Hoopoe in England, video


This 8 March 2018 video is about a hoopoe in England.

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Anti-Trump pro-peace meeting in Newcastle, England


Roman gladiators’ graveyard found in England?


This video says about itself:

1 December 2017

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that a mass grave discovered in the north of England is a gladiator cemetery. But the most compelling clue is an identical site in Turkey, almost 2,000 miles away.

Good British bittern, butterfly news


This video is about a bittern male singing.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Swallowtail butterflies and bitterns mark national park success

Friday 8th December 2017

PETER FROST reports some excellent news from the Broads national park

SINCE 2010 Britain’s family of national parks have experienced cut upon cut in funding from a Tory government that made the hollow pledge to be “the greenest government ever”.

Now Michael Gove has been given the post of environment secretary it is unlikely that we will see any better treatment of these bastions of excellent environmental practice in our green and pleasant land.

Gove’s previous voting record suggests he is not very green at all. He has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change, protect wildlife and reduce emissions.

We know he would be happy to sell off our state-owned woodland. He voted in 2011 in favour of selling off all 635,000 acres of public woodlands and forest preserved by the Forestry Commission.

Two years later, he voted against setting a target range for the amount of greenhouse gases produced per generated unit of electricity.

He supports fracking, having voted in 2015 against requiring an environmental permit for hydraulic fracking activities. He also voted against a review of the impact of fracking on climate change and the environment.

He supports both the badger cull and the reintroduction of fox hunting with dogs.

All this bad news from Defra and its Minister Gove hasn’t stopped our wonderful national parks doing what they can from a fast-reducing funding purse.

One really good bit of news is that in the Broads national park it has been a record year for two iconic wetland species.

The first is the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), Britain’s rarest and shyest heron which was hunted almost to extinction by Victorian taxidermists, so-called sportsmen and gourmands. Not for nothing was the shy but delicious bird known as the buttery bittern.

Bittern numbers are increasing dramatically now and nowhere more so than on the broads, rivers and reed beds of Norfolk and Suffolk.

This video shows a swallowtail butterfly, from egg to adult.

A significant increase was noted in recorded numbers of the iconic swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon, pictured right) in 2017 — this rare and Broads-specific species has seen its highest population levels since 2011.

The swallowtail species is dependent on milk parsley. This is the plant upon which they lay their eggs and eat as their sole food source when caterpillars. The Broads national park is a sanctuary for milk parsley, a tall umbrella shaped plant that loves wetlands supplied with chalky water. It depends on open fen as well as the correct water level and management to prevent scrub growth.

The successes of bitterns and butterflies and a number of other threatened wetland species are the result of efforts by the Broads Authority working with biodiversity partners like the RSPB and local landowners.

Together they have successfully increased the area of restored open fen to a figure last seen as long ago as 1946.

Weather conditions too have played a crucial role in the case of the swallowtail. The growth of the milk parsley, the flight pattern of the swallowtails and the swallowtail pupae lying attached to the base of reed stems can all be affected by wet and dull weather conditions.

The good weather of 2016 and 2017 has given the butterflies an opportunity to thrive without the threat of harsh conditions.

They used to appear in late May and June, but, in recent years, a sizable second brood in late summer has given them a added chance at increasing their numbers.

National Park senior ecologist Andrea Kelly told us: “This summer provided good weather conditions for flying butterflies and some days you could see literally hundreds of these big yellow and black butterflies zooming over the rich fen vegetation finding mates and searching for a drink of nectar.

“With the continuation of vital fen management and landowners creating favourable wetland habitats across the marshes, rich in milk parsley, the Broads Authority hopes to ensure that the swallowtail butterfly population will be resilient to a changing climate.”

So it seems we have good news despite, not because of, Gove’s work as environment minister.

Peter Frost served on the Broads Authority for a decade before his retirement some years ago.

‘Grenfell’ fire danger for English schoolchildren


London school youth on the 1,000-strong march in North Kensington on 14th October remembering the victims of the Grenfell Tower inferno

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 26 October 2017

‘PLAYING WITH CHILDREN’S LIVES’ – 700 school fires in England annually

THE LONDON Fire Brigade has accused the Tory government of ‘playing with children’s lives,’ by barring the installation of sprinklers in schools.

There are about 700 school fires in England annually. London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said yesterday that she was ‘appalled’ when she discovered that the DfE (Department for Education) in England launched a ‘consultation’ last year with new draft guidance saying building regulations no longer require ‘the installation of fire sprinkler suppression systems in school buildings for life safety’.

‘Therefore,’ the guidance continued, ‘(guidelines) no longer include an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with them. I think it was outrageous,’ said Dany Cotton. ‘I thought, “How can we play with children’s lives like that?”

‘I just do not understand why it wouldn’t be made compulsory and wouldn’t be made a requirement to fit sprinklers in schools at new-build stage. And what I don’t want to see is a very large school fire to be the thing that brings about that change.’

The consultation was quietly dropped after the Grenfell inferno, so the guidance was never changed. So it continues to state that it is the DfE’s ‘expectation that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted’, unless a school is ‘low risk’ and installation ‘would not be good value for money’.

Despite this, less than a third of the 260 schools built since 2014 under the Schools Building Programme have sprinklers. Dany Cotton said the London Fire Brigade recommended sprinklers in 184 new or refurbished schools last year. However, the advice was taken in only four of these cases.

Other fire services have issued equivalent figures, showing a similar pattern throughout England.

The National Fire Chiefs Council said the proportion of new schools built with sprinklers has dropped from 70% a decade ago to a third last year – and overall, in England and Wales, just 5% of schools have sprinklers.

The Local Government Association said it ‘fully supports installation of sprinklers in new school buildings as a cost-effective measure which can help save lives, protect property and improve firefighter safety’.

A meeting of the Grenfell Fire Forum endorsed the launching of a new Grenfell Fire Forum Facebook page: here.

An October 16 auction of works donated by 31 artists raised nearly £2 million [US$2.6 million] for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. All works donated to Sotheby’s Art for Grenfell auction sold, in the process almost doubling the organisers’ predicted total: here.