Diario del proyecto Meanwood Valley bioblitz

Archivos de diario de mayo 2023

03 de mayo de 2023

Species Of The Week Number 32: White-clawed Crayfish

Meanwood Beck is one of the most important sites in the country for the endangered native White-clawed Crayfish. But sadly I should have written that in the past tense.

The species is at risk because it faces two threats: the invasive Signal Crayfish and crayfish plague. The Signal native to America, it's bigger and outcompetes the White-claw and then adversely affects the delicate ecosystem of our rivers. When signals arrive (mostly via human intervention) it is the death knell for the white-claws. Crayfish plague will also wipe out an entire population.

In January of this year tragically crayfish plague was identified in part of the Beck's population.

An action plan was implemented by the Environment Agency, involving a complex operation to remove as many healthy individuals as possible, transferring them to safe sites elsewhere.

Last week around 50 people - comprising agency staff and volunteers - descended on the Beck upstream of Meanwood with the aim using a pumping system to dry a section of the river bed out and removing healthy individuals by hand, possibly in their hundreds. They would then be transferred to specialised tanks installed on site prior to health checks and relocation.

Unfortunately the difficult pumping operation was unsuccessful we only caught a few individuals. It included this pregnant female with eggs or 'berries' attached to her underside.

The Meanwood Beck White-clawed Crayfish have been surveyed continuously since 1995. Very sadly it is probably now too late to save them.

Publicado el 03 de mayo de 2023 por clunym clunym | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

10 de mayo de 2023

Species Of The Week Number 33: Marsham's Nomad Bee

Species of the Week #33: Marsham's Nomad Bee
There are an amazing 270 species of bee in the UK. They break down into families. One of the families is the Apidae. 34 of the Apidae family are Nomad bees. Nomad bees are the closest we get to having a cuckoo in Meanwood.

Cuckoo's are famous for laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving the host parents to feed the young cuckoo. Nomad bees are their equivalent in bee world, exhibiting the trait known as kleptoparasitism.
Marsham's Nomad Bee is one of them.

The female Marsham's Nomad Bee will first sniff out and evaluate the nest of its quarry. When the nest is unoccupied it sneaks in and lays its egg. When the egg hatches into a larvae the larvae kills the host egg, and devours the pollen and nectar store which the host has collected for its own, now dead, youngster.

It is not surprising that we can encounter Marsham's Nomad Bee in Meanwood because it specifically targets the nests of the Chocolate Mining Bee of which we also have plenty. Unfortunately the presence of the Chocolate Mining Bee is not because we have secret chocolate mines underneath the fields of Sugarwell Hill - but because the bee is chocolatey-coloured. The Chocolate Mining Bee likes to nest in walls.

Nomad bees look more like wasps than bees. The Marsham's Nomad Bee's distinctive black and yellow abdominal stripes are important in identification. The second of those yellow stripes (start counting from its head end) is split with black in the middle of the yellow. This is important as it distinguishes it from its otherwise identical cousin, the Gooden's Nomad Bee.

Final bee fact: Only the female bees can sting.

Publicado el 10 de mayo de 2023 por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de mayo de 2023

Species Of The Week Number 34: Blue Tit

One of our most popular garden birds, 98% of British gardens report Blue Tits although they are strangely absent from Orkney and Shetland. Blue Tits are a success story with a 25% increase in population since 1966. There are around 15 million Blue Tits in the UK.

Blue Tits are the biggest user of garden nest boxes. They collect moss, wool and leaves to create a cup-shaped nest. Sometimes they add aromatic flowers to the nest - this has been shown to reduce the amount of micro-pests on the fledglings. The female Blue Tit lays an egg a day for about 10-12 days. Each egg weighs 1 gram. The eggs are incubated for 2 weeks and the young are then fed for 3 weeks until they fledge. The feeding becomes increasingly frenetic as the nestlings grow and demand more and more. The (now dishevelled) parents continue feeding the youngsters outside the nest until they learn to forage for themselves.

Blue Tits rarely travel far, so the ones visiting your feeders in winter are probably the ones nesting locally the previous Spring. Starvation alongside cat predation is the biggest cause of death.

As older readers will recall, in the last century Blue Tits used to be notorious for removing the tops of milk bottles, when doorstep milk deliveries were a big thing. Strong evidence suggests social learning within the Blue Tit population as the practice started in South East and North East England before slowly expanding across the country to its peak in the 1980's. Its demise was not only due to the reduction in milk deliveries but also the introduction of skimmed and semi-skimmed milk. Blue tits are actually lactose intolerant! The fats in the cream which rises to the top of full-fat milk don't contain lactose.

Publicado el 18 de mayo de 2023 por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de mayo de 2023

Species Of The Week Number 35: Flame Carpet

Flame Carpet. Common Quaker. Hebrew Character. Early Thorn. Brindled Pug. Whether you love or loath them, you cant deny moths have the best names in all the animal kingdom. And all those moths have turned up in the Meanwood Road Project's moth trap in the last month.

The lepidopterists bible, the Field Guide to Moths of Great Britain and Ireland, tells us that the Flame Carpet has two generations each year and flies between May and September. It is a relatively common species and is can be found in moorland as well as woodland. Fear not though, it cant be found in your carpet.

We are the proud owners (thanks to the National Heritage Lottery Fund) of a posh battery-operated light trap. If you want to find out what moths are in your garden drop us an email at meanwoodroadproject@gmail.com We can bring it over and set it up one evening (it turns on automatically when it gets dark) and pop back the following morning to help identify any moths - which we can then release. No moths are harmed in the making of this wildlife survey.

We are also planning moth and wine evenings on Sugarwell Hill in the coming weeks, where we set the trap up and then wait around drinking wine and see if owt turns up. The first one is this Thursday, 25th May, and we'll be on the hill behind the Farm from about 9pm to midnight alongside students from the Ecology course at Leeds University. Everyone welcome (particularly moths)! BYOB.

The Flame Carpet is a member of the Geometridae family of moths which has over 300 species recorded in the UK. Whoever named all the species had a bit of a thing about carpets and was probably on the wine themselves when they decided on other species names. So we also have Fortified Carpet, Oblique Carpet, Dark-barred Twin-Spot Carpet, Galium Carpet and Sharp-angled Carpet to look out for on Thursday.

Publicado el 23 de mayo de 2023 por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de mayo de 2023

Species Of The Week Number 36: Azure Damselfly

Damselflies are smaller, slimmer versions of Dragonflies. You can tell them apart as at rest Damselfies' wings are closed up alongside their body whereas a Dragonfly sticks its wings out like an aeroplane.

Azure Damselflies are quite common near ponds and watercourses where their presence is quite a good sign of water quality.. There are actually 7 species of small blue damselflies in the UK and telling them apart is a bit tricky. The Azure Damselfly has a U shaped black band on the second segment of the male's abdomen. The females are green rather than blue.

When they emerge and after a bit of displaying and showing off, a male and female create a kind of heart shape, with the male holding the female's head and the female curling round to access sperm from the base of the male's abdomen. They often then remained intertwined whilst the female then deposits her fertilised eggs - using her ovipositor - into plants in the water. Its thought that the male hangs around to stop another male from re-mating with the female.

The eggs develop into nymphs which feed up in the pond for a year or two, undergoing successive moults as they grow, eventually climbing up a plant stem until the adult form emerges.

According to Wikipedia, Damselflies have been around for at least 299 million years. So in just 1 million years time they will have a big anniversary celebration with cake and party hats, no doubt. Cant wait.

Publicado el 29 de mayo de 2023 por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario