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Urban Foxes - updated.

Urban Foxes – updated.

by Lewis ~ 4 January, 2021 ~ 7 comments

Urban foxes are sometimes in the news as they get noticed with their roaming through urban gardens, and occasionally entering houses.  Indeed,  attacks on people and pets have been reported.  More often foxes come to attention when people are disturbed at the night by the strange, ‘metallic' screams of the foxes, especially during their mating system (December through to February).  There are significant numbers of foxes in our cities.  Estimates vary but it is thought that there may be 150,000 or more urban foxes or ‘townies’ and perhaps 400,000 foxes in total throughout the U.K.  The average life of an urban fox has been estimated at about eighteen months to two years, partly because many are killed on the roads (often the younger foxes). In the wild, a fox can live for up to 8 years.

In Scotland, a fox’s territory can range over several miles but in towns their territories are much smaller.  They survive, in part, because we are careless in terms of the disposal of our waste food; and also because some people put out food for foxes.  In the country, their diet would include small mammals, bird eggs, insects, earthworms, wild fruits / berries and carrion. It has been suggested that the high populations of rats and mice in London are a 'big draw' for urban foxes, and they help in keeping numbers of rats down in the city. Read more...

railway line equals a biological corridor

Rewilding Britain’s report : connectivity and biological corridors.

by blogs at woodlands ~ 28 December, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Sadly, the number and range of various species in the U.K. is decreasing, biodiversity is falling. Our wildlife-rich areas are actually separated and fragmented, by tracts of intensively-farmed land, by motorways and roads,  and the ever increasing spread of urban areas. The dispersion and isolation of wildlife areas makes it difficult for both plant and animal species to move.  The ability to move around is ever more important as a result of climate change.   Rainfall patterns and average temperatures in different regions are changing, extreme weather events are more common.  For a species to stay in its  ‘comfort zone’, it may need to move ‘northwards’ as climate change continues.   

According to a report released by Rewilding Britain, the speed at which species need to migrate in order to stay in their ‘comfort zone’ is approximately some 5km / year Read more...

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

by Lewis ~ 2 November, 2020 ~ 2 comments

The loss of pollinators, particularly honey bees, may bring about a synergy between pollinators such as hover flies and artificial intelligence technology.  Honey bees (and indeed bumblebee)s have been hit hard by habitat loss, pollution, the  extensive use of pesticides and the spread of viruses and varroa.  Bees provide an important ecosystem service, namely pollination.   bees provide the majority of plant pollination world-wide but the bees are fighting a losing battle and this represents a threat to food supplies.  In the United States, bee hives are 'bussed around' in a somewhat 'cavalier manner', indeed "Hives may be moved multiple times and several thousand miles per year" Read more...

Meeting the 'queen bee' of British Bumblebees

Meeting the ‘queen bee’ of British Bumblebees

by Angus ~ 9 July, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Gill Perkins is one of those people you can't help liking - there's a smile in her voice when she speaks and we found her to be generous with her time and knowledge.  She arrived early for our woodland meeting and had come equipped - a small plastic tube with a plunger (costing about £5) allows her to catch bumblebees as they graze on flowers and she can trap them for long enough to tell us that "this one's a queen of the buff-tailed type and you can see she's very freshly minted as her wings are so undamaged ... a lovely specimen ...".    She releases the bee and it seems quite unphased as it quickly goes back to collecting nectar. Gill loves to get out into the woods and see the bees first-hand - most of the rest of the time she's in her office with the 40 or so staff employed by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and despite being the Trust's CEO she's often teaching groups about bumblebees and working with various sponsors including a big housebuilder and a big London law firm. Read more...

bumblebee on lavender

Biting bees

by blogs at woodlands ~ 12 June, 2020 ~ comments welcome

In Spring, or earlier if winter has been mild, queen bumblebees emerge from ‘hibernation’, from their nests.  They then need to feed, having more or less exhausted their bodily reserves during the cold of winter.  Their food comes in the form of nectar and pollen - both of which can be in short supply in early Spring.

Whilst the bumblebees may need food, flowers also have a ‘need’-  pollinating agents - particularly bumblebees.   The inter-dependence of flowering plants and insects probably evolved many millions of years ago, back in the Cretaceous Period. Read more...

Woodland insects- a new woodlands TV film

Woodland insects- a new woodlands TV film

by Angus ~ 24 April, 2020 ~ one comment

The latest WoodlandsTV film features some insects that you might see whilst wandering through a woodland this Spring.   

One of the earliest to be seen, possibly even in February, is likely to be the bumblebee, which in recent years, has often seen mild periods.  However, the bees may suffer if there is then a particularly cold spell - such as The Beast from the East, which occurred in late February / early March of 2018. Bumblebees and solitary bees are important pollinators. The woodlands blog has often written about bumblebees and the threats that they face due to viruses, pesticides, and habitat fragmentation.  Another woodlands insect - the bee fly is a parasite of their young (larvae).  Read more...

bbee

Flowers and urban bumblebees

by Chris ~ 13 March, 2020 ~ one comment

The decline of bumblebees and other pollinators has been noted in the woodlands blog on several occasions; they play a key role in the pollination of many crops that we rely upon.

Urban areas are now important habitats for bees, bumblebees and other pollinators as the world becomes increasingly urbanised, and patterns of land management have changed over the last century - with vast swathes of monocultures.  Urban areas can offer a much greater selection of plant species.  Cities can offer diversity to both long tongued and short tongued bumblebees (specialists and generalists respectively) by offering a rich choice of flowering plants.   Specialist bumblebees have long tongues to probe deep into certain flowers, whereas short-tongued, generalist bumblebees can collect nectar / pollen from a variety of flowers. Read more...

Biodiversity and farming

Biodiversity and farming

by Lewis ~ 22 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

We are dependent on ecosystem services . At the most basic of levels, early humans benefitted from the ‘products of nature”; that is fruits and seeds to eat, animals to hunt.   Ecosystems, like woodlands, provided shelter from some of the harsher aspects of climate and weather.  Now we can add in ‘services’ such as the provision of medicines, waste removal, nutrient recycling and recreational experiences. Read more...

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