Monday, 13 April 2020

North of England Raptor Forum

NERF’s ‘Most Wanted’

‘The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination that whether we win or lose we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand’.
Vince Lombardi 1913 – 1970
The thoughts, as expressed by Lombardi, exactly identify the characteristics that NERF looks for in the individuals who are awarded the NERF Certificate of Appreciation. All of the recipients have demonstrated their total commitment to protecting birds of prey in the North of England.
The dedication of two legendary Raptor Workers (Bill Hesketh and Bill Murphy) is recognised by NERF
The history of ornithology is littered with explorers who travelled the globe identifying new species, in the days when travel was all but impossible. There are biologists, statisticians, scientists and all manner of academics who bring both old and new avian information to us almost daily. Our bookshelves groan under the weight of their combined literary output. Whist we acknowledge and celebrate the work undertaken by this group of ornithologists we must never forget that the academic world of ornithology is under-pinned by a vast network of millions of ‘ordinary’ birders. For more than a century birders who have collectively spent countless hours, voluntarily surveying and monitoring birds whilst keeping meticulous notes to be shared with the rest of the birding community. A handful of these ‘ordinary’ birders achieve legendary status amongst their peers and NERF is fortunate enough to have two such legends within its ranks.
The names Bill Hesketh and Bill Murphy are synonymous with monitoring and protecting birds of prey in the Forest of Bowland. It is impossible to overstate the fantastic contribution that they have made to our collective knowledge over five decades. Not only have they collected a vast wealth of data they have touched the lives of all of us who know them.
Mick Demain is an extremely talented wildlife artist, a member of NERF and he is also the RSPB Warden working on the United Utilities / RSPB Reserve in the Forest of Bowland. Here Mick recounts his relationship with the Bills.
“I first encountered Bill Hesketh and Bill Murphy, affectionately known as the two Bills, on a long sweeping windswept fell on the eastern edge of Bowland, they approached me and introduced themselves and the conversation lasted no more than a couple of minutes before we parted, the date was 10th May 1992 and although we didn’t know it at the time it would be eighteen years before our paths crossed again and this time we would go on to become great friends.
In 2010 I became involved with the RSPB in Bowland and in 2012 I became RSPB seasonal warden at which time I adopted a team of volunteers, including the Bills who had a great knowledge of Bowland and its birds. Their experience, going back fifty years, has been invaluable to the RSPB.
As the years have passed the friendship has grown and they have been a massive help to me with the fieldwork and great companions on many walks into remote areas to check and monitor sites. I can’t envisage a day when the Bills will not be here to help for they have become a part of Bowland and certainly for me it won’t be the same without them.
These two guys have put in countless hours at a considerable cost to themselves and the RSPB owes them a massive debt of gratitude.”
We all owe them a debt of gratitude and it is with great pleasure that we award the Bills NERF Certificates of Merit.
April 2020
Dr. Cathleen Thomas, PhD
Project Manager, RSPB Hen Harrier Life Plus Project

Monday, 3 February 2020

Help Bees By Not Mowing Dandelions

Help bees by not mowing dandelions, gardeners told. Plants provide key food source for pollinators as they come out of hibernation 

A bee flies next to a dandelion flower near Warsaw
Each dandelion head has up to 100 individual flowers. Photograph: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images       

Gardeners should avoid mowing over dandelions on their lawn if they want to help bees, according to the new president of the British Ecological Society.
Dandelions – which will start flowering in the UK this month – provide a valuable food source for early pollinators coming out of hibernation, including solitary bees, honey bees and hoverflies.
Each dandelion head contains up to 100 individual flowers, known as florets, which contain nectar and pollen. There are 240 species of dandelion in the UK.
Prof Jane Memmott said: “If dandelions were rare, people would be fighting over them. Because they’re common, people pull them out and spray them off and all sorts of horrible things. Just let them flower.”
Memmott, who took over as president of the BES at the start of this year, is also a professor of ecology at the University of Bristol.
She said gardeners should avoid planting too many “pompom shaped” flowers, such as old English roses and dahlia, because they focus so much of their energy on producing petals and have very little nectar and pollen. “As a rule, if you can see the pollen and nectar parts of a flower without pulling back petals, then it’s OK for pollinators,” she said.
Carrots that have flowered, or “bolted”, and onions in unkempt vegetable gardens are also some of the best plants for pollinators.
“People are a lot tidier than they used to be. This whole business of keeping your lawn clipped and pulling the weeds out is part of some British obsession with tidiness,” Memmott said. “If you look back at old pictures, people weren’t as tidy. I think bohemian untidiness is what we’re aiming for – you don’t want it to look like neglect.”
Leaving the grass to grow 8-10cm (3-4in) tall means clovers, daisies, self-heal and creeping buttercup can also flower. “You can’t personally help tigers, whales and elephants but you really can do something for the insects, birds and plants that are local to you,” said Memmott, who encouraged gardeners to halve the amount of mowing they do.
The global mass of insects is falling by 2.5% a year and many could be extinct within a century, according to a global scientific review last year.
The charity Buglife encourages people to leave a strip of garden that is cut only once in autumn and once in spring. “An awful lot of lawns, especially in older houses, will be built on old meadows so wildflowers come up quite quickly. In a new house they might take a bit longer as they could have had a turf put down,” said Paul Hetherington, the director of communications at Buglife.

Help bees by not mowing dandelions

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Little People

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Why We Should Listen to Trees

Why we should listen to trees

When life gets too much, most of us try to get away from it all. Some might head to the pub, play football or knit a jumper. But if you really want to take a break and restore, a dose of nature might be the best tonic – spending time in natural environments has been shown to boost physical and mental health.
Even just listening to the sounds of nature could help us to relax, an idea being explored in a new experiment launched by Radio 4 as a study accompanying a new nine-part futuristic eco-drama called Forest 404.
Alex Smalley, a PhD researcher working on the Forest 404 experiment, gives his top tips on how to make the most of the stress-busting benefits of nature, no matter how much time you do – or think you don’t – have…
Spending time just taking in the forest atmosphere can lower the stress hormone cortisol, decrease blood pressure and calm pulse rates.

1. Dive in

If you’re lucky enough to live near the countryside or coast, there’s nothing like getting out for a walk, cycle, run or swim. These kinds of natural environments can promote physical activity; so-called “green exercise” has been shown to improve people’s self-esteem and mood.
Data suggests that people in the UK tend to be happiest when they are by the coast.
But contact with nature can happen in many other ways too, and spending time in your garden or local park can be just as good. These natural spaces can reduce stress and anxiety, help us sleep better, and boost pro-social behaviours. Evidence is mounting and practitioners are taking note; doctors in Shetland can now prescribe “a dose of nature” to their patients, with similar trials recently taking place in Cornwall.

2. Go green

In Japan, the practice of shinrin yoku – literally, “forest bathing” – makes a good case for taking a walk through your local woodland. Researchers there have found that spending time just taking in the forest atmosphere can lower the stress hormone cortisol, decrease blood pressure and calm pulse rates. In the UK, studies have shown that urban parks and gardens can provide long-lasting impacts on mental health; and that larger areas of green space could act as a buffer against stressful events.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about how these mechanisms work, but nature’s ability to provide a feeling of calm fascination, as well as a sense of being away from day-to-day activities, seems to be the key.

3. Is blue best?

Medics were prescribing convalescence by the sea as far back as the 18th century, but it’s only been in the last decade that evidence for a “blue health” effect has emerged, with studies showing that people who live close to the coast tend to have better health and higher life satisfaction than those who reside inland. Data suggests that people in the UK tend to be happiest when they are by the coast, and research has directly pitted green spaces (like the countryside) against rivers, lakes and the ocean. Blue spaces repeatedly come out on top but there might also be a sweet spot; one study suggested that a scene consisting of one-third green and two-thirds blue was most preferred. People make over 500m visits to England’s blue spaces each year, so you’ll be in good company if you venture out.

4. Bring the outside in

Many of us don’t have access to a natural environment, or might have difficulty getting outside for other reasons. Fortunately, quite a bit of evidence suggests that simply having a view of nature, whether real or digital, can deliver similar benefits. One seminal study from the 1980s found that patients could recover from surgery more quickly if their window provided views of nature, and researchers have used pictures and videos of natural settings to demonstrate a range of other positive effects, from improved mood to an enhanced ability to complete complex tasks.
Getting out to your local aquarium has also been shown to boost wellbeing, and watching nature programmes such as Planet Earth can elicit feelings of joy while reducing negative feelings like tiredness. So if you can’t get out, bring the outside in!

5. Listen up!

Much of the research into the effects of the natural environment on health and wellbeing has focused on vision. Yet interactions with nature are multi-sensory, with sound, smell and touch playing a vital role in our experience, particularly for people with visual impairments. Listening to birds singing, rivers flowing, or waves lapping can help people relax and restore, and the myriad videos of these soundscapes on YouTube demonstrate their potential power.
Feeling part of something greater than ourselves might just make us more altruistic and willing to help others.
But there’s still a lot we don’t know about what sounds people prefer, how they might impact wellbeing, and how best to harness their restorative potential. That’s where our Forest 404 experiment comes in – we want to understand how people across the UK respond to the sounds of nature and you can help us! Find out more and take part here.

6. Awesome experiences

A new area of research has started to suggest that awe-inspiring experiences can improve mood and, excitingly, make us less selfish. Nature is great at producing awe; watching a pod of orcas breaching; standing beneath a canopy of giant trees; or observing the view from a mountain top can all create a sense of wonder and amazement. By making us feel small and part of something greater than ourselves, these awesome experiences might just make us more altruistic and willing to help others.
While awe isn’t an easy feeling to elicit, new advances in virtual reality mean we might be able to put people in the grand canyon, on the summit of Everest, or at the bottom of the ocean with just the flick of a switch. The future could be bright – it could be awesome!

7. The new cigarette break?

Cigarette smoking used to be a common reason for regular breaks away from work or social situations, with people often heading outside. As smoking continues its decline (currently down to 15% of adults in the UK), these breaks could be replaced with short doses of nature. Making time for regular pauses by taking a walk outside, watching a quick nature video, or listening to a two-minute soundscape, could help us to manage the strains of a busy work life. Meditation is also becoming a popular technique for dealing with stress, and newly-released research suggests that combining mindfulness with nature encounters could deliver even greater benefits.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about how nature could benefit health and wellbeing, and we need to remember that spending time in natural environments can also present risks. Nonetheless, the next time you’re frustrated, stressed or anxious, try taking a dose of nature – it might just help you feel better.
Find out more about Radio 4’s Forest 404 experiment, and take part.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Backsbottom Farm Butterfly Postcard

Friday, 12 April 2019

Backsbottom Farm butterflies and moth (photos Rod Everett)

For Butterfly Conservation

Meadow brown

Painted lady


Silver y moth

Small copper

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Backsbottom Farm in Discover Bowland Guide

The latest issue page 31-33 has an article by Mark Sutcliff who interviewed Rod at Backsbottom.                                                   
                                             © Forest of Bowland AOB © Mark Sutcliff