Friday, 28 February 2014

Eager Beavers


Reports that a 'wild' (aka 'escaped') family of European beaver have been filmed on the river Otter in Devon (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/27/wild-beavers-england-devon-river). I am not certain if this is a 'good thing' because, although the beaver was certainly found in the UK several hundred years ago, things have changed dramatically since. They may well do interesting things with water meadows but I suspect that their activities are not necessarily linked to human considerations.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Monday, 24 February 2014

Seeing the Changes 636


More signs of Spring with the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) coming into flower in Bynea.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Seeing the Changes 635


On a trip from Manchester through Hereford, I don't think I have seen so much Mistletoe (Viscum album) infesting the trees.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Seeing the Changes 634


The wetness is reflected in the masses of fruiting bodies generated by the Bynea mosses.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Carping


News that people are becoming very concerned that Asian carp (presumably deliberately released) might move from the Illinois river into the Great Lakes around Chicago (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26237863). This alien could certainly devastate the biota of these enormous freshwater bodies. The 'cure', however, could prove extremely costly.

Fluttering Back


Interesting news that 'farmland' butterflies in the UK had a good summer in 2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/19/british-farmland-butterflies-species-survey). They had, admittedly, had a very poor 2012, so a hot summer the following year was pretty well certain to be an improvement. It will be interesting to see what they do after this very wet winter. The Small tortoiseshell (illustrated) certainly bounced back but other species (e.g. the Red admiral) had a tougher time.

Swan Late


It just shows how differently people respond to particular species. In New York, there is talk of culling the 'alien' Mute swans (http://www.universityherald.com/articles/7596/20140218/new-york-state-environmentalists-propose-mass-killing-of-invasive-mute-swans-many-oppose.htm). I guess that they don't have a Queen to act as their patron. I must admit that people tend to think these birds are more dangerous than they really are. They are strict vegetarians but generally do not mass as in the above picture as groups are quite territorial. I hope they are not going to waste all that meat!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Friday, 14 February 2014

Seeing the Changes 632


In spite of the wind and floods, it must be Spring as the Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is blooming in Bynea.

Seeing the Changes 631


Yesterday at Swansea University, when there was a break in the wind and rain, an optimistic Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) decided that you couldn't have too many buried acorns.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Birder's Bonus 138


In Bynea, a Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) had crashed with a bump on the cycle path.

Danish Patsy?


A rather odd debate is developing concerning the fate of a young male giraffe ('Marius') in Copenhagen zoo (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/09/marius-giraffe-killed-copenhagen-zoo-protests). The animal had genes that were 'too common' for him to be employed in a breeding programme (people in zoos have very limited capacities for most species and attempt to limit 'inbreeding' wherever possible). Although there were offers to take Marius from several zoos, he was given a rye-bread treat before being shot in the head and publically dissected. He was apparently killed in this manner, so he could be fed to the lions (the drugs employed in euthanasia would have ruled this out). Although most of the zoo's actions are defendable, I do think that the public dissection was bound to generate adverse publicity (it's more than a smidge insensitive) but people do say that there 'is no such thing as bad publicity'. I don't think, however, that this has helped zoos with a positive 'conservation' message (there are. apparently, no release programmes for captive-bred giraffes).

Sunday, 9 February 2014

How Green is My Branson?

I do find Richard Branson's comments about creating a 'green' haven in the Caribbean (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/08/richard-branson-caribbean-green-virgin-renewable-energy) a bit at odds with his plans to develop space tourism. Surely, the energy required to 'fire' people even to the fringes of space would dwarf any sustainable energy developments in his holiday locations?

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Food Fallacies?

Yet more problems are reported from the very limited testing of foods in the UK (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/07/fake-food-scandal-revealed-tests-products-mislabelled) with a high proportion of items reportedly sometimes not being as described, others having much of their weight made up of water and some even containing banned chemicals. The most worrying aspect of this story, however, is the number of major cities where Public Health departments apparently lack the money to do any tests. Under these circumstances, I think it is ill-advised to believe that all food producers and sellers will be deeply concerned about the provinance of what they are selling. It's even more bizzare to rely on their advice on human health issues without a pinch of salt!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Yellow Peril

A distinctly yellow Shield slug (Testacella scutulum) slimed around my garden in Loughor.

No Way to Treat a SSSI?

I am somewhat disturbed to read that there are plans to greatly extend the extent of the proposed power-generating lagoon planned for Swansea Bay before the first stage has even been completed (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/06/swansea-bay-tidal-lagoon-power-planned). The place is a SSSI and is important for birds, fish and cetaceans. I really do think that they ought to evaluate whether there are any ecological downsides to the initial development before they greatly expand the whole construct. 'Green electricity' is desirable but not at any environmental price!

Penguin Palpitations

News that Humboldt penguins at Scarborough zoo are being given antidepressants to help them cope with the current UK weather (http://www.theguardian.com/world/the-northerner/2014/feb/06/penguins-prescribed-antidepressants-scarborough-rain) is itself depressing. It would probably have been better to give them improved lighting (with UV) if it was actually thought they had developed SAD (seasonally associated depression.

Foxey Goes to Varsity

A very relaxed male Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) strolled around the Botanical Gardens at Swansea University in broad daylight yesterday. Perhaps the continuous rain has prevented people from eating their lunches outside, forcing him to range a bit more outside 'normal' hours in search of scraps?

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Seeing the Changes 630

In Gorseinon, the alien (from North America) Witch-hazel (genus Hamamelidaceae) was in bloom.

A Song Unheard?

There is a somewhat odd finding that highly toxic Pumpkin toadlets from Brazil apparently cannot hear their own mating calls ( https://w...