Rare English beetles helped by miniature cottages


Scarlet malachite beetle

From Wildlife Extra:

Miniature cottages prove the ideal nurseries for rare beetles

A special design of miniature ‘beetle cottage’ is helping to promote the survival of one of the UK’s rarest beetles.

For the first time a Scarlet Malachite Beetle (Malachius aeneus) has emerged from a larvae found in one of these special cottages this summer.

The small but handsome beetle is not only incredibly rare, it is rather mysterious.

The beetle is found mainly in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire, although it was once found in counties across the south and east of England.

The reason for its decline is not known, but is thought to be caused by general habitat loss and intensive farming practices.

The adult beetles appear at the beginning of end of April/May, feeding on flowers in meadows and overgrown hedgerows, often in the vicinity of thatched/timbered cottages during the summer months.

As this traditional roofing material is becoming increasingly uncommon, conservation charity Buglife set out to establish substitute nesting sites in key areas in Essex to see if these amazing bugs would take up residence.

And sure enough, they have!

Vicky Kindemba, Buglife’s Conservation Delivery Manager, says: “The innovative use of cottage nurseries could help us to ensure the survival of this mesmerising species.

“Hopefully we can now help and inspire people to build more cottages in important meadows for the beetle.”

The project was funded by Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and run in collaboration with natural history company Lifeforms, that co-designed the cottages with Buglife.

Ian Hughes of Lifeforms, and a Scarlet Malachite expert, says: “This exciting news confirms that the cottages work!

Scarlet malachite beetle cottage, photo Buglife/PA

“The Scarlet Malachite Beetle is in desperate need of our help to ensure its survival and this is an important first step in understanding how we can make this happen.”

This success gives entomologists a solid foundation to build upon to help understanding of the beetle’s fascinating ecology.

For more information about the Scarlet Malachite Beetle and to help with the Buglife survey click here.

Pacific salmon off English coast


This video is called Pink salmon or humpback salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha).

From the Shields Gazette in England:

Unusual fish caught off the coast of South Shields

by Lisa Nightingale

Friday 07 August 2015

A non-native salmon species has been spotted in the waters around the North East.

The Environment Agency has received calls of unusual fish being caught – one by an angler on the River Tyne near Wylam and another two by licensed netsmen off the coast of South Shields.

It is believed the fish are Pink Salmon – Oncorhynchus gorbuscha – a native of the North Pacific basin and its surrounding rivers.

The Environment Agency’s Richard Jenkins said: “This is quite an unusual find in our waters and we’re keen anglers know we’re aware of the sightings and we’re investigating.

“I’d urge them to contact us if they see any non-native salmon in the waters, with a date, location and if possible a photograph, which would really help us identify them and build up a picture of where they are.

“At this stage we don’t think there’s likely to be a major impact on wild fish stocks.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the environmental monitoring team at Northumberland, Durham and Tees via 0800 807060.

Urban birds conference, Leicester, England, April 2016


This 2015 video is called Watching Some Urban Birds in South America.

From the British Ornithologists’ Union:

5 – 7 April 2016 next BOU Conference

#BOU2016 | Urban Birds: pressures, processes and consequences

Leicester, UK

BOU 2016 Annual Conference

University of Leicester, UK

Follow on social media #BOU2016

View outline programme here

Conference theme

Urban development is one of the most transformative human land uses. It already dominates much of the globe, and urban areas will continue to expand rapidly, including in biodiversity hotspots. This poses enormous challenges to biodiversity conservation and urban planning. Urbanisation simultaneously provides opportunities for researchers to understand how species cope with, and adapt to, extreme and often novel selection pressures including habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution (noise, heat, light and chemical), altered biotic interactions (with pathogens, predators and prey) and interactions with people. Understanding how wildlife responds to urban life has become a global research priority, and ornithology is at the forefront of this research frontier.

This conference will bring together ornithologists, conservation biologists, evolutionary ecologists, and behavioural ecologists from academic and NGO sectors to showcase the latest developments in urban avian research and conservation.

The conference will cover a diverse range of topics including the following:

Urban bird monitoring and population trends;
Mechanisms structuring urban bird communities;
The demography of urban birds;
Gene flow, population sources and sinks
Urban pressures and avian adaptation;
Behavioural, physiological and evolutionary processes;
Human-avian interactions;
Future perspectives for managing urban landscapes.

The conference will be international in scope and is aimed at researchers and students, conservation organisations, statutory government agencies and those engaged in policy, advocacy and conservation management. It will provide opportunities to share high quality science, network and discuss new ideas. Whilst the conference focuses on avian research and conservation, much of the discussion will be relevant to participants whose core interest concerns taxonomic groups other than birds.

Great tit chicks in England


This video from ITV TV in England says about itself:

Great Tit chicks – Nature Nuts with Julian Clary starts Sunday 2nd August at 7pm

31 July 2015

Julian holds tiny Great Tit chicks in Nature Nut Kate MacRae’s garden and he can’t resist naming one of them.

Since moving to the countryside, Britain’s most beloved camp comedian Julian Clary has become passionate about nature. In this brand new series, he goes in search of Britain’s most fanatical wildlife lovers, affectionately referred to as his ‘Nature Nuts’.

‘Build more wildlife bridges in England’


This video says about itself:

Drone buzzes South America’s first wildlife bridge

27 February 2015

Full story: here.

Aerial footage reveals a unique green overpass designed to reconnect habitats sliced in two by an Argentinean road.

From Horticulture Week in Britain:

Government advisor finds in favour of green bridges for wildlife conservation

27 July 2015, by Elizabeth Henry

Bridges built to carry wildlife over roads and railways are preventing species from becoming isolated and reducing the number of accidents, according to a study published today (27 July) by Natural England.

Known as “green bridges”, they are usually planted with a variety of local trees or shrubs and other vegetation so that animals can remain mobile despite the barriers imposed by transport infrastructure. Although common in Europe and North America, only a handful have been built in Britain.

Land Use Consultants have now undertaken the first ever worldwide study of research on green bridges, on behalf of Natural England. It found they are an effective way of linking wildlife across roads, which means they could become a key aspect of the sustainability of future transport projects.

The report, “Green Bridges – a literature review“, found that not only do the bridges help to prevent important wildlife habitats from becoming fragmented by aiding species movement, they are also used by wildlife as a home in their own right.

As the Government’s conservation agency, Natural England gives advice on environmental impacts to planning authorities and developers to promote sustainable development. The information contained in the review will help developers and planners factor new green bridges into their construction plans or consider the greening of existing bridges.

Bird news from England


This video is about a whimbrel cleaning its feathers at the Brouwersdam in the Netherlands.

From Debby Saunders in England on Twitter today:

Ferrybridge this morning: 120 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plover, 16 Sanderling, 4 Turnstone, 3 Whimbrel, Redshank

Quran from Prophet Muhammad’s time discovery in England?


This video from Britain says about itself:

‘Oldest’ Koran found in Birmingham – BBC News

22 July 2015

What may be the world’s oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham. Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence. The pages of the Muslim holy text had remained unrecognised in the university library for almost a century.

From the BBC today:

‘Oldest’ Koran fragments found in Birmingham University

By Sean Coughlan, Education correspondent

What may be the world’s oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham.

Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence.

The pages of the Muslim holy text had remained unrecognised in the university library for almost a century.

The British Library’s expert on such manuscripts, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, said this “exciting discovery” would make Muslims “rejoice”.

The manuscript had been kept with a collection of other Middle Eastern books and documents, without being identified as one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the world.

Oldest texts

When a PhD researcher, Alba Fedeli, looked more closely at these pages it was decided to carry out a radiocarbon dating test and the results were “startling”.

The university’s director of special collections, Susan Worrall, said researchers had not expected “in our wildest dreams” that it would be so old.

“Finding out we had one of the oldest fragments of the Koran in the whole world has been fantastically exciting.”

The tests, carried out by the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, showed that the fragments, written on sheep or goat skin, were among the very oldest surviving texts of the Koran.

These tests provide a range of dates, showing that, with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” said David Thomas, the university’s professor of Christianity and Islam.

“According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Muhammad received the revelations that form the Koran, the scripture of Islam, between the years 610 and 632, the year of his death.”

Prof Thomas says the dating of the Birmingham folios would mean it was quite possible that the person who had written them would have been alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

“The person who actually wrote it could well have known the Prophet Muhammad. He would have seen him probably, he would maybe have heard him preach. He may have known him personally – and that really is quite a thought to conjure with,” he says.

First-hand witness

Prof Thomas says that some of the passages of the Koran were written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels – and a final version, collected in book form, was completed in about 650.

He says that “the parts of the Koran that are written on this parchment can, with a degree of confidence, be dated to less than two decades after Muhammad’s death”.

“These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Koran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.”

The manuscript, written in “Hijazi script“, an early form of written Arabic, becomes one of the oldest known fragments of the Koran.

Because radiocarbon dating creates a range of possible ages, there is a handful of other manuscripts in public and private collections which overlap. So this makes it impossible to say that any is definitively the oldest.

But the latest possible date of the Birmingham discovery – 645 – would put it among the very oldest.

‘Precious survivor’

Dr Waley, curator for such manuscripts at the British Library, said “these two folios, in a beautiful and surprisingly legible Hijazi hand, almost certainly date from the time of the first three caliphs”.

The first three caliphs were leaders in the Muslim community between about 632 and 656.

Dr Waley says that under the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, copies of the “definitive edition” were distributed.

“The Muslim community was not wealthy enough to stockpile animal skins for decades, and to produce a complete Mushaf, or copy, of the Holy Koran required a great many of them.”

Dr Waley suggests that the manuscript found by Birmingham is a “precious survivor” of a copy from that era or could be even earlier.

“In any case, this – along with the sheer beauty of the content and the surprisingly clear Hijazi script – is news to rejoice Muslim hearts.”

The manuscript is part of the Mingana Collection of more than 3,000 Middle Eastern documents gathered in the 1920s by Alphonse Mingana, a Chaldean priest born near Mosul in modern-day Iraq.

He was sponsored to take collecting trips to the Middle East by Edward Cadbury, who was part of the chocolate-making dynasty.

The Koran

Muslims believe the words of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel over 22 years from 610

It was not until 1734 that a translation was made into English, but was littered with mistakes

Copies of the holy text were issued to British Indian soldiers fighting in the First World War

On 6 October 1930, words from the Koran were broadcast on British radio for the first time, in a BBC programme called The Sphinx

Discover how the Koran became part of British life

The local Muslim community has already expressed its delight at the discovery in their city and the university says the manuscript will be put on public display.

“When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I’m sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages,” said Muhammad Afzal, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque.

The university says the Koran fragments will go on display in the Barber Institute in Birmingham in October.

Prof Thomas says it will show people in Birmingham that they have a “treasure that is second to none”.