Friday, 19 July 2019

Bearly Adequate?

The Bristol zoo proposal to put both Brown bears and wolves into an area of ancient British woodland for the first time in hundreds of years, clearly has soon issues (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/19/the-risk-to-woodland-of-putting-wolves-and-bears-back-together). The area designated is tiny in comparison with the required ranges of both species (they need thousands of square kilometres) and both species (with rather different dietary requirements) will need to be fed in humane ways. This is more Longleat than Ancient Briton.

Painted Ladies Pop Over

Appeals have been made to help count a large influx of migratory Painted lady (Cynthia cardui) into the UK (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/19/britons-urged-to-help-record-influx-of-painted-lady-butterflies). It is thought that this year may rival 2009, when an estimated 11 million butterflies arrived here from overseas. The species breeds here and late season adults make a reverse migration south before the cold sets in.

Science versus Tradition

It's problematic when commercial considerations clash with traditional cultural beliefs in a particular location. It is, however, still an issue when scientific imperatives run counter to belief systems. The latest example of this is the construction, at a cost of circa $1bn, The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island that is being picketed by some native polynesians (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/18/hawaii-mauna-key-protest-arrests-observatory). The elevated location (it's the island's highest mountain) and the lack of light pollution (it's in the middle of the Pacific) make it a perfect place for observatory (giving, it is believed, spectacular views of our universe). Some native Hawaiians, however, regard the construction as desecrating the Sky Father, Wakea. It might have been easier to resolve if earlier astronomical telescopes were not already based on the mountain and construction of the TMT had not started in 2014.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1341

More developments in Crymlyn burrows with the flowering of Red bartsia (Odontites verma) and Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba). Lepidoptera included the Buff footman moth (Eilemma depressa); a battered Small copper (Lyeaena phlaeas) and mating Small blues (Cupido minimus).

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1340










More action at Crymlyn burrows with Weld (Reseda luteola) and Wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia) in flower. Six-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) pupae and adults were much in evidence and the Meadow browns (Maniola jurtina) were mating. Problems for Lepidoptera with the Shield bug (Picromerus bidens) and the crab spider (Diaea dorsata) with and without prey.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1339


By the Loughor estuary, Good king Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) was in flower and the Dog rose (Rosa canina) went all hippy.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Tinkling the Ivories?

It has been reported that a 'gold-rush' is underway in Siberia as the melting permafrost has made it much easier to access ivory from mammoth tusks (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/14/permafrost-thaw-sparks-fear-of-mammoth-ivory-gold-rush-in-russia). People can, reportedly, make fortunes by selling the material as 'ethical ivory' to the Chinese market. Although removal of material is claimed to be 'regulated', the prospecting (using motor-boats and water jets) is speeding up the thawing and releasing yet more 'greenhouse' gases.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Fishes of the Desert?

I must admit to being surprised that what is now the Sahara desert once had a seaway and that fossils of giant fish and enormous sea snakes were found around Mali (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/12/sahara-was-home-to-some-of-largest-sea-creatures-study-finds). It just reinforces that geographical areas can show impressive (and unexpected?) changes.

Seeing the Changes 1338

Water mint (Mentha aquatic) in flower in Penclacwydd.

Another Nail in My Heart?



The finding of billions of iron-rich particles in heart tissues (of deceased individuals?) is yet another indication of the damage done to humans by the air pollution generated by cars in our cities
(https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/12/billions-of-air-pollution-particles-found-in-hearts-of-city-dwellers). I seem to remember, not too long ago, that officials in London sat on an air pollution report that indicated the level of risk in pupils (children are a group that are strongly impaired by air pollution) attending schools in the area. Even limiting petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles from driving in such areas may be insufficient to generate a healthy environment as the tyres and braking systems of cars also generate clouds of nanoparticles.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Lip Service?

It seems that the UK Government response to climate change is to 'kick it into the long grass' by coming up with aspirations to make changes in emissions in the future (often well after the people making the 'pledge' will have stepped down from the scene but enabling the country to boast of being 'world leaders' in decarbonisation). It seems more pertinent to note the opinion of the Committee for Climate Change who appear convinced that there are actually no meaningful plans for dealing with heatwave or flooding crisis events in the country (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/10/uks-preparation-for-climate-crisis-like-dads-army ).

Birder's Bonus 190


What looked like a female Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) on the Bay campus of Swansea University.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1337




Vegetation from all over. Noted Vervain (Verbena officinalis) in flower in Loughor. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) was blooming in Fairwood, whilst Carline thistle (Carlina vulgaris) put in an appearance in Mumbles. In Bynea, Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) was fruiting.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1336

In Loughor, noted an Aeshna mixta a woosie, possible car victim.

Seeing the Changes 1335


In addition to the usual items at Crymlyn burrows, noted a plant similar to ones I have seen in Brittany (probably a Yucca). Additional critters included what was possibly a Short-winged conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis); a plume moth (Capperia britanniodactyla) and Gatekeepers (Pyronia tithonus).

Monday, 8 July 2019

A Weak Response to Weekly Events?

It appears that the 'Climate Change Emergency' is on us more quickly than was ever suspected or predicted (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/07/one-climate-crisis-disaster-happening-every-week-un-warns). A UN report claims that climate crisis disasters occur, somewhere in the world, on a roughly weekly basis. The remarkable thing is that many (unless there is severe loss of life or they occur in 'newsworthy' parts of the globe) seem to have minimal impact on media reports. It seems likely that this tendency results in a wide under-appreciation of the dangers facing us. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Rewiring?

It was interesting to read that surgeons in Australia have managed to restore a good degree of hand function in around half of their quadriplegic patients by moving surviving nerves in the arm so that they take on the functions of the nerves that formerly provided the connection to the spinal cord (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48868670). This has enabled some of the patients to gain sufficient arm control as to regain a relatively independent life style and even to play sports. This is, of course, only possible in patients with a combination of features but it does appear to be transformative in those cases.

Dead Zone?

Motorway verges in the UK cover a considerable area of unbuilt and uncultivated land which is one of the reasons why they have become ecologically important habitats for some plants and animals in spite of the obvious dangers associated with their proximity). It has now been suggested that they might provide an answer to the shortage of space in graveyards and crematoria for disposing of human bodies (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/05/bury-bodies-along-uks-motorway-to-ease-burial-crisis-expert-suggests). This would presumably not involve the provision of grave markers as these would be a hazard for vehicles using the road. I wonder if people would be allowed to choose the location e.g. "the A48, near...…" but that might cause relatives to go to these sites. The bodies would add organic matter to the locations but this might well change the types of organisms that use the verges. 

Seeing the Changes 1334



More Bynea blooms with Bristly ox-tongue (Picris echioides); Common rock rose (Helianthemum nummularium) and Common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica).

Friday, 5 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1373


A few more flowers. Alien Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) in Loughor and masses of Meadowsweet (Filpendula ulmaria) around Fairwood.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Seeing the Changes 1372




In Bynea, Wild parsnip (Pastinacia sativa); Marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) and Common sea lavender (Limonium vulgare) were all in flower. Ragonycha fulva beetles mated.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Rave On

Even as a grumpy old git, I have no desire to belittle people's attempts to adopt the right environmental strategies but my recent varied exposures to media seem to underline the fact that these people are battling against folk doing the opposite with potentially much greater impacts. It was initially encouraging to note on BBC's Countryfile that a trust is developing Heartwood forest by planting thousands of native saplings (https://newslanes.com/2019/07/01/countryfile-ellie-harrison-crushed-over-co-stars-drops-devastating-confession/) but this is more than countered by news that the Amazon rainforest is being bulldozed to create more agricultural land to accommodate methane-producing cattle (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48827490?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c77jz3mdq2pt/amazon-rainforest&link_location=live-reporting-story ). A new temperate forest in the UK is a nice idea but a) it will take a lot of time to get established; b) it simply doesn't fix anything like the amount of carbon that the rainforest manages and c) the Amazon currently generates circa 20% of the oxygen liberated by plants by photosynthesis (so, it's a bit more central to our survival).
In a similar vein it was also initially heart-warming to note that some people are largely giving up air travel in an attempt to reduce the generation of 'greenhouse gases' (https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/may/22/could-you-give-up-flying-meet-the-no-plane-pioneers ). This is immediately countered by news that Heathrow airport is to get a third runway to increase its capacity for largely holiday flights (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7156001/Heathrows-14bn-plan-runway-cause-30-years-mayhem-campaigners-say.html ) and Cornwall has been ear-marked as a potential site for a UK spaceport to allow the Virgin Orbit company to blast people around the planet more quickly (90 minutes to Australia?)(https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/9407811/cornwall-europe-first-spaceport-tourist-space-flight/ ). Amazingly, the planners  (along with a number of traditional airlines) are jockeying to talk up the 'green' potentials of flights and claiming all sorts of potential imminent efficiency improvements.

Seeing the Changes 1371



Back in Crymlyn burrows, Common toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) was in flower. Got a better picture of a Dark green fritillary (Mesoacidalis aglaja) and noted a Comma (Polygonia c-album) tasting s***.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Glastonbury Single Use Plastics Free?

Sir David Attenborough made a 'surprise' appearance at Glastonbury and praised the event for banning single-use plastics for water-bottles (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jun/30/david-attenborough-praises-glastonbury-for-going-plastic-free). This is helpful (every little counts) and his words might inspire the younger folk (as well as older festival regulars?) to make more substantial life-style changes that could help the planet. Nit-pickingly, one has to say that much more has to happen than simply changing drinking water containers. The carbon foot-print for attendees and head-line acts travelling to Glastonbury and back must be pretty substantial! It was also interesting to note that the festival was lauded as a spectacle by virtue of the flares thrown by the crowd!

Bearly Adequate?

The Bristol zoo proposal to put both Brown bears and wolves into an area of ancient British woodland for the first time in hundreds of ye...