27 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Forthcoming UK Wildlife Events For 2010

Moth Caterpillar - Cerura vinula
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lukjonis

If you’re anything like me then actually getting outside with likeminded individuals is just about the best way to spend the day. Whether you’re going out with an expert learning to identify birds or you’re doing your bit with a wildlife survey these events can be some of the most rewarding days out possible.

So I thought with this in mind I would mention a few forthcoming wildlife and nature events for 2010 so you can find out more about them and get involved wherever possible.

27th March 2010 – Earth Hour

WWF are once again asking us all to illustrate just how important we feel climate change is to help put pressure on politicians to make a difference. At 8.30pm GMT on March 27th WWF are hoping for a billion people to switch off their lights for an hour. Click here to find out more.

15th May 2010 – National Moth Night

A celebration of moths in which you are invited to carry out a moth count of your own or join an organized event where you can learn more about moths and help to further out understanding of their distribution across the UK. Click here to find out more.

21st-27th June 2010 – National Insect Week 

Organized by the Royal Entomological Society, this is a national celebration of insects and their importance in the web of life. Click here to find out more.

28th-29th August 2010 – European Bat Weekend

Get closer to bats with this special annual event organized by the Bat Conservation Trust. Click here to learn more.

Lastly, please be aware that the British Wildlife Trusts arrange a huge number of events throughout the year and across the country. You can find their detailed listings of events here.

27 February 2010 ~ 4 Comments

16 Environmental And Conservation Charities You Should Join

Maternal instinct
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar

If you’re like me and you don’t just want to enjoy wildlife passively but you actually want to “do your bit” and donate some money to environmental and conservation causes then you can do a lot worse than to join one or more charities.

Many of these charities do amazing work from managing habitats to lobbying governments and so you will really be making an impact by joining. A membership to one of these societies can also be an excellent gift idea for the passionate conservationist or naturalist.

Please note that the links will take you straight to their respective membership pages to find out more.

The following list are well-known charities within the UK but please feel free to make additions by leaving a comment at the bottom of this article.

Bug Life

Dedicated to maintaining sustainable populations of insects, spiders and earthworms. Click here to join.

Butterfly Conservation

Dedicated to saving wild butterflies, moths and their habitats throughout the UK. Click here to join.

Centre For Alternative Technology (CAT)

Aims to ‘inspire, inform, and enable’ people to live more sustainably. Click here to join.

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Saving endangered animals from extinction worldwide. Click here to join.

English Heritage

Exists to protect and promote England’s spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. Click here to join.

Friends Of The Earth

Making life better for people by inspiring solutions to environmental problems. Click here to join.

Greenpeace

Defends the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing environmentally responsible solutions. Click here to join.

Marine Conservation Society

Dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its wildlife. Click here to join.

National Trust

Protects special places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, for ever, for everyone. Click here to join.

People’s Trust For Endangered Species

Helps to ensure a future for many endangered species throughout the world. Click here to join.

Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds (RSPB)

Works to secure a healthy environment for birds and all wildlife, helping to create a better world for everyone. Click here to join.

Wildfowl And Wetlands Trust

A leading UK conservation organisation saving wetlands with nine UK wetland visitor centres, consulting and conservation teams working worldwide. Click here to join.

Woodland Trust

Working towards a country rich in native woods and trees enjoyed and valued by everyone. Click here to join.

World Land Trust

 A wildlife conservation charity with a 20 year track record of successful rainforest projects. Click here to join.

Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF)

Protects endangered wildlife and environments, tackles climate change and promotes sustainable use of resources. Click here to join.

Zoological Society Of London (ZSL)

Devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Click here to join.

26 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

Silver Birches and Autumn Leaves
Creative Commons License photo credit: soylentgreen23

The silver birch (Betula pendula) is one of my absolute favourite British tree species for so many reasons. For one it is easy to identify which makes it great to introduce to kids. Secondly I think it is a very attractive tree. Finally the tree has been used for thousands of years for all sorts of exciting purposes.

Appearance:

The silver birch is easy to identify by it’s white, paper-like bark which can peel off in flakes. However it is only the outer bark which normally peels off in this way.

The birch generally isn’t a particularly large tree and is one of our shorter-lived species. They often succumb to diseases and fungi within 30-40 years of germination.

Habitat:

The silver birch is a deciduous tree that loses it’s small leaves in the winter months. It is most often therefore seen in deciduous woodland however birch is also one of our early colonizing species.

An area of land left to waste will often start to show small birches growing on it within a few years. In time, these birches become a small forest, before dying back and making way for the slower growing but longer lived deciduous species like oak or beech.

One aspect of managing moorland and heathland habitats involves ensuring that birches are kept in check so as to not choke out the gorses and heathers that make up this sensitive habitat.

Interesting Facts:

With the use of a sharp knife it is possible to remove the bark from a birch without actually killing the tree. And birch bark once stripped from the tree is both waterproof and very bendable which meant that our ancestors could use it for a variety of practical uses including the creation of baskets or for covering shelters to keep out the rain.

26 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Rooks (Corvus frugilegus)

You could have let me clean my beak!
Creative Commons License photo credit: foxypar4

Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) are one of the easiest of the British corvids to identify due to their characteristic call, sociability and appearance. Rooks normally nest and roost in groups (often known as a “rookery”) and in bygone days it was said that if the rooks deserted a rookery then the owner of that land was to die shortly!

Appearance:

The rook is a large black bird of 40-50 centimetres in length. The most characteristic thing about them which helps to set them apart from any of the other big black birds like crows or ravens is the patch of white or grey skin at the base of the beak which can normally be easily seen.

Habitat:

These birds are quite widespread across the UK. Typically they like to hand out in tall deciduous trees such as in woodland or at the edges of fields but they may also be seen in more urban landscapes such as on grass verges near roads searching for food.

26 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

This Week’s Nature Tweets

Tags: , ,

24 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Fallow Deer (Cervus dama)

Dear deer
Creative Commons License photo credit: garryknight

The fallow deer is, to many people, the “classic” deer and the model for Bambi. Seen as a typically British species often seen in and around deciduous woodland the species was infact introduced centuries ago to provide sport and meat.

Appearance:

The fallow deer is an average-szied deer being around a metre in height at the shoulder. Within the UK, fallow deer have characteristic antlers and typically a ginger/brown coat with white spots on. There are a number of different colour forms which are found though with some individuals being almost black.

Unlike many other British deer species, fallow deer often form loose groups ranging from two or three individuals up to dozens.

Habitat:

The typical habitat for fallow deer is deciduous woodland but they may also venture out onto grassy areas nearby such as parks or open fields. In the heat of the summer, groups may be found resting in the shade of a tree.

Food:

Falloe deer are herbivorous and eat a wide range of plants matter in the UK including grass, tree bark and young succulent leaves.

24 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)

roe deer - young male
Creative Commons License photo credit: vlod007

The roe deer is arguably the most common and widespread deer in the UK with a shoulder height of 70-80 cms making it significantly larger than the Muntjac but also noticeably smaller than the red deer or fallow deer.

Appearance:

Typically brown in colour these deer may have small antler. The most noticeable aspects of the roe deers appearance to aid in identification is a very obvious black tip to the nose and a bright white rear. This white is seen flashing as deer race into the distance away from danger (i.e. you!).

Habitat:

Unlike the fallow deer, roe deer are typically found alone though at some points of the year one may find small groups. They may be found in most wooded areas and also in surrounding grassy areas such as fields and meadows. A stroll through rough pastureland at dawn or dusk gives you the best possible chance of seeing the species.

Food:

A wide variety of plant material is taken by roe deer including, but not limited to, fruits in Autumn, leaves, grass and even tree bark which can cause damage to trees in some extreme cases.

22 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis)

Slow worm
Creative Commons License photo credit: bollin

The slow worm (Anguis fragilis) is one of Britain’s only reptile species though is also found in much of Europe too. Whilst the slow worm looks like a small snake it is in fact a legless lizard. There are two ways we can see this. Firstly, the slow worm is capable of blinking. Snakes are unable to do this as their eyelids are fused. Secondly, if you are able to get a close look at a slow worm you can see the difference between it’s “body” and it’s “tail” where the animal gets noticeably thinner.

Appearance:

Baby slow worms, which are born live, are attractively coloured with a black background an copper stripes down their back. In contrast the adults are generally a dull brown colour and reach around 30-40cm on length.

Habitat:

Slow worms are wide ranging lizards and can be found in many environments. Rough grassland and heathland seem to be their main preferences though they may be encountered elsewhere such as in gardens in summer months.

Slow worms are typically nocturnal and during the day can be found hiding under logs, bark and the likes. Placing some corrugated iron in a wild, grassy field can be a good way to attract them and you will often find a number hiding together in these conditions. From time to time, mainly in warm, wet weather slow worms may come out during the day to hunt.

Food:

Being lizards, slow worms enjoy a varied diet consisting of a range of small invertebrates though slugs seem to be a particular favourite of theirs.

Interesting Facts:

Like many lizards, slow worms practise sloughing of the tail if it is pulled hard such as by a predator. It is commonplace to see slow worms with stump tails as they are trying to regrow a lost tail from a nasty encounter.

22 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui)

Painted Lady
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stefan Willoughby

The Painted Lady is a stunning migrant butterfly species which spends much of winter feeding in northern Africa before migrating up into Europe as the weather here improves. This is likely because it is at this time of year that Africa becomes dry and barren and so few food plants are available for the Painted Ladys to breed on.

Appearance:

In many ways the Painted Lady appears as a more fragile and subtle version of the Small Tortoiseshell (Anglais urticae) though the base colour is more orange than red. It is an average-sized butterfly with gentle markings on the wings.

Habitat:

Once the Painted Lady reaches the UK it can be found in most habitats as a widespead sign of summer. They enjoy feeding on nectar-rich plants like many butterflies and so are often encountered in gardens feeding on Buddleia and the lke. They may alse be encountered in grassland, forest edges and virtually anywhere that they may be gathering nectar are looking for egg laying locations.

Food:

The young larvae feed on thistles or nettles in the UK. Caterpillars which pupate early in the season may try to breed in the UK laying a second generation of eggs. In the autumn, adults fly back south down to northern Africa for the winter.

Interesting Facts:

The complete breeding cycle was unknown until 2009 when the UK as well as much of Europe experienced one of their largest influxes of this species ever. Public interest and a combination of media sources such as daily newspapers, Butterfly Conservation and BBC2’s Autumn Watch helped us to trace the flight-paths of the species, and so prove once and for all that the adults do indeed migrate back to Africa in the autumn.

22 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

The Nature Blog Officially Launches!

Endeavour STS-118 Blastoff
Creative Commons License photo credit: jurvetson

Well ladies and gentlemen this site has been a long time coming but I’m excited to announce that today – February 22nd 2010 – this site has launched.

As an amateur naturalist I spend most of my free time devoted to wildlife and nature in one way or another. Whether I’m out with my binoculars to see what is around, reading a book, watching TV and more, it’s almost certainly got something to do with wildlife involved.

So this site is really my “life stream” of all the things I see and do to do with wildlife. I;m hoping it becomes a useful resource guide for many other people interested in nature, and I’m also hoping it attracts plenty of new friends, discussions and discoveries as we share information.

So don’t be a stranger – get involved, join me on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and here, and please leave me some comments. The more the merrier 😉

Tags: , ,