"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 2 September 2013

Brueton Park LNR, Moths and Sad News re: Badger Cull

Apologies for lack of posts recently I have been spending far too much time on Twitter!! Last Thursday I found myself in Solihull with an hour to spare and decided to try for the 3rd time to visit Brueton Park LNR to look for butterflies and dragonflies. It was overcast, cloudy and quite windy but for once it didn't rain!

All the usual "suspects" on Brueton Pool - domesticated/hybrid duck, Juvenile Moorhen, Mrs Mallard and Canada Goose

This particular part of the Local Nature Reserve comprises a mixture of habitats - pool, reedbeds, grassland/scrub, hedgerow and woodland.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)a relative of Busy Lizzie and also known as Poor Man's Orchid and Policeman's Helmet. This plant is an invasive, aggressive non-native species first introduced in 1839 which has now become naturalised. It is often found on riverbanks and waste ground where it grows rapidly quickly smothering other native vegetation. It also causes problems because it produces copious amounts of nectar which attract pollinators away from native species.

Sloes are starting to ripen in the hedgerows

Unfortunately, I failed to see even one dragonfly and the majority of the butterflies were Large and Small Whites with just one Speckled Wood. There was an unusual small fudge coloured butterfly high in the tree tops but it kept disappearing from view and I couldn't get a good enough sighting to id.


Blackberries are beginning to ripen - will hopefully be off on a foraging trip soon. In fact the highlight of the walk occurred when I spotted a male Blackcap fuelling up on blackberries.

I've only been running the moth trap once a week and its the time of year when I seem to get more than my fair share of the worn lbj's of the moth world. The weekend before last I had just one new species for the year - a Lime-speck Pug which had no intention of hanging around for a photograph! Fortunately, this is the one species of pug I can identify fairly confidently :)

Flame Shoulder

Orange Swift (this is the female which is brown - its the male which is a lovely orangey colour). Sadly, she had laid lots of eggs (this is the one thing I feel sad about when trapping moths). I have put them in a container and will hope they will hatch although I've never had much luck before.

Summary of Moths Trapped Saturday, 24th August

Minimum Temperature 12.3 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

2107 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) x 20

2134 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia anthographa) x 4

2353 Flounced Rustic (Luperina testacea) x 26

2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) x 8

1937 Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria) x 3

2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta) x 1

2102 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) x 1

1405 Mother of Pearl (Pleuroptya ruralis) x 1

0015 Orange Swift (Hepialus sylvina) x 1

1825 Lime-speck Pug (Eupitecia centaureata) x 1 New for Year

1738 Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata) x 1

2343 Common Rustic (Mesapamea secalis) x 3

2111 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) x 3

Badger Cull Update

I did promise a few of my overseas readers (Chris Rohrer from Las Aventuras in particular) to post an update on the proposed Badger Cull. I am very sad to have to report that the pilot cull trials to test effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the strategy began a week ago in parts of Somerset and are due to commence in regions of Gloucestershire sometime this week. Over 5000 badgers will be killed by free shooting at night(a culling method never tried before for badgers) over a period of 6 weeks. If the Government are satisfied with results of these trials then the badger slaughter will be extended to other areas of England (around 30% of the country) and up to 100,000 badgers could be killed over a 25 year period in a misguided attempt to help solve the bTB problem in cattle.

DEFRA, (the Governmental Department overseeing the slaughter of this iconic animal, which incidentally is a protected species!!), will rather strangely not be bothering to test dead badgers for bTB. The Department is also failing to answer important questions such as how they plan to alleviate the suffering of injured badgers which bolt back into the sett. The slaughter is totally unselective even this year's cubs could be shot and around 84% of badgers massacred in such an inhumane manner will be healthy and bTB free. The aim is to slaughter 70% of the population in a particular area.

Only 2% of the killing events will be monitored and only 240 badger carcasses out of the 5000 will have postmortems to establish whether the animals died humanely or not.

All relevant scientific evidence suggests that culling badgers is ineffective and will not solve the cattle bTB problem as can be seen from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial by the Independent Steering group which cost £50 million to administer. In their summary and recommendations they said "Given its high costs and low benefits we therefore conclude that badger culling is unlikely to contribute usefully to the control of cattle TB in Britain and recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than badger culling".

It has to be remembered that last year 99.47% of cattle were bTB free and that far more cattle are prematurely slaughtered each year for reasons such as mastitis, lameness, infertility, wrong gender than bTB. bTB rates are falling in England as a result of improved testing and cattle movement regulations so is there really any need to slaughter thousands of badgers? The main cause of the disease is cattle to cattle transmission. Badger vaccination against bTB is available and is being deployed by the Badger Trust and Wildlife Trusts. England should be following the example of Wales by going down the vaccination route.

If you live in the UK and haven't yet signed the e-petition created by Brian May, which has now received nearly 300,000 signatures, and would like to do so there is a link on the top right-hand side of the blog. The petition closes on 7th September.

Sorry - rant over! I've already done several posts on the issue and regular readers will already know how angry I am about the whole issue. You have probably guessed by now why I have been spending so much time on Twitter!


SeagullSuzie said...

Brueton Park looks lovely, but sorry you didn't see what you hoped to. There are less butterflies about now and I've had no dragonflies in the garden recently.
I would feel really sad to find a moth had laid eggs whilst I had trapped it. I hope they hatch.

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie It was a shame re: the lack of butterflies and dragonflies but Blackcap made up for it :) Less butterflies here too and I've seen very few dragonflies in garden all year :( I've found eggs in moth pots about 3x in 4 years so thankfully doesn't happen that often.

Countryside Tales said...

At least you know the who the moth mummy is so if they do hatch you'll be able to get the right food plant. My attempt was doomed really because I had no idea who had laid the eggs. I felt very guilty about it. Feeling sad and angry about the badger cull, still hoping common sense will prevail but I rather think Syria has knocked it off the reports at present and it does need to be kept in the public eye for pressure to build. Wishing we had a sett here so at least I'd know some were safe.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - You are so right re: being able to get correct food plant. So glad it doesn't happen very often. Last time eggs never hatched at all though :(

Agree about the need to keep it in public eye - son keeps telling me that there are still an awful lot of people who don't really know about it (or horrors of horrors don't care :( ) I feel so sorry for people in cull areas patrolling it and trying to stop it (reports of them hearing badgers screaming) - some of them may have actually fed and watched badgers at some of the setts where they are being killed. Its just horrendous. Last week I hardly slept thinking of it all :(

Dean Stables said...

I take it that the butterfly & dragonfly carving in that post were all you could get of those 2 species, Caroline :)

Wendy said...

Brueton Park looks a lovely place to wander through. I don't think I have Himalayan Balsam in my immediate area - I'm sure my bees would find it if there was.
And you've summarised the whole badger cull situation perfectly. Like you, I'm very upset and angry about it.

Em Parkinson said...

Thanks for the link to the petition....have been and e-signed. I love the little drawing.

We are plagued with the dreaded Himalayan Balsam here too, and Japanese Knotweed too, although less so up this high thank goodness. Some friends locally have a garden full of it though and I do worry about them being prosecuted as they do nothing to stem its spread. At least the Balsam has the redeeming feature of being vaguely attractive!

Ragged Robin said...

Dean Stables - lol :)!!!! Yes, you've hit the nail on the head there :) So wonderful to have you back blogging Dean :)

Wendy - It is a nice place - the woods where I did the wildflower survey are part of same LNR and its only a mile from Solihull Town Centre yet you feel in the heart of the countryside :)

Thanks for the comments re: badgers. Feel even sadder, sicker and angrier now I know its due to start in Gloucestershire as well tonight :( Loss of so many badgers in such a cruel way to reduce bTB by such miniscule amount if by any amount at all :(

Em Parkinson - Thanks so much Em for signing the e-petition. Glad you like the drawing - I got my son to do it for me as my badger photos are too blurred and I don't like just to take a photo from internet!

Isn't Japanese Knotweed the one that's really hard to get rid off? Don't envy your friends! Wildlife Trusts have "Himalayan Balsam Bashing events" to get rid of it and then replace with native plants especially in Coventry (water vole population).

Chris Rohrer said...

UGH!!!! I am so angry!! WHY??!!! I'm so sorry that this is happening. This is truly a sad time. They are making a huge mistake by killing these animals. I'm glad that badgers are found around the world because we are looking at extinction over there. I'm sorry this is happening. It seems barbaric. Once there were Passenger Pigeons in the US.....

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much for your kind words Chris. The whole thing is totally horrendous and so unnecessary. Haven't been able to verify it yet but second cull was supposed to start in West Gloucestershire last night :( So many scientists (including those who conducted the last badger culling trials) and Wildlife/Conservation Organisations are against it. Just a political decision I am afraid to appease National Farmers Union against all the science.

SeagullSuzie said...

I have signed the petition now and passed it on to friends I know will understand this is a cruel way to deal with this problem. Just more madness by our government!

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Thank you so very much - really greatly appreciated. Only 2,000 more signatures needed by 7th September to get it up to 300,000. I despair for our wildlife and environment :(

Lou Mary said...

It really is an awful, horrible situation, one which I can hardly think about due to it bringing so much sadness! Backed up by no science. Urgh! A customer who comes into the pub I work at had the audacity to tell me numerous incorrect facts which he probably conjured up out of thin air. I shall NOT be serving him beer any more!

Lovely moths though and Brueton park looks most wonderful!

Ragged Robin said...

Lou Mary - Thank you - glad you liked moths and Brueton Park.

The badger slaughter is just awful - have been in tears some nights reading tweets from people on badger patrol in cull zones.

I had a "discussion" which nearly turned into a huge argument with a farmer in a pub recently (he wasn't a dairy farmer but his ignorance on the matter was totally unbelievable!!)

Not sure if you are on Twitter but DEFRA's twitter answers to questions make me so angry. They just keep coming out with same myths, distortions and cherry picking of data which never answers people's questions!!

BTW not recommending twitter particularly - its become very time consuming but a useful tool to vent anger about badger killings!!