100 wild bee species in Dutch town


This video from England is called Wicken’s Wild Bees.

Translated from the environmentalists of De Ulebelt in Deventer in the Netherlands:

More than a hundred wild bee species in Deventer

Message issued on Friday, November 30, 2012

Things go well with bees in Deventer. This is evident from the survey by Jan Smit and three co-researchers done as part of the “Year of the Bee“. 103 different species of wild bees are found in Deventer, which is many more than expected. Of these species, nineteen are on the Red List.

In 1999, bee expert Arie Koster did a similar survey in Deventer. Then, fifteen locations were examined and a total of 36 species of wild bees were found. Of the areas examined then, six were re-inventoried now, also two additional areas were included. In these eight areas now significantly more species were found than in 1999, a total of 103 species. This is much more than expected.

More than 55 percent of all wild bee species in the Netherlands are on the Red List, making bees one of the most endangered animal groups in our country. In Deventer the Red List species include the banded mining bee, Andrena labiata, Nomada fulvicornis, Nomada guttulata … . Wasps are also included in the present study. In total 63 species of wasps were found from seven different families.

… Besides management advice for the public space, you can also also provide a good environment for bees yourself. This is accomplished by nesting opportunities and flowers in your garden.

Horses help rare plants


This video is about nature reserve management near Oostvoorne in the Netherlands.

Translated from FREE Nature in the Netherlands:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

While catching konik horses in the Geuzenbos forest near Oostvoorne, the manes of the koniks were conspicuously full of plant seeds. They turned out to be seeds of dog’s tongue. This shows that koniks contribute to the spread of this species.

Dog’s tongue (Cynoglossum officinale) is a biennial pioneer plant from the Forget-me-not family. The occurrence of dog’s tongue in the Netherlands is largely confined to the dunes. For its survival this plant is dependent on mammals such as rabbits and horses. The seeds contain barbs which stick in fur. In this way seeds are spread throughout the area.

Scotland’s Orkney islands


This video is called Islands of Scotland – The Orkney Islands (1/3).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Older than the pyramids of Egypt

Thursday 29 November 2012

It must have been one of the best school trips in history. It is 1919 and WWI is over. Almost the entire imperial German fleet is imprisoned in Scapa Flow, Orkney.

Politicians argued. Bored German sailors roller-skated round the decks. Then the orders came. The ships would be handed over to the British Admiralty. The German High Admiral in command of the captive fleet, however, had other ideas.

He ordered his sailors to scupper the entire fleet and the ships went down with flags flying. The school kids of Stromness on their boat trip watched wide-eyed.

Today scuba fans still dive on the ships and we lesser mortals can view the wrecked fleet from a trip boat with its own remote submarine camera.

Orkney is a place of surprises. My first one came at the waterside campsite at Stromness. I emerged from the campervan with my early morning cup of coffee and looked out over the sea.

Suddenly a head appeared in the water and fixed me with its beady eye. Soon at least 50 bewhiskered seals were watching me.

It’s not unusual to see seals, dolphins, porpoises or even whales from the beaches, cliff tops and trip boats of Orkney. Some of the best sightings are from the ferries to and from the smaller islands.

Agatha Christie, my wife Ann often reminds me, gave great advice on picking a husband. “The only man worth marrying is an archaeologist,” was her tip “… they are the only men who get more interested in you as you get older.”

For anyone seeking such a husband there can be few places in the world with more archaeologists than Orkney. There are hundreds of sites and many active digs still go on.

Best of all here in Orkney they are generally happy to share the experience of uncovering the past with visitors – no “keep out” or “do not touch” signs here.

Maes Howe is Stone-Age tomb almost perfectly preserved and protected – it’s older than Stonehenge, indeed twice as old as the Great Wall of China.

It is almost perfect. However there is some graffiti inside the chamber. Let’s go back just 850 years. Not long in the long, long history of Maes Howe.

A small group of Vikings stumbled across the tomb, and like tourists do they wrote on the walls. Most of the Vikings just wrote their names. There are a few rude remarks about the girls back home and the girls of Orkney. Graffiti doesn’t change.

More important and more serious is the language of the graffiti. This is almost certainly the best example of Viking runes ever discovered. Runes were the Viking’s written language designed to be carved with an axe on stone.

Our last Orcadian visit to the Stone Age took us to the beautifully restored Neolithic village at Skara Brae. Here at least eight Stone-Age houses have been excavated and restored to differing extents.

In 1939 a terrible disaster occurred. A German U-boat slipped through the Orkney’s incomplete defences and sank the battleship Royal Oak with the loss of over 800 British sailors. Many of the dead were young cadets.

Winston Churchill demanded that the entrances to Scapa Flow be defended. Italian prisoners of war did the work and the barriers they built still carry the main roads between the islands.

Those same prisoners also built themselves an amazing Italianate chapel. It was based on a redundant Nissen hut decorated only with paint and consummate skill. It’s a remarkable thing to see.

Whether you explore Orkney’s mainland or the countless outlying islands, whether you are in search of history or wildlife, Orkney’s main attractions will always be the wild and watery landscape.

So if you are looking for one of Scotland’s best kept holiday secrets, do what I do, chill out to the natural relaxed rhythm of Orcadian life here in Scotland’s Northern Isles.

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Fly agaric most popular Dutch mushroom


As mentioned before on this blog, there has been a poll in the Netherlands about which mushroom species is most popular.

Today, the top three of the poll were announced.

The winner is the fly agaric.

This video is called Fly Agaric toadstool growing time-lapse.

Number two is the orange peel fungus.

This is an orange peel fungus video.

Yellow stagshorn

And number three is the yellow stagshorn.

British Kenya colonial massacre revealed


This video is called Kenyan Mau Mau want Britain to admit torture, other abuses.

The government has decided to contest the right of Kenyan people tortured by British forces during the Mau Mau War to claim compensation: here.

The documents have been made public after more than 50 years

From the BBC:

30 November 2012 Last updated at 03:01 GMT

Mau Mau massacre documents revealed

Peter Biles By Peter Biles BBC World Affairs Correspondent

The fullest account yet of a massacre which took place during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s, has been given in Foreign Office documents released by the National Archives.

Eleven Kenyans were beaten to death by prison warders at the Hola detention camp. Dozens more were injured.

There were no prosecutions after the Hola massacre.

Survivor Wambugu Wa Nyingi is one of three Kenyans currently suing the UK government for alleged torture.

The newly declassified documents reveal that in 1958 there were serious problems of discipline at the Hola detention camp near Garissa, eastern Kenya, where Mau Mau suspects were being held.

Poison theory

Detainees complained of being treated “like slaves” while carrying out enforced work on an irrigation scheme. Another grievance was over their diet, which they claimed was responsible for many diseases.

On 3 March, 1959, 11 Kenyans died at Hola. Initial public statements suggested the men had been poisoned by contaminated water.

But three days later, Kenya’s governor, Evelyn Baring, wrote to the secretary of state for the colonies, Alan Lennox-Boyd, saying preliminary reports had been “misleading”.

“(The) result of first three autopsies is that in each case, death was due to violence”, said the governor’s telegram to London.

The colonial secretary began to demand daily updates from Nairobi.

“I am sure you will understand my anxiety to have fullest possible information by morning of Tuesday March 10 at the latest. Please let me know what further publicity you propose and whether or not disciplinary proceedings or charges are likely to follow from these findings”, wrote Mr Lennox-Boyd.

On 9 March, Mr Baring sent this telegram to London: “The injuries are reported to be consistent with being caused by heavy sticks or batons and/or boots”.

In Parliament, the colonial secretary was to face awkward questions about whether the government had, in effect, had a plan authorising the unlawful use of violence against detainees in Kenya.

Mr Lennox-Boyd wanted to establish how many British officers and African warders were alleged to have been implicated in the assaults on detainees at Hola.

The governor replied that two European prison officers had been in charge. He said there were also 40 warders with batons, supervising the prisoners at work, and a special platoon of 51 warders as a riot squad, equipped with batons and shields.

‘Flowery officialese’

As an inquest got under way in Nairobi in March 1959, Mr Baring sent another cable to London about the proceedings: “Government Chemist told of examination water from cart and stomach contents. Both negative, no poisonous substances found”.

The hearing on 26 March saw the Hola camp commandant, Michael Sullivan, giving evidence.

The telegram from Government House in Nairobi to the Secretary of State read: “Sullivan proved very bad witness. An unintelligent man with poor education. He would not directly answer questions but took refuge in rambling statements couched in flowery officialese. Magistrate not impressed”.

Summing up the magistrate’s findings, Mr Baring told London: “Broadly, death was caused by shock and haemorrhage due to multiple bruising caused by violence”.

He went on: “Evidence as a whole so conflicting and unreliable that impossible to be certain of exact happenings on March 3 when things got out of control of one man”….. “Not a single witness of Hola Prison Staff, warders or detainees made any real attempt to tell truth”.

In May 1959, the colonial secretary wrote again to Mr Baring: “Public opinion is extremely sensitive on Hola problem…. I am sure you will agree we should try to let this unhappy incident drop out of sight as soon as possible”.

Mr Wa Nyingi and his two fellow claimants won a legal case in the UK in October to make a claim against the British government.

The government accepts that the colonial administration tortured detainees, but denies liability.

Britain is negotiating compensation for thousands of Kenyans who were severely mistreated by their colonial rulers during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising: here.

Light pollution hurts turtles, helps redshanks


This video is called Tringa totanus – Common Redshank.

From Wildlife Extra:

Light pollution not all bad for wildlife – Helps some waders feed at night

Ecologists shed new light on effects of light pollution on wildlife

November 2012. Light pollution is often associated with negative effects on wildlife. Now, ecologists have found that by mimicking a perpetual full moon, the gas flares and electrical lighting along Scotland‘s Forth estuary are helping shorebirds stock up on more food during the winter to fuel their spring migration. The research is the first to use night-time light data from US military satellites to study animal behaviour.

Coasts and estuaries are most heavily developed

Coasts and estuaries are among the most rapidly developing areas on Earth. Night-time satellite images of the planet show that except Antarctica, continents are ringed with halos of brightly-lit human development. But coasts are also key wildlife sites. Every year, millions of waterbirds arrive from the Arctic to overwinter on UK coasts, yet scientists remain largely in the dark about how these birds respond to the bright lights of coastal cities and industry.

To shed light on the issue, Dr Ross Dwyer and colleagues from the University of Exeter investigated how artificial light affected feeding habits of the common redshank in the Forth estuary, one of Scotland’s most industrialised coasts. As well as major industry such as Grangemouth oil refinery and Longannet power station, whose lights and gas flares illuminate the intertidal areas at night, the estuary’s pristine salt marsh and mudflats are home to hundreds of thousands of migrating birds each winter.

Dr Dwyer measured the amount of artificial light in the Forth estuary at night using satellite images from the US Air Force. Although they have been previously used to study electrical power consumption, this is the first time such US military data has been used in animal behaviour research.

Redshanks with radio transmitters

He then worked out how the light affected the birds’ foraging behaviour by attaching tiny radio transmitters to the backs of 20 redshanks. The devices monitored the birds’ location and contained posture sensors to detect how often the birds put their heads down to feed.

Generally, redshanks need to forage day and night during the winter to find enough food. These birds usually forage by sight during the day, which provides them with the most food, and less efficiently at night by locating prey by touch using their bills.

The study found that artificial light had a major impact on how redshanks searched for food, allowing them to forage more efficiently. At night, birds in brightly-lit areas foraged for longer and foraged by sight, rather than touch, compared with birds under darker night skies.

According to Dr Dwyer: “Artificial light from industrial areas strongly influenced the foraging strategy of our tagged birds. It was as if the 24-hour light emitted from lamps and flares on the Grangemouth oil refinery site created, in effect, a perpetual full moon across the local inter-tidal area which the birds seemed to capitalise on by foraging for longer periods at night and switching to a potentially more effective foraging behaviour to locate prey.”

Light pollution – Negative affects

The results contrast with other studies, which have found adverse effects of light pollution on wildlife. Previous research found artificial light caused newly-hatched turtles to head away from the sea, rather than towards it, and caused seabirds such as petrels to collide with lighthouses and other lit structures.

Redshanks

Named for their long bright orange or red legs, the common redshank is a medium-sized shorebird with a greyish brown back and wings in winter, and a black-tipped orange bill. On their wintering sites, the birds patrol estuaries and coastal lagoons feeding on molluscs, worms and crustaceans. Redshanks are generally very wary and nervous birds. Often the first to panic, they give noisy ‘teu-hoo’ alarm calls, earning them the nickname ‘sentinel of the marshes’.

Redshanks are widely distributed, breeding and wintering across temperate Europe and Asia. Although numbers are in decline, the species is widespread and quite plentiful in some regions, and thus not considered a threatened species by the IUCN.

The research was published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology.

British government lies on Afghanistan torture


This video from Britain is called Maya Evans – War and Peace in Afghanistan.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 30 November 2012

MoD LIED OVER TORTURE

THE High Court has today heard, in the case of R (Serdar Mohammed) v Secretary of State for Defence, that British forces passed hundreds of prisoners to the Afghan Secret Service (the NDS – National Directorate of Security) despite clear evidence of torture.

In the weight of the evidence that the MoD has had to disclose, it has reluctantly conceded that the practice must stop. The UK practice of handing prisoners over to the NDS gives rise to a real risk of torture.

What is startling is that the prevalence of torture in NDS facilities was clear to the MoD within weeks of the successful outcome of Maya Evans’ challenge to the practice in 2010. That case won important additional monitoring protections and an agreement to suspend transfers if allegations arose.

However, it is now clear that despite clear evidence of torture, the MoD failed to honour those arrangements. The evidence shows that the clear risk of torture became clear within weeks of the 2010 judgment. It shows that British officials found lengths of pipes and whips in interrogation rooms on several occasions.

The MoD’s complicity in these matters is profound. Instead of stopping the practice, the MoD allowed it to be covered up. Torture was known to MoD officials within weeks of the 2010 judgment in Maya Evans’ case, yet none of this information was disclosed to Public Interest Lawyers in correspondence in 2010, 2011 or 2012.

The letter – dated 7th October 2010 – informed PIL that ‘the conditions are working well in conjunction with the existing safeguards’, when in fact torture of detainees was already known to the MoD at that date.

Speaking yesterday, Maya Evans said: ‘Today’s decision to halt prisoner handovers is a complete vindication of my legal challenge. The law that we established in that case has enabled this victory. But why did the MoD need to be forced, kicking and screaming, to make it?

‘It is extraordinary that prisoners told MoD monitors they had been tortured, that they had scars to show for it, and the torture implements were in the room, yet the MoD did nothing.’

Good Scilly islands dolphin, shark news


Common dolphins seen of the Scillonian III - Photo credit Paul Semmens

From Wildlife Extra:

Record year for cetacean sightings off Scilly Isles ferry

Best year yet for marine wildlife sightings off the Scillonian!

November 2012. During the 2012 summer season, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust have had a marine wildlife guide, Paul Semmens, onboard the Scillonian III. Paul is onboard at least once a week between April and the end of October 2012. He surveys the route from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, looking for the wonderful sharks, dolphins and whales that visit our Cornish waters, as well as showing the passengers these brilliant creatures.

As part of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s marine conservation programme, Living Seas, Paul has been recording wildlife spotted as part of an on-going survey of what occurs in Cornish and Scillonian waters.

During the 2012 season there was so much to see! 1554 animals were recorded, a record year so far. These records consisted of;

379 harbour porpoise
1064 common dolphin
19 bottlenose dolphin
23 Risso’s dolphin
19 Minke whale
2 unidentified cetacean species
3 leatherback turtle
24 basking shark
21 ocean sunfish

Paul says “During the 4 years that I have worked onboard, 2012 has been my best year yet. This was particularly special in a summer with very unsettled weather. There was a huge increase in harbour porpoises, a species that is not easy to spot in all but the calmest conditions. There has been a definite inshore movement of this species, as well common dolphins, probably in response to shoals of small bait fish. It was great to see leatherback turtles this year – they are huge beasts that can grow to seven foot long. It has been a record year in Cornish waters for this species with many sightings all around the coast. As we approached autumn we had regular sightings of Minke whales and Risso’s dolphins especially as we drew near the Isles of Scilly. I would like to thank the crew and Isles of Scilly Travel staff for their continuing support of this project as we continue to build up a substantial database on the distribution of marine megafauna. The Scillonian is a great platform from which to look for these exciting animals and it is unusual not to see dolphins or porpoises on a crossing.’

Jackie Hayman, of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company says, “The wildlife watching tips with Paul are always extremely popular so we are thrilled to be launching a series of sailings throughout 2013. It’s a great way to make the most of your time at sea during your journey to the Isles of Scilly and Paul always makes the trips informative. He is extremely knowledgeable and has a keen eye so you’re sure to spot some great wildlife on the trip. Make sure you book early so you don’t miss out.”