Moving towards a better future for our wildlife

Occasionally there comes a time to reflect on past knowledge of a subject and then to test it further as new evidence comes to light, some months or years later. I’m not having a Google “Right to be forgotten” moment, but it could be suggested that most people will on occasion, make a judgement quite naturally or unnaturally with or without intent and then upon reflection, realise they were misguided on a certain topic. This would of course simply be human nature and I guess we all need to accept this fact as new thoughts and ideas come to the fore. We are often told to assess the past, in order guide our future prospects. At risk of rambling, where exactly am I going with all this?

Well, could it be that these same thought processes, applied to our relationships, career prospects, friendships etc. might actually also apply in a debate about nature conservation? If I also put it to you, that our country’s wildlife future is in your hands, could you as an individual truly make a difference?

Let me now remind you of two naturestimeline postings from a year ago (click on the links to access original content) which once again poses the age old question of how best to conserve this nation’s wildlife.

Do we need a change of direction?

Or perhaps a new holistic approach to effective conservation practice?

 

So with yet still unanswered questions and *in light of many of the latest incentives coming out of the scientific community approach to nature conservation, are we now making the right kind of progress for our non-human inhabitants of this good earth at last?

naturestimeline Media/News/Publishing “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

*https://www.facebook.com/naturestimeline/posts/697195477005565, http://www.gwct.org.uk/news/news/2014/may/20140516/, http://butterfly-conservation.org/48-5124/relief-road-proves-butterfly-hit-.html

#conservation

#education

#wildlife

#science

#society

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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.

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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

Shock horror, a cool showery April for a change

Tony:

No, you did not imagine it, it has been miserable for far too long so I haven’t ventured out much. This is partly the reason for my lack of posts, alongside a busier working life. More news to come, honest!

Tony Powell

Originally posted on Met Office News Blog:

These are early figures covering 1 – 25 of April and not full month statistics, so are therefore very likely to change. Especially regarding ranking. Full month figures will not be available until provisionally Wednesday 2 May.

Figures for 1 – 25 April show the month so far has seen well above average rainfall across the UK, with 97 mm of rain recorded – this is 139% of the long-term monthly average (1971-2000). The wettest April in the records dating back to 1910 was 2000 which saw 120.3 mm of rain.

Currently the month is the 9th wettest April for the UK in the records. However, it’s not possible to say where the month will end up in the records until all the figures are in at the end of the month – especially as we are expecting heavy rain on Sunday.

Some areas have seen significant rainfall amounts with some parts of the…

View original 257 more words

Mankind pressing the self destruct button once again

How does the following video affect you emotionally?

The above is in relation to a post entitled “the last days of wildcat falls” courtesy of Rebecca in the woods. Rebecca is from across the pond but this matters not! This kind of destruction is happening on a global scale, along with it, the biodiversity, crucial to man’s existence is lost forever. These ecosystems are non-transferrable and you cannot simply replicate them in another place. On this very topic, the great David Attenborough once stated, “If we continue to damage our ecosystems we damage ourselves”. Sadly, most decisions appear to revolve around making a quick buck at the expense of common sense.

With climate change being a background focus to my blog, why does man insist on adding to the woes and insists on pressing our self-destruct button.

Let me ask you this. What irks you when it comes to caring for our ecosystems, be it on a local, national or even global level? Are some authorities who insist on ignoring common sense solutions out of our reach on a personal level? 

I am by no means an activist but believe me, I am deeply passionate about our environment. The next post will be return to a much cheerier topic, Phenology.

Best Wishes

Tony Powell


Early April offerings from nature

Here are my latest offerings from my Phenological sightings.

I first witnessed a Pendunculate Oak (Quercus robur) in budburst on the 3rd April. This matches quite closely to last year’s date of 7th April but is well ahead of 2010’s date of 24th April. The average date on which this bud bursting happens is 14th April, based on a sample of 11 records. Another similar observation being European Larch (Larix decidua) seen leafing. Being the 6th Aprilit matches 2011’s date and is four days behind 2010. The average date for European Larch leafing comes out at 1st April. As to the reliability of the aforementioned sighting, it is often difficult to separate leafing from budburst, when it comes to European Larch. *However, my keen eye also allowed me to witness Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in budburst on the 8th April.* This particular event was very early when compared with other years. 2011 being the 24th April and in 2010 it was later still at 6th May. If compared to the average, Ash budburst normally takes place around the 23rd April, albeit based on only seven personal records. A final tree related offering, arrived in the form of European Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) budburst, which I observed for the first time on 9th April. This event ties in nicely against the average observation date, also of 9th April. Now on to some insect related phenomenon.

The 6th April saw a further two annual butterfly sightings with Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Orange-tip(Anthocharis cardamines) being seen. The Speckled Wood sighting tied in nicely with last year with the 8th April. The average date of first emergence returns the 15th April. As for the first Orange-tip sighting, this year’s emergence is remarkably consistent with last year’s date, the 7th April. Once again, the average date of first emergence returns a date very similar to that of the Speckled Wood in that it is 16th April. Both samples are very healthy at 16 and 18 years of data respectively.  News on flowering plants and bird activity to follow. Interestingly, I have not to date, noted Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in flower which happens to be the food plant for the caterpillar of the Orange-tip butterfly.

Flowering Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) was to be in a very early state of emergence in the gloomy weather of yesterday (9th April). This particular event occurred on the 17th April last year and not until 9th May in 2010. I have noted the first emergence of flowering Wild Garlic on nine occasions and this year’s date is the earliest in that dataset. The more usual date for flowering Wild Garlic returns the 24th April. Now some birding activity at last.

Firstly, the birds are a-singing more and more each day now. Mind you, it is not just the singing, which is increasing, so too is the breeding activity. I am pleased to report that on the 5th April, I was fortunate enough to observe a Blackbird (Turdus merula) with food in its beak. The significance of this event of course being that it is most probably feeding young. If this is to be the case, this event is actually behind schedule with the 31st March being the more usual date, albeit based on a rather poor sample of garden records of 6 records. With Red Kites (Milvus milvus) appearing each day above our estate and a flyby Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) being recently added to the garden list, things ornithological wise are very good. Further news from a local woodland patch of mine were groups up 10 Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) seen feeding by other birders but personally, a new migrant arrival pleased me the most. The first returning Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) heard singing came about on the 8th April. This event closely matched last year with 6th April being the date and the average returns the 8th April too.

More next time.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell


EDIT: Apologies, the reference to Ash budburst was incorrect, this realated to an instance of Ash flowering. Subsequently there have been many more occurrences.