Save British seagrass meadows


This video from the Red Sea in Egypt is called Green seahorse in sea grass.

From Wildlife Extra:

Government urged to consider important UK seagrass areas

A newly formed NGO has responded in the consultation process to establish the next tranche of Marina Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Project Seagrass is comprised of internationally recognised experts in seagrass ecology and management.

There is an expanding body of literature illustrating how UK seagrass meadows play a significant role in supporting coastal biodiversity and fisheries productivity.

Seagrass meadows cycle nutrients, provide nursery habitat for young fish, are key foraging grounds for adult fish, prevent beach erosion, support human wellbeing, and harbour culturally significant species, such as seahorses.

Fish growing up in a seagrass meadow will have higher chances of reaching maturity and spawning a new generation than those in an alternative low quality nursery habitat such as bare sand.

However, the group says that UK seagrass meadows are under extreme pressure.

As primary producers living in sheltered coastal waters they are subjected to the problems associated with poor water quality and limited catchment management.

Anything that reduces light availability within the water column will result in stress to these plants.

This is compounded by other physical stressors such as anchor and mooring damage, destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, raking and bait digging, and coastal development eroding the long-term resilience of the seagrass systems.

Project Seagrass maintains that providing appropriate and widespread protection for these habitats has never been more urgent.

In a 2013 Swansea University survey throughout the British Isles only two important seagrass sites were found not to have been impacted by poor water quality.

Additional studies utilising GoogleEarth and site visits have revealed the extent of the threats imposed by the impact of inappropriate mooring damage on seagrass meadows throughout the UK.

Examples of the degradation that current mooring practice causes can be seen at Studland Bay, Poole Harbour, Salcombe and around the Isle of Wight.

In the new round of proposed MCZs, the seagrass meadows at Nettle and Mount Bay are included but, the group says, neither is extensive nor particularly threatened.

Adding protection to both of these sites may help in the long-term but is unlikely to have any immediate effect on their management or conservation; effectively these sites are ‘easy wins’ for MCZ creation as neither spots have particular value for alternative uses.

By contrast, seagrass meadows surrounding the North and East of the Isle of Wight and throughout the Solent are under extreme pressure, says the Project, and these have not been included.

The pressure is due to the cumulative impacts of poor water quality, boat use (anchor and mooring damage) and destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, raking, bait digging).

In addition, seagrass meadows in many other areas of the south English coast, for example Studland Bay, are also under pressure from boat use (moorings and anchors) and, again, not included in the current MCZ proposals.

Project Seagrass says there exists sufficient scientific evidence for the long term protection of all seagrass meadows in the UK.

It has requested as part of its submission that DEFRA reconsider its exclusion of Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes from the 2nd tranche of MCZs.

Meadows in need of immediate action such as Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes must be included as MCZs, it says.

For more information visit www.projectseagrass.org.

New moss species discovery in the Netherlands


Orthotrichum comosum

This is an Orthotrichum comosum photo by Rafael Medina in Spain.

Translated from Dutch VARA radio and the Dutch Bryological and Lichenological Society:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

In the center of Hilversum a new moss species has been discovered: Orthotrichum comosum. Never before seen in Western Europe and even worldwide it still is a novice. On Vroege Vogels Radio Henk Siebel of the Bryologische and Lichenologische Werkgroep revealed this unique find. Recently there was a scientific publication on this new moss species. Siebel believed he recognized the moss which he had photographed half a year earlier on a Norway maple in his hometown Hilversum. An interesting finding because the species occurs mainly in Mediterranean mountain areas. It is suspected that climate change now in the Netherlands is creating the right conditions for this species.

Great spotted woodpecker on tombstone and flowers


Great tit, 15 February 2015

This photo shows a great tit, this afternoon at the cemetery.

It was a sunny, but coldish day.

Nuthatch sounds.

Great spotted woodpecker, 15 February 2015

A female great spotted woodpecker on a tombstone. Usually, these birds sit on trees, not on tombstones, even at this cemetery.

Jay, 15 February 2015

On another tombstone, a jay. A less unusual sight.

Blackbird male, 15 February 2015

Between the graves, a male blackbird.

Chaffinch male, 15 February 2015

And a male chaffinch.

Crocus flowers , cemetery, 15 February 2015

Crocus flowers on, and between graves.

Snowdrops, 15 February 2015

A bit further, snowdrops.

While a dunnock sang.

Snowdrops, wars and poetry in Britain


This video says about itself:

EARLY SPRING snowdrop flower time lapse. Sir David Attenborough‘s opinion

6 June 2013

This is a clip from “RHYTHMS OF NATURE IN THE BARYCZ VALLEY” movie.

This film tells the story about nature in the Barycz River valley and enormous Milicz ponds. This area is located in the south-western part of Poland (in the middle of Europe). I and my wife made it for 2 years.

Sir David Attenborough, a world-famous BBC nature documentary film maker, after watching the film “Rhythms of Nature in the Barycz Valley” wrote:

“I have viewed Rhythms of Nature with great pleasure.

A lovely place, beautifully filmed”

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Flower respite from the slaughter

Friday 13th February 2015

Snowdrops will soon be announcing the arrival of spring but the story of their origin bears witness to a not too distant tragic past, says PETER FROST

In October of 1854, in the rolling meadows of Crimea, 600 brave British soldiers were ordered to their death by ignorant and arrogant aristocratic officers. Those officers, just like Cameron and his mostly Eton-educated Cabinet believed they were born to rule.

Tennyson summed up the destiny of the common man in his famous poem: “Theirs not to reason why,/Theirs but to do and die:/Into the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred.”

This was the notorious Charge of the Light Brigade. The following Christmas and New Year were miserable times in the British army camps of the Crimea.

Memories of the horrendous defeat and the harsh winter weather of snow and gales contrived to make this a sad posting for British soldiers missing their loved ones at home.

Then at the end of January, in a curious parallel of the flush of blood red poppies that painted the fields of Flanders in another foreign war the hills of Crimea bought forth a huge beautiful display of tiny snow white flowers.

They covered the countryside so thickly that they could have easily been confused as a fall of fresh snow. British soldiers were amazed to see the battlefields covered in little, frail snowdrops.

The flowers were, in fact the Crimean snowdrop (Galanthus plicatus).

Many of the British soldiers took the tiny bulbs home with them, some even slipped the bulbs — little bigger than a grain of wheat — into letters to their wives and sweethearts at home.

Today snowdrops, both the Crimean species and our own native and slightly larger Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) are a familiar and very welcome part of our mid-winter countryside.

For me the delicate nodding white flowers — brave little things — piercing the frozen earth are early heralds of the arrival of spring and the end of winter.

Did you know that there are over 2,000 different types of snowdrop, or Galanthus, growing wild in our countryside and in our gardens?

There are even snowdrop clubs and snowdrop societies and the rarest and exotic varieties change hands for hundreds of pounds for a single bulb.

The heritage of those Crimean snowdrops lives on today. You find them planted on the graves of soldiers of the Crimean war.

Huge naturalised swathes of the tiny flowers are found in areas with rich military history and traditions.

So if you can, try to get out to see the snowdrops. There are locations all over Britain which offer spectacular displays of the flower and there is sure to be one within easy reach of where you live.

As you marvel at these living snowdrifts pause to remember another group of British working men sent to die in a pointless foreign war in the hills above the famous valley of death.

The British Establishment has never had much respect for its old soldiers. It doesn’t today.

Forty years after Tennyson’s famous poem, Rudyard Kipling wrote The Last of the Light Brigade.

It commemorated the last 20 survivors of the charge of the Light Brigade who visited an 80-year-old Tennyson to lobby him for not writing a sequel about the way in which England was treating its old soldiers.

Kipling felt strongly on the subject and returned to it again in his poem to draw attention to the poverty in which the real survivors were living, in the same way that he evoked The Absent Minded Beggar.

“When you’ve shouted ‘Rule Britannia,’ when you’ve sung ‘God save the Queen,’/When you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth,/Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine/For a gentleman in khaki ordered South?”

Recently I walked through one of London’s royal parks to see the snowdrops. By the gate I came across a homeless ex-soldier. He was begging. And you thought we were supposed to learn from history.

Australian little red megabats, prequel videos


This video from Australia says about itself:

Little Red Megabats (flying foxes) just before the fly out 11/02/2015-p1

11 February 2015

Megabats are very important pollinators and seed disperses of many native plants including Eucalyptus, figs, bush apples (Syzygium spp.), bush plums (Terminalia spp.), paperbarks, guerrillas, and fruits of many palm species. The seeds of some plant species (particularly those with white and green fruits) may only be dispersed by Megabats, meaning that these plants rely on Megabats in order to successfully reproduce.

It has been estimated that a single Megabat can dispense up to 60,000 seeds in a single night.

Megabats are also important for nutrient regeneration and nutrient cycling within the ecosystem.

Not only do they provide large quantities of fertilizer to the system, but they create gaps in the canopy which enables other plants to compete more effectively. For instance, some trees shade ground-dwelling plants and shrubs, preventing them from obtaining nutrients, light and rain. By creating a gap in the canopy, Megabats enable these plants to obtain more sunlight, rainfall and nutrients, thus promoting a more diverse plant community, with cascading benefits for many other animals and plants.

This video, and the other ones in this blog post, are parts of a series, of which I had already embedded the last video in another blog post.

Here come the sequels.

And also a video, not part of the series, but about the same species.

This video says about itself:

Tolga Mass Rescue of Little Red Flying Foxes off Barbed Wire

5 October 2012

This rescue involved 108 bats on barbed wire on one day, along a stretch of road and adjacent paddocks near to the Tolga Scrub on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North QLD, Australia.

These bats were Little Red Flying Foxes. They’re mostly juveniles (3 adults only), and oddly enough, nearly all female.

They’re inexperienced, newly returned to the Tolga Scrub. Some of the fencing was new. It was very windy the night before. All these factors combined to cause this horrific scenario.

All surviving bats being cared for at Tolga Bat Hospital.

Bats in Australia, video


This video from Australia says about itself:

Little Red Megabats (flying foxes) the fly out 11/02/2015

12 February 2015

Megabats are very important pollinators and seed disperses of many native plants including Eucalyptus, figs, bush apples (Syzygium spp.), bush plums (Terminalia spp.), paperbarks, guerrillas, and fruits of many palm species. The seeds of some plant species (particularly those with white and green fruits) may only be dispersed by Megabats, meaning that these plants rely on Megabats in order to successfully reproduce.

It has been estimated that a single Megabat can dispense up to 60,000 seeds in a single night.

Megabats are also important for nutrient regeneration and nutrient cycling within the ecosystem.

Not only do they provide large quantities of fertilizer to the system, but they create gaps in the canopy which enables other plants to compete more effectively. For instance, some trees shade ground-dwelling plants and shrubs, preventing them from obtaining nutrients, light and rain. By creating a gap in the canopy, Megabats enable these plants to obtain more sunlight, rainfall and nutrients, thus promoting a more diverse plant community, with cascading benefits for many other animals and plants.

African plant named after David Attenborough


This 2014 video from Britain is called Your Favourite Sir David Attenborough Moments! #AttenboroughWeek – BBC Earth.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Plant genus named after Sir David Attenborough

Key taxonomical classification of rare plant with fleshy flowers discovered in the rainforest of Gabon in central Africa is named after British naturalist

Adam Vaughan

Wednesday 4 February 2015 16.13 GMT

Grasshoppers, shrimps, spiders and other creatures have all been named after Sir David Attenborough, but now a whole genus of endangered plants will bear the naturalist’s name.

Identified by a team of researchers in Gabon, a renowned botanical hotspot, the Sirdavidia flowering plants are believed to be the first plant genus – a taxonomical ranking one step above a species – named after the broadcaster.

Four-fifths of the central Africa country are covered by rainforest, and researchers expressed surprise at finding a new endemic species and genus in a place considered well-known botanically.

Dr Thomas Couvreur, lead author of the scientific paper describing the plant, said he remembered watching Life on Earth as a boy and Attenborough had inspired him to pursue a career in botany. “Sir David Attenborough has been such a wonderful and important influence in my life and the life of so many. I was really surprised when I realised that no one has named a genus after him before, so I found this discovery an excellent opportunity to honour him with a genus name.”

In a statement, Attenborough said: “I know very well that such a decision is the greatest compliment that a biologist can pay to another and I am truly grateful.”

A 20-million-year old grasshopper trapped in amber was one of the most recent species to be named after Attenborough, following a species of tree in Ecuador (Blakea attenboroughii), a long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus attenboroughi) in New Guinea, and a ghost shrimp found in Madagascar (Ctenocheloides attenboroughi).

The newly-described plant species, Sirdavidia solannona, was found in the Kinguele dam in the Monts de Cristal national park, Mbé sector, and in the Ivindo national park. DNA analysis revealed it warranted its own genus within the custard apple family of plants, Annonaceae.

“It turns out its closest relative is another genus in Tanzania. Even though we have a gap of 1,000km, the east and west African rainforests used to be connected. This is another extreme example of how the two rainforests were connected,” said Couvreur.

He said that the national park where it was found is so well-explored by botanists that a colleague had quipped that he wondered why Couvreur was bothering to visit. “In the tropical rainforests, no species is well known. But in this case, the area is the place to go for botanists, it’s close to the capital, there are facilities for botanists. It just shows in a region that we think is well known you can still have very interesting discoveries.”

The plant has a distinct shape, with red petals and up to 19 bright yellow stamen forming a cone. Couvreur said colleagues who had seen photographs believed the plant could be buzz-pollinated – where the buzz of a bee’s wings causes pollen to move from the stamen to fall on a bee’s tummy, before being carried to pollinate other plants. While just a theory at the moment, the team hope to confirm the method of pollination, which he said would be unique in the Magnoliales order of plants, which includes magnolia.

There have been just three collections of the plant, leading scientists to rank it as on “endangered” using the IUCN Red List scale of threatened species. However, in the locations where the researchers found the plant they noted that “the forest seems to be well protected and thus it is hard to imagine [there being] an important threat [to the plant] in the near future.”