A couple of nice stories to celebrate April 1st from Wildlife Extra.
Trafalgar Square to be transformed into wildlife haven (the RSPB plans to create a giant nature park in Trafalgar Square, to mark the UN target of reversing declines in wildlife across the world by 2020.)
Flamingos sighted in Scotland According to the RSPB, this could be the first time Greater Flamingos have ventured this far north.
I thought this article by Michael McCarthy in The Indepedent was amusing:
“Reports of polar bears travelling to Britain made the news earlier this year. The RSPB suggested that one had been washed up still alive on the Hebridean island of Mull – the story was an April Fool. The second report came in September when Naomi Lloyd, a presenter of ITV’s West Country breakfast bulletin, excitedly informed viewers that a polar bear had been washed up dead at the Cornish seaside town of Bude. The animal turned out to be a cow, which had been bleached white by the seawater.”
See also: Polar bear washes up on Scotland’s Isle of Mull
More and more nature reserves are providing audio trails for visitors. They were originally designed for the blind but there are increasingly used by other people. All are free and downloadable onto your Mp3 device.
Here are a few I’ve found, but most are produced by audiotrails.co.uk
Sensationalist headline of the month goes to me. More on this story from the Guardian “Dartmoor ponies are now worth more dead than alive, and are being killed and fed to lions in the zoo. Sadly it may be the only way to save a habitat and an economy in crisis”
We’ve been a bit busy recently with stuff and so we haven’t had time to update the site. Here are a few news stories we’ve missed:
Mammals and birds
- Water voles have surprised ecologists by abandoning their herbivorous diet and developing a taste for frogs’ legs. More
- Cranes, with their huge eight-feet wingspan, were once a common sight in wetlands across the country. But in the 1600s, a loss of habitat – coupled with relentless persecution by man – made this charismatic species extinct in Britain.Now they are set to return. More
- One of the rarest mating rituals of any British animal has finally been caught on camera. A BBC natural history film crew has captured what experts believe is the first footage of a male bittern “booming” in daylight in the UK. More
- The tawny owl population in one of the UK’s largest forests is booming as a result of the harsh winter, a Forestry Commission expert said today.There has been a significant increase in the number of voles, which the birds of prey feed on, in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, and experts believe this is linked to the recent cold weather. More
- Britain’s rarest flower given round-the-clock police protection More
- The english oak, the quintessential native tree which saved a monarch and defines the British landscape, is under grave threat from a little-understood new disease that forestry experts fear is spreading far more rapidly across the country than previously estimated. More
- Archives of environmentalist Roger Deakin given to university.Life’s work of pioneering nature writer handed to University of East Anglia, including swimming trunks and fishy manuscript. More
- Garden ponds unwittingly polluted by tap water. Survey of garden ponds finds many have high level of nitrates from tap water that can harm wildlife More
- Rubbish tips, supermarket car parks and motorway verges are to become wildlife reserves, under plans to revolutionise conservation. More
- A moth new to science and found nowhere else in the world has been formally recognised as living in the UK. More
- Over-fishing means UK trawlers have to work 17 times as hard for the same fish catch as 120 years ago, a study shows. Researchers used port records dating from the late 1800s, when mechanised boats were replacing sailing vessels. In the journal Nature Communications, they say this implies “an extraordinary decline” in fish stocks and “profound” ecosystem changes. More
The BBC reports that the illegal sport of hare coursing is on the rise in certain parts of England. Coursing was banned by the 2004 Hunting Act to protect the endangered brown hare. BBC
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
Sealife Adventure, associated with Sea Trust (part of the Wales Wildlife Trust), run trips off the Pembrokeshire coast to the islands of Grassholm, and its impressive gannet colony, Skomer, with its puffins and guillemots, and Skokholm, famous for its population of Manx shearwater. There are large numbers of Grey seals in the area, and the chance of watching dolphins as they race the boat. More information
BBC radio 4 has a couple of rather nice documentaries on the Isle of Man on demand at the moment. The first one pays a visit to the Calf of Man, a rugged island to the south of the Isle of Man to look at Manx Shearwaters. The second is on the plan by the The Isle of Man government to designate an area of their coastline as a marine nature reserve, protecting invaluable habitats and species. Enjoy.
Tregothnan Manuka honey is the only Manuka honey in the world produced outside of New Zealand. A pot will set you back from £55.00-£75.oo. Very small quantities of Manuka Honey are being produced from the original Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) plantations at the Tregothnan Home Estate. Visit
If you really want to feel you’re in the great outdoors, you should try wild camping. It’s more exciting, it’s free and you really feel part of the countryside. It is generally only legal in England and Wales with the prior permission of the landowner, though in most cases, if you ask nicely you probably won’t be refuesed.
Follow these rules: keep out of sight and away from livestock, do not build open fires, do not camp in large groups, respect the environment, stay for one night only, and follow the wild camper’s mantra: “pitch late, leave early.”
While you should also follow the above rules, things are easier in Scotland. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 makes wild camping legal in most cases as long as practised away from homes and roads.
The Guardian has this excellent article on wild camping. It gives recommendations, in addition to much of Scotland, for Dartmoor, The Berwyn mountains, North Wales, South Downs and The North Pennines.
For Scotland see: the Scottish Outdoor Access Code