I’ve just downloaded the fantastic new mushroom app Wild Mushrooms of North America and Europe by Roger Phillips with its huge database of more than 2,400 photographs of over 1,550 wild mushrooms. The app features edible, hallucinogenic, poisonous mushrooms, truffles and brackets, collected in the wild by the famous Roger and many other senior mycologists from both America and Europe. In addition to showing detailed photographs of the mushrooms from different angles, there’s loads of helpful information to help with identification, including a very useful key system which wil help you whiitle down choices; (details of size, shape, color, habitat). There is also a sign on each picture to quickly give you the idea of danger or edibility.
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Treed is the best tree app I’ve come across. It’s basically a field guide to trees found growing naturally in the British Isles. The new version features all native species, plus most naturalised ones. There’s a very a handy key which helps narrow down identification automatically (you just have to click on leaft type, bark etc). Great stuff.
Trees included in this version:
Alder, Ash, Beech, Silver Birch, Downy Birch, Box, Purging Buckthorn, Alder Buckthorn, Blackthorn, Gean Cherry, Bird Cherry, Ornamental Cherry, Crab Apple, Wild Pear, Dogwood, Elder, Wych Elm, Smooth-Leaved Elm, White Elm, Common Hawthorn, Midland Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Hornbeam, Horse Chestnut, Juniper, Common Lime, Broad-Leaved Lime, Small-Leaved Lime, Field Maple, Pendunculate Oak, Sessile Oak, Scots Pine, London Plane, Black Poplar, Aspen, White Poplar, Sea Buckthorn, Rowan, Wild Service Tree, Whitebeam, Spindle, Wayfaring Tree, Guelder Rose, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore, Walnut, Crack Willow, White Willow, Goat Willow, Osier, Bay Willow, Yew
You can listen alphabetically, by song type and commonness, but best for all for me is the quiz which is completely addictive. The commonest British and Northern European birds are featured, with more birds promised soon in the updates.
This is a really great app for learning about birdsongs. Well done to the bright spark who made it. More here from itunes
See also wildflowers app
I’d like to thoroughly recommend the superb wildflowers app for iphone/itouch with its wonderful ID key. The app includes more than 1000 wildflowers of France and Western Europe, which means the vast majority of British wildflowers are featured. You can choose between English, French and German.
I’ve been using it for some time and updates with new species are regularly provided. For the future, could do with some distribution maps but this is a fab start.
Guaranteed to get you out there identifying stuff. More here
Forgot to mention: you can also add notes about each species (where you saw it etc) which I’m finding very useful.
A few good wildlife apps for iphone / itouch are starting to trickle onto the market. An interesting one is the Collins British Wildlife Photoguide, priced at £5.99 which is an app version of a large book. The Guardian notes “Arranged by taxonomy – mammals, invertebrates, butterflies and moths, birds and so on – it features photos and brief descriptions of over 1,500 species. The navigation is a bit fiddly and there’s no identification feature, so you need to know what you’re looking at or be willing to scroll through several pages to get a match.”
There is also a very nice little app which is a guide to all of Britain’s native trees. Very easy and slick design make identification loads easier and lighter than carrying around a hefty guide book!
My favourite though is the superb wildflowers guide with its wonderful ID key. Guaranteed to get you out there IDing stuff.
I also want to recommend the complete Wikipedia Encyclopedia app, myfavourite mobile application of all time. Although it doesn’t have photos and is a bit clunky, it includes stacks and stacks of information on the natural history of the Britsih Isles.. Warning takes some time to download, but it’s worth it. Also includes millions of articles from around the world without worrying about data roaming fees. I find it incredibly useful when travelling, or for resolving discussions in bars, and above all for learning about something in situ. This year for instance I enjoyed reading about puffins, 30 minutes after watching them on the Isle of Lunga off Mull.
Since the Atlantic Puffin gets the majority of its food from diving it is important that there is an ample supply of resources and food. Different environmental conditions such as tidal cycle, upwellings and downwellings contribute to this abundance. In a study published in 2005 it was observed that Atlantic Puffins were associated with areas of well-mixed water below the surface. This study implies consequences for the species if impacts of global warming lead to an alteration of tidal cycles. If these cycles are modified too much, it is probable that the Atlantic Puffin will have a difficult time locating food resources. Another consequence of an increase in temperature could be a reduction in the range of the Atlantic Puffin, as it is only able to live in cool conditions and does not fare overly well if it has to nest in barren, rocky places, and an increase in temperature could thus squeeze the zone of puffin-suitable habitat as warmer biotopes expand from the equator but the polar regions remain barren due to lack of historical accumulation of topsoil. From the Encyclopedia app
For those who don’t succumb to the charms of grey squirrels, keeping them off the bird feeder is a challenge. There are plenty of ideas on the forums, such as placing a table on top of a greased pole, or capitulating by scattering food on the ground to distract the squirrels and give the birds a chance. If unwanted rodents are consuming kilos of bird food, it might be worth investing in a specially designed squirrel-proof bird feeder. Those sold by the RSPB include conventional seed and nut dispensers caged within bars too narrow for a squirrel to pass through. Then there’s the robust–looking Squirrel Buster, which automatically closes down when something heavier than a small bird tries to access the food. It’s the most expensive option, but comes with a life-time guarantee. Not bad considering the fearless acrobatics and determined wire-chewing tendencies of squirrels.
View at the RSPB
- They smell as strong as a skunk in close quarters, and although it is theoretically possible to have their scent glands removed, this is not very healthy and will not eliminate the smell of their urine, which is very powerful.
- Foxes need a huge amount of space in which to run.
- Foxes love to dig, and can easily dig out of a yard or through a sofa.
- Foxes are at high risk to carry rabies. In many areas, there is no approved rabies vaccine for foxes; even if you have papers proving your fox has been vaccinated, some states will still have it destroyed and tested if it bites someone.
- Because foxes are at high risk, you MUST get it vaccinated. This can prove very difficult. Veterinarians need a special license to treat wildlife, which many don’t have, because it’s a high-risk, low-reward proposition.
- Lastly, it is very likely that a fox you own as a pet will be very unhappy. Many wild animals become depressed when removed from their natural habitat, and foxes are subject to depression as much as any other animal.
Useful list of the best or at least most unusual bird feeders on the market put together by The Guardian here. I liked particularly the above mobile bird feeder. Meanwhile the RSPB’s national Feed the birds weekend starts tomorrow.
Shopping trolleys have lost their social stigma, partly because of pleasingly designed trolleys like these. Using one will help avoid unnecessary use of plastic bags and also contribute to saving turtles in Sri Lanka where the Turtle Trolley was created. Turtle bags online shop
The RSPB have put out a reminder that now is a good moment to clean out nest boxes and put up new ones, since birds begin searching for likely sites well in advance of spring. And a sure sign that more nest boxes are needed in the area is when different species are found sharing the same space. This occurs particularly with barn owl boxes, since holes in trees or old buildings suitable for larger birds are becoming harder to find. The photograph shows barn owl and kestrel chicks being raised together. Great and blue tits are also known to share. RSPB
Research into the pox being spread by the resistant grey squirrel, which is decimating the vulnerable red squirrel population, is underway in Liverpool University. Dead red squirrels with antibodies to the virus have been found in the National Trust woods at Formby, giving hope that a vaccine or controlled breeding programme can save the species. The work is urgent, as grey squirrels are now expanding into Scotland, despite all attempts at creating buffer zones and culling. Guardian
Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook comes recommended as both inspirational and practical. Author John Wright captures the fun of picking edible wild fungi and then transforming them into delicious meals. Packed with mushroom-lore and illustrations, with a section on poisonous fungi, it’s small enough to take out on forays. Particularly good for transmitting confidence to novice pickers.
The remarkable BBC documentary Secrets of the Sett filmed badgers making their beds before venturing out for a night’s foraging. Indeed, one of the signs of an inhabited sett is old straw left at the entrance by house-proud badgers. Cornish wildlife artist Dick Twinney has captured this aspect of badger behaviour in an engaging painting, included in the 2100 calendar he’s put together. Take a look at his keenly observed and vividly textured images in the Living Countryside calendar available in a limited number of 500 signed editions.
What is the best value night scope on the market? The Yukon Exelon 3×50 won the ‘wildlife on test in June 2009 issue of BBC Wildlife. They recommended it for its ease of use, size and clarity of image. Cost was 235 pounds. More here
This August’s 2009 issue of BBC Wildlife has a feature on the most and least wildlife friendly supermarkets in Britain. Marks and Spencer’s comes out top, followed by The Cooperative. Worst of those tested were ASDA and Tesco. Tested points were: air miles, animal welfare, climate change, fair trade, fish, GM food, organics and pesticides and palm oil.