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Thread: British wildlife news

  1. #1 British wildlife news 
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    Thursday 8 May 2008

    Great tits enjoying the warmer weather – so far

    As climate change forces animals to shift their breeding schedules, one group of British birds has been able to quickly adapt to the warmer weather without having to rely on slower evolution.


    Since 1961, ecologists have been tracking the population of great tits that breed in Wytham Woods, near Oxford, UK. “It’s only in the past 30 to 35 years that you see this increase in temperature in early spring to which the birds have responded,” says study leader Ben Sheldon of the University of Oxford.

    The birds now lay their eggs 2 weeks earlier than they did in the 1970s, tracking a 2-week shift in the emergence of their favoured food – the caterpillars of the winter moth.

    The British birds have done well, with their population growing. But as temperatures continue to rise, if the birds reach a limit of how far they can plastically adjust, natural selection could kill off many of the birds, Sheldon says.

    Full story: New Scientist Environment

    Great tits cope well with warming

    At least one of Britain’s birds appears to be coping well as climate change alters the availability of a key food.


    Researchers found that great tits are laying eggs earlier in the spring than they used to, keeping step with the earlier emergence of caterpillars.

    The research uses a long record of great tits in a breeding site at Wytham Woods near Oxford, where observations began in 1947.

    The great tits are laying eggs now about two weeks earlier in the year than they were 47 years ago.

    The timing is crucial, because for the two-week period after they hatch, the chicks have to gobble down huge quantities of winter moth caterpillars which only emerge for a short period.

    Their movement to an earlier breeding time does not involve an evolutionary change, the scientists believe – it is simply that individual birds are able to change their behaviour, in the same way that they have presumably adapted to warmer or cooler phases before the era of human-induced global warming.

    The RSPB and other conservation bodies have regularly warned that climate shifts could have a devastating impact on some species; and they believe the new research does not change that picture.

    Full story: BBC News


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  3. #2 Re: British wildlife news 
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    Thursday 8 May 2008

    Eggs-actly what we hoped for!

    A pair of rare hen harriers is incubating six eggs at a nest site in Northumberland’s North Tynedale, the RSPB and Forestry Commission announced today on 7 May 2008.


    Following her return to nest on Forestry Commission land in North Tynedale last month, the female harrier has wasted no time in laying a clutch of eggs.

    The pair is one of only a handful known to be nesting in England this year, and more than 30 enthusiastic volunteers are helping to watch over the precious eggs. Members of the nest watch team are on standby day and night alongside RSPB officers and Forestry Commission rangers to safeguard the nest.

    Illegal killing or deliberate disturbance is the main reason that hen harriers are absent from almost all areas of suitable moorland in northern England.

    Full story: RSPB


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    Wednesday 15 May 2008

    Don’t use your loaf!

    We’ve all emptied a bag of old crusts onto our lawn but the RSPB is encouraging wildlife lovers to think of other alternatives to bread for feeding birds.


    Bread is often considered a great option but the RSPB believes that whilst not harmful, it doesn’t actually provide birds with any goodness or nutrients. It could even prove detrimental, as the birds will fill up on it and not other, more nutritious foods.

    Other treats that can replace bread and provide birds with a variety of vital nutrients include grated cheese, cooked rice, uncooked porridge oats, breakfast cereal, softened or leftover jacket potatoes, frozen vegetables, biscuit crumbs and pastry.

    The RSPB is also reminding people not to leave too much food about – contrary to popular belief birds won’t eat just anything and leaving rotten food, especially in the good weather, can attract rats and cause littering problems.

    Full story: RSPB
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    Wednesday 4 June 2008

    Decline at biggest UK puffin site

    Fewer puffins are going to breed at the UK’s largest colony of the species, on the Isle of May, scientists report.


    Numbers are down to about 41*000 breeding pairs this year from almost 70*000 pairs in 2003.

    Researchers believe the decline is linked to changes in the North Sea food web, perhaps related to climate change.

    The Isle of May, in the Firth of Forth, is home to the UK’s largest single puffin colony, although more birds overall nest in the St Kilda archipelago.

    Full story: BBC News
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I've been watching Springwatch too...

    but mainly for Kate Humble (what has she done with her eyebrows lately?)
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    I’ve been watching repeats of episodes online on the BBC Wildlife website.

    Unfortunately I missed the first two episodes because I hadn’t realized that it started last week. I suppose the BBC people wanted to make sure the series wouldn’t overlap with the Euro 2008 thing coming up. Four years ago, I remember, the series overlapped with Euro 2004 – and Bill Oddie just couldn’t stop talking about football on the show. He even named a brood of eleven blue-tit chicks after the England XI squad. I bet his mania got a lot of complaints from irate viewers.

    This time, hopefully, Bill won’t be too hyped up about football as England didn’t qualify for Euro 2008. Thanks goodness for that.

    Anyway, I see that Simon King is in Scotland – at the fish farm in Rothiemurchus. I have been to that farm myself! :-D It’s situated in a little spot called Inverdruie, a short walk from Aviemore. Sadly, I didn’t get to see ospreys actually diving after fish – one nearly did, hovering tantalizingly above the water for several seconds but changing its mind and flying off in the end. I did see a few birds with fish in their talons though (if not the actual plunge-diving itself) and was happy with that.
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneBennet
    I’ve been watching repeats of episodes online on the BBC Wildlife website.

    Unfortunately I missed the first two episodes because I hadn’t realized that it started last week. I suppose the BBC people wanted to make sure the series wouldn’t overlap with the Euro 2008 thing coming up. Four years ago, I remember, the series overlapped with Euro 2004 – and Bill Oddie just couldn’t stop talking about football on the show. He even named a brood of eleven blue-tit chicks after the England XI squad. I bet his mania got a lot of complaints from irate viewers.

    This time, hopefully, Bill won’t be too hyped up about football as England didn’t qualify for Euro 2008. Thanks goodness for that.
    Well, he's showing signs of all sorts of other obsessions this series, including a preoccupation with sex. But hey, as long as Kate's humble, she makes up for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JaneBennet
    Anyway, I see that Simon King is in Scotland – at the fish farm in Rothiemurchus. I have been to that farm myself! :-D It’s situated in a little spot called Inverdruie, a short walk from Aviemore. Sadly, I didn’t get to see ospreys actually diving after fish – one nearly did, hovering tantalizingly above the water for several seconds but changing its mind and flying off in the end. I did see a few birds with fish in their talons though (if not the actual plunge-diving itself) and was happy with that.
    I loved Simon King in Big Cat Diary, and I think he's doing a really cool job in Scotland. I've never seen an osprey dive either...
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    Well, he's showing signs of all sorts of other obsessions this series, including a preoccupation with sex. But hey, as long as Kate's humble, she makes up for it.
    She’s doing a great job despite Bill being so oddie.

    And by the way, did Bill at one point refer to the water spider as an “insect”? :?
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