Knot numbers hit record level at RSPB Snettisham
The number of knot feeding and flying to create swirling dark clouds of birds on the Norfolk coast has reached record numbers.
For the first time about 140,000 have been seen on the RSPB reserve at Snettisham. The previous site record was 120,000 in the winter of 1990-91, the organisation said.
To see them is “just an extraordinary experience”, said photographer Les Bunyan, who volunteers at the reserve on The Wash estuary.
“It’s not just what you’re looking at, it’s also the sound you have to appreciate. When you get tens of thousands of birds flying around you – they make a lot of noise.”
Worcestershire Wildlife Trust
A wildlife charity is hoping to buy more than 100 acres of land to return it to a network of heathland habitat.
Dropping Well Farm, in Worcestershire, has been intensively farmed for decades but a £1.4m project aims to create the county’s largest block of heathland.
Worcestershire Wildlife Trust said up to 85% had been lost across the UK over the past 150 years.
Heathland habitat must be restored so “wildlife can thrive once again”, its chief executive Colin Raven said.
Read the latest Newsletter from the Seahorse Trust
Record-Breaking Year for Roseate Terns
A record-breaking 130 pairs of breeding roseate terns on Coquet Island have been recorded this year.
Coquet Island off the Northumberland Coast is home to the UKs only colony of breeding roseate terns. This year, the RSPB celebrates 50 years at Coquet Island with the RSPB taking over management of the Island in 1970.
Roseate terns are the UKs rarest nesting seabird and were almost driven to extinction back in the 19th Century. The roseate tern – the UK’s rarest nesting seabird – has had a record-breaking year with 130 breeding pairs on Coquet Island, the only breeding colony in the UK. This is the fifth year in a row that numbers have increased on Coquet Island, a steady increase from 104 pairs in 2016.
Roseate terns almost went extinct back in the 19th century because of the demand for their feathers in ladies’ hats. In 1989 there were only
467 pairs in the UK and Ireland, but dedicated conservation efforts have brought them up to 2028 pairs in 2020.
This year, the RSPB celebrates 50 years at Coquet Island. Since taking over management of Coquet Island in 1970, the RSPB has used a wide range of methods to bolster roseate tern numbers such as installing nest boxes, trialling new techniques such as gull-scarers and aero lasers to deter predation by other birds, minimising disturbance, and building up lost habitat.
Paul Morrison, RSPB Northumberland Coast Site Manager, said: “When I first started working on Coquet Island 36 years ago there was barely a roseate tern in sight, so it brings me real joy to see scores of them flocking back in the spring to have their chicks. Earlier this year we were able to install webcams again so people could see this wonder for themselves, and there have already been an incredible 375,000 views!
We’re planning to install the webcams again next year, so if you’d like to see the antics of these wonderful terns do check back next spring.”
“A record-breaking year is a fantastic 50th birthday present for Coquet Island, and I want to say a huge thank you to the staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help these special birds. I am truly optimistic that, with such continued commitment, we can bring roseate terns back from the brink of extinction in the UK.”
These conservation efforts have been bolstered by the EU-funded Roseate Tern LIFE Recovery Project. This five-year partnership project between the RSPB, North Wales Wildlife Trust and BirdWatch Ireland focused on protecting the three remaining roseate tern colonies in the UK and Ireland while restoring five of its historical sites for potential re-colonisation, and has laid the foundation for further roseate tern recovery.
British hedgehog now officially classified as vulnerable to extinction
The hedgehog is now included by the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List for British Mammals.
“What people do on behalf of the hedgehog is amazing,” said Fay Vass, CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). “The holes made in fences, the feeding, the hedgehog houses, the wildlife friendly planting, the removal of hazards – all makes such a difference locally.”
“But it is not enough to rely on the good will of individuals to protect this important creature,” Fay continues. “We need Government to enforce wildlife friendly practices. From farming to development to transport – wildlife needs to be taken seriously.”
New Bee Discovered in Wales
Andrena nitidiuscula – Carrot Mining Bee (Photo: R. Williams BWARS)
Buglife are pleased to report the discovery of the Carrot Mining Bee (Andrena nitidiuscula) in Wales for the very first time! Buglife Cymru staff undertaking bee surveys as part of the ‘Searching for Scabious’ project made the discovery during a recent visit to Lavernock Point Nature Reserve – a Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) reserve in the Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales.
The Carrot Mining Bee is just one of around 180 bee species known from Wales and is so-called because of its strong association with the flowers of Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), from which it collects pollen. Formerly restricted to the southern counties of England, this scarce bee has never before been seen in Wales – until now.
Liam Olds, Conservation Officer for Buglife Cymru, and who made the discovery said “Though unexpected, finding this scarce bee in Wales is very exciting and a fantastic output for our ‘Searching for Scabious’ project. This discovery highlights how little is still known about the bee fauna of Wales and how valuable funded projects such as our ‘Searching for Scabious’ project can be. Not only is this project improving our understanding of the distribution and conservation status of some of Wales’ most threatened bees associated with scabious-rich habitats, it is also discovering species never before seen in Wales. Now that the Carrot Mining Bee has been discovered at Lavernock Point, we hope to work with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales to ensure this bee continues to flourish at this beautiful nature reserve.”
The ‘Searching for Scabious’ project, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to raise awareness of some of Wales’ most threatened bee species associated with scabious plants. Through the project, sites across south Wales supporting scabious-rich habitat are being searched in the hope of discovering these bees.
These surveys will provide us with up-to-date species records and distribution data to inform management on the ground and improve the prospects for these threatened wild bees.
For further information on the project, visit the project webpage https://www.buglife.org.uk/projects/searching-for-scabious/.
2020 is the Tercentenary of Gilbert White’s birthday
Since its publication over 200 years ago Gilbert White’s The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne has inspired generations of naturalists, writers and artists, this book is still in print today.
Gilbert White (1720 – 1793) was one of the first naturalists, influencing both Charles Darwin and David Attenborough. His seminal work The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne also inspired generations of writers and artists, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Virginia Woolf, Eric Ravilious and John Nash.
White’s Natural History recounts his daily observations of the animals, birds and plant life found on his doorstep in Hampshire and nearby in the South Downs in Sussex. It was an immediate success upon its publication in 1789 and has never been out of print. It has over 300 editions, many of which were illustrated by an array of exceptional artists.
This free exhibition reveals the many different visions of Selborne and its wildlife inspired by White’s writings, created by artists such as Thomas Bewick, Eric Ravilious, John Nash and Gertrude Hermes. It includes original prints, blocks and the First Edition illustrated by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm.
Thomas Bewick, the founding father of British wood-engraving, was influenced by White’s observations on birds, and his images in later inspired 20th century wood-engravers such as Eric Fitch-Daglish, John Nash and Gertrude Hermes. While these artists beautifully rendered the flora and fauna of Selborne, artists such as Ravilious and John Nash focused on man’s interactions with nature, creating timeless scenes of country life. These include amusing incidents such as John Nash’s illustrations of curious women taking a liking to a toad at a dinner party. Other artists chose to illustrate the surrounding landscapes, including John Piper’s atmospheric watercolours of Selborne Church.
Eleven contemporary printmakers and illustrators have produced new images inspired by White’s Natural History for this exhibition, which demonstrate the enduring appeal of his writings for artists. Together these images encourage us to look to the nature on our doorstep that is under threat from climate change and the impact of human activity.
‘Drawn to Nature: Gilbert White and the Artists’ is part of a series of events across the UK, marking the tercentenary of Gilbert White’s birth. For more information, visit Gilbert White’s House in Selborne.
Visit Pallant House Gallery in Chichester to see “Drawn to Nature” Exhibition open 5th August to 15th November
Pallant House Gallery, 8-9 North Pallant, Chichester PO19 1TJ