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Wonderful Wildlife of 2014

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on Barcode Ecology:
We approach the end of the almighty year that was 2014. Whilst 2013 could be called “The Year of South African Wildlife” (albeit there were only four months there, but you know what I mean),…

Dorset jewel adds to the National Trust’s hillfort crown

 

National Trust Press Office

The spectacular Hambledon Hill, one of the finest Iron Age hillforts in Dorset, has been acquired by the National Trust.

Hambledon Hill in West Dorset is a site rich in human and natural history. Credit: National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott Hambledon Hill in West Dorset is a site rich in human and natural history. Credit: National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Built over 2,000 years ago, the massive earthwork defences overlie one of the most significant early Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe, dating back almost 6,000 years, and is a place that half of British butterfly species call home.

Standing at almost twice the height of the White Cliffs of Dover and taller than the Gherkin in London Hambledon Hill occupies an area of land the size of 50 football pitches. From the summit of the hillfort you can see across three counties – Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire – and get a real sense of its prehistoric strategic importance.

Jerry Broadway, a National Trust volunteer working on Hambledon Hill, said: “When I…

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Big Garden Birdwatch results

Image

Pic: RSPCA

Almost half a million people took part in this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and discovered some interesting changes among our most popular garden birds, with some species creeping up the rankings.

It’s all change in the top 10, with blue tits in their highest position since the Big Garden Birdwatch began, at number two. The previous occupiers of the second spot, blackbirds, have dropped to number four.

Goldfinches have climbed another place since last year, and now perch at number seven. The robin, which has been as high as number seven in the past 10 years, has dropped back to number 10. And for the first time ever, the great spotted woodpecker has squeezed in at number 20.

Scientists believe that the weather has played a role in the ups and downs in this year’s top 10, as many of the birds were recorded in lower numbers in gardens due to the mild conditions.

Some species, such as blue tits, were likely to be more reliant on food provided in gardens than others, such as blackbirds, which could easily find their favoured foods like worms and insects in the countryside.

Just 10 years ago, goldfinches were in 14th position, but scientists believe that the increase in people providing food like nyjer seed and sunflower hearts in gardens, may have contributed to their steady rise to number seven.

Overall, numbers of species such as blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings may appear to have dropped in our gardens since last year. But in many cases this is not because these populations are in decline, but because these species don’t need to come into our gardens during mild winters due to there being plenty of natural food available in the wider countryside.

However the continuing declines of some species are of greater concern. Numbers of starlings and song thrushes have dropped by an alarming 84 and 81 per cent respectively since the Birdwatch began in 1979.

There is slightly better news for the house sparrow, as the declines appear to have slowed, and it remains the most commonly-seen bird in our gardens. However, it remains on the red list as we have still lost 62 per cent since 1979.

Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser, says: “2014 was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch as the winter has been so mild, and we wondered if it would have a significant impact on garden birds.

“They were out and about in the wider countryside finding natural food instead of taking up our hospitality. The good news is that this may mean we have more birds in our gardens in the coming months because more survived the mild winter.”

 

Rock star launches badger vaccination appeal

v3-pg-14-badgers

Pic: The Independent

Brian May has launched a badger vaccination funding appeal  to bolster support for alternatives to the cull.

The Queen guitarist hopes to recruit donors and volunteers for a drive to prove that vaccines are a viable alternative and persuade farmers to adopt the method. He hopes to tap into public disquiet about the cull which saw more than 300,000 sign his Downing Street website petition urging a halt.

More than £200,000 has already been pledged by the guitarist and sponsors such as the Lush cosmetics, and the band Hawkwind –who played a charity concert in aid of animal charities last month – have pledged £10,000.

The aim is to generate enough financial backing and volunteers for large-scale five-year programmes across five of the areas worst hit by TB, which are Somerset and Gloucestershire, where pilot culls have been taking place, as well as Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

Vaccination costs around £120 per badger, the Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative (BACVI) says, with costs reducing as more volunteers are found.

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at those of us who have been trying to save badgers for the last three years is that ‘something has to be done and you are advocating nothing’,” said May.

“Well we are advocating something very, very positive. It seems that what is being done at the moment is actually making things worse. Vaccination is, in the end, the only way of eradicating the disease. We hope all those people genuinely in search of a solution will put aside their differences to support BACVI.”

Pete Seeger

Great quote from the late Pete Seeger, who died last month

Brentford Recycling Action Group

Pete Seeger

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British taxpayer-funded grouse shooting causes flooding

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from Derbyshire in England is called When Red Grouse Attack.

By Peter Lazenby in England:

Campaigners stage protest over moorland burning

Saturday 22nd February 2014

Environmentalists say taxpayer-funded torching of grouse moors increases flooding in valleys

Environmental campaigners picketed the headquarters of government-backed Natural England in Sheffield yesterday to protest against taxpayers’ cash being used to fund the burning of moorland.

The campaigners — armed with symbolic mops, buckets and placards demanding: “Don’t fund flooding” — warned that burning moorland to make it suitable for grouse-rearing and shooting contributed to the flooding which has devastated valleys beneath the moors.

Some protesters were from the West Yorkshire Pennine town of Hebden Bridge, which in June 2012 was devastated by floods after water poured down roads and tracks from moorland above the town.

The campaigners said that moorland burning above the community contributed to the fast run-off of…

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A new National Policy Statement (NPS) for National Road and Rail Networks and what it could mean for woods and trees

Woodland Matters

UK_motorway_symbol The Government launched this consultation document in December last year and  the title alone raises at least two questions:

What is A National Policy Statement (NPS)?

The 2008 Planning Act introduced a new decision making process for nationally significant infrastructure projects. Instead of being considered by the local planning authority applications within certain sectors and of a certain size are fast tracked to the Planning Inspectorate (PINs).

The NPSs are produced by the government. They provide the framework for Planning Inspectors to make recommendations to the Secretary of State, who makes the final decision on these applications.

What are National Road and Rail Networks?

The document defines these as ‘National rail and strategic rail freight interchange developments’. The strategic road network is managed by the Highways Agency and accounts for most major trunk roads and all motorways in England. This strategic road network accounts for only 2% of the…

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