All posts by Heather

Rare fish set for return to River Severn breeding grounds

The BBC reports one of the UK’s rarest fish is getting a chance to return to its historical breeding grounds on the River Severn. The little-known twaite shad, a member of the herring family, was once common in British waters with thousands of the fish migrating upstream in spring. Numbers dwindled after weirs constructed in the 19th Century posed barriers to migratory fish. A conservation project is trying to unlock the river for fish by creating routes around several weirs. 

Four rare male corncrake birds recorded on Rathlin Island

The BBC reports four rare male birds have been recorded on Rathlin Island, off the County Antrim coast.

It is the highest number of calling male corncrakes to be confirmed on the island in about 40 years. The corncrake is one of NI’s rarest birds, known for its distinctive call. Rathlin is the only place in NI where the species can be found, and is the focus of conservation efforts by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds NI (RSPB NI). 

River Otter flood plain work delayed to protect nesting birds

The BBC reports plans to go ahead with the restoration of mud flats have been put back after concerns were raised by campaigners about the effect on nesting birds. The project would have involved the removal of vegetation on the River Otter estuary in Devon, starting on Tuesday.

The Environment Agency (EA) said the start of work was “being reviewed”. The rescheduling followed involvement from the RSPB and wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham. The RSPB said it supported the restoration scheme, but it was the wrong time of year. 

Wildlife-friendly UK farms help Duke of Burgundy butterfly numbers take flight

Duke of Burgundy photo by Charlie Jackson under creative commons

The Guardian reports this is the time of year when the Duke of Burgundy, a small jewel of a butterfly named after an unknown aristocrat, takes to the wing.

Ten years ago, it was Britain’s rarest butterfly, living in tiny colonies on scrubby chalk or limestone grassland. Now it has bounced back, its population surging by 25% over the decade.

Last spring, one of the biggest colony of Dukes in the country was discovered by Martin Warren, the author of Butterflies: A Natural History. This was a chance find but the thriving population on chalk downland in Dorset is no accident.

Slugs and snails expected to re-emerge this weekend

Snail photo by jamieanne under creative commons

iNEWS reports unseasonally late frosts have been keeping them at bay in Britain’s gardens but slugs and snails are set to return at the weekend with a vengeance.

Warmer conditions combined with scattered showers offers them ideal conditions, just as gardeners are tending their prized seedlings and garden plants are putting forth tender, and a to a gastropod, highly munchable fresh shoots.

It all adds up to, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is warning, a perfect slug storm for gardeners. Nevertheless, the RHS is urging gardeners to go easy on their most traditional of enemies.

Wasps may be hated – but they’re actually one of our most valuable species, study finds

Wasp photo by Pictoscribe under creative commons

iNews reports wasps may be the most hated creature in the garden but they are actually among the most valuable species around, a study has found. Researchers have conducted a major investigation into the 33,000 species of wasp and concluded they are the most unfairly maligned insects in the back yard. They conclude that wasps deserve to be just as highly valued as other insects, such as the much loved species of bees, because they play a key role as pollinators and as predators – keeping the insects they eat further down the food chain in check…

Government agrees to release parasite wasps to kill invasive pests attacking sweet chestnut trees

iNEWS reports thousands of parasite wasps are set to be released in England in an effort to kill an in invasive pest attacking sweet chestnut trees. The Government has granted approval for Torymus sinensis, a type of parasite wasp, to be introduced in order to attack the invasive Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp.

Concern has been mounting about the fate of England’s sweet chestnut trees after the Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp was first spotted in Kent in 2015. The wasp’s larvae causes abnormal growths – known as ‘galls’ – on the leaves of sweet chestnut trees. Large infestations can weaken the host tree, making it more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

Nature ‘more important than ever during lockdown’

BBC News reports data has confirmed what many suspected: nature and green spaces have been a big comfort during lockdown. More than 40% of people say nature, wildlife and visiting local green spaces have been even more important to their wellbeing since the coronavirus restrictions began.

The percentages have remained stable throughout the pandemic, according to the government’s advisor for the natural environment, Natural England. And the trend could persist.

Raw sewage breaches in UK rivers 10 times greater than watchdog estimates

The Guardian reports the scale of water companies illegally discharging sewage is 10 times greater than the Environment Agency (EA) estimates, MPs have been told

Peter Hammond, former professor of computational biology at University College London, now retired, said his analysis of sewage treatment works found in 2020 alone 160 breaches of permits granted by the watchdog to allow sewage discharges. The EA has only prosecuted 174 cases of illegal discharges in the last 10 years, he said on Wednesday.