Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1071

A few more items. At Swansea University campus, spotted Monkey flower (Mimulus guttatus). In Loughor, visited by a Willow beauty (Peribatoides rhomboidaria). In Bynea, detected a Lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii).

Monday, 30 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1070

On the way to Oxwich, saw Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) in flower and White waterlily (Nymphaea alba) were blooming a Broad Pool. In the Oxwich dunes, flowers included Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus); Kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria); Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum); Stone bramble (Rubus saxatillis); Burnet rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia); Cowslip (Primula veris); Biting stonecrop (Sedum acre); Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor); Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis); Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) and Orpine (Sedum telephium). Critters were also abundant with the Blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans); Oedemera nobilis; Chrysomela populi; a day-flying moth, Yellow belle (Semiaspilates ochrearia); Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus); Small blue (Cupido minimus) and Small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) butterflies. A Meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis) also sang.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1069

A combination of night rain and day-time sun has resulted in more Bynea blooms. The Southern marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) and Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) both emerged.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1068

Warm weather in Loughor has caused the first Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) flowers to emerge whilst lepidoptera were busy laying green eggs on the plant's eaves. A click beetle (Athous haemorrhoidalis) explored in the vicinity.

Dodgy Business Downunder?

The UN has produced a report on climate change but, reportedly, all references to Australia (which seems to have real current problems namely the bleaching of its Great Barrier Reef and wild fires in Tasmania) have been removed after intervention from its Government, complaining that visitors to UNESCO sites might be 'put off' by sections pertaining to this continent (www.theguardian.com/2016/may/27/australia-scrubbed-from-un-climate-report-after-government-intervention). Commentators (including some Australians) suggest that this is 'unprecedented' and it sits strangely with the reported recent axing of many climate-change studying scientists from the CSIRO. Inconvenient truths can, apparently, be whitewashed even from the reports of world bodies.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1067

Things are warming up nicely. Black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) was flowering in Bynea. In Loughor, Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) was bowling along and hoverflies (Melanostoma scalare) flitted.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1066

A few more flowers, including White clover (Trifolium repens) in Bynea and Red dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) in Loughor.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1065

More colourful flowers appeared. In Loughor, Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) and Marsh willowherb (Epilobium palustre) bloomed. In Bynea, Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and Cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum) made appearances.

Seeing the Changes 1064

That time of the year in Loughor. The first Poplar hawk moth (Laothoe populi) paid a visit and mating Starling (Sternus vulgaris) found a novel use for a TV satellite dish.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Fat of the Land?

The National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration have called, in a report, for an end to the general UK advice to adopt a low fat diet if you want to lose weight (www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/22/official-advice-to-eat-low-fat-diet-is-wrong-says-health-charity). It is true that, gramme for gramme, fat contains more calories than carbohydrates but it is argued that diets high in sugars and starch stimulate the body to store more polysaccharides and are a bigger contributing factor to obesity. They also argue that some fats are beneficial and actually protect against conditions like heart disease (generated by atherosclerosis- plaque forming in the blood vessels). The trouble is that there are many different kinds of fats (saturated, unsaturated and trans fats) as well as 'good' and 'bad' forms of cholesterol (a steroid which is produced in the liver as well as being taken in via food). It may be quite difficult for people to 'take on board' the messages about fats (especially as the labelling of certain foods may not be clear). In general, plant (like olive oil) and fish (like cod liver oil) generated fats are healthier than mammal versions (like butter and lard). Losing weight does mean limiting calorie intake along with modifying what you eat. Getting people on to a Mediterranean diet might prove quite difficult.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1063

In Loughor, the rain stimulated the growth of fungi. The Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) flowered in Bynea and Common comfrey (Symphytum offinale) was emerging in Loughor. 

Europe's Aversion to GM Crops

The use of GM crops in Europe has had a strong newspaper endorsement (www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/22/observer-view-on-genetically-modified-gm-crops). This takes place along with simultaneous predictions of more famines (due to crop failure) in Africa, resulting from climate change. I have never really found the objections to GM crops very convincing as a) all current crops are genetically modified by selective breeding (a less precise way of producing change to develop desirable features); b) pollen recognises no national boundaries (so if you have GM in a neighbouring country you will not be able to 'keep it out'); c) few people object to GM technology in the production of medicines and d) we are already very good at producing 'super weeds' via introductions of alien species. Well-regulated (including non-exploitative) GM technology must have a role in our attempts to deal with climate change and the burgeoning human population. I simply hope that it will be developed carefully.

Bite to Eat?

There are reports that several Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) have been captured in the wilds of Florida (www.theguardian,com/us-news/2016/may/21/african-nile-crocodiles-captured-florida). Unlike the native alligators, these faster-growing (up to 5.5 m) reptiles, are people-eaters (they may thrive also on the native alligators, birds, mammals and companion animals of that state). Nobody is entirely sure how they got to the Florida swamps (they do not appear to be genetically linked to members of this species in US zoos) but scientists believe that they might be former 'pet' animals that proved too large and voracious for their owners. Florida, apparently, has the highest proportion of introduced species in the US. Be careful what you let out!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Seeing the Changes 1062

More appearances in Bynea with Prickly poppy (Papaver argemone); Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) and Prickly sow-thistle (Sonchus asper) coming into bloom. Also bug activity with basking Verlusea rhombea and frothing Common froghopper (Philaenus spumaris) nymphs.

Where's the Beef?

  Industry 'experts' are claiming that the 'use-by dates' on red meat should be extended ( https://www.theguardian.com/world...