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Friday, February 29, 2008

Squirrel Pox threatens Anglesey

The Squirrel Pox has been found in a Red Squirrel on the island of Anglesey in what conservationist belive could be a devastating blow for the islands Red Population. During a similar outbreak in Newborough Forest in 2006 the Reds were able to be safegarded, howevert Angleseys population at Pentraeth live in much higher densities than population in Cumbrias so the risk of cross contamination is greater.

The Grey is currently being eradicated from Anglesey as Anglesey is seen as one of the few areas south of Scotland where it has a chance of prospering. I have to say I'm normally against culls but in this instance I can see that given the limited area and access to Anglesey it actually has a chance of working.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back off Badgers

The threat of a wholesale Badger Cull was reduced fter the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee said yesterday that mass eradication should not form the cornerstone of government policy against the disease, which farmers claim is spread by badgers.

However the MPs did back culls in hotspot areas like Devon. If you don't agree with this then the RSPCA has some links.

Hope the RSPCA doesn't mind me "borrowing" the picture given I'm highlighting the issue.

Can your dog do this?

Cindy, a pedigree 8 year old cavalier King Charles spaniel, is amazing her owners and neighbours with the tricks she can perform.

She can balance objects on all four paws whilst laying down and also keep a golf ball in a spoon held in her mouth whilst balancing an object on her head.

There's pictures and a video at the link

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Flight of the Bumblebee

There is an interesting story on the BBC Website about how scientists are using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tags to track the flight of Bumblebees.

Apparently Bumblebees have a relatively small brain - they have about 950,000 brain cells, humans have 100 billion - but they can achieve impressive feats of memory and the scientists at the Queen Mary, University of London.

The scientists are hoping the RFID tags will help them to find out how bees can find find the shortest routes between flowers, especially given their relatively small brains.

Do check out the link if you are interested.

Protection for Ratty

Joan Ruddock, the Minister for Biodiversity, announced that from April 6 that

the Water Vole will gain protection against being killed, injured, or taken from the wild from 6 April. It will join species such as the otter that already enjoy protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Minister made the announcement at the London Wetland Centre, where the above picture was taken, to see at first hand a project to protect water voles.

The annoucment was welcomed by Alastair Driver, National Conservation Manager for the Environment Agency and Chair of the UK Water Vole Species Action Plan Group and Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive for The Wildlife Trusts.

Apparently Water Vole numbers have declined 90% since 1990.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Guide to Garden Wildlife

I know a few people who read this blog get a significant proportion of their wildlife fix from their back gardens.

So I thought I would mention that British Wildlife Publishing who publish the excellent British Wildlife magazine and some excellent field guides on Butterflies and Dragonflies have a new wildlife book called a Guide to Garden Wildlife.

The prepublication price is £11.95

I snaffled this from the website.

Written and illustrated by Richard Lewington
Introduction by Ken Thompson
ISBN 978-0-9531399-7-2
208 pages, paperback
Full colour throughout with more than 900 illustrations

RRP £12.95 Publication April 2008
Pre-publication special offer price: £11.95 (p&p free, UK only)

A superb new guide to the full range of wildlife in your garden. From blue tits to bumblebees and hedgehogs to hawkmoths, this guide has got it covered. Illustrated by Richard Lewington, acknowledged as one of the finest natural history artists in Europe, with the birds by his brother, Ian, one of our most respected bird artists. Extensive introduction to the ecology of the garden and the incredible array of animals that can be found there. More than 900 colour artworks and photographs of over 500 species likely to be found in a garden in Great Britain and Ireland. Easy-to-use format with artwork plates opposite text descriptions. Includes detailed descriptions and information on the life history, behaviour and occurrence of each species. Practical information on creating a pond for wildlife, making nest boxes and feeding birds.

I suspect I'll get a copy, the other books have been so good, and I'll post a review.

That White Crowned Sparrow

You may remember a few weeks ago I went to Norfolk and saw the White Crowned Sparrow.

There's an artical about the Sparrow in the Church Times. I do like the cartoon.

Its still there by the way!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Police Dogs Get Shoes

Police dogs in the German city of Duesseldorf are being fitted out with blue rubber shoes to protect their paws while walking the beat.

Apparently shards of glass and sharp objects get stuck between the cobbles of Duesseldorf's old town and are dangerous for the canine squad. 20 Dogs are being taught to work and walk in the shoes.

The shoes are modelled on a design made for sled-pulling Canadian huskies.

Bugs lose their day in court.

Buglife are reporting that the new wildlife protection laws may not be as useful as had been hoped.

Buglife were trying to get planning permission, granted by Thurrock council, for a new Royal Mail Distribution centre at West Thurrock Marshes squashed. Unfortunately Justice Missing dismissed the 2006 Biodiversity Duty that applies to all Public Bodies as being a ‘weak one”.

Some expamples of species affected by this ruling:
The Distinguished jumper (Sitticus distinguendus): a spider found on only two sites in the UK – both threatened brownfield sites.

The Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis) and Red-shanked bumblebee (Bombus ruderarius) depend on the large areas of flower-rich grassland, most of which will be destroyed by the development. Both of these species have suffered large declines.

The Saltmarsh shortspur beetle (Anisodactylus poeciliodes): a large proportion of the habitat of this rare and endangered beetle will be lost – replaced by a car park. Well that's useful!

The Royal Mail Group’s Post Office run advertisements featuring happy ants, the ants at West Thurrock will not be so happy. The new development will stamp out a population of the rare Hump-backed red ant (Myrmica bessarabica).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Wind in the Willows

So where to? For some strange reason I headed south down the M11 I hadn't planned to but there you go. I am going to Esher next week to pick up a church I need and to visit Hampton Court Palace. So I went to Barnes.

And look what I found!

I wandered into the wader scrape hided and saw a duck. And I thought "hello what are you" the obvious answer was Garganey but I thought it a bit early! Well here you go.

I wandered to the peacock tower in search of a birder with a scope so I could confirm it! I put a chap on it and sure enough a Garganey!! Nice! I'm guessing first winter male.

I know a few people who frequent Barnes and look who turned up, Josh and his Granny - Oh I'll suffer for that!!

I took Tricia and Josh to where the Vole was unfortunately for Tricia her son phoned for instructions on cooking roast beef.....

well have some more!

Lots of these chaps about....

I apologize for lots of shots of this little cutey

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Out and About

Went out with Dad today. Nothing exciting we went to Bury St Edmunds had a Tea and a Scone and then went to Clare - typical day out with Dad.

I had intended to show you pictures of the cathedral, I left the dSLR in the car and put my little Canon in my pocket. I took a few photos and the batteries ran out!! SOB! The cathedral was once a chapel of the HUGE Abbey, it then became a parish church and then became a Cathedral. Over the last 100-200 years a lot of work has been done.

Then on to Clare. As I have mentioned MANY times before it has plenty of history, there was castle, it has a fine parish church and a ruined priory which is once again a priory.

Dad's new car!

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