Saturday, 10 November 2012

I'm back!



And so I’m back from outta space. My first foray in to the world of blogging came to a somewhat abrupt halt. There were several reasons for this, one of which was the fact that my wife’s new iPad wiped out a posting that took 3, yes 3 days to write. That kinda took the wind out of my sails a bit and trying to find my mojo again became a fruitless task. Time rolled on, the weather failed to kick into summer and my social duties and life in general got pretty hectic. I also feel I had given myself quite a mammoth task of trying to find 3 organisms a day when I only have weekends free to do anything, and as I said previously, my weekends weren’t really free as I had many other things that needed doing.
So, in future, I’ll just try to record what species I find and not try to meet a target. However, one of the questions I have is, do I just record the species from Suffolk, or what I find from my travels around the UK? Maybe you can help me decide? Please post your thoughts in the comment section below.
I will also not type my blogs direct to the blog website, I will type them on the ‘puter first then copy & paste them to the blog.
For those of you on Twitter, I’m still there tweeting away and you can follow me @SuffolkNature.

The big question now is: What do I do for the rest of the year on the blog? Can’t really report on the stuff I’m finding, which is a shame as I think if I had been recording everything I would be in the 700-800’s by now. So I think I’ll just take it easy for now by just addressing any issues that pop up from time to time in the environment sector. One topic that has been in the news of late is the arrival of Ash die-back disease to the UK.
This is a very serious threat to our Ash trees and the organisms that rely upon them. At the moment, all the news seems to be reporting is what a devastating affect this disease can have upon our ash tree population. Very true, however, like most living organisms in any ecosystem, ash trees are not a separate independent entity. Everything in the environment is part of a very complex interrelationship with other organisms. Part of this interrelationship is the invertebrates that feed upon the ash in their larval stages. These provide a very important and rich source of food for larger organisms such as birds, bats and other mammals. With thanks to Buglife entomologist Alan Stubbs, a list has been compiled of the invertebrates that rely upon the ash tree and therefore would be affected by it’s decline.
The list can be seen here: http://www.buglife.org.uk/Resources/Buglife/Invertebrates%20associated%20with%20Ash%20.pdf

But for now, here’s the low down.
The ash tree supports 45 insects which include Mites, aphids, plant lice, scales, het bugs, sawflies, moths (micro and macro) & flies. Of these, 27 species are solely dependent upon the ash. If the ash tree is made extinct, these invertebrates will become extinct with it too. The other insects can survive on other plants by using them as a food source instead. But still, this isn’t good as there would still be a population decrease in these remaining species.
Now, if these insects were to disappear or decline in their numbers the knock effect will hit the secondary consumers (birds, bats, etc) hard. The larval stages of some of these insects become the staple diets of spring chicks in the nests. Our bird population took a real big hit this year with our appaling rainy weather that saw caterpillars and the like being washed off leaves and out of the reach of doting parents causing many broods to fail. Can our bird population withstand another bad year?
The same for our bat populations too. Last years bad weather saw many pups (baby bats) being abandoned due to the lack of insects flying because of the incessant rain. Insects don’t fly when it’s raining. With bats, there’s also another problem. All UK bats are known as crevice dwellers and bats such as Noctules, Serotines & Brown Long-ears like to roost in the cracks and crevices of old trees such as oak and ash. As a large proportion of our trees are ash, this could also have a devastating effect on our bats.
So, the outlook doesn’t look good and it is down to us, yes, all of us to stop this disease in its tracks. What can we do? First look here: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
Then when your out and about strolling through the countryside, or even in our towns and cities, every time you see an ash tree, have a look at it. See if it’s showing any of the symptoms described and if it is REPORT IT! Don’t leave it for someone else to report.
For those of you who have smartphones, whether they are android or iPhone there’s an app for reporting ash die-back and it can be found here: http://ashtag.org
So there you go, you have no excuse (unlike our politicians), get out and get looking. Our wildlife will be grateful.

So there you go, my first real posting in a while and I hope it won’t be too long before my next posting. I hope to be covering many more subjects in the near future and I will keep you posted via Twitter to any new blogs that arise. For those who ‘don’t do’ twitter, just put your email in the box below and click the submit button.

Last but not least

Please feel free to comment on any of my postings, active participation is welcomed. All I ask is that you follow these simple rules.
1.    Keep it friendly, I’m not going to get into any slanging matches, what I write about is supposed to be friendly and informative.
2.    Please feel free to correct me if you feel I have given any wrong or misleading information.
3.    Please feel free to ask any questions regardless of how stupid you may think they sound. We all have to learn somehow.

Till next time peeps