Category Archives: Spotting wildlife

Bug hunt: Volunteers needed to spot insect’s ‘spittle’

The BBC News ask ever seen a blob of foam on a plant and wondered how it got there? The frothy spittle, sometimes called cuckoo spit, is actually a telltale sign that an insect known as the spittlebug is feeding on a plant.

Scientists are calling for thousands of volunteers to help record sightings of spittle and spittlebugs across the UK. The information will be used to map the distribution of the insect, in a pre-emptive strike against a deadly plant disease.

Photo of spittle from spittlebug by John Douglas under creative commons.

BBC Springwatch to enlist viewers for major data-gathering survey on Britain’s gardens 

The Telegraph reports BBC Springwatch is to enlist an army of nature-loving viewers to catalogue British gardens, as presenters set a weekly quiz question to gather data. The show will this series launch the biggest “Gardenwatch” survey of its kind, asking viewers to complete an assessments on bird behaviour, a register of common mammals, and a headcount of earthworms in their soil.

BBC Two’s Springwatch 2019 airs Monday to Thursday for three weeks from Monday May 27.

Help with Bee fly Watch 2019

The arrival of spring means the return of bee flies . And that means Bee fly Watch 2019 has begun!

Above is the dark-edged bee fly, photographed in Normandy a couple of weeks ago.

You can help these fascinating furry flies by taking part in this survey.  Found out how to get involved on this page on the Dipterists Forum.

They will be on the wing through to June. You can see them often hovering over flowers and using their long proboscis to feed on nectar.

And please remember to let us know of any interesting sightings you have in Normandy as well.

Big Garden Birdwatch: Smallest birds ‘hit by Beast from East’

The BBC report fewer of the UK’s smallest birds have been spotted this year by volunteers in the Big Garden Birdwatch, an annual survey run by the RSPB.

Long-tailed tits were down by 27% and wrens by 17% after being seen in large numbers in 2018. Last year’s very cold spell brought by the Beast from the East is thought to be a factor, as smaller birds would have been hardest hit by the blast.

House sparrows, meanwhile, are making a comeback after years in decline.

Hunt in your gardens for slugs, RHS urges, amid worries beneficial British slug is being wiped out

 The Telegraph reports that gardeners have been urged to pick up their torches and hunt in their gardens for slugs as the Royal Horticultural Society issues a plea for data on the disappearing British bug. [See the full article for details of how to hunt and how to report what you find]

There are worries the Yellow Cellar Slug, which is useful for gardens as it feeds on decaying rather than live plant material, is being usurped by the Green Cellar Slug, originally from Ukraine, which arrived in the 1970s.  Since the Green Cellar Slug arrived, numbers of the useful slug are thought to have sharply declined.

While both slugs have large, green-yellow, patterned bodies, the Yellow Cellar Slug has a long yellow stripe running along the centre of its tail.

You can also learn more about these slugs from this Slugwatch guide to the Yellow Cellar Slug and Green Cellar Slug.

Photo above by Jon Sullivan under creative commons.