Sunday, 24 August 2014

Going Native?

Concerns have been noted about UK Government plans to legislate on what are and what are not 'native' species of animals and plants by using a list of 'troubled' as well as 'troubling' species. No one would argue that Japanese knotweed and Rhododendron are not species that are problematic in the UK (although in the Himalayan region of NE India, there are conservation programmes for the latter).   Apparently, the list might result in species such as the Red kite (re-introduced by conservationists following its extinction at the hands of man) and the Barn owl (which had restrictions placed on releases because these were often into inappropriate areas and might well have spread diseases detrimental to the species) being classed as 'vermin'. One of the problems taxing a number of societies and organisations is that the proposed legislation does not provide an effective definition of what should reasonably be regarded as 'native'. Does it only mean animals and plants that have been here a long time (and, if so, how long)? That would rule out re-introductions and could endanger species making their own way to these shores as a consequence of climate change. One might also question, for example, whether it is realistic to remove all (introduced from North America in Victorian times) Grey squirrels from all UK locations. Most commentators seem to think that legislation is needed but they obviously feel that the level of understanding of the issues is imperfect. I suspect that there might well be a lot of anguish to follow.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Jersey in Crystal Palace?

I was somewhat surprised today to see a Jersey tiger  (Euplagia quadripunctaria) moth on a Butterfly bush in Crystal Palace park. Apparently, there has been a breeding population in South London since 2004. My picture will follow when I return from holiday.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Seeing the Changes 918

Given the fact that I am off again to Sikkim in early October, it was striking to note the masses of alien Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) in the Clyne woods. Some of the flowers were white rather than the usual pink.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A Ruddy Shame?

It has been announced that the end for the north American Ruddy duck in the UK is (almost) nigh ( The duck was inadvertently introduced by Sir Peter Scott via his Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust establishments but male of this species proved irresistible to endangered European White-headed ducks with whom they hybridised. This resulted in the 'over-sexed' aliens being eradicated. Apparently, the last 10 females are due to be shot at £3000 a pop (an expensive business this antipathy to aliens!).

Friday, 8 August 2014

It Doesn't Adder Up!

There is a report of a man bitten three times by an Adder (Vipera berus) that he picked up being seriously ill in hospital ( As the article confirms, the snake is Britain's only endemic poisonous reptile but its venom is largely produced to enable it to subdue its prey (including things like Field mice). The snake is largely secretive and, under these described circumstances, would have been operating in a defensive mode. The article also confirms that wasps and bee stings have killed many more people than the Adder in this country. I do hope that this story does not lead to increased attacks on snake-like animals (I have encountered people who have whacked Slow-worms with spades). The Adder is actually a useful and beautifully-crafted addition to the UK fauna. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Seeing the Changes 917

Visited, in Loughor, by a Forest bug (Pentatoma rufipes).

DQ to Replace IQ?

It has long been apparent that the digital competence of even the youngest UK child is light-years ahead of most adults in this country ( So it has been suggested that we ought to measure DQ (digital quotient) rather than IQ (intelligence quotient). The current generation apparently feel that they would be lost without their mobiles and/or tablets, spending much more time on line than watching TV (this is what the old folk do). Their modus operandi apparently changes how they interact with people, how they take in 'news', how they watch programmes and films, how they listen to music etc. Unlike the current generation, they rarely use email. All this may appear slick and a bit 'brave new world' but a) they may not always receive 'balanced' information and could prove more susceptible to external control b) they would certainly be more dependent on their digital suppliers and c) there is likely to be a very intense digital divide between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Some of these features are likely to be even more intense in other parts of the world. Now, I must 'phone my grandson to help me post this.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

When Penguins Stalked the Earth

Some 37 million years ago, a giant species of penguin, up to 2 metres tall, apparently roamed the icy wastes of Antarctica ( These impressive birds were much larger than the current record holder (the climate change-endangered Emperor penguin) and it has been calculated that they would have been able to stay submerged and fishing for up to 40 minutes. Presumably, this foraging advantage was more than countered by some disadvantage of the large body size (perhaps reduced ability to change direction?). Anyhow, they would have been an impressive sight.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Seeing the Changes 916

Visited by a Mullein moth (Shargacucullia verbasci) on the 100th anniversary of the First War War. My grandchildren wouldn't believe that it wasn't a splinter of wood, until it started to walk!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Seeing the Changes 915

Spotted a freshly-emerged Elephant hawk moth (Deilephila elpenor) on the pavement in Gorseinon.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Seeing the Changes 914

Lepidoptera activity in Loughor with an influx of Small whites (Pieris rapae) as well as a Dingy footman (Eilema griseola) and a Small yellow underwing (Noctua comes).

Birder's Bonus 146

Spotted a male Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) feeding in Gorseinon.

Going Wild in Rural China?

The recent 'freeze' on the production of wild animals for human consumption in rural China appears to be meeting difficulties ( h...