Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Microwaving Good-bye


I'm a bit confused. A reportedly vulnerable woman has apparently been given a 14 week jail sentence for putting her kitten in the microwave, causing 'horrendous suffering' when she believed it had killed her pet goldfish. She has (in my opinion, rightly) been banned from keeping animals for an extended period. The reason I am confused is that I believe that killing of experimental animals with microwaves has been an approved method used by some neurochemists because it supposedly produces an immediate destruction of the proteinaceous enzymes that destroy neurotransmitters (the chemicals that allow nerve impulses to cross the gaps between nerve cells). This enables them to measure levels of neurotransmitter with no post-mortem loss of material.  The method is supposed to produce an immediate loss of consciousness.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Offsetting the Offsetters?


I get a bit worried about the current UK obsession with biodiversity offsetting in spite of the process largely being shown to be ineffective in Australian studies (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/11/owen-paterson-bidiversity-offsetting). The very idea that you can take a complex (often mature) ecology and simply compensate for its eradication by 'creating' something broadly similar seems to have multiple dangers.

Out Again at Night


Saw my first Summertime moth in Loughor. Looks like a Hebrew character (Orthosia gothica).

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Seeing the Changes 641


Another sunny day. Another butterfly, in this case a Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) in Penclacwydd.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Seeing the Changes 640


Common dog violets (Viola riviniana) were barking in the Loughor sunshine.

Gardeners- An Endangering Species?


The Daily Express is getting excited about the possibility that the EU may elect to 'invade' our gardens to dig up plants (http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/463829/Garden-meddling-EU-must-finally-be-cut-down-to-size). I must admit to being intensely relaxed about this measure as gardeners sometimes introduce exotic plants into their gardens because they find them attractive and/or they are unusual. Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and a variety of highly invasive pondweeds were introduced to the UK on this basis. Some plants are also very poisonous in ways that could endanger children and animals. You already would be in trouble if people found you cultivating Indian hemp for marihuana production on 'your' plot! I don't think that it unreasonable that there are to be mechanisms for removing potentially dangerous/illegal plants when they are identified. I don't think that the intention is to monitor precisely what goes on in people's back gardens. Gardeners have already been responsible for most of the UK flora being taken over by exotics.

Seeing the Changes 639


Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) was coming into leaf in Loughor.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Seeing the Changes 638


My first butterfly of the year, a remarkably fresh-looking Peacock (Inachis io) in the Bynea sunshine!

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Chemical Conundrum


Somewhat disturbing news that Diclofenac, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent that has been used to treat arthritis in humans, has been approved for veterinary use by the EU (http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/vultures/diclofenac.aspx). This compound has been linked to kidney failure in vultures (especially in India). These birds are important recyclers of dead animals and injest the drug whilst feeding on carcasses. Birds like the Red kite could be endangered by the use of this compound in the UK. Strange that it has been approved just as doubts have been raised about its side-effects in humans!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

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...