Rare orchid flowers at English sewage works


This video from Britain is called Early Spider Orchid in Oxeye Meadow, Durlston Country Park in May.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Rare orchid blooms at sewage works

Early spider orchid found growing on the grass roof at Swanage treatment works in Dorset by ecologists

Press Association

Thursday 22 May 2014 14.31 BST

A rare orchid has been discovered in a surprising spot – on the green roof of a sewage treatment plant.

The early spider orchid was found growing on the grass roof at Swanage treatment works in Dorset by ecologists, who had been told by members of the public that another rare orchid had been spotted there last summer.

After going to look for the bee orchid, staff at Wessex Water changed the mowing process on the roof, and discovered the early spider orchid – a smaller and rarer species.

The early spider orchid is protected by law, making it a crime to uproot, cut, sell or destroy it.

Ellen McDouall, senior conservation ecologist at Wessex Water, said the limestone coastal cliffs around Swanage, on the Isle of Purbeck, were one of only three UK strongholds for the species, along with Kent and Suffolk.

“The roof has only existed for 10 years and the orchids can take that long to flower. We don’t know how this got on the roof – whether seed was in the soil or blown in from nearby.

“Thankfully the roof of the sewage treatment works is under no particular operational pressure so we are hopeful that we will be able to actively manage the land for the benefit of the plant.”

A spokesman for Dorset Wildlife Trust said: “This is a lovely find as the early spider orchid is nationally scarce, with around 75% of the population being found in Purbeck, and the rest along the south coast to Kent and Suffolk. They are so special to Dorset that Dorset Wildlife Trust use it as part of our logo.”

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Good wildlife news from Dorset, England


This video from England is called Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves.

From Wildlife Extra:

1,500 acres of wildlife-rich land purchased in Dorset

April 2014: Nearly 1,500 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat has been bought by Dorset Wildlife Trust and its partners as part of a new conservation project in east Dorset, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, called ‘The Great Heath Living Landscape’.

The areas purchased include: Lytchett Bay, Upton Heath, Holes Bay, Parley Common and Ferndown Common. These sites provide habitats for many rare and threatened species, including the Dartford Warbler and all six UK reptiles, including the nationally rare smooth snake and sand lizard. This purchase mean two outstanding areas of natural heritage; the New Forest National Park and the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area can be linked together.

DWT’s Director of Operations, Brian Bleese said: “The purchase of this land is a real investment in the future of Dorset’s heritage, and will make a huge contribution to the quality of our natural environment for decades to come. We are very excited about taking the project into the next phase to help local people and communities benefit from the wealth of wildlife around them.”

The Great Heath Living Landscape is a partnership of Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.

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Small crab’s journey from Bermuda to England


This video from England says about itself:

27 Jan 2014

Columbus Crab, Planes minutus, Gulf weed Crab, washed up on long line buoy, Broad bench, Kimmeridge, Dorset, UK, January 2014.

From daily The Guardian in Britain, with photo there:

Columbus crab crosses the Atlantic – big picture

A tiny crab from Bermuda washes up on Dorset beach after an epic voyage hitching a ride on marine litter carried by the Gulf Stream

Thursday 30 January 2014 10.56 GMT

This Columbus crab (Planes minutus), just 10mm long, was found among common goose barnacles on a longline buoy last week, washed ashore on the Chesil beach, a natural catchment area for marine litter in Dorset. Native to the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda, it drifted away along the Gulf Stream and ended with many objects from the American and Canadian fishing industry on British shores.

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Fossils of England’s Jurassic Coast


This video from England says about itself:

24 Aug 2012

I was lucky to be able to video UK fossil expert Steve Etches when he discovered and excavated this fossil Ichthyosaur skull on Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast, ‘somewhere near Weymouth’ in August 2012.

From Science News:

Hunting fossils in England

Discoveries have been made at Monmouth Beach for more than two centuries

by Sarah Zielinski

10:00am, January 21, 2014

As rain plopped onto our jackets, my tour group huddled against the side of the Lyme Regis Museum on the southwest coast of England, struggling to hear our fossil-hunting guide over the sound of wind and waves.

“This is really the weather you want for fossil collecting,” said marine biologist Chris Andrew, the museum’s education director. “It lets the fossils wash down from the cliffs.” And, he explained, “a bit of rain keeps everyone else at home.”

A friend and I spent a week hunting fossils along the Jurassic Coast, a 150-kilometer stretch of English coastline just a few hours by train from London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, geologists came to the region to study the neatly stacked layers of rock, which date to 250 million to 65 million years ago and provided evidence that the Earth was much older than the 6,000 years many thought at the time. But it’s the fossils that have proved the long-term draw. Now, science tourists find not only some of the easiest fossil hunting for beginners, but one of few places where they will be encouraged to take fossils home.

On Monmouth Beach, just west of the center of Lyme Regis, amateur and professional collectors have been making discoveries for more than two centuries. The rocks are some 200 million years old and hold the remains of an ancient deep sea. Ammonites are the most common finds, their coiled, nautilus-like shells easy to spot on the rocky shore. There’s even an ammonite graveyard, where hundreds of large coils are still buried in the rock. These invertebrates were once at the base of the marine food web, providing meals for large vertebrates such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, Andrew explains to our group.

Famed fossil hunter Mary Anning discovered the world’s first complete plesiosaur along this coast in 1823, a dozen years after her family uncovered the first ichthyosaur. The region holds the remains of more than just sea life, though. Among Anning’s other discoveries were an early Jurassic pterosaur, called Dimorphodon. And the bones of an armored dinosaur called Scelidosaurus were discovered washing out of the cliffs near Charmouth in the 1850s. The cliffs are still releasing important finds, such as a new 130-million-year-old crocodile species named for Rudyard Kipling in 2012.

Andrew and his co-leader, geologist Ben Brooks, show examples of what to look for: the pointed tips of belemnites, semicircles or bathtub shapes that indicate bivalve shells and the starfish-shaped stems of sea lilies. Round or hexagonal black rocks, indented on both sides, are ichthyosaur vertebrae.

But before we could look for fossils, Brooks gave a lesson on safety and the fossil code. There are dangers, such as cliff falls and tides. Most collecting from the beach is legal because whatever isn’t picked up just washes into the sea. Yet it’s not quite a free-for-all, and digging directly into the cliffs requires permission. “We don’t want scientifically important specimens disappearing,” Brooks said.

Only the children were guaranteed fossils on this guided trip, courtesy of Brooks and Andrew. But that afternoon and the following ones, my friend and I tested Andrew’s best piece of advice: “You’re looking for regular patterns in the rock,” he told us. We quickly met success along the beaches at Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth, finding dozens of ammonites, pieces of belemnites, bits of ichthyosaur rib and sea lilies, and even a globelike sea urchin. The prize find went to my friend, now the proud owner of a coprolite: a piece of fossilized excrement.

Rare butterflies’ immigration in Britain


This video is called Lampides boeticus (Long-tailed Blue).

From Wildlife Extra:

Exotic migrant butterflies colonise the UK

Long-tailed blue butterfly and unusual moths here in numbers

October 2013. UKIP and the Mail would not be happy; some foreigners have been arriving here in large numbers. Exotic butterflies and moths from the Continent are attempting to colonise the UK following this year’s warm summer and mild autumn.

Long-tailed Blue butterfly

The Long-tailed Blue, a rare migrant butterfly from Europe, has raised broods at several sites across the south coast of England, and some very rare migrant moths such as the Clifden Nonpareil and Rosy Underwing have been seen in increasing numbers in recent weeks across several southern counties.

Autumn moths

These sightings suggest that all three species may be attempting to colonise southern England and come as the autumn moth migration gets into full swing bringing rarities such as the Crimson Speckled and the Vestal to our shores from Southern Europe.

UK brood

Long-tailed Blues migrated to the south coast in August and in the last fortnight the first home-grown British adults have emerged with the butterflies seen at sites including Dover and Margate in Kent and Newhaven in Sussex and a site in Wiltshire. The butterfly has bred in the UK on a handful of occasions before but this summer is the first time the Long-tailed Blue has raised young over such a considerable area.

Moths

Dramatic-looking Continental moths are also believed to be colonising the UK with recent multiple sightings of the beautiful Clifden Nonpareil in Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex. The Clifden Nonpareil is the largest and most magnificent of the underwing moths, a group that sport vivid underwing flashes they use to ward off predators. The moth, which boasts a striking blue wing flash, was first recorded in Clifden, Buckinghamshire.

There has also been a recent increase in sightings of the very rare migrant – the Rosy Underwing. Prior to this summer, this large moth has only been seen on 10 occasions in Britain. The latest sightings raise the tantalising prospect that the moth is now locally resident.

Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox, said: “These sightings are very exciting news, not only for the people lucky enough to see these thrilling butterflies and moths in the wild but also for the future.

“The hot summer enabled Long-tailed Blues and other migratory butterflies to spread northwards into Britain, capitalising on opportunities to breed here while the weather remains warm.

May not survive the winter

“This species probably won’t survive the forthcoming winter, but it seems likely that the stunning Clifden Nonpareil and possible even the Rosy Underwing, have already established footholds in southern England.”

Dorset County Moth Recorder Les Hill has seen three separate Clifden Nonpareil moths in the past two weeks in the same part of south Dorset. He said: “Clifden Nonpareil is one of the most charismatic of British moth fauna and is on every moth recorders’ ‘wish list’. As the name nonpareil states, it is peerless and has no equal. To record one in a lifetime is the fulfilment of an ambition; to record them every year in my garden is just remarkable”

The traditional autumn moth migration is now well underway with the largest number of Vestal moths entering the UK for half a century. The delicately patterned Vestal is typically found in North Africa and Southern Europe and this autumn has been found as far north as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Higher than average numbers of the exotic Crimson Speckled moth, which is usually found in North Africa and Southern Europe, have also been recorded along the south coast.

Butterflies in Britain, summer 2013: here.

Good English little tern news


This video from Britain is called Taking a look at Terns 2: Roseate, Sandwich and Little Tern.

After the good Chinese crested tern news, now also good news about smaller relatives of them in England.

From Wildlife Extra:

Chesil Beach Little terns have excellent breeding season

Bright idea sparks improved breeding success for Chesil Beach‘s Little terns

October 2013. Conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts are celebrating this week with the news that the little terns on Chesil Beach in Dorset have had an excellent breeding season, partly thanks to some innovative thinking from local wildlife experts.

Breed on beaches

Little terns are small, graceful seabirds. They were once numerous but over the past 100 years have suffered huge declines nationally. Their current breeding population is showing signs of recovery where colonies are protected, but they still only number around 1,900 pairs in the UK. They migrate from Africa in the spring to breed in small colonies on beaches.

Predation by foxes, crows and kestrels

The colony on Chesil beach is the only one in south west England. One of the main threats to little tern colonies is predation by foxes, crows and kestrels as well as accidental disturbance from beach users. To give the birds the best chance, the Chesil beach site is both fenced and closely protected by a dedicated team of conservationists, many of whom are volunteers.

However, experts this year also wondered if the site where they were choosing to nest was also causing problems. John Dadds, RSPB species protection officer, said: “Little terns have been nesting on Chesil Beach for a long time. Back in the late 1990s we had around 100 pairs breeding at Chesil, which at the time was five percent of the UK population. However, following persistent breeding failures, within a decade this had fallen to just ten pairs.

When populations of birds fall to low numbers, disturbance and predation can become a problem. So, in response the RSPB and its partners set up the current protection scheme in 2009 to exclude predators from the colony and reduce disturbance as much as possible.

Sand nests

“This has paid off, and the colony is on the increase again. However, watching the birds closely, day in day out, I realised that the birds might have another problem. Most terns nest on sandy beaches but Chesil Beach is made of big pebbles. These pebbles allow the wind to whip through and chill the eggs and youngsters. With the run of cold summer weather we have had, the hatching rate has been very low.

“So I had the idea of putting small patches of sand on the beach, sunken into the pebbles in ordinary hanging basket liners. This would give extra insulation and give the terns a warmer, less draughty, place to settle in to.

Much improved nesting

“And it has worked. We had 25 pairs this year, compared with 21 last year, 18 in 2011 and 12 in 2010. About three quarters of the birds nested on the sand and 90% of their eggs hatched, compared to only 23% from those on pebbles. By the end of the season we have seen an average of 1.2 chicks per nest surviving to fledge, the best since monitoring started in the 1970s. We are absolutely delighted!”

The job of protecting the colony has been made possible by a coalition of organisations including The Crown Estate which owns the beach, the Portland Court Leet, Chesil and Fleet Nature Reserve, Natural England, MOD, the Dorset Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

Allan Drewitt, Senior Ornithologist at Natural England said “Chesil Beach is internationally important for its breeding little terns and their recent recovery in numbers is excellent news and a great achievement for those dedicated and resourceful individuals who work hard to protect the colony”.

Fiona Wynne, The Crown Estate’s Marine Stewardship Manager, said: “The Crown Estate is committed to supporting efforts that help improve the marine environment and the species and habitats that have a direct connection to our foreshore and seabed. We have been delighted to provide funding for the little tern conservation project.”

“The success of this year’s breeding season is fantastic news and testament to the hard work and dedication of both the professional and volunteer conservationists involved.”

Marc Smith from Dorset Wildlife Trust said: “It’s been a great year for the little terns. Chesil Beach Centre volunteers and visitors were very lucky this summer as we could watch this wonderful story unfold on our live cameras. The team’s hard work and inventive thinking really paid off and we are glad we could offer support through the use of our newly refurbished centre. We are hopeful that this is the turning point for this charismatic little bird which is as much a part of Chesil as the pebbles themselves.”

In 2013 the project has been funded by the PANACHE Interreg project, The Crown Estate, Portland Court Leet and Dorset Biodiversity Fund.

Song thrush, first 2013 song


Last night, I heard a robin sing.

That is not unusual. Not even during the night. Not even in winter.

This morning, I heard a song thrush sing. My first song thrush song of 2013.

This video is called A British Song Thrush bird singing for all he is worth in Dorset.

Probably, the bird sang because of relatively mild weather. Song thrushes are sensitive to higher than usual temperatures. Sometimes, they even start to sing in December. Usually, they start their songs in February.