Archive for the 'Fungi' Category

13
Apr
17

Deadly

False Morels are a fungi that’s not often found in Norfolk but they did make an appearance a week or so ago. With their purple velvet convoluted surface they do look quite delicious … but they are deadly poisonous … avoid at all cost.

26
Mar
17

A New Species to Science

In 2000 when Jonathan Revett collected what he described as a ‘fleshy form of the Rayed Earthstar at Cockley Cley, Norfolk. He sent specimens to Kew and other places but was assured that it was a known variant.

 

It was only several years later that DNA analysis uncovered that Jonathan’s discovery was indeed a new species; and so Geastrum britannicum was named. So far it has no common English name. Since the initial discovery several other sites throughout the UK and in particular Norfolk have come to light.

12
Mar
17

A juxtaposition of events

We went to watch ‘Kong – Skull Island’ the other night at the cinema. Give it a miss; thin non-captivating plot, mediocre acting and CGI worthy of no more than a computer game. It was a late showing so we drove back home quite late at night. I like driving in the dark. We went by the scenic route. Country lanes, field edges, roadside copses and overhanging trees. It was mild too. I expected badgers, deer, rabbits, hares and the odd owl. What did we get? … a single, lonely moth. Just the one!

And yet … earlier in the week we had been for a walk along the dunes to see the Grey Seals hauled out on the beach. We didn’t count them all but it was plain to see there were a lot. We estimated there to be 3000 over a mile or so of beach. It wouldn’t have been far from the true number. This is more than I’ve ever seen before… anywhere. The tide was high and it was a weekday with few people and dogs around. Seals will have been pushed here from the sandbanks off Yarmouth and there was little disturbance to push them back into the sea here so numbers would be at a peak. 3000 equates to 1% of the world population. Even this weekend when things were much busier with people I did a more accurate count on a lower tide and there was 1426. Less than half the number than a few days earlier but that’s still a lot of seal flesh perched on the sand. Nothing less than a wildlife spectacular. A scene from an Attenborough episode.

What a juxtaposition of events.

When we have such spectacles and numbers it’s easy to think everything is ok. To think things are on track; that nature is in balance and our wildlife is safe.

 

30
Dec
16

That time of year again

The end of another year is almost upon us. Goodbye 2016 and hello 2017. Thinking back through the last twelve months there’s been so many good sightings; so many good times. It really has been a good year.

The Geese and Goosanders on the Solway Tour performed for us as did all the specialities on the April Scotland Tour. The Mull tour was spectacular; eagles, whales and more. Canada leaves Humpbacks breaching through my memories for many years to come. Scilly was a classic. Orchids, butterflies and Nightjars all played a part during the year. So many sightings, so many places.

If I was to choose one moment; one sighting above all others, it would have to be seeing Cuvier’s Beaked Whales in the bay of Biscay. Beautiful, enigmatic, specialised life forms that we can only peek at through tiny keyholes in time before they descend once more to the depths.

Happy New Year… have a good one.

cuviers-beaked-whale

 

05
Oct
16

Norfolk Wing

This year’s ‘Norfolk Wing’ the online magazine from Wildlife Tours & Education is now available here

norfolk-wing-2016-17

27
Jun
16

Not more bleating about the EU decision?

I used to be able to service my own car. I can’t now. It’s not just about changing the oil and spark plugs. It’s more about the electronics. A bit more complicated. More about changing computer boards than brake pads. I’ve never been able to fix computers. Ever since I was dragged kicking and screaming to a keyboard in the 1990’s I’ve been able to operate one; but I could never look under the bonnet and fix one. I get the experts in.

So which experts do you use? I was taught that firstly you do a little research around a subject and you refer for an experts opinion. You then judge that persons capability by talking to them, by asking questions and listening to the replies. Nobody can be an expert overnight. Knowledge on any subject takes years to accumulate. After assessing if an expert is a more capable ‘person’ than myself it’s easy to know if they are talking sense. This holds true regardless of what they are doing for me, be it fixing my computer, pruning my apple trees or setting up my mortgage. It’s one of the ways I make decisions. It’s how I assessed if Brexit was for me. I listened to the experts I trust. A negative plan; one that doesn’t want something rather than a plan to do something has never appealed to me. I simply cannot believe anyone really trusted Boris the buffoon or Ferage the philanderer?

It’s a democracy and we all voted on what we saw was important. For me it was, and is, the environment. After reviewing facts and listening to the people I trust who have lots of knowledge around wildlife and the environment as well as legislation, share price and industry I voted to remain in the EU.

The current problems with the environment are probably the most important things the human race have ever faced. But I guess the majority of the population just don’t ‘get it’. To me and many others it’s bloody blindingly obvious. These problems need to be tackled first and they need to be tackled now! Many don’t understand the global warming creeping up on us like a cancer will eventually kill us. They don’t understand that chemicals we put on the land in the name of greater production are decimating insect life supporting everything in the food chain above and subsequently leaching into to the sea causing havoc. They just don’t understand … or maybe they don’t want to understand. Maybe they realise they will be on the planet for such a short time and they are going to enjoy it while they are here and bugger the consequences. If that’s true, what a selfish attitude. Selfish and inwardly looking. Even a bit bigotry. A bit like the ‘Getting our Britain back’ comments I heard last week. Getting it back from what … from foreigners? This country has always been ours. It’s problems are not because of foreigners. If you don’t like it the way it is get off your arse and make it better. Do something positive for all … not just you and yours. Get out of your tin foil time machine and stop blaming others.

Everyone that ‘gets it’ knows we have now lost a mechanism to tackle problems that don’t have borders or nationalities. No more supportive cross border legislation. We now really need to do something. We must ensure that European legislation protecting our wildlife is updated and incorporated into British Law. Even that is now more complicated; though we ignored our European cousins when they told us we are stronger together we are now using the same phrase to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales … and expecting them to listen. I guess maybe we ought to be talking of English Law rather than British Law. What a tangled web of uncertainty we have woven. No wonder the pound has lost 9% of its value in 48 hours. That’s like taking a 9% pay cut. I hope everyone that voted to leave can afford that?

Even if some feel they are surrounded by a majority of unthinking knuckle dragging Neanderthals we live in a democracy. Anybody hanging a hat on a a re-vote or a vote of no confidence in the result needs to get real. It won’t happen.

So… enough already.  Looking forward. How do we ensure EU drivers that protected us from the rape of our seas, ensured the quality of our air and helped against poor pesticide use are put in place?

We must now rely on organisations that have a voice. The RSPB perhaps, the Wildlife Trusts maybe or even the Green Party need to mobilise and lobby … and lobby hard … for new protective home grown legislation. These organisations and others like them now need to develop what they are about and what they do; maybe even change their very ethos … and step up to the mark.

Are these the experts you trust to do that?

Fulmar

Fulmar taken on our East Coast Seabird Tour last week. Numbers of many seabirds are reducing around the UK

24
Mar
16

A slug of chemical

Friend Bob and I were musing over the identity of a crop. We do this from time to time when we can’t identify what’s being grown. We show an interest in land use. It may not be our land but it’s our environment.

Bob asked the farmhand on the tractor. He was told it was a mulching crop. It was grown prior to the planting of Sugar Beet, spayed off to kill it and then the Sugar Beet was planted through it. This then apparently negated the need for the use of slug pellets! … WHAT?

I didn’t know slug pellets were used on an industrial scale… did you? I investigated and they sure are. I stopped using these things in the garden in the 1970’s when their threat to wildlife was highlighted.

It’s easy to subjectively attribute blame and say no bloody wonder the Hedgehog population has declined by 40% in the last 10 years and there has been a 70% decline on farmland of Song Thrushes between 1970 and 1995… but it does make you think … doesn’t it?

Problems do come from pumping chemicals into the environment; anyone that lived through the DDT era will know that. Even today I read that in the USA, in California the government are spraying Silver Iodide into the atmosphere to seed cloud formation and induce rain. Much needed rain within a drought stricken area; but at what cost?

The problem is when the environment is disrupted; when natures balance is affected, when things are done on an industrial scale for industrial sized human populations the solving of one problem quite often leads to another. We must try hard to work with nature and not against her.

Song Thrush




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