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A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


The Prince's Countryside Fund releases Recharging Rural research

Rural communities are coming together to improve their quality of life but feel as though they are becoming more remote, according to research from The Prince’s Countryside Fund and Scotland’s Rural College.

Image: Prince's Countryside FundImage: Prince's Countryside Fund

A public survey looking in to how life is experienced in rural areas of the UK for the Recharging Rural report published today (30th July 2018) received five times as many responses as expected.

More than 3000 people expressed their praise and concerns for the quality of life in rural communities, their thoughts on how life had changed over the past decade, and how they could make the most of future opportunities.

Respondents repeatedly expressed their desire for improved infrastructure in the countryside, which they feel will help them to encourage young people and businesses to stay in, or move to, rural areas. Investment in digital connectivity is also a key concern.

Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “It is encouraging to hear how communities are taking action to address the challenges they face – respondents told us of more than 500 community led projects happening across the UK.”

Hedgehog housing census – The results are in! – PTES

Survey results reveal the secrets to creating a hedgehog’s perfect home….

(Ann Stratford Hedgehog Street)Image: Ann Stratford Hedgehog Street

School’s out for the summer, and for those now at home what better way to spend an afternoon than by creating your own hedgehog house, to help the nation’s favourite mammal from further decline.

The Hedgehog Street team is urging people to help hedgehogs by building them the perfect home, providing a safe haven that’s cool, cosy and comfortable during the summer weather.

Last year, Hedgehog Street launched the first ever Hedgehog Housing Census, which looked at how, when and why hedgehogs use either homemade or artificial hedgehog houses in gardens across Britain. Between August and October 2017, over 5,000 people responded to the Hedgehog Housing Census, and now, a year on, the secrets behind what makes a perfect hedgehog home have been revealed. The results, analysed by the University of Reading, show that:

  • Hedgehogs prefer homemade houses, but artificial houses are still a good alternative if they have the right features
  • Hedgehogs need time to get used to a new house before they use it
  • Feeding hedgehogs, putting water in your garden & providing bedding (such as dry leaves, pet straw or both) increases the chances of a resident hedgehog moving in
  • Hedgehogs prefer houses found in back gardens, in shaded areas.
  • Pets or badgers don’t appear to put off a ‘hog from moving in

Building your own hedgehog home is a fun and easy to do. To download a PDF with simple instructions on how to build two different types of hedgehog house, visit the Hedgehog Street website.


Sheep join battle against invasive plant invader – Scottish Natural Heritage

Image: SNHA new woolly weapon is being deployed in the battle against giant hogweed on the River Deveron by the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative.

Image: SNH

A flock of a dozen sheep have arrived on location near Huntly (Aberdeenshire) to start the important work of munching through the invasive giant hogweed plants growing there.

Reaching heights of 2-3m, giant hogweed not only causes harm to our native wildlife by dominating sites and shading out native vegetation, but its sap is harmful to people and can cause serious and painful burns on contact with the skin.

This makes mature and dense stands of the plants more difficult to remove - normally chemical spraying by trained and protected staff is the most effective treatment method.  However, following an encouraging trial by the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Fishery Trust in 2013 grazing by sheep is being further investigated as a viable alternative.

The sheep suffer no ill-effects from the toxic sap and develop a taste for the plant, happily grazing it alongside other vegetation.  Richie Miller, Director of the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Rivers Trust said: “The previous trial showed a significant reduction in seedlings, with no evidence of plants reaching maturity during the 3-year grazing period.  This was a really inspiring and important outcome and this new trial will allow us to build on the previous findings and undertake more essential research to demonstrate the effectiveness of grazing in hogweed control.”


Amazon delivers cure for contaminated water in Wales – Natural Resources Wales

A possible solution for treating toxic metal contamination in Welsh rivers has come from an unlikely source in the Amazon basin.

Jonathan Jones, Senior Environment Officer for Natural Resources Wales, has been researching how to extract river pollutants using water hyacinths. 

Trials using the sub-tropical floating plant from the Amazon in Brazil proved to be a successful, environmentally friendly technique. 

It removed 100 per cent of cadmium, cobalt and manganese and 80 per cent of zinc from the river over a three-week period. 

After three weeks, the plants are removed from the water to prevent the metals from leaching back in. 

The plant can then be used to produce biofuel, as fuel briquettes, compost and if in sufficient concentration, the metals can be recovered. 

The research was part of an investigation into the Nant-Y-Fendrod river in Swansea that is failing to meet water quality standards. 

Jonathan Jones said: “The results of these trials are very encouraging with potentially far-reaching consequences.  As well as cleaning up our rivers, this technique could help to provide safe drinking water in developing countries and in dealing with certain implications of climate change, including ways of dealing with non-native invasive alien plant species.  Should the plant become established in the Northern Hemisphere due to the effects of climate change, its use in this technique may offer an appropriate way of managing its spread”.


Conservation project gives threatened curlew a vital head-start – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Curlew Country project - part of the UK lowland recovery programme - is taking drastic action to help save a threatened species. 

The recovery project, which works on the ground in the Shropshire Hills and Welsh Marches, has just released hand-reared curlew chicks – Curlew on Dinnet Moor June 2017 (GWCT)using a conservation practice known as headstarting – in a bid to help them on a local level.

Curlew on Dinnet Moor June 2017 (GWCT)

The decision to intervene was not taken lightly as project workers spent two years using cameras and data loggers to monitor over 30 curlew nests, from which no chicks survived to hatch. Most were predated at egg stage by foxes, so the Curlew Country project took the much-needed step of applying for a licence to incubate 50 eggs and rear them by hand.

“We are delighted to have reared 21 chicks through to fledging that otherwise would not have made it. It has been a long, emotional process, with lots of learning along the way, but we hope that we can fill the gap that natural nesting attempts were not able to,” said project manager Amanda Perkins.

“We have always intended to act quickly to win the race against time to save these iconic birds. After two dismal years of monitoring the failure of the local, but nationally significant hotspot, of breeding curlews, we knew we had to act.”

The first batch of chicks has now flown freely, outside of their original enclosure. This is a landmark event for the project, and for national curlew conservation, as it suggests what could be possible.

Importantly, it taught those working on the project a great deal about the rearing process, ranging from the foods chicks preferred, the stages at which they needed to be moved into larger enclosures and the level of support they required to learn certain skills.


UK air pollution removal: how much pollution does vegetation remove in your area? – Office for National Statistics

Explore how air pollution removal varies across the UK and use our interactive map to see how much pollution was removed from your area in 2015.

Overall, an estimated 1.4 billion kg of air pollutants were removed by woodlands, plants, grasslands and other UK vegetation in 20151, according to a study produced for the UK Natural Capital accounts by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

To put this in context, over five times as much PM2.5 was emitted in the UK in 2015, than was removed by vegetation in 20152.

This pollution removal saved the UK around £1 billion in avoided health damage costs3. It is estimated there were 7,100 fewer lung and heart-related hospital admissions, 27,000 fewer life years lost and 1,900 fewer premature deaths in 2015 as result of nature providing this service.

Trees in particular provide a wide range of services and account for most of the volume of air pollutants absorbed by natural vegetation in the UK but can have adverse effects also4.

The study looks at the role of vegetation in removing air pollutants, and the benefits they provide to human health through reductions in exposure. Most harmful is PM2.5 (fine particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, or 3% of the diameter of a human hair), but the study also covers PM10, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, ammonia and sulphur dioxide.

Even though vegetation will not solve the whole issue of air quality in the UK, and in some cases vegetation can have adverse effects on air quality, the service of air pollution absorption by vegetation is nevertheless an important one.


Changes to UK farming unlikely to have affected Bewick’s swans – WWT

Changes to UK farming practices probably didn’t cause a crash in the number of Bewick’s swans, according to new research from WWT.

The Bewick’s swan population fell by nearly 40 per cent between 1995 and 2010. The swans feed largely in farmers’ fields when they Bewicks swan © Paul Marshalloverwinter in the UK, so WWT compared the body condition of swans it has caught over 50 years to investigate whether intensification and mechanisation in farming might have led to food shortages.

Bewicks swan © Paul Marshall

But the study found no evidence to suggest swans had been prevented from getting enough food during the winter months from year to year.

WWT and partner organisations throughout the Bewick’s swans’ migratory range are continuing to research all the possible reasons for the species’ decline, including illegal hunting, poisoning, collisions and habitat loss.

WWT Principal Research Officer, Dr Kevin Wood, said: “Bewick’s swans have to leave the UK in peak condition to survive their gruelling migration to Russia and arrive ready to breed and rear cygnets during the brief Arctic summer. Although the British countryside has changed considerably over the last half century, there’s no evidence that the swans are anything other than well fed while they’re here. It’s good news, and we’ve eliminated one line of enquiry, which will allow us to now focus on other issues that might be affecting the swans. We’re currently working with researchers across the swans’ range to investigate possible causes of the population decline, which saw numbers fall by almost 40% between 1995 and 2010. Hundreds of WWT staff and volunteers have helped to catch and measure swans over the last five decades, so it’s great to be able to use the data to help examine the issues that the Bewick’s swans might face.”

The research paper, titled Has winter body condition varied with population size in a long-distance migrant, the Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) has been published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research.


National Parks and Forest Holidays join forces to connect 6,000 young people with nature - National Parks

UK’s National Parks and Forest Holidays are partnering on projects that will enable up to 6,000 young people across the country, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to experience and explore the best of the UK countryside.

Starting in summer 2018, the partnership is driven by a shared ambition to empower young people to engage with nature, both to improve their well-being and to ensure that National Parks are valued, understood and cared for into the future. Research by Natural England* shows that 90% of children report feeling happier and healthier as a result of outdoor learning, and 95% say that outdoor learning makes lessons more enjoyable.

The UK Government and the devolved Governments of Scotland and Wales all recognise the importance of connecting people with nature to improve health and well-being. National Parks have a particularly important role to play in helping to inspire and encourage young people to make the most of the natural environment.

In 2018 Forest Holidays is supporting three projects for young people in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Yorkshire Dales and Brecon Beacons National Parks, that will together engage around 3,000 young participants. In addition, a new Forest Holidays National Parks travel fund will enable an additional estimated 3,000 young people from across the UK to benefit from paid-for journeys to their nearest National Park.


Hen Harrier Breeding Success - Defra

34 chicks have fledged in the most successful Hen Harrier breeding season in years.

Image: DefraImage: Defra

This year has proven the most successful Hen Harrier breeding season for a decade in England, with 34 chicks fledged across Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Derbyshire.

There were 14 nesting attempts of which nine were successful in producing chicks. This year’s success can be put down to a variety of factors including: high numbers of voles, a key prey species, good weather and a great partnership effort.

Land managers have also been carrying out diversionary feeding offering supplementary food to the chicks since they have hatched. This technique ensures the best fledging rate and diverts the adult birds’ attention from taking the chicks of other vulnerable ground nesting birds.

Unfortunately three nests failed due to predation and two due to a polygamous male struggling to provide two nests at once. Half of the attempts, four of which were successful, were on National Nature Reserves. While all other attempts and successful nests were on land managed for grouse shooting; one of these nests was just off the moorland on a hill farm in-bye land.

Andrew Sells, Chairman of Natural England, said: “The increase in hen harrier chicks this year is truly remarkable. These figures are a tribute to all those working hard for the survival of this breath-taking bird and show that responsible management of grouse moors must be part of the solution. Reviving the fortunes of the hen harrier has been a cause close to my heart and I very much hope that we are now on the right path. But it will take more than one good breeding season to bring about a thriving population so it’s important that there is no let-up in the efforts to conserve this magnificent bird.”


BASC join rural groups in welcoming hen harrier success

BASC has joined other rural groups in celebrating the most successful hen harrier breeding season in England for more than a decade.

Central to this success has been an unprecedented 21 chicks fledging from land managed for grouse shooting, which is more than 60 per cent of this year’s total young of 34.


Nominations open for National Parks Volunteer Awards - South Downs National Park Authority

It’s time to recognise the volunteers across the country who give thousands of hours every year to the UK’s National Parks.

In the South Downs alone our volunteer rangers gave more than 14 years (5,221 days) of their time just last year. The National Parks Volunteer Awards recognise this incredible work with nominations accepted in four categories – Individual, Young Person (25 years and below), Group and Project.

Nominees need not be volunteering for a UK National Park to be eligible. All that is required is that the volunteer service or project take place within the boundaries of one of the UK’s 15 National Parks.

The group and project winners receive a £1,000 bursary towards their future volunteering efforts. The 2018 National Parks Volunteer Awards are supported by UK National Parks partner Columbia Sportswear and the individual and young person winners will receive Columbia Sportswear outdoor kit. Presentations will take place at a special awards ceremony at the Kendal Mountain Festival in November.


Joint parenting may produce stronger offspring in the animal world - University of Glasgow

In the animal world, two parents working together to provide care may produce heavier and fitter offspring than single parents working alone, according to new research.

(image: University of Glasgow)The study, which was conducted by researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and is published today in Proceedings B, found that biparenting produced offspring which grew better and had a higher survival rate than offspring reared by a single male or female parent.

(image: University of Glasgow)

Biparental care occurs when parents cooperate to provide care for their offspring. This type of care is observed in many species across the animal kingdom including in birds, fishes, insects and mammals.

However when working together, parents usually withhold the amount of care they provide to shift as much of the workload as possible to their partner. This conflict between parents has previously been shown to be detrimental for the young.

In this study the researchers sought to answer an important evolutionary question that has so far remained unanswered: are offspring better off with two parents working together or a single parent working alone?

To do this, the researchers studied burying beetles, which in the wild use either biparental care, female or male only care for their offspring. The study compared the survival and growth of the young when they were reared by one or both of their parents. Single parents were given half as many young as the pairs.

Reseachers found that larvae reared by parents who worked together were larger at the end of the parental care period than those reared by parents who worked alone. The larvae reared by two parents were also more likely to survive to adulthood.


New study could revolutionise salmon farming - University of Stirling

Scientists believe a new feed solution for Atlantic farmed salmon – created from a genetically modified plant – could help relieve pressure on stressed marine resources.

The University of Stirling, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, is conducting a study into the potential benefits of using the customised feed to improve access to omega-3 fish oils, credited as being a key component of a balanced diet.

Wild fisheries – which currently provide the beneficial oils – are at their sustainable limits and, therefore, existing stocks are not able to provide enough of the beneficial omega-3 for a global population.

In a bid to tackle the issue, current practice involves giving farmed fish a feed blended with both marine fish oil, sourced from the sea, and vegetable oil. However, the new study could revolutionise the industry – and return levels of omega-3 fatty acids in farmed fish to the levels of a decade ago.


£10 million project to bring UK rivers back to life launched by National Trust as Director-General calls on Government to "act now" on its green Brexit promises - National Trust

Five of the UK’s most precious rivers will be revived in the latest of a series of major National Trust projects providing much-needed support to the British countryside during ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

The conservation charity announces its most ambitious waterways restoration project in its history, but warns the Government must now put action to its promises to save dwindling UK wildlife as we depart the EU.

Struggling freshwater wildlife and surrounding habitat will receive a major boost in Cumbria, Somerset, Norfolk, Cheshire and North Wales as part of the project led by the conservation charity with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

Sharing the stage at Countryfile Live with Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Hilary McGrady, Director-General at the Trust, will cite a groundswell of public support for more work on the ground as she calls on the Government to fast-track its Environment Bill for the sake of future generations.

She welcomes recent pledges by the Government to deliver a farming policy that improves the environment, but will tell Mr Gove that "actions speak louder than words". "This really is a once-in-a-generation moment – for government and us all - to do something good, for the benefit of everyone across the UK," Ms McGrady will say.

Sixty percent of UK adults say it is “very important” that farmers receive money in return for looking after nature - and 70% support an Environment Act to hold the Government to account, according to a new poll commissioned by the Trust. In addition, 72% say they would definitely or would probably be willing to pay more tax so the government could ensure farmers do not pollute river or lakes.


Tenth year of Kielder ospreys brings new nest! - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Broomlee, Byrness and Binky just after being fitted with their new ring, photo Forestry Commission EnglandThe tenth year of the Kielder Osprey Partnership has given the partners a brilliant surprise late in the season - staff from the Forestry Commission recently discovered a fifth nest in Kielder Forest! The pair on the nest appear to have raised one healthy chick.

Broomlee, Byrness and Binky just after being fitted with their new ring, photo Forestry Commission England

The location of the nest makes it difficult for staff to get close, although it is thought that one of the parents is a bird from Moffat.  Tom Dearnley, Ecologist with the Forestry Commission, said: “The discovery of this nest is brilliant news for Kielder. They are still a very rare species in England and we’re thrilled that they are doing so well here.”

This years’ chicks from the four pre-existing osprey nests in Kielder Water & Forest Park have now been successfully ringed. On the four nests, 12 eggs were laid in total; two did not hatch and sadly, two chicks perished, leaving a total of eight birds to be ringed.  Experts from the Forestry Commission carried out the ringing process, which is done quickly with no harm to the bird. Various measurements are taken including weight, which helps to determine the sex of the chick with females typically heavier than males.  The process of ringing provides ecologists and ornithologists with information on subjects such as migration and feeding behaviour. It is a brief and painless but key moment in the early lives of the osprey chicks and is carefully managed under licence.


Branching Out celebrates holding 300 projects - Forestry Commission Scotland

Branching Out – FCS’s award-winning mental health and wellbeing project – celebrates holding 300 projects helping over 2,000 people since it was launched 10 years ago.  

Branching Out has delivered up to 50 projects a year within 10 NHS board areas. The programme has supported over 900 people in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area alone with more than 100 projects.

Branching Out takes place in forests, woodlands and other green spaces where participants take part in a range of activities covering key areas such as bushcraft skills, practical conservation, physical activity, creativity and environmental art, and personal development or learning. Branch cutting Nathalie Moriarty, FCS’s Branching Out Manager said: “The pioneering 12-week programme is designed to help improve people’s confidence, mental wellbeing and communication skills through a range of outdoor activities. Mental health is vital for a healthy and happy life. As people become more aware of their own mental health, outdoor programmes such as Branching Out have become ever more relevant and effective. It can be life changing for those who take part, they feel more confident and develop better social skills to go on and enjoy other local activities which help ensure they continue to move forward on their journey of mental health recovery.


Discover how a special dog from New Zealand is helping safeguard Orkney’s native wildlife - RSPB

Macca and Ange have arrived in Orkney to work on the world's largest eradication project

A fox terrier called Macca and his handler Angela have arrived in Orkney to begin their role in the world’s largest island eradication project. 

The Orkney Native Wildlife Project, which is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland, aims to protect Orkney’s native wildlife by removing stoats, an invasive non-native predator that was first recorded in Orkney in 2010.

Stoats are native to the UK Mainland but not to Orkney, where they pose a very serious threat to Orkney's native wildlife particularly the Orkney vole, hen harrier, short-eared owl and other ground nesting birds such as red-throated divers, Arctic terns and curlews for which Orkney is internationally important and upon which Orkney’s thriving wildlife tourism industry relies.

Macca is a conservation detection dog and is specially trained to detect signs of stoats. He is the newest member of the Orkney Native Wildlife Project team and, along with handler Angela, has an important role to play in helping preparations ahead of the start of the programme to remove stoats from Orkney. Their job, for the next three months, is to systematically search for signs of stoat presence on high-risk islands around Orkney’s main island (Orkney Mainland).


Space imagery helps tackle Scotland’s wildfires - Scottish Natural Heritage

Breakthroughs with satellite technology are helping Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to map and understand the devastating effects of wildfires in Scotland.

Space imagery helps tackle Scotland’s wildfires: Wildfires 2018 - Skye - Sentinel 2 - Before and after - CIR and NBR (image: SNH)Space imagery helps tackle Scotland’s wildfires: Wildfires 2018 - Skye - Sentinel 2 - Before and after - CIR and NBR (image: SNH)

SNH’s GIS Services Manager Lachlan Renwick said: “Using European Space Agency's Copernicus programme - the most ambitious Earth Observation programme to date - is a game changer for us. Getting good quality imagery in Scotland, and particularly cloud-free photography has been an issue. But now we have two satellites coming over on a regular basis, giving us imagery every two to three days, and at a higher resolution than previously available. It’s a huge breakthrough in  mapping the extent and severity of burnt areas especially where they have impacted upon protected sites.”

Wildfires can have a devastating effect on wildlife and natural habitats. In spring 2018 there were several significant fires on Rum and in northern Sutherland, and more recently a series of wildfires in the west including Skye and Torridon. The data from orbit is processed to show how much light is reflected at different frequencies, showing in detail  the extent of fire damage on plants and the soil beneath.


Land Trust launches new education strategy to inspire young people to get outdoors - The Land Trust 

The Land Trust is delighted to launch a new education strategy, as the green space management charity looks to inspire people of all ages to spend more time outside and enjoy all the benefits that spending time in well managed green space has to offer.

Working in partnerships with local schools and nurseries and providing volunteering opportunities, through projects such as our Green Angels programme, the Land Trust is aiming to increase the amount of time spent by young people outdoors, and give them the opportunity to learn new skills, enhance their future prospects and make a difference in their community.

Tree planting at Countess of Chester country park in 2017 (image: The Land Trust)Tree planting at Countess of Chester country park in 2017 (image: The Land Trust)

The time currently spent outdoors by children is worrying low and it was these statistics, combined with a crisis in childhood obesity and mental health, that encouraged the  Land Trust to act, with director of portfolio management, Alan Carter, explaining: “The Land Trust has been delivering educational activities on our sites since its inception but this strategy is about developing that offer further and making a real difference in the communities who live and work close to our sites.  The UK Government wishes to use and develop the natural environment to improve the education and lives of all children, with a particular focus on those from deprived communities. This desire is set against a backdrop of rising childhood obesity levels, decreasing childhood mental health and decreasing levels of interaction of children and young people in the natural environment. In fact it is reported that three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, while a fifth of children do not play outside at all on an average day. These findings are completely unacceptable and if they are allowed to remain unchanged we risk generations of people missing out on enjoying time outside and the physical and mental benefits that brings. With over 60 sites across the country we recognise that we are in a unique position to make a real difference and our refreshed education strategy is the first step in that process.”

Over the next three years the Land Trust will have a strategic focus on developing relationships with schools and nurseries within walking distance of our spaces.  The charity is investing in six new outdoor learning areas across their sites at Wellesley Woodlands, Bewsey, Kiverton, Old Hall, Silverdale and Hassall Green, while also training rangers and teachers as forest school practitioners, to enhance the variety of activity on our sites. The Land Trust is also working with an external body, Nature-Nurture, to produce an education pack for use by local schools near our site at Davey Down. This will then be developed to provide some more generic learning packs to be made available to schools across the country.  


Garden of Tranquillity: a sanctuary for people living with dementia - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

A safe, tranquil and sensory space designed specifically as a respite for people living with dementia and their carers will shortly take shape within the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). With natural boundaries for privacy, fragrant plants, comfortable seating, a water rill and art, this social inclusion project is quickly mustering support from visitors.

Conceived by Judy Good, while studying for her  RBGE Diploma in Garden Design, the idea started as a piece of coursework with very personal resonance, as she explained: “I was inspired by my good friend, Gillian Lindsay, whose mum had early onset dementia and is now, sadly, in the very late stages of the disease. Gillian was always looking for places to take her mum, where they could get out of the house and spend time together, but where her mum felt safe and relaxed. It can be difficult.  There are not many places in Edinburgh and the surrounding area where this need can be met.”

Her remarks were backed by Gillian: "In the eight years that we’ve lived with my mum’s dementia, we’ve come to realise that, for her, we can’t prevent the disease getting worse.  Our sole purpose when we’re with her is to try to help her have a sense of contentment in the present. With her fading memory and understanding of the world, life can feel very stressful and complicated for her. To help with this, we talk to her about the immediate things around us. Our one-way conversations are made easier by being in a place where there is a feeling of beauty and calm, as well as a variety of sights and scents and sounds to prompt our observations.   A garden created with this in mind would be an ideal place for us to spend time together, to reminisce on her behalf and to be peaceful and happy in the moment. Such a huge part of the Botantics’ own history is about being therapeutic and restorative and I see immense value in having a garden there which brings an element of this to people living with dementia now."  


Southern migrant hawker dragonflies recorded for the first time in Dorset - Dorset Wildlife trust

The first Southern migrant hawker dragonflies ever recorded in Dorset have been seen on Dorset Wildlife Trust’s (DWT’s) nature reserve, Lytchett Heath, which is part of The Great Heath Living Landscape project in east Dorset.

Three males have been seen in the area, where they were first discovered by local birdwatcher, Ian Ballam.

Southern migrant hawker dragonfly (photo: Ian Ballam via Dorset Wildlife Trust)Southern migrant hawker dragonfly (photo: Ian Ballam via Dorset Wildlife Trust)

Ian said, “Lytchett Bay is my ‘patch’ for birding, but in summer I also record dragonflies.  I was making a quick visit to the DWT reserve at Lytchett Bay on Saturday 21st July and as soon as I arrived at the main "dried-up" pool I noticed a bright blue small Hawker type dragonfly.  Then I noticed another exactly the same on an adjacent pool.  They were extremely aggressive to eachother which pointed towards the behaviour of the southern migrant hawker.  In the end, I spotted three.  I was elated to have found them and even more happy that I manged to identify this tricky species from just flight observations, and after about 90 minutes one came to rest on some reeds so I could confirm my ID was correct.”

If you see a southern migrant hawker in Dorset, please let Dorset Wildlife Trust know. You can tweet us @DorsetWildlife, post on our facebook page (facebook/dorsetwildlife) or email on enquiries@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.

If you see something unusual check our Surveys section to see who might want to know about your sighting.


Record number of hen harrier chicks tagged this year - RSPB 

Over 30 chicks tagged by RSPB project  

An unprecedented number of hen harrier chicks have been fitted with satellite tags this year by the RSPB as part of its EU funded Hen Harrier LIFE project to secure the future of these threatened birds. 

Hen Harrier 'Eric' tagged in 2017 (image: RSPB)Hen Harrier 'Eric' tagged in 2017 (image: RSPB)

So far more than 30 of the young birds have been tagged, the majority of them in Scotland. This is the fourth year in a row that the project has fitted satellite tags on hen harrier chicks. A number of those tagged this year are the offspring of birds tagged in previous years by the project including DeeCee who hatched in Perthshire in 2016.

Hen harriers are one of the UK’s rarest birds and the satellite tags allow the project to follow their movements as they leave the nest, gaining invaluable information on where the birds spend their time. The odds are stacked against hen harrier chicks from the start with survival rates of around 22 per cent in their first two years of life. The tags can reveal information about the cause of death for many of these young birds.

Of the birds tagged in 2017 almost 40 per cent are known to have died from natural causes, in line with these low survival rates. As the tags continue to transmit after a bird has died the remains of many of them were able to be recovered allowing post mortems to be carried out. These showed some to have been predated, while others died of starvation. One bird, Eric who was tagged in Orkney in July 2017, apparently drowned in January.   However, the tags also reveal that over a quarter of last year’s chicks have disappeared in suspicious circumstances. In these cases, transmissions from tags that have been functioning perfectly suddenly stop. 

The project is grateful for the fantastic support given from members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group and to the many landowners and their staff for their interest and help in assisting to tag so many birds.

From September a selection of this year’s tagged birds will be added to the project website where their travels can be followed along with some of the surviving birds from previous years: www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierlife


Scientific papers

Wotton, S. R., Bladwell, S., Mattingley, W., Morris, N. G., Raw, D. & Ruddock, M. (2018) Status of the Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus in the UK and Isle of Man in 2016. Bird Study. doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2018.1476462


Weerakkody, U., Dover, J. W., Mitchell, P. & Reiling, K. (2018) The impact of rainfall in remobilising particulate matter accumulated on leaves of four evergreen species grown on a green screen and a living wall. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2018.07.018


Ross N. Cuthbert, James W. E. Dickey, Clare McMorrow, Ciaran Laverty, Jaimie T. A. Dick Resistance is futile: lack of predator switching and a preference for native prey predict the success of an invasive prey species R. Soc. open sci. 2018 5 180339; DOI: 10.1098/rsos.180339. 


Mareike Kortmann, Marco Heurich, Hooman Latifi, Sascha Rösner, Rupert Seidl, Jörg Müller, Simon Thorn Forest structure following natural disturbances and early succession provides habitat for two avian flagship species, capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and hazel grouse (Tetrastes bonasia), Biological Conservation https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.014.


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