The Harlequin Ladybird

Harlequin Ladybird form spectabilis (Ben Deed)

The story of the Harlequin is one of good intentions but poor delivery. Brought to the UK as a voracious hunter of 'pest species' in greenhouses the Harlequin was introduced as a means of effective #biological control to minimise the use of pesticides. Great! However, apparently poor forethought or containment meant it didn't take long before this species escaped into the wild.

BTO: Garden watchers help to lift the lid on leg disease found in British birds

Chaffinch at feeder (Luke Delve)

Observations collected by citizen scientists have helped vets at the international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) investigate the occurrence of a condition that affects British finches. The latest study published in Scientific Reports shows that reports of leg lesions peak in winter, from March to November, which may be linked to the annual influx of migratory Chaffinches from mainland Europe.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes September 2018

Yucca (Dr Phil Smith)

September was another relatively dry month. Although measurable rain fell on 12 days, there were significant amounts on only three dates. As a result, the sand-dune water-table at my Devil’s Hole measuring point continued to fall when it would usually be starting to re-charge. I had a letter published in the Radio Times pointing out that TV weather presenters are supposed to be educated people and should be aware that this country is only habitable because of regular reliable rainfall. Perhaps, therefore, they should stop perpetuating the myth that rain is bad. Evidently, they didn’t read it!

BTO: Heard an Owl?

Tawny Owl (Howard Stockdale)

The British Trust for Ornithology is asking the great British public to participate in a national study of Tawny Owls and their calling behaviour, by listening out for them this autumn and winter. Tawny Owl populations are thought to be in decline and the species has recently been added to the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern.

Rob Duffy: Notes from the Drought

Little did anyone expect, on May 2nd, that with the mid afternoon temperature at a bracing 12 degrees  and a healthy dollop of some 7.5 mms of rain, we would be soon regarding the latter with some nostalgia and the former as an uncomfortable memory 

Temperatures rose steeply that week up to the torrid Bank Holiday week end, only to plunge down again, to once again rise to the low 20’s by the 19th and here they remained by and large till the end of the month. A trip to Bodnant Gardens, with the Friends of Calderstones Park, on the 25th, witnessed 7mm of rain( fortunately towards the end of the visit), and a couple of days later we heard thunder: The air was coming from a southerly direction.

Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife Notes August 2018

Bishop's Mitre (Dr Phil Smith)

In this driest and hottest summer since 1976, the blessed relief of at least some rain on 12 August days helped to temper the worst effects. However, the damage and costs to the country became increasingly evident, with agriculture reporting production losses of 50% or more. Not to worry, rather than celebrating desperately needed rainfall, the TV weather presenters described the only really wet day during the month (26th) as “Soggy Sunday”!

Freshfield Dune Heath: Rhacognathus punctatus

Rhacognathus punctatus (Dr Phil Smith)

Another interesting discovery at Freshfield by Dr Phil Smith. This Shieldbug (Rhacognathus punctatus the Heather Shieldbug) is otherwise unknown from locations in South Lancashire (VC59). As a whole there are only 200 records for the UK (NBN Atlas 09.08.2018).

The only other records for our area are from Coastal Surveys carried out by the natural history staff at the World Museum Liverpool. This survey produced 4 records of this species. All of them from locations within the same nature reserve and all collected on the 15th July 1997.

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