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A threat to bluebells ?

A threat to bluebells ?

by Chris ~ 3 April, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Spring brings a variety of blue flowered plants such as bluebells, hyacinths and squills in our woodlands, parks and gardens.  Bluebells are ‘easily’ recognisable. However, there are different types of bluebells. The bluebell that is native to the UK has the Latin or Linnaean name of Hyacinthoides non scripta.  The Spanish bluebell (H. hispanica) is also to be found, and this hybridises with the native form,  giving rise to intermediate types.

The native bluebell has deep blue and scented flowers that hang from an elegantly arching stem. It is found in abundance in many deciduous woodlands and hedgerows across the UK, though it is unusual or rarer in parts of East Anglia and Scotland.  The capacity of the Spanish Bluebell to hybridise with the native form has been seen as a threat to the native Bluebell - but now another concern has been ‘identified’. Read more...

Bud burst and street lights.

Bud burst and street lights.

by Lewis ~ 24 August, 2016 ~ 2 comments

Street lighting may make our roads and homes safer places, but it also contributes to light pollution.  The bright lights of towns and cities make it difficult for us to see the stars and constellations in the night skies.  In places, the ‘warm yellow’ glow of street lights is being replaced with the white light of LEDs,  the benefits of LED lights include energy savings plus an increased life time as compared to conventional lights. However, when compared to older street lamps they emit more  blue light increases.   Some think that this blue light can suppress the production of melatonin ; this is involved in the regulation of our circadian rhythms - particularly our sleep patterns. Read more...

“Connected woodlands”

“Connected woodlands”

by Lewis ~ 20 March, 2015 ~ one comment

In the early 1970’s, Professor Barry Commoner (Washington University) said that ‘the first law of ecology’ could be stated as “Everything is connected to everything else”. That is, there is one ecosystem for all living organisms and what affects one – affects all.

He was much concerned with the interactions of organisms, and the concept of sustainability. Traditionally, connectedness in ecology is concerned with how one organism affects another, or how an organism affects the environment or how a change in an environmental factor affects the organisms in the ecosystem. Read more...

Butterflies and winter temperatures

Butterflies and winter temperatures

by Lewis ~ 10 August, 2012 ~ 3 comments

Most species of butterfly produce one batch of eggs each year - like the gatekeeper butterfly.   However, some species can produce two sets of eggs a year.  Whether or not two sets of eggs are produced seems to be connected to or dependent upon the late winter / early spring mean (average) temperature.

If it is 'warm' then some species of butterfly can start flying and reproducing earlier in the year.   The earlier production of the first brood of eggs makes the production of a second brood more likely.  Work on this has been conducted by Angus Westgarth Smith at Brunel University (using data from the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme - co-ordinated from CEH). Read more...

Spending time in woodland - an escape from the tyranny of modern time

Spending time in woodland – an escape from the tyranny of modern time

by Angus ~ 26 August, 2011 ~ comments welcome

Nature is the biggest public clock, but it operates in ways that contrast with our rather industrialised way of measuring time.  Nature's time is seasonal and much less uniform than the digital clock but it is also more forgiving.  Things happen in a woodland when the time is right, rather than as a result of man-made regulation, and this very "natural" sense of time is what many people like about being in woodlands.  Owners often tell us about how their woodland is an escape from modern life but it is particularly the escape from being a slave to clock-time which comes across most strongly.  This enjoyment is of course linked to taking "time out" - it is a good thing to take time off work but it is a further escape to get away from being organised according to the clock. Read more...

Weather and climate ......

Weather and climate ……

by Chris ~ 25 December, 2010 ~ 6 comments

Books often describe our climate as being ‘mild for the latitude’.  It might be difficult to believe this given the actual weather over these last few weeks. Newfoundland is similar in latitude to the British Isles, but the average temperature is some 10oC colder in winter.  We are the beneficiaries of the warming effect of the North Atlantic Drift – a current that develops in the Gulf of Mexico and then flows north-east across the Atlantic. It is a part or continuation of the Gulf Stream but we are also at the mercy of the jet stream. Read more...

Plants, past and present - Part 1

Plants, past and present – Part 1

by Chris ~ 28 March, 2008 ~ comments welcome

Recording climate and phenology.

The last decade has included some of the warmest years on record.Last year, 2007, was the eighth warmest on record - being exceeded by 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2001.The signs of climate change are not only apparent in these physical measurements of temperature but also through observations of bud burst, first leaves and the arrival of migrant birds (the science of phenology). Such weather change, if it continues, will no doubt impact on the distribution of plants through the UK (and indeed Northern Europe); some species will be winners and other losers. But, how can we recognize / monitor these changes ? Read more...

The birds and bees

The birds and bees

by Tom ~ 1 March, 2007 ~ comments welcome

The first blog in February talked about the revival of interest in Phenology over the last few years.

Already this year is providing interesting phenological facts and figures.   January has proved to be the warmest in the UK since 1916; there was 17% more sunshine and 21% more rain than normal. Read more...

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