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 :)
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!
Weekend Walk and Higgins and Burke Teas
18 minutes ago