Author Archives: Tony

Getting out and about at Farm Fest 2014

Naturestimeline hasn’t ceased to be, in spite of what some might wish or hope for and on the outside chance that you may have missed me, I’ve had PC issues and well, I’m back.

 

On the 12th July, I was out and about supporting a local farming enterprise recently, hence the post title* *click on the underlined link for further information regarding the Farm Fest event. Nature and farming practices are inextricably linked so I found this day out, particularly enthralling. As a farmland bird researcher, it is crucial that I continue to learn the link between farmland practices and its effect on the sadly often declining farmland bird species**

 

Below are some of my own pictures of the event, which is one of many that each and every one of us can attend, so search out an event near you.

The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover

The route into Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm, Andover

Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress

Farm Fest 2014 at Parsonage Farm in progress

Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover

Some of the farm buildings at Farm Fest 2014, held at Parsonage Farm, Andover

Just to add, I have no personal involvement with the farm in question but I do hugely value the farming community. I did however, get to taste some local brews once I had returned home.

Some of Upham Brewery's finest Ales

Some of Upham Brewery’s finest Ales

Let us not forget that even the brewing process of Ales or whatever happens to be your tipple requires a little help from Mother Nature, so much respect to her.

Cheers

and

 

** unless perhaps you’re born a generalist species such as a Jackdaw or Woodpigeon, whose numbers take up the bulk of available farmland bird food biomass

A naturestimeline Facebook page production – Snail pictures!

As stated, some photographic captures from my bird research activities from recent years. Should I receive welcoming feedback, more images will follow over the coming weeks and months.

Please click of the link below to see the relevant imagery and commentary on this and past debates.

 

http://ow.ly/xUQwC

#research
#wildlife
#nature
#snails
#naturestimeline

and

January and February datasets

As promised, how is the phenology looking against a backdrop of a very wet but reasonably mild Winter. One notable thing for me were the number of Thunder days, four in total, all of which occurred before the 16th January. This is quite exceptional under any circumstances and as a consequence there is a notable shift towards earlier day numbers.

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

1st Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

2nd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

3rd Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

4th Thunder day (locally) in date order as of 2014

Now onto the flowering plant and shrub species. The flowering plant species witnessed for the first time in Winter were Woodland Snowdrop, Winter Aconite, Daffodil (cultivated type), Primrose and Lesser Celandine. The flowering shrub species were the Hazel with its catkins and the Blackthorn in blossom.

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Woodland Snowdrop (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Winter Aconite (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Daffodil cultivar (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Primrose (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Lesser Celandine (locally) in date order as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Hazel (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

First flowering Blackthorn (locally) as of 2014

Several of the above events are generally regarded as not suitable for accurate phenological tracking by certain well-known naturalists, can you guess which ones?

Two insect species were seen on the wing for the first time before the end of February and these were the first Bumblebee, presumably of the genus bombus terrestris as well as Brimstone butterfly. Below are the respective day numbers and rolling averages over a succession of years for those seasonal treats.

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Bumblebee (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

Brimstone butterfly (locally) as of 2014

There were some other bird related sightings occurring for the first time this year, some of which will be apparent when looking at MY NATURAL EVENTS CALENDAR. I hope to blog about these over at ukbirdingtimeline soon, in the meanwhile, I will leave you to ponder any determinable trends in the data alongside some images of the above phenomena.

Blackthorn flowering

Blackthorn flowering

Bumblebee species

Bumblebee species

Hazel catkins flowering

Hazel catkins flowering

Click on the following underlined links in the blue text for other folk’s images of Primrose and Lesser Celandine in this previous posting.

Best Wishes and more updates soon

*the warmer start to March has accelerated some events yet further, keep watch on the events calendar for updates

and

So long Winter, see you in nine months time

After the Winter we have witnessed here in the United Kingdom, I think most would welcome a human type gestation period of calm before the rebirth of a Winter anything like the one we’ve just witnessed. By way of example, just how wet was it? Here is the view from the UK Met Office. To add a personal perspective, here’s the Davis data for my locale from Berkshire in England.

December 2013 precipitation

December 2013 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

January 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

February 2014 precipitation

When viewing the above charts, I have put in a false red line which shows in my view at least, the days you would normally describe as soakers, i.e. those producing 10mm or more, which is the equivalent of approximately 2/5ths of an inch. In actual Meteorological terms, a “wet” day is where precipitation exceeds 2mm and a “very wet” day is classed as a day on which 20mm is exceeded. So yes, you can safely say Winter 2013/14 has been wet in my patch with only 20 out of the 90 days registering as a day without precipitation*. However, it wasn’t necessarily my region which made the headlines. The attached link from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) shows the devastating effects of the flooding from Somerset. On there you should be able to view other reports, complete with video clips, from other UK regions which were affected by the odd Winter weather. We should not forget that it was also very windy on occasions, although my own readings are lower than most, you can see from the attached images, where winds have exceeded the 38mph mark as indicated by my red line. This dates can be described as Gale days, although perhaps not strictly under Meteorological definition. Any wind gusts which exceed the green line shown would normally represent a windy day for my location, based on my own experiences of past events.

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

December 2013 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

January 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

February 2014 Top Wind Gusts

As for snow, well, Scotland nicked it all, this article again from the BBC being typical of highland Scotland’s Winter in 2013/14. For the rest of the British Isles, it had been a very poor one for those who wanted to see some wintry ice crystals, in fact I barely saw two days of sleet throughout the whole Winter. The Air Temperatures weren’t especially noteworthy with the mean for the Winter as a whole, somewhere around 1c above the long-term average, based on the 1981-2010 CET series. The lack of Air Frosts was notable for my location however, with only nine (9) being achieved in total and not all of these were before dawn due to my 24 hour reporting periods. As for the effect on the Natural World by way of phenology, more reports on that are forthcoming.

*only one dry day in January and this fell within a period of 33 days with only the one dry day in total

and

Inspiring the next generation – a random post

Why not inspire the next generation to care about our natural environment by participating in citizen science. In doing so, you can provide a data source of immense value and it truly is fun.

http://ow.ly/tFQo6

#science
#nature
#citizenscience
#birds
#education

There are so many options out there, get searching for citizen science projects you can participate in.

Observations about and from Nature

There are certain things which make me tick when it comes to following events from the Natural World. One is the enjoyment of being out in the wider countryside or even in the garden and observing nature in the raw. After all, I am a keen tracker of natural phenomena and how they interact under specific climatic conditions over a number of years (phenology). A few recent highlights are shown below.

These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.

Woodland Snowdrops (Galanthus_nivalis‎) – These were captured on 29th December, some 14 days ahead of the long-term average.

These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) – These were captured on 15th January, a day after they were first witnessed in bloom, some 3 days behind the long-term average.

The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) – The not so rare, in fact annual sighting of wintering Blackcaps in our garden, a male has since joined her.

The above sightings represent just a tiny fraction of recent phenology events. Another topic which enthuses me is how we can all learn from other’s tales from the world of nature conservation and even its politics. Much of this information can be gleaned from online sources and below I will share with you some of my personal favourites. *in each circumstance, if you hover over said link before clicking, it will reveal the owner of the blog

http://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/about/

http://gailqb.wordpress.com/

http://ecologyescapades.com/about-me/

http://biodiversitygatwick.blogspot.co.uk/

http://manuelinor.wordpress.com/about/

http://solitaryecology.com/about/

http://writingfornature.wordpress.com/

http://freshfromthefield.blogspot.co.uk/p/about.html

These are simply a select few and I will have to revisit this post in future and bring your attention to the many other hard-working ecologists and conservationists or put simply nature lovers that are out there for us all to discover, go follow them!

What I find fascinating about us conservationists, is the fact that we won’t always see “eye to eye” on matters pertaining to effective nature conservation, in spite of this we all share one united passion. We care, we each possess amazing knowledge of our core subjects and we have an unrivalled will to succeed for the creatures with no tongue or voice with which they could communicate their story. Back to us, what’s your story? Please tell.

and

Bird Science as a career

Tony:

#science
#birds
#birding
#education
#youth

Originally posted on UKbirdingtimeline:

It is about time this blog received some input, the birding element is actually a huge part of my current career activities. In fact, I’ve been a birder and general naturalist for more years than I care to remember. However, in recent times, I have matured into a more inquisitive individual, always on the search for answers to nature’s riddles.

A fascinating article I recently read was in Animal Conservation from The Zoological Society of London entitled “How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork**

*official doi is listed at the bottom of this post, however you can view here for full free access to the above article

Well, I can proudly say I am a keen advocate of both. The recent Bird Atlas is a fine example of data gathering at its very best. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 contained some 19 million observations of 502 bird…

View original 224 more words

Bird Science as a career

Originally posted on UKbirdingtimeline:

It is about time this blog received some input, the birding element is actually a huge part of my current career activities. In fact, I’ve been a birder and general naturalist for more years than I care to remember. However, in recent times, I have matured into a more inquisitive individual, always on the search for answers to nature’s riddles.

A fascinating article I recently read was in Animal Conservation from The Zoological Society of London entitled “How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork**

*official doi is listed at the bottom of this post, however you can view here for full free access to the above article

Well, I can proudly say I am a keen advocate of both. The recent Bird Atlas is a fine example of data gathering at its very best. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 contained some 19 million observations of 502 bird…

View original 224 more words

Wildlife Conservation – complex and controversial? Assessing the naturestimeline poll findings

I apologise for the inactivity surrounding this particular Blog and without further ado, I will attempt to address the poll’s results.

Firstly, as an aspiring conservation professional, I produced the poll, solely for the reason that I believed it would be a unique way to engage with my readership. Judging by the responses I received, it seems to have worked. Now, after the participation, there is the analysis. For me, the Blog header, says it all. Understandably, being that Wildlife Conservation is complicated, the poll results, as you can see, are mixed.

Attempting to break things down a little, one can find that just over 50 per cent of voters, believed that processes of Habitat loss and Habitat mismanagement were key reasons behind wildlife/biodiversity decline. According to my pollsters, intriguingly, ecological imbalances between the Prey and Predator and the processes of Climate Change were deemed to have minimal impact on the state of our wider environment. Prior to other’s involvement, my view, on which I voted accordingly, was that Climate Change and Predation issues were key indicators driving wildlife declines.

Moving on then, you may ask what do the poll findings prove and where can we take things from here? Here are some of my evolving objectives for this Blog, whilst keeping wildlife observation as a central theme.

  • I want to be able to find answers to everyday questions about Wildlife Conservation practice!
  • Based on the current scientific evidence, what can be done to improve Wildlife Conservation?
  • Are we collaborating enough with other parties
  • Are we utilising the evidence base, when making decisions at a local level?
  • Is there one key message** which could be taken from the poll which could serve to halt the declines in biodiversity?

As a Birding Professional who is keenly awaiting his copy of the 2007 to 2011 United Kingdom Breeding Bird Atlas to drop through his door, I’ll finish this post with a quote* from the 1988 to 1991 Atlas.

Breeding Bird Atlas for the British Isles 1988-1991 front cover

Breeding Bird Atlas for the British Isles 1988-1991 front cover

Courtesy of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh

Quite apart from the influence of human activities, nature is a dynamic process and the success of species has always depended on a number of natural variables, including climatic conditions throughout the year and the relative abundance of prey and predators

**Even twenty years ago, looking for answers on an effective way of managing habitats for wildlife, it was complicated. I just hope we are progressing on the right path now, as we look ahead a further twenty years.**


Google+naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell

Current conservation practice – not fit for purpose, why might that be?

It is an undeniable fact that as a nation, or even across the globe, we are largely failing to look after the Natural World. With this in mind, here is a chance to engage in conversation about conservation. What do you believe to be the biggest reasons for the demise of many wildlife species*.

To kick things off, please would you be so kind to participate in a poll, as laid out below. Please vote for the options which you consider are the most relevant. You are allowed to supply multiple answers, should you wish. In turn, I will let you know my thoughts and will search for appropriate topics to comment on in the future of this blog.

Best Wishes


naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

*as evidenced by the State of Nature report, see below.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/science/stateofnature/index.aspx

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/2013/05/22/state-nature-60-uk-species-decline-groundbreaking-study-finds

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/22609000