Thursday, 27 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1167


In Bynea, the first Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) of the year winked at me!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1166






Things seemed quite progressed in Rotterdam. Wych elm (Ulnus glabra) and Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) were in flower in Het Park. There were also smaller bloomings in that location with White dead-nettle (Lamium album) and Greater celendine (Chelidonium majus). At Nieuerkerk, Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) was much in evidence.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1165



More flowerings in Loughor with Pendulous sedge (Carex pendula) and the full emergence of Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).

Monday, 17 April 2017

Urban Foxes Also 'Retire' to Bournemouth?


A study by Brighton and Reading Universities has suggested that there currently are around 150k urban Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the UK and that their numbers are increasing whilst populations of their rural counterparts decline (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/16/urban-foxes-number-one-for-every-300-residents-study-suggests). The numbers in particular city areas seem quite variable with the density being highest in Bournemouth (circa 23/ square Km); also high in London (circa 18/ square Km) but somewhat lower in Newcastle (circa 10/ square Km). The estimates are, however, partially based on reports by the general public and could be influenced by local enthusiasms for reporting wildlife. It is suggested that foliage in gardens is a factor that encourages the spread of this territorial predator but personally I think that local provisions of food (as waste or as material left outside for dogs and cats, along with the availability of the odd rat or wild bird) are more likely to determine the densities of these animals. Foraging for food in towns is likely to be more cost-effective for the fox than trying to make a living in the countryside.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1164


There were lots of hoverflies (female Melanostoma scalare) risking the weather in Pembrey.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1163






On the Loughor-Gorseinon border, spotted Perennial honesty (Lunaria rediviva);  possible Rough chervil (Chaerophyllum temulentum); a catchfly; Cowslip (Primula veris) and Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) had come into bloom.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Ante-Dote?


There is a novel report that a species of ant from the Ivory coast that raids termite nests will 'rescue' injured attackers from their own colony in response to an emitted 'pheromone' (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/12/injured-ants-get-rescued-after-sending-chemical-sos-researchers-find). The chemical signal presumably differs slightly from colony to colony and does not really trigger genuine altruism. The rescuers come after trapped or damaged attackers (they will respond to an ant that has had 2 of its legs cut off by the scientists!). It does appear that rescued individuals can be active again after recovery.  Damaged individuals from other colonies are treated as 'meat'. It seems most likely that this is a mechanism for maintaining the colony's stock of attackers for as long as possible (the more attackers, the more termites to process?). In some ways it is like the mechanism in worker Honey bees of not over-loading with nectar and pollen before flying back to the hive that maximises their longevity (and utility to the colony).

Seeing the Changes 1162


A visit by The Streamer (Anticlea derivata) in Loughor!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1161



More flowers about. Red valerian (Centranthus ruber) in Mumbles and Ribbed plantain (Plantago lanceolata) in Bynea!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1160



More flowers out in Loughor with the appearance of a yellow crucifer that is possibly Warty cabbage (Bunias orientalis) and the dependable Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris).

It's a No-brainer (for Australians)!


Reports from Australian scientists claim that the Great Barrier Reef is in a state of 'terminal' decline (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/10/great-barrier-reef-terminal-stage-australia-scientists-despair-latest-coral-bleaching-data). The coral bleaching events (where the animal dies, leaving only the 'skeleton') appear to be more wide-spread and spaced closer together in time. Much of the damage has been linked to human activities such as waste disposal and gas emissions but some people who depend on tourism are claiming that the scientists are exaggerating. It seems pretty clear, however, that human activities will have to be modified if this natural wonder is to survive.

Seeing the Changes 1159


The first male Early thorn (Selenia dentaria) visited in Loughor.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Rats!


There were a number of dead rat neonates by the cycle track in Bynea.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Poles Apart


The situation of the pristine forests of Poland seems to be getting worse but is being 'resisted' by some mother's groups (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/07/polish-law-change-unleashes-massacre-of-trees). Any private owner of land can reportedly cut down trees (irrespective of their age, importance or rarity) with impunity due to a law change. Companies wishing to clear land for lucrative building projects are said to 'sell' land for a nominal fee to a 'private buyer' who then has the trees cleared before 'selling it back' to the builders. Since the law change, it is claimed that tree-felling companies have seen enormous increases in  demand for their activities. The mothers draw attention to this destruction of heritage by posing with babies for pictures on the stumps. The new legal position appears to regard trees as disposable 'weeds' (now, where have we heard that before?) that get in the way of 'development' and profits.

Seeing the Changes 1158








The sunny weather seems to have kick-started flowers and butterfly appearances. The Smooth sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) bloomed in Loughor along with Common vetch (Vicia sativa); Red campion (Silene dioica) and Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) in Bynea. In Loughor, a Small white (Artogeia rapae) and a Peacock (Inachis io) fluttered by. In Bynea, Speckled woods (Parage aegeria tircis) were in evidence.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1157



Warm weather. Ramping fumatory (Fumaria capreolata) was in flower in Bynea and saw my first Holly blue (Celestrina argiolus) in my Loughor garden.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1156





Some interesting flowers at Swansea University's Bay Campus with Sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias) in the dunes and Wild pansy (Viola tricolor); Scarlet pimpernel (Anagalis arvensis) as well as Sea storksbill (Erodium maritimum) on the grassy verges.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1155



Loughor Bridge must be warmer than the surrounding area, with English scurvy-grass (Cochlearia anglica) and Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) both in bloom.

London Diesel


Bad news for diesel vehicle drivers who live or work in London as they face major increases in their charges to enter the Capital on every day of the week rather than Monday to Friday (news.sky.com/story/diesel-drivers-face-16324-charge-to-enter-london-10824455). The mayor of London is having to find ways of legislating to reduce air pollution to acceptable levels as it is reportedly a factor there in around 9.5 k premature deaths per year. Diesels cars were initially encouraged by former governments as they produce less carbon dioxide per mile than their petrol-powered equivalents and it was concluded that this would help limit the accumulation of 'greenhouse gases' with their known effects on climate change. The trouble is that diesel engines operate at a higher temperature, generating more harmful nitrous oxides (as well as pumping out more particulates, in a manner similar to cigarette smoke). Air pollution is worryingly very high in London especially around some schools (and young lungs are very susceptible to damage). Something has to change.

Egged On By Politicians and the Press?


A storm in an egg-cup seems to be developing with people being urged to resign their membership of the National Trust because of its claimed 'airbrushing' of the Easter Story (bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39487307). This has all seemingly come about as the NT is hosting Cadbury-sponsored 'Great Egg Hunts' at some of its properties. The claim is that the organisation is taking the word 'Easter' out of the equation to make these events relevant to people from a variety of faiths (including no faith). The odd thing is that the Spring tradition of eggs is actually older than Christianity, being reportedly related to fertility celebrations. Some of these old traditions were said to be modified to make the then new religion popular with the locals. I personally would worry more about whether the 'Great Egg Hunt' is doing much to counter obesity problems in our children. 

Water, Water, Everywhere!


A very interesting development in the use of graphene oxide membranes (www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/graphene-sieve-turns-seawater-into-drinking-water) has been reported. Graphene is a novel form of the element carbon, with a high tensile strength and it has been known for some time that micro-sieves, made from this material, can be used to remove contaminants (metal ions) from water. The development of even finer sieves now appear, in laboratory studies, to be capable of filtering much smaller salts from seawater, raising the possibility that they can be used to generate drinking (and water for agriculture?) water in areas unable to afford the high energy costs traditionally employed in desalination plants. Such a development, if it transpires, would be a real boon in certain areas of the world where access to water is very limited.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Going Mad in Madagascar


Disturbing news that an invasion by tens of thousands of sapphire prospectors is endangering the unique wildlife in Madagascar's rainforests (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/02/sapphire-rush-threatens-rainforests-of-madagascar). Madagascar, because of its long geographical isolation, has many unique plants and is home to major concentrations of lemurs ('primitive' primates). The gem stone finds are impressive and, as usual, people find it difficult to resist the allure of getting rich quick (even if the unique biodiversity is more 'saleable' in the long-term).

Seeing the Changes 1154


A Hebrew character moth (Orthosia gothica) came in through my Loughor window last night.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Seeing the Changes 1153



In Bynea, some of the Field horsetails (Equisetum arvense) have unfurled. Whilst, in Loughor, Alexanders (Smymium olustrum) is in flower.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Pandering: The Chinese Way


The Giant panda (rather than the much smaller Red panda as illustrated) is being given a major boost in its native China (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/31/china-to-create-giant-giant-panda-reserve-to-boost-wild-population). The intention is to link several reserves, creating a panda area of more than 27000 square kilometres. The Giant panda has already shown signs of an inprovement in its conservation status. Creation of the park will mean displacing around 170k people whose use of bamboo and grazing of cattle is seen as inimical to the project. Such as reserve would naturally also benefit many other animals and plants in that area. It is generally unappreciated by the general populice how large reserves have to be to accommodate viable breeding populations of large animals with substantial home ranges. Perhaps the Chinese Government is also perhaps starting to take an interest in the conservation of large mammals in other parts of the world, with new restrictions on ivory carving in that country. It will be interesting to see whether this has any real beneficial effects for the African elephant. Chinese 'medicine' continues, however, to threaten the Rhinoceros, Tiger and other animals

Seeing the Changes 1152


Lords and ladies (Arum maculatum) comes into bloom in Bynea.

Footprints of History?


A very impressive array of 130m year-old fossil footprints of enormous dinosaurs have come to prominence on the Kimberley shoreline of Western Australia (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/28/worlds-largest-dinosaur-footprints-discovered-in-western-australia). The footprints had long been known to the local Aboriginal tribes but their relevance has only recently been appreciated by scientists (the area was once dismissed by local politicians as being of such little significance, that it was ripe for development). Thousands of footprints from at least 21 different species of dinosaur have been currently identified in what was once apparently a delta merging with the Indian Ocean. The footprints should reveal much about the behaviour of these fascinating reptiles (including which species are found together, whether the animals moved as groups and even stride lengths and probable weights).

Seeing the Changes 1218

In Loughor, masses of black flies were emerging from a hedge. In conditions also attracted green lacewings ( Chrysoperla carnea ) to ...