February 2020

Building for bats in an urban world

Whiskered Bat by Jan Svetlik

A new study by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of Turin shows how to minimise impacts of urban growth on bats at a time when the need for new housing often hits the headlines.

This study highlights how the contribution of citizen scientists can really make a difference in research projects. The volunteer-based data collection approach allowed us to get a clear view of urban habitat exploitation by bats in Norfolk, and provides practical suggestions for urban development and woodland management.”

The 2019 breeding season; a year to remember for Blackcaps and Blue Tits

Blue Tit (Liz Cutting/BTO)

Information collected by British Trust for Ornithology volunteer bird ringers and nest recorders provides an insight into how some of our resident and migratory birds fared during the 2019 breeding season.

“Our volunteer ringers and nest recorders contribute thousands of hours each year to collecting these invaluable data.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes January 2020

Hairy Sand Wasp (Podalonia hirsuta) Dr Phil Smith

January was remarkably mild with early-morning frost on only three days. It rained on 14 days but most of it was light and patchy, being concentrated in the first half of the month. Accordingly, the water-table rose by 6.5 cm in the first two weeks but fell by 1 cm in the next fortnight. The unseasonal conditions resulted in some remarkable insect sightings. Pete Kinsella emailed on 15th to say that he had found a Green Shieldbug sunning itself on Ivy at Crosby and then as many as six on the 19th. These were the brown hibernation form but should not have been out and about in January. Even more surprising, I was struggling up the steep sandy slope to the Devil’s Hole on 29th when I spotted a familiar shape on the sand. It was a large sand-wasp. Expecting it to be dead, I picked it up only to discover it was still alive, despite having lost its black-and-red abdomen. I took it home and identified it as a Hairy Sand Wasp Podalonia hirsuta, a familiar summer duneland species. Online research confirmed that mated females often over-winter. Perhaps this one ventured out in the mild weather and was attacked by a bird. I hesitate to make false accusations, but there was a perky male Stonechat flying from bush to bush in the Devil’s Hole.

BTO: It’s official – the Wren is our commonest bird.

Wren by Alan Drewitt

In the latest report looking at the size of our bird populations the Wren tops the list with 11 million pairs across the UK. 

Knowing how many of which species we have is important for many reasons, not least of which is the ability to make better informed decisions when it comes to conservation policy and site management. - Ian Woodward.