08. May 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Birds, News

MysteryThrush

The BBC reports on recent studies into the power of bird song to lift the mood, aid concentration without distracting, stop you falling asleep after a big lunch and make you better appreciate petrol station toilets, amongst many other benefits.

The potential effects of a birdsong background are really quite startling (or quite Starling perhaps) and it's a really interesting article. I can vouch for the restorative effects of a walk in the countryside with lots of birdsong, including the first cuckoo I'd heard this year at the weekend.

Charlara Dieback of Ash

Infographic courtesy of Crowders.

They also have an article presenting a look at the potential impact on the UK of Chalara Dieback of Ash.

Jay

It seems as if autumn swept in over just a few days and now the country is transformed. Here are a few things I've noticed recently.

  • The feeders are smothered in Goldfinches and Greenfinches.
  • Magpies and Jays are much in evidence. Jays in particular always seem to suddenly appear at this time of year, though you had hardly seen them at all for the other months. I've blogged about this before. Twice.
  • The trees are showing their autumn colours – some of them are golden yellow already, but the full display is yet to be seen.
  • It's raining. A lot.
  • Fruit and veg crops didn't fare well with the topsy turvy weather over the year. I read that a famous English vineyard has had to ditch the entire year's grape harvest as it's just no good.
  • The garden spiders have mostly had their fun and there aren't quite so many webs to walk into of a morning.

DavidBellamy
Here pictured with yours truly is living legend David Bellamy, at Butterfly World near St Albans. I had the pleasure of meeting him as he was working there for most of the weekend in his role as a patron. He spoke passionately about the environment and that wonderful project (which I do heartily recommend). He wasn't mad keen on my picking the caterpillars off my cabbages – but I planted them in order to eat them myself!

I won't go into the details of our rambling conversation, but I will mention this delightful exchange (remembered as best I can):

Me: I run a nature blog
David: I don't understand these blog things
A nearby assistant: David – you have one!

Perhaps most importantly, I understand from David and other staff there that the massive biome is scheduled to be built soon. I do hope they get it off the ground and it turns out to be as promising as it sounds.

Bristol Natural History Consortium has been running a Meet the Species initiative, as part of Discovering Places, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Campaign to inspire the UK to discover their local environment. As part of this they've been publishing guest blog posts over the last week or so, as it draws to a close. There are two contributions from UKNatureBlog that were included today, on Zebra spiders and the Common Woodlouse (mostly drawn from content previously published here).

The BBC has an absolutely brilliant gallery of woodland wonders, from the Woodland Trust's recent photo competition, as judged by Simon King. Definitely worth a look.

The BBC reports on the impact on fauna and flora of the multi-month wet spell this 'summer'. In a nutshell, plants, slugs and snails win – though my Lupins would beg to disagree, the slugs and snails being all conquering in that portion of the garden. Bees, butterflies and birds are particularly hard hit. All the details are in the article.

29. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Birds, News

Well, actually several moments/weeks too late if you ask me what my definition of Spring is!

The team are back on BBC 2 at 8pm in the evenings, having started yesterday. Can you believe the weather's been so good that I've been outdoors of an evening and missed all the trails on TV that presumably heralded its imminent arrival. Get your fix from the BBC Springwatch website.

This evening I watched a small Kingfisher pop out seven eggs that seemed to add up to more than its total volume. Apparently it actually took a week over it and the images were therefore a shade misleading, but still very impressive regardless. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do that. Egg laying has never been a strong suit of mine.

BrimstoneButterfly

I speculated a little while back on whether many bugs would struggle because of the endless downpours of the last month or two. The BBC comes along with an answer: yes, especially honeybees and butterflies. Bumble bees are however a more 'native' species and adapted to our climate and survive better. And it hardly needs mentioning that slugs and snails are having a field day. Don't my Hostas know it!

If you like cats (and I do) then you should take a look at this BBC report on Scottish Wildcats and then read the Wikipedia page on the wonderfully named Felis silvestris (i.e. the same animal). They really do look just like slightly evil domestic moggies. Or if you prefer, our domestic moggies clearly show their heritage as they stalk prey in the garden.

Actually the Latin name set me wondering if the cartoon cat Sylvester was named knowingly. Once again we turn to Wikipedia and find that yes, this is a deliberate pun, though it points out that Sylvester is a true domestic cat and hence Felis catus. Shucks. However some declare domestic cats as Felis silvestris catus (a subspecies of the wildcat) in which case all is right with the world.