Audubon Center on May 18-19 for Birds in Focus, a unique event that brings birds and photography together, in partnership with

. ow.ly/g1C830oyrLS

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

A new report from

shows how dramatic ecological change at the #SaltonSea is forcing out some of the lake’s most iconic bird species, including the American White Pelican. Audubon calls on California to restore crucial habitats. ow.ly/vsgF30oyjxV

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Natural cavities for bluebirds can be hard to find, and competition for these limited sites arises during early spring. Luckily, this guide shows you how to build your own nest box that Mountain, Eastern, and Western Bluebirds will enjoy: ow.ly/Uygn30oBCEb
Image

Corey Dinopoulos – @cdinopoulos

The new

mural in progress is stunning! Learn more about the Dutch artist (Super A) Stefan Thelen’s work here: rosekennedygreenway.org/public-art/cur…

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Maintaining a fresh bird bath is a simple, essential way to keep birds hydrated, clean, and disease-free. ow.ly/3dJq304ovc5

Image

Houston Audubon – @HoustonAudubon

Follow us for a weekly #FunFact! #birds #birbtwitter #birding

Image

Houston Audubon – @HoustonAudubon

April 21-May 10 is peak migration in Houston. In honor of this, we will be posting regular tips on how YOU can help migratory birds. Tip #7 – Install and maintain bird feeders. Keeping feeders clean and full will help migratory birds who arrive tired, thirsty, and hungry.

Image

Houston Audubon – @HoustonAudubon

April 21-May 10 is peak migration in Houston. In honor of this, we will be posting regular tips on how YOU can help migratory birds. Tip #8 – Reduce your consumption of single-use plastic. Almost every species of seabird has been observed ingesting plastic in the oceans.
Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

Birds need you. Sign up to participate in this year’s Climate Watch program and help Audubon track climate change’s impact on goldfinches and other beloved species. ow.ly/BZqe30oCkiO #BirdsTellUs

Image

John Muir Trust – @JohnMuirTrust

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” ― John Muir Sharing this wonderful old image of a Marten by one of the Trust’s guiding lights, Dick Balharry buff.ly/2GJn6pZ

Image

Shetland Wildlife – @ShetlandWild

Eurasian Spoonbill photographed yesterday by SW guide Mick Durham who is currently leading our week-long pho-tour in the Hortobágy region of Hungary. Check out that crest!

Image

David Steel – @SteelySeabirder

Incoming! Morning, Puffins (And Puffin legs) on Isle Of May this morning

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
The #30DaysWild challenge is back! Visit wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild to bag your FREE pack, including wildflower seeds, ideas for Random Acts of Wildness and your own wallchart today!

Image

BirdLife International – @BirdLife_News
This secretive, Critically Endangered bird is hard to study. Could finally recording its call be the conservation breakthrough we’ve been waiting for?
White-winged Flufftail’s call recorded for the first time
With a population of 250, this secretive bird has always been hard to study, but advances in technology have helped us to discover more than ever. Last year, we found new breeding grounds – then its…
birdlife.org
Audubon Society – @audubonsociety
Shoebill chicks can go for thousands of dollars on the black market. So dedicated fisherman in Zambia have banded together to protect the birds and their nests. ow.ly/Ib8s30mxYe4
Image
Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
We’ve welcomed calls by more than 40 local #councils to stop advance site clearance for #HS2. The 149-mile route from London to Birmingham will cause loss or damage to a total of 61 irreplaceable ancient #woods woodlandtru.st/mGi51 #WTPress
Image

WildlifeKate – @katemacrae

Our chicks are just about a week old now and their feathers are just starting to appear… it is just incredible how quickly these chicks grow! ⁦

Image

Brigit Strawbridge Howard – @B_Strawbridge

For anyone wondering what the tiny holes in your lawns and flower beds are, and who might have made them… beestrawbridge.blogspot.com/2015/03/so-muc…
Image

Bill Oddie Official – @BillOddie

Lets hear it for our local swans. She laid 11 eggs and 10 of them have hatched. Many are the curious folk of Hampstead who pop by each day to check em out and go “aw:” This morning a fox patrolling the bank. He wouldn’t dare! Would he?

Image

Raptor Persecution – @RaptorPersScot

Image

National Garden Scheme – @NGSOpenGardens

Have you ever considered opening your garden for the National Garden Scheme? If you’re passionate about your garden and your friends and family tell you how lovely it is, then it’s very likely other people will want to visit your garden too! ngs.org.uk/get-involved/o…

Image

SEEDBALL – @seed_ball

Did you know a single bee might visit up to 100 flowers per trip? #beefact

Image

Nicky Kyle Gardening – @nickykylegarden

A 15cm #peat layer contains more #carbon per hectare than tropical forest. Though peatlands are only 3% of the #planet’s land surface, they are massive #carbon sinks – storing twice as much carbon as all standing #forests. GO #PEATFREE NOW! irishtimes.com/news/science/w… via

Why peatlands matter in the battle against climate change
Living peatlands sequester carbon-dioxide, drawing it down from the atmosphere through plants and trapping it underground as carbon

irishtimes.com

BOU – @IBIS_journal

Light pollution causes object collisions during local nocturnal manoeuvring flight by adult Manx Shearwaters | ow.ly/AxQW30oAjAy |

| #ornithology #seabirds

Image

Irish Wildlife Trust – @Irishwildlife

“The emergency is clear – we are destroying our children’s future, their natural ecosystem, their climate, their mental wellbeing and their quality of life”.

Wicklow council declares ‘biodiversity and climate-change emergency’
Councillors took unanimous decision after they were briefed by local students who took part in school strikes for climate action
irishtimes.com

David Steel – @SteelySeabirder

The replacement Heligoland trap on the Isle of may is now fully operational for the

Full story (and what the first bird caught in the trap) on the blog: isleofmaynnr.wordpress.com

Image

David Steel – @SteelySeabirder

Yeah our Oystercatchers now nesting on Isle Of May (lovely nest site with rabbit droppings included)
Image
Little Green Space – @LGSpace

Some bumblebee species are struggling so much, innovative approaches can be needed to help them out. This unusual project from

and

is taking practical action to help the rare Bilberry bumblebee, which has suffered a major decline bit.ly/2JZr42G

Image
30 Days Wild – @30DaysWild

Care homes can join in with this year’s #30DaysWild challenge too – we’ve produced a special free pack full of ideas and inspiration for residents & their carers

Image

Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

You’ve probably seen birds wipe their bills on branches, which helps them clean up after a messy meal. But scientists say that’s not the only reason for this common behavior: ow.ly/Pd4H30oBEUH

Image

Brigit Strawbridge Howard – @B_Strawbridge

I have a cover for my book!!! The beautiful Early bumblebee and the Pantaloon bee on the front, together with all the illustrations inside the book, were painted by my friend, Dartmoor artist and naturalist,

Thank you

for this. I love it 🙂

Image
BBC Earth – @BBCEarth

A honey bee emerging from its nest for the first time #EarthCapture by

Image

Image

Little Green Space – @LGSpace
Plant a wildlife hedge instead of building a fence! It could help hedgehogs, bumblebees, blue tits, small mammals, insects, robins, frogs, bats, toads, dunnocks, butterflies, moths, blackbirds, solitary bees, hoverflies, wrens, and more…
Image

Trump administration to roll back rare beetle protections opposed by oil lobby

Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to ‘downlist’ the burying beetle, which would allow drilling in Oklahoma and nearby states

An American burying beetle. The species was listed as endangered in 1989, but the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to ‘downlist’ it to threatened.
An American burying beetle. The species was listed as endangered in 1989, but the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to ‘downlist’ it to threatened. Photograph: Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Trump administration plans to weaken protections for a beetle threatened by extinction from climate change, lifting restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma and surrounding states.

The American burying beetle, a shiny black bug covered with orange splotches, feeds it young from carcasses it buries, making it vulnerable to disruptions in soil. The species was listed as endangered in 1989.

The beetle has been reduced to about 10% of its historic range, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It was native to 35 US states and has been eradicated from all but nine.

Biodiversity advocates said the proposal is yet another move to benefit industry at the expense of at-risk species. The interior department secretary, David Bernhardt, is a former oil and gas lobbyist.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to “downlist” the species, labeling it as threatened rather than endangered. The decision would allow drilling and other industry activity in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, with some exceptions in conservation areas. Currently, drillers must obtain permits for any activity that would lead to an “incidental taking”, or killing of beetles.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Licence to krill: why the US navy trains whales, dolphins and sea lions

in New York

The US navy has trained dolphins and sea lions since the Vietnam war – ‘technology is no match for the animals’ for certain missions

The US navy has 70 bottlenose dolphins and 30 sea lions at a naval base in San Diego, California.
The US navy has 70 bottlenose dolphins and 30 sea lions at a naval base in San Diego, California. Photograph: Tilen Genov/University of St Andrews/Science of the Total Environment

A beluga whale was found off the coast of Norway last week and is believed to be trained by the Russian navy. But it’s not the ocean’s only soldier with fins.

The US Navy has trained dolphins and sea lions since the Vietnam war, as part of its marine mammal program. While it’s unclear what exactly the Russian beluga whale was trained to do, America’s naval animals – specifically about 70 bottlenose dolphins and 30 California sea lions at a naval base in San Diego, California – search for objects and patrol restricted waters.

It’s no surprise that countries like the United States and Russia have turned to marine mammals to carry out searches in water. Dolphins and sea lions are intelligent and trainable, and their natural senses have beat out the capabilities of any machine or computer created by humans.

In addition to an ability to dive incredibly deep, dolphins have “echolocation” capabilities, which allow them to detect mines that are buried underwater. Sea lions, the dolphins’ comrades, have excellent eyesight, and have helped the military find lost equipment.

While it may sound like a waste of taxpayer dollars – as much as $28m has been spent to maintain the program – to play a role similar to an aquatic theme park, dolphins and sea lions have been sent on serious missions. They were used to help clear mines in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf wars and the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Even with major technological advances in the military within the past few years, the natural abilities of marine animals still beats any robot when it comes to underwater detection. In 2012, the Navy announced that it would phase out its marine mammal program and replace the animals with robots. Over $90m was allocated to research, and the robots were supposed to be up and running by 2017. So far, it hasn’t happened.

According to the navy’s website: “Someday it may be possible to complete these missions with underwater drones, but for now technology is no match for the animals.”

Though many laud the animals for saving lives, the program has not been without controversy, as animal advocates have argued that its inhumane to keep the animals in captivity. The navy maintains that their dolphins and sea lions get the “highest standards of care” according to a statement.

The marine mammal program has also been the source of many rumors, including some reporting from the early 1990s that the navy once trained dolphins in combat, teaching them to kill enemy divers. The navy has denied this claim, saying that it’s impossible to train dolphins to be combative.

Article extracted from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/01/whales-dolphins-sea-lions-why-countries-use-soldiers-with-fins-for-missions?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Direct_Message

Britain’s countryside is dominated by bullies – as Chris Packham has found

People who challenge shooting, hunting and the destruction of wildlife are too often treated like vermin

Grouse shooting in Yorkshire

I’ve often thought, watching the felling of ancient trees, the slaughter of wildlife and the stripping of topsoil: “I love this land more than the owner does.” While there are plenty of careful landowners, there are others who seem to despise their own property. Those of us who love the land struggle against its owners to protect it from ruin.

For centuries, challenging the way the land is used has been treated as a trespass: we are told that it is none of our business. Yet this is the very fabric of our nation. Conflicts over its treatment are portrayed in the billionaire press as a war between town and country. But this isn’t about rural versus urban – it’s about power. As Guy Shrubsole’s crucial book Who Owns England? shows, major rural and urban landowners are often the same people.

There is one real difference between town and country. In the countryside, people are often afraid to speak out. You can see why in the recent treatment of the television presenter Chris Packham. After an organisation he helped to found – Wild Justice – successfully challenged the unlawful killing of several bird species, two dead crows were left hanging from his gate, whose lock had been glued shut.

Harassment of this kind is familiar to rural people who challenge shooting or foxhunting interests. Bullying and intimidation associated with foxhunts that run riot in the north of England while the police look the other way have been reported, in two detailed articles, one in the Independent, the other in the online magazine The Overtake. There’s an almost Sicilian culture of fear: people are frightened into silence or forced to move house. Locals complain of mob rule as hounds and horses rampage through their gardens and trash their businesses. Hunt monitors, documenting blatant lawbreaking, are beaten up with impunity while their vehicles are scratched and smashed. Everyone knows it’s happening. No one seems able or willing to stop it.

Read George Monbiot’s full article from The Guardian here.

Spurn Bird Obs – @spurnbirdobs

The first Ringed Plover nest of the year was found at Beacon Ponds today by Little Tern warden Sandy Davidson. Please keep away from the fenced area and keep all dogs under control, preferably on a short lead, if using the beach by Beacon Ponds #spurnbirds

Image

The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts

After flying 6,000 miles from Africa, swallows are back for the summer! The journey will have taken them about 6 weeks

Image

SEEDBALL – @seed_ball
Common UK butterflies

Image

Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
A number of #finches call the UK home, but can you identify them all? Tell your #bullfinch from your #brambling with our quick guide: woodlandtru.st/7GT1o
Image

BBCT – @BumblebeeTrust

Should I feed #bumblebees sugar-water? Three questions you should ask before deciding whether a bumblebee is in need of rescue: ow.ly/PE8850tw4bI #flowersfirst #conservation #sugarwater
Image
Little Green Space – @LGSpace
We’re losing our wildlife – including frogs, butterflies, bees, hedgehogs, moths, bats, insects, birds, and toads. But there are 16 million gardens in the UK – so if more of us garden in a wildlife-friendly way, we can start to turn this around! Who’s in? #NationalGardeningWeek
Image
Woodland Trust – @WoodlandTrust
Happy #MayDay! Did you know #hawthorn has a long association with May Day celebrations? People would gather the flowering boughs alongside music and horn blowing. At sunrise, the branches were hung over the doorways of homes as a protective act woodlandtru.st/LS1bl
Image
The Wildlife Trusts – @WildlifeTrusts
Unusual friends… puffins have been known to move into rabbit burrows to save digging their own holes.
Image

BTO Garden BirdWatch – @BTO_GBW

Today we have been sent these fascinating images from David Lambe showing what appears to be 2 different Blue Tit nests sharing the same box. It will be fascinating to see how they behave if the eggs hatch.

Image

Image

Image

‘Bee saviour’ sugar cards could save starving insects

Inventor crowdfunds to produce reviver sachets after prototype success

A bee drinking the 'Bee Saviour' solution
Each card contains three indentations containing a beekeepers’ formula secured by foil-backed stickers which can be peeled off to feed a hungry bee. Photograph: Savior Bees

If you’ve ever felt a pang of pity for a starving bee struggling on the pavement in front of you, then help may soon be at hand. Or more precisely, in your wallet.

A community development worker has invented a credit card-style reviver for bees containing three sachets of sugar solution, which can be placed beside the insect to feed it.

Dan Harris, 40, is now crowdfunding to produce the “Bee Saviour” cards after the success of his prototype, with community groups and businesses in his local city of Norwich, including the Book Hive bookshop and a local pub, pledging to stock the £4 bee revivers.

Each card contains three indentations containing a beekeepers’ formula, secured by foil-backed stickers which can be peeled off.

“The first time you peel back the sticker and put the card down next to the bee, you think, what’s going to happen? When I first tested it, the bee walked calmly onto the card and started feeding,” Harris said.

“It struck me that everyone who walks around a city will have walked past an exhausted bee. That means you’ve also walked past an opportunity to connect with nature.”

Harris came up with the idea after learning about bees’ fast metabolism and how quickly they can run out of energy. He also wondered how people living in cities could engage with nature more frequently.

“I was living in a flat without a garden and the most likely place I would come across a bee was walking around the city and I didn’t have a teaspoon of sugar solution to hand,” he said.

Over four years, he has laboriously tested handmade prototypes, with advice about bees from his scientist father and beekeeper uncle.

Now he has set up Bee Saviour Behaviour, a not-for-profit co-operative, to make the revivers, which he hopes to source from recycled plastic cards. If he hits his £8,000 crowdfunding target, he can commission a company to make the indentations, which he hand-fills with a sugar solution recommended by beekeepers. If he raises more funds, his co-op can mass – produce them.

Richard Horne, a designer and illustrator, designed the cards free of charge after seeing his children use the prototype to save a bee.

“I’ve tried reviving bees using sugar and water on a spoon and it’s never worked,” said Horne. “After we got the prototype, me and the kids found a bee that was struggling and they said, ‘Dad! Get the card!’ I fetched my wallet and the card worked a treat. I think it’s a genius idea.”

This article is part of a series on possible solutions to some of the world’s most stubborn problems. What else should we cover? Email us at theupside@theguardian.com

‘Death by a thousand cuts’: vast expanse of rainforest lost in 2018

The Bom Futuro tin mine in a deforested section of the Amazon in Brazil
The Bom Futuro tin mine in a deforested section of the Amazon in Brazil. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Millions of hectares of pristine tropical rainforest were destroyed in 2018, according to satellite analysis, with beef, chocolate and palm oil among the main causes.

The forests store huge amounts of carbon and are teeming with wildlife, making their protection critical to stopping runaway climate change and halting a sixth mass extinction. But deforestation is still on an upward trend, the researchers said. Although 2018 losses were lower than in 2016 and 2017, when dry conditions led to large fires, last year was the next worst since 2002, when such records began.

Clearcutting of primary forest by loggers and cattle ranchers in Brazil dominated the destruction, including invasions into indigenous lands where uncontacted tribes live. Losses were also high in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia. Indonesia is the only major country where government protections appear to be significantly reducing the losses.

Read Darian Carrington’s full article from The Guardian here.

The story isn’t ‘crowgate’ – it’s Britain’s heedless killing of birds

Farmers’ fury with Chris Packham over shooting ‘pests’ hides more pressing issues

Dead crows outside Chris Packham’s home
Dead crows outside Chris Packham’s home. Photograph: Chris Packham/Twitter

Last week, TV naturalist Chris Packham woke to a scene out of Game of Thrones. Hanging in front of the gate of his New Forest home (a gate whose lock had been glued shut), two dead crows swung by their necks in the breeze. Packham cut them down, called a cab (he couldn’t get his car out of the drive) and carried on.It was the latest chapter in the strange history of the “general licences”, a story that has seen petitions and counter-petitions, threats and smears and says a great deal about the caustic and polarised nature of debate in Britain in 2019.Business school types will tell you that a company is at its weakest when there is a change of leadership. This, perhaps, goes part of the way to explain the general licences fiasco. In January this year, it was announced that Andrew Sell, the chair of Natural England (the government’s adviser on rural affairs), was to retire.Days before the new chair, Tony Juniper, was due to start, Natural England’s lawyers took the decision to revoke the licences that permit landowners legally to control 16 “pest” species of bird, including crows, jays, rooks and woodpigeons (and parakeets and sacred ibises).

Giving only three days’ notice, the organisation said that anyone wishing to cull birds would need to apply for an individual licence or risk breaking the law and this at a crucial time for farmers with the year’s crops just emerging. Natural England claimed the move was in response to a “legal challenge” by Wild Justice, the not-for-profit run by Packham, the ornithologist Mark Avery and conservationist Ruth Tingay. Farming and shooting lobbies were mobilised, a petition calling for Packham to be sacked by the BBC was signed by more than 100,000 people and then the hanging crows.

The truth hasn’t stopped many fulminating against “eco-warriors” seeking to stop farmers acting as they have for centuries. Juniper found himself attacked for his environmentalist credentials on his first day in the office, despite the fact that the decision predated his arrival. (NB: it may not be the worst idea to have Natural England led by someone who cares about the environment.)

As Tingay told me, Wild Justice had never sought for the licences to be revoked. “Our ask,” she said, “was for Natural England to acknowledge that the current general licences were unlawful and for them to be changed and improved before they issued them again in January 2020.” Wild Justice accepts that in certain circumstances farmers and some other land users need to control certain species, but this should be, Tingay says, “regulated, monitored and proportionate”. (Natural England has said that it will reissue the general licences on Monday, with updated wording to reflect issues raised by Wild Justice.)


But what all this sound and fury, all the tweets and trolling, has done is to mask the nuance, to silence a conversation that needs to be had. The reapproval of the licences each year should not be done without consideration and the place of the jay, especially, on the list – the “British bird of paradise”, as nature writer WH Hudson called it – ought to be questioned. A list that ranks parakeets and sacred ibises alongside crows and rooks seeks to address different problems with the same regulation and again is worthy of further discussion.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Marker Wadden, the manmade Dutch archipelago where wild birds reign supreme

A silted-up lake has been transformed into the latest addition to the map of the Netherlands – and an eco-haven teeming with wildlife

by Daniel Boffey

Common spoonbill in the islands’ marshy interior.

Common spoonbill in the islands’ marshy interior. Photograph: Koos Dansen/Natuurmonumenten

It takes about an hour on the ferry, across often choppy waters, to reach the newest bit of the Netherlands. For those sailing in from the port of Lelystad, the first sign of the Marker Wadden is a long finger of sand dunes designed to protect against flooding.

“You see the cormorants, the black birds?” asks the environmentalist Roel Posthoorn, pointing skywards.

Nine kilometres into the vast expanse of the Markermeer, the 700 sq km lake on Amsterdam’s easterly flank, lies a new Dutch archipelago. Five sprawling artificial islands, constructed from sucked-up and refashioned fine silt, clay and shells, offer a haven for plants, birds and other wildlife.

It’s a place for human pioneers, too. A small Robinson Crusoe-style hut stands next to a makeshift harbour for the volunteers who stay for week-long stretches as island wardens.

But here nature is king. Only the squawk and song of birds, the light clap of their wings, and the ebb and flow of water on the nearby sandy beach break the island’s silence. The Marker Wadden is an unprecedented feat of engineering and ecological restoration – made necessary because of human interventions, which have had disastrous consequences quite out of step with the Dutch reputation for water management.

Forty years ago, plans had been in the works to reclaim this vast lake for habitation, potentially turning the four-metre-deep Markermeer into Markerwaard, a spillover settlement for the booming Dutch capital. The lake’s shores were armoured up with heavy stones. The Houtribdijk, a dam with a road on top, was built, cutting the doomed lake off from waters to its east. But mounting costs and political hurly-burly got in the way of the reclamation, leaving behind only a huge, turbid basin of water – one of the largest lakes in Europe – muddied by swirling silt.

Over the decades, the population of freshwater mussels vital for filtering the silt collapsed, along with the numbers of smelt fish, a favourite of local birdlife, including the common tern. It was a worrying sign of things to come. In 2011 Posthoorn, from the Natuurmonumenten, an NGO whose role combines that of the National Trust and the RSPB, tried to find a way through the political impasse.He successfully applied for funding from the Dutch postcode lottery with the idea of constructing islands to both collect the migrating silt and provide a home of dunes and marshland for wildlife. He also challenged the Dutch government and others to make good on their repeated promises to restore the Markermeer.

Read the full article from The Observer here.

Hostile Planet review – a heartstopping look at wildlife on the edge

From a snow leopard plummeting off a rockface with its prey to flightless goslings jumping to their possible death in search of food, this leaves you on the edge of your sofa

Born survivor … an adult barnacle goose.
Born survivor … an adult barnacle goose. Photograph: Miguel Willis/National Geographic/Miguel Willis

There is so much falling in Hostile Planet, so many terrifying tumbles and perilous plummets, that by the end you may feel reassured to find yourself on the sofa, albeit pinned to the edge. Taking in different environments over the series, the first episode is about life in the mountains. “I’m two miles above sea level and it is brutal,” says our narrator Bear Grylls, perched on a peak at the start. “Cold. Desolate. Hard to breathe.” I know the feeling. From the opening sequence of a snow leopard launching itself at a blue sheep – and hurling them both off the mountainside to tumble 200ft down, embraced in a terrible grapple – to the golden eagles trying to pierce each other’s bodies with their talons, these are heartstopping scenes.

Next are some barnacle geese. You know the ones – here in their thousands over winter, a bit unremarkable, boring almost. Can’t we get back to the snow leopard? Only what follows is the most unflinching sequence I have ever seen in a nature documentary. A chick pokes its head out from under its nesting mother, then another two pop out. The geese have built their nest on top of a 400ft pinnacle of rock in Greenland – silly, perhaps, but there are predators around. Between a rock and a hungry fox. The problem is that the chicks need to feed within 36 hours, but the grass they eat is a mile away, their parents can’t feed them in their nest and they are still a month off learning to fly. The only thing they can do is jump.

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

Police seize ‘super obedient’ lookout parrot trained by Brazilian drug dealers

Bird was taught to alert criminals to officers’ presence, according to reports: ‘As soon as the police got close he started shouting’

The parrot has been handed over to a local zoo.
The parrot has been handed over to a local zoo. Photograph: Mike Pitts/BBC

A parrot has been taken into custody in northern Brazil following a police raid targeting crack dealers.

According to reports in the Brazilian press, the bird had been taught to alert criminals to police operations in Vila Irmã Dulce, a low-income community in the sun-scorched capital of Piauí state, by shouting: “Mum, the police!”

The parrot, who has not been named, was seized on Monday afternoon when officers swooped on a drug den run by a local couple.

“He must have been trained for this,” one officer involved in the operation said of the two-winged wrongdoer. “As soon as the police got close he started shouting.”

A Brazilian journalist who came face to face with the imprisoned parrot on Tuesday described it as a “super obedient” creature – albeit one that had kept its beak firmly shut after being “arrested”.

“So far it hasn’t made a sound … completely silent,” the reporter said.

Alexandre Clark, a local vet, confirmed the parrot had not cooperated: “Lots of police officers have come by and he’s said nothing.”

The Brazilian broadcaster Globo said the “papagaio do tráfico” (drug trafficking parrot) had been handed over to a local zoo where it would spend three months learning to fly before being released.

The bird joins a growing list of animals implicated in Brazil’s drug trade, although most have been reptiles.

In 2008, police seized two small alligators during a raid on a favela in western Rio de Janeiro, claiming local gangsters had fed their enemies to the animals. However, the father of one of the accused gangsters rejected those accusations, alleging his son’s gang had once tried to do so – but the alligator had refused to eat the corpse.

Article extracted from The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/24/brazil-drug-parrot-trained-as-lookout-for-dealers

Freddy the parrot makes it back to zoo after being stolen, shot and bitten by snake

The bird, Freddy Krueger, found his way back to Brazil zoo after thieves abducted him – the latest survival in his tumultuous life

It shouldn’t happen to a parrot.
It shouldn’t happen to a parrot. Photograph: Kevin Rushby/The Guardian

An Amazonian parrot called Freddy Krueger has made headlines in Brazil after managing to find its way back to the zoo from which it was stolen while recovering from a four-year nightmare that saw it shot in a gun battle, abducted by armed thieves and bitten by a snake.

The turquoise-fronted Amazon parrot – whose Elm Street-inspired moniker stems from its bullet-disfigured face – was pilfered from a zoo in the southern city of Cascavel on the night of 16 April.

According to Brazil’s Folha de São Paulo newspaper, Freddy’s capture was just the latest in a series of misadventures to affect the Amazona aestiva bird.

Freddy was first brought to the zoo about four years ago, having been severely injured in a shootout between police and gangsters during a raid on the drug den where he had lived with his villain owner.

“In the shootout, [Freddy] was hit in the upper-beak … blinded and suffered burns to the feathers that grow between the eyes,” the Folha de São Paulo reported.

Freddy’s ordeal was far from over. Earlier this month, the parrot was reportedly bitten on the leg by a snake – thankfully of a non-venomous variety.

Freddy bled profusely but survived, only to be stolen days later when three armed raiders burst into Cascavel’s zoo, overpowered its security guard and made off with two parrots and a cylinder of gas.

Two days later, however, Freddy returned, discovered by zoo staff at the foot of a pine tree beside his cage.

The details of Freddy’s comeback remain murky, although drops of blood found near his former abode have fuelled speculation that the notoriously aggressive parrot bit his way out.

“He’s a bit of a wild one,” Ilair Dettoni, the zoo’s vet, was quoted as saying.

Dettoni suspected Freddy’s mangled features might have proven his salvation, given the limited market for deformed parrots. “I don’t know if Freddy is really unlucky or really lucky,” he said.

The second parrot and the gas cylinder have yet to be found.

Climate change damage to Queensland’s world heritage rainforest ‘as bad as Great Barrier Reef’

Management authority warns wet topics area is in ‘accelerating decline’ and endemic species under immediate threat

Mount Alexandra lookout with a view of the Daintree River mouth in north Queensland.
Mount Alexandra lookout with a view of the Daintree River mouth in north Queensland. Local authorities say the area’s tropical rainforest is in ‘accelerating decline’ due to climate change. Photograph: Picture Partners/Alamy Stock Photo

The wet tropics world heritage area in north Queensland has been damaged by climate change in a manner “equivalent” to coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, the area’s management authority has said.

In an extraordinary statement issued on Monday, the authority’s board said the tropical rainforest was in “accelerating decline” and that some of the area’s unique species were at imminent risk of extinction.

Last summer was the hottest on record.

“Extreme heat is the wet tropics world heritage area’s coral-bleaching event equivalent, with some mountain-adapted species, like the lemuroid ringtail possum, unable to survive even a day of temperatures above 29C,” the statement said.

Read The Guardian’s full article here.

BirdLife International – @BirdLife_News

Great news for a species long thought extinct!
New population of Blue-eyed Ground-doves discovered
Four new doves have been discovered, increasing the population of the Critically Endangered bird by 26 percent.
birdlife.org

Hedgehog Society – @hedgehogsociety

Gardening “with” hedgehogs
Gardening “with” hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are considered the gardener’s friend as they can help keep some of the garden pests under control. However whilst they can give us the pleasure of seeing them…
britishhedgehogs.org.uk

RareBirdAlertUK – @RareBirdAlertUK

Can anyone think of a good reason not to do this? Please sign and share to make help make this happen.
Quote Tweet
Bea – @NorfolkBea

·

Grant legal protection to Swallow, Swift and Martin nest sites not just nests. 100,000 signatures needed for parliamentary debate. #SaveTheBactonSandMartins #NetsDownForNature petition.parliament.uk/petitions/2508…
Image

BBC Wildlife – @WildlifeMag

There has been a 63 per cent decline in orchards since 1950 but the

plans to halt the decline.

Dozens of orchards to be planted by National Trust
The charity aims to plant 68 traditional orchards, dramatically increasing the number of these rare habitats.
discoverwildlife.com
Audubon Society – @audubonsociety

Did you know that how far certain bird songs travel depends on the habitat a bird is in? Listen to these examples of birds calls adapted for their environments. ow.ly/as1M30oA4Ie

Image
BTO – @_BTO

We’re delighted to announce that all our Atlas maps and underlying data are now open access. View the maps at bto.org/mapstore and the underlying data at bit.ly/BTOAtlasData.

Image
Little Green Space – @LGSpace

The declaration of a #ClimateEmergency by Scotland and Wales offers much-needed hope.

@WelshGovernment and @fmwales , please now lead the way on concerted #climateaction by saying #NoNewM4 and yes to sustainable public transport, biodiversity, wildlife, nature and people’s health!
Quote Tweet

Little Green Space – @LGSpace

·

Help #SaveTheGwentLevels! Take a minute to save this home to water voles, otters, rare bees, cranes, wildflower