June, 2014

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Notes on nature

We love nature... from every little bug on a blade of grass to birds, butterflies, otters and oaks!
  • Monday's magic moment: summer meadows

    July always brings a smile to my face.

    Okay, we're not there just yet, but my birthday is in July and  I always think of lazy, hot summer days and the insects take over. It perhaps wasn't the most summery of weekends - plenty of rain here anyway.

    So here's a lovely summer meadow shot that will help you forget about the damp weekend and get you in the mood for July!

    Small tortoiseshell in meadow. Image by Sue Kennedy (www.rspb-images.com)

    This image was taken by Sue Kennedy and is one of thousands on RSPB Images. Take a look and find something that reminds you of summer!

  • Monday's magic moment: hummingbird in your garden?

    Contrary to popular belief, moths don't only come out at night. This beauty is a hummingbird hawkmoth, a migratory species which flies during the day - and now is a great time to see one, almost anywhere.

    And, appropriately enough, it's National Insect Week!

    Our friends at Butterfly Conservation are running a survey at the moment, and their moth map is packed with sightings of 'hummers', from Aberdeenshire down to the Channel Islands. Have you seen one yet? Tell us about it!

    (I've just seen one in the gardens at The Lodge as I was on my way to get a cup of tea!)

    You can attract moths, butterflies and a whole range of other fascinating insects by growing the right flowers in your garden or on your balcony - hummingbird hawkmoths love red valerian, verbena and viper's bugloss, to name only three.

    The lovely photo is by Richard Revels and is available to buy through RSPB Images, our photo library.

  • Spiky woodlice, steamer ducks and galliwasps

    Believe it or not, these are all UK species.

    Admittedly ones you’re unlikely to see in your local area, unless you live in St Helena, the Falkland Islands or Montserrat. You see, these species call the remote UK Overseas Territories home.

    We’ve just undertaken a stocktake of our overseas nature so I thought it was high-time that some of these species got the limelight they deserved.

    Last year I did the same for some of the species featured in the State of Nature report, so now here’s a run down of some of the bizarre and endangered species from the UK’s Overseas Territories:

    Spiky yellow woodlouse

    Yellow spiky woodlouse. Image by Ed Thorpe.

    With a global population of around 90, it’s fair to say that this woodlouse is a bit rarer than the ones you might find crawling about your shed. In fact, these spiky characters live in just one tennis-court sized patch of black cabbage trees, at the top of one of St Helena’s tallest peaks. They’re pretty funky looking too!

    Bermuda cedar

    Bermuda Cedar with male cones. Image by Malcolm Manners(https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmmavocado/)

    As well the famous triangle, Bermuda is also home to an endemic cedar tree. And it too nearly disappeared. During the 1940s an introduced parasite wiped out over 90 per cent of Bermuda’s cedars.

    As the most dominant tree in Bermuda, this had huge knock-on effects for the rest of the Island’s nature. Thankfully, a successful conservation effort has brought this tree with great cultural value in Bermuda back from the brink. Today a cedar seedling is often placed on top of Bermudian wedding cakes, to be planted by the couple.

    Falkland steamer duck

    Pair of Falkland Steamer ducks. Image by Don Faulkner (https://www.flickr.com/photos/faulkners_fowl_shots/)

    This flightless duck is so called as it propels itself through the sea with both feet and wings, water spraying everywhere, and its breast cutting through the water – much like a paddle steamer. It’s actually one of the largest ducks in world, and incredibly aggressive. This duck will fight to the death in the breeding season – now that would set feathers flying on your local pond.

    Montserrat galliwasp

    Not a wasp, or even something that impersonates one, it’s actually a critically endangered nocturnal lizard. It survives in tiny numbers in the rainforests of Montserrat – a UK Overseas Territory famous for volcanic eruption from 1995. A 2006 survey recorded just three of these endemic lizards, making it one of the world’s most endangered.

    Anguilla racer

    A new car? A bike perhaps? No, this is snake from Anguilla – a Caribbean island. Little is known about this snake, but we do know that it’s non-venomous, feeds on lizards, frogs and turtles and is much more active during the rainy season.

    Our work overseas

    This all goes to show how little is known about our overseas wildlife. There are loads more that didn’t make my cut – like a clownfish, ghost orchid and dwarf gecko.

    On our website, you can learn more about our work in the Overseas Territories, read the full report, and find out how you can help them.