The Guardian reports amateur nature recorders are providing vital data on beetles, soldierflies and a host of lesser-known insects
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.
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.
Sadly, recent reports show that British mammals and butterflies are under decline.
The Mammal Society and Natural England reported that almost one in five of British mammal species face a high risk of extinction. This was the first comprehensive review of their populations for more than 20 years. The reasons for decline include climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and road deaths.
The red squirrel, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat are all listed as facing severe threats to their survival.
The review also found other mammals such as the hedgehog and water vole [Photo above by Nick Ford under creative commons
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode] have seen their populations decline by up to 66% over the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, a story in The Times tells how Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) believes a lack of management has caused butterflies to decline. Since 1990 butterfly numbers have fallen by 27 per cent on farmland and by 58 per cent in woods.
Farmland species in long-term decline include the gatekeeper, large skipper and small tortoiseshell. While the brown argus, common blue, peacock and purple hairstreak in woodlands have also declined.
It’s National Insect Week! You can celebrate the wonder of insects and take part in the Great British Bee Count.
Set up by Friends of the Earth, and supported by Buglife, this count has run since 17 May and will continue until 30 June. Download the app to make a note and report any bumblebees and solitary bees you see. It has a handy guide for identification as well as advise on how to create habitats for pollinators.
[Photo by Rob Gallop under creative commons
While you’re out on your dog walk, cycle or stroll through the countryside you could also be helping our local mammals. The Mammal Society have launched a new app, Mammal Mapper, to record mammals sightings or signs of mammals and send them to a national database.
The app is simple to use and provides a very handy detailed guide to identifying British mammals.
Most wild mammals, including rabbits and hedgehogs, are poorly monitored. Records from the app could provide vital information about locations and population trends of our precious mammals, aiding better management and protection.
Learn more about the app here. The app is free to download and available on android and iOS in app stores now. For more information and to download from the Mammal Society website go to http://www.mammal.org.uk/volunteering/mammal-mapper/.