‘Our Wonderful Nature is in Serious Trouble’

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Yellowhammer – a Red Listed, Farmland, Species

Not my words but Sir David Attenborough’s in his introduction to the State of Nature Report 2016. In fact Sir David says, “The news, however, is mixed. Escalating pressures, such as climate change and modern land management, mean that we continue to lose the precious wildlife that enriches our lives and is essential to the health and well-being of those who live in the UK, and also in its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Our wonderful nature is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before. But the State of Nature 2016 report gives us cause for hope too. The rallying call issued in 2013 has been met with a myriad of exciting and innovative conservation projects. Landscapes are being restored, special places defended, and struggling species are being saved and brought back. Such successes demonstrate that if conservationists, governments, businesses and individuals all pull together, we can provide a brighter future for nature and for people.”

The State of Nature Report 2016 follows on from the 2103 report but this time has even more conservation organisations contributing to it. A magnificent 50 organisations in fact, in realistic terms it is all the organisations in the UK’s which truly care about biodiversity and wildlife telling us what’s what, no more no less and what’s more they are doing it honestly and openly. So what are the headline statements? Well I’ve been selective as you might expect, after all there are 85 pages, but you can link to the document for a fuller interpretation.

  • Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of species declined, with 40% showing strong or moderate declines. 44% of species increased, with 29% showing strong or moderate increases. Between 2002 and 2013, 53% of species declined and 47% increased. These measures were based on quantitative trends for almost 4,000 terrestrial and freshwater species in the UK.

  • Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern Red List criteria, 15% are extinct or threatened with extinction from Great Britain. An index describing the population trends of species of special conservation concern in the UK has fallen by 67% since 1970, and by 12% between 2002 and 2013. This is based on trend information for 213 priority species.

  • A new measure that assesses how intact a country’s biodiversity is, suggests that the UK has lost significantly more nature over the long term than the global average. The index suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

The Report tells us, “Many factors have resulted in changes to the UK’s wildlife over recent decades, but policy-driven agricultural change was by far the most significant driver of declines. Climate change has had a significant impact too, although its impact has been mixed, with both beneficial and detrimental effects on species. Nevertheless, we know that climate change is one of the greatest long-term threats to nature globally.”

In a nutshell species numbers are declining and some are critically declining and the main reasons are agricultural change and climate change. How therefore would you expect the farming community to respond? Bearing in mind that we all contribute to the farming subsidies you might expect farmers to say OK we recognise that there’s a big problem so let’s work alongside the 50 Conservation Organisations which added their names to this report and let’s do something about it. Well they didn’t they say it’s not us. Wouldn’t it be far better, especially when farmers receive such vast subsidies from the public purse (sorry have I said that before) wouldn’t it be better if they said OK we have problems but let’s talk with the Conservationists, let’s see what more can be done and let’s recognise the public’s concern let’s stop been so selfish and let’s start recognising the debt we owe the UK Public. For the full NFU response see here. Meanwhile we can all lobby post Brexit that any subsidies paid to farmers contain properly policed measures designed to enhance our wildlife and biodiversity, surely that’s not too much to ask. There are proven schemes were agriculture has enhanced wildlife and farmers continue to make a profit and we have food on our tables, after all have you seen a poor farmer?

Caterpillar ID

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Buff Ermine Caterpillar – Sue Turner

Sue Turner from Wetherby contacted me to ask for an ID of a caterpillar she had found and I couldn’t, sorry but despite consulting various books and websites the answer it eluded me. Not surprising really as there are around 1000 moths and 50 odd butterflies and I’m no expert on anything. Anyway I tried tweeting, not a method of attracting our avian friends but social media and Mark Memory responded via Facebook and suggested it was a brown-tail moth. He then suggested contacting Wildlife Insight a photography website and I contacted Steve Ogden there. I thought I would share with you his excellent website, wonderful photos and most importantly is excellent response. Steve tells me, it’s most likely a buff ermine caterpillar. And here is the beautiful moth” Although I was unable to get a side on view so Steve could confirm it. He also refereed me to more hairy caterpillars. The excellent Wildlife Insight website deals with moths, butterflies and birds and is well worth a visit.

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Buff Ermine Moth – Steve Ogden – Wildlife Insight

Ladybirds in Decline?

Another guy with a keen interest in bugs is Paul Brothers who writes, “To be fair I have seen Small Tortoiseshells, just not in any large numbers. Small Coppers have been very low. Holly Blues are doing okay. Red Admirals are feeding up in my garden on the buddleia at the moment. Only seen one Painted Lady in the garden though. Speckled Woods are doing very well, with a late brood on the wing at the moment. I’d say I have seen 20 plus individuals. Even Common Blue numbers have been relatively low this year. I have spotted loads of micromoths. See the link below for images.

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22 Spot Ladybird – Paul Brothers

On another note, 2-spots, 10-spots and 7-spot ladybirds have been very poor of late. I wonder if the Harlequins have impacted on them as Harlequins are to be seen again in very large numbers, in most of their phases. Orange and 22-spot ladybirds are doing well again, but mildew on the plants has probably been good to them. I have seen some good mirid bugs and leafhoppers this year. Always chance finds, often in singles or low numbers. Just as a point, you may be interested in https://www.viewbug.com/member/PaulBrothers where I have some of my photos online.”

The last week or so with the warm weather has improved the lot somewhat of butterflies and whilst still below expectations there have been more of the common species and this demonstrates the importance of late flowering plants, for example don’t prune your buddleia until March so it flowers later. I have also seen precious few ladybirds and would be interested to know what you views are. Mirid bugs, plant/leaf bugs, Miridae are small, terrestrial insects, usually oval-shaped or elongated and measuring less than 12 millimetres (0.5 in) in length. Many of them have a hunched look, with the head bent down. They are usually brownish. For more info see BugGuide. Leafhoppers feed by sucking the sap from plants and have modified hind legs used for jumping.

Sightings

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Great Tit Nest & Tennis Ball ‘Fluff’ – Peter Thomson

Have you ever wondered what happened to your tennis balls after the dog lost them? Well Peter Thomson may have the answer, He has sent me this photo of a nest box which “had been successfully occupied by Great Tits and I was puzzled as to how they had managed to add some interior decor to match their plumage until I found a tennis ball under a nearby bush which they had obviously been plucking.”

John Wade reports seeing great crested grebes recently at Nosterfield.

Events

See website for full details of these events and to confirm no changes.

Harrogate RSPB Group

Monday 24 September – Filey Dams and Brigg Country Park

Nidderdale Bird Club

Sunday 25th September – Blubberhouses to Thruscross Reservoir

Reserve Sightings

Nosterfield Nature Reserve

Recent sightings include; Cream crowned marsh harrier high over flask /Lingham, 60+ curlews, greenshank, green sandpiper, black-tailed godwit.

RSPB Fairburn Ings

A corncrake was seen at Fairburn, on the 18/9/16, although I doubt it is still there.

Whooper Swan 2 throughout. One rung has adult (female) in Iceland in 2014

Wigeon Slow build up 35 max

Pintail At least 4 throughout.

Red Kite Max 6 on 12th.

Common Buzzard 15+ on 12th.

Marsh Harrier At least 4 different birds.

Osprey Single on 11th.

Water Rail Small numbers daily.

Black-tailed Godwit 1-2 throughout.

Ruff 2 throughout

Little Stint Single on 15th.

Green Sandpiper 1 on 14th.

Common Sandpiper Single throughout.

Greenshank Seen daily on Spoonbill Flash – upto 4.

Barn Owl Singles on 10th and 14th.

Little Owl Single on most dates.

Swift Single on 12th.

Ring-necked Parakeet Single on 15th.

Peregrine At least three throughout

Cetti’s Warbler Singles on 11th and 15th.

Whinchat Single on 12th and 13th.

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