Nice little guide from the Guardian to Britain’s common garden birdsongs. Find out which birds sound like a bicycle pump or a squeaky trolley wheel and which can imitate car alarms.
I enjoyed this piece in the Independent…”Mistletoe is the fulcrum of an entire ecosystem. A versatile and rapacious plant, it is home to a number of invertebrates which are specially adapted to thrive on and around its surface” The Independent
Three-quarters of British barn owls now live in man-made nest boxes. BBC
I thought this guide for identifying eggcases on the British coast was wonderful. Will definitely printing off a copy for next summer.
A short and remarkable video from Springwatch in 2009 showing Daubenton’s Bats catching insect right over the water. They hunting big bugs such as stoneflies and mayflies and so only need about a thousand kills a night, unlike other bats which hunt smaller prey and need to catch some 3000.
On a recent BBC wildlife podcast, fox expert Professor Steve Harris, Bristol University stated that the average urban fox will kill a cat every 6 years, and that some 500 cats live in every fox territory. So the risk is tiny.
A Bristol City Council leaflet writen by Professor Harris gives the follwoing advice:
This is very rare; a survey in northwest Bristol, where foxes were particularly common, showed that they killed 0.7% of the cats each year and these were predominantly young kittens. This means your cat is far more likely to be run over, stray or die from a variety of other causes.
Foxes are only a little bit bigger than a cat (males average about 5.5 kilograms) and are equipped with a set of sharp teeth. Cats have an equally sharp set of teeth, plus some pretty unpleasant sharp claws. If a fox tackles a cat, it risks severe injuries and that is the last thing it wants. Every night a single fox will meet many, perhaps dozens of cats and most encounters are either indifferent or amicable.
Cats and foxes will usually ignore each other. However, some cats are aggressive animals and will go for a fox, sometimes to drive it away from their garden or food bowl. Usually a fox will flee but if this is not practical and particularly if it is cornered, it may defend itself against the cat. Then both animals may be injured.
Finally, although foxes live in family groups and meet up periodically to play or socialise, they hunt alone. So stories of “packs of foxes” roaming the streets killing pet cats are totally fictitious.
Above photo from Wiki Commons of fox and pet rabbit by Oosoom.
Water shrews (Neomys fodiens), Britain’s largest native shrew, have a venomous bite used to paralyse freshwater shrimps, water slaters and caddis larvae. Although, the shrews’ teeth cannot penetrate human skin, the venom in their saliva can leave a rash. So not exactly dangerous… More from the BBC here
The British Deer Society estimates that annually as many as 75,000 deer are involved in collisions, causing ten human fatalities and many more injuries. BBC here
I found this short and fiendishly difficult quiz on British mushrooms. Quiz on FirstNature
And some facsinating fungi facts here from the BBC Apparantly there are more than 3,000 different types of mushrooms and toadstools in the UK.
And a series of PDFs to promote awareness and understanding of fungi from the BMS.
92,000 people have taken part in the RSPB’s survey of garden wildlife, Make Your Nature Count, taking in 69,000 gardens in the UK. In addition to birds, the RSB asked participamts to look out for certain species of mammals. Above image: Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)
Fourteen per cent recorded the presence of moles, with half of these detecting moles regularly. Unsurprisingly, most moles were detected in rural gardens, being most frequently seen (or at least their molehills) in Wales in 25% of gardens, compared with 15% in Scotland and 13% in England. There are no moles in Northern Ireland. Roe deer were recorded in 5% of gardens, with most sightings came from Scotland, where they were seen in 16% of gardens, compared to 4% in England and only 0.5% in Wales. There are no roe deer in Northern Ireland.
Hedgehogs were seen in 30% of gardens in urban areas, and more than one in seven saw them regularly. Hedgehog expert Hugh Warwick said: “Gardens are clearly very important for hedgehogs, a great example of a truly wild animal not only at home with us but also of great benefit to gardeners. “We should treasure the fact that they live comfortably in our gardens and so many people can get nose-to-nose with them.” The Guardian
A lucky 5%, in my opinion, saw badgers, including more than 20& in Somerset and Pembrokeshire.
The bittern has enjoyed this year its most successful year since it recolonised the UK in 1911, following 25 years of British extinction. A UK monitoring programme for this shy bird of reedbeds has revealed the presence of 87 males. RSPB
A pair of Red-backed shrike has nested in England, at a secret location on Dartmoor, for the first time in 18 years. RSPB