Thursday, June 18, 2020

No Mow May .. or should it now be... Just leave it June!

We had an email passed on from Plantlife regarding their "No Mow May" tagline ...

Our road verge campaign hit the headlines in April and May with fantastic coverage on this spring's flower-filled verges. The potential benefit of lockdown keeping the mowers at bay was covered by BBC News, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Independent to name but a few...  
You might’ve also spotted BBC Countryfile Magazine’s guide to road verges and writer Matt Gaw penned a lovely article for The i newspaper on taking a walk on the roadside and the wonderful wildlife you might find along the way. Our campaign was highlighted in international news by CBS in the US, and in '5 good news stories for the planet' by video-journalists at Brut. media.  
Closer to home, this time of year can make it clear which councils are taking progressive steps by leaving verges wild flowers to bloom and set seed, and which ones could do more for nature by implementing our best practice management guidelines. Social media has been abuzz with images of gorgeous verges allowed to flower - and an abundance of orchids! - alongside some instances of wild flowers razed to the ground as the mowers start to return. 
This stark contrast was highlighted in a recent BBC Wales article, however it’s been heartening to see councils such as Ceredigion and Denbighshire taking more sensitive approaches to managing verges.

Personally I have been enjoying the wildflowers in the local lanes and have enjoyed the progression that I have seen through all this nice weather (Ok except today) and I agree wholeheartedly that a bit less mowing is making the world a much nicer place and is of course a much better situation for wildlife. it will be interesting to see if there are longer term benefits from mowing less and I hope we can persuade our local councils to keep to this minimal mowing (only for safety and "do it once and clear the cuttings") approach

Here are a couple of local verges ...




Thursday, October 31, 2019

Have any members got a picture of a Male Green Huntsman Spider ?

When reading the excellent article on Poisonous Plants: Wenvoe Field Trip 29 June 2019 by Bruce McDonald in Newsletter 117 Eirian Edwards noted that a “stock picture” had been used to illustrate the article and wondered if that was because no pictures were available to the author or editor from members.

That was something she felt that she could easily remedy as she had some pictures on file from visiting Rhodes in April 2017

Bruce Talked in that article about the link with Harry Potter and the uses that Mandrake had been put to, in my brief further reading I was interested to read how much of a confusion there was in the identification of species (or not depending on your opinion) in this genus.

In one treatment, Mandragora autumnalis is the main species of Mandragora found all around the Mediterranean, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, southern Portugal, southern Spain, southern Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, being absent in northern Italy and a region on the coast of former Yugoslavia, where it is replaced by M. officinarum. In another treatment, Mandragora autumnalis is native only to the Levant (from Syria south to Israel), the species found elsewhere around the Mediterranean being M. officinarum.

Anyway back to the pictures… In this set you see the following

An overall view of the plant


A Close-up of the flowers



One of the central cluster of flowers



A wider view of the dry Mediterranean environment that they were found in 



and finally  one entitled "green spider on mandrake"


(All Pictures © Eirian Edwards) and used with permission

This then left another mystery to be solved and a quick search on the internet using the term "Green Spider on Mandrake" turned up some images that looked exactly the same and then other pages on the internet provided the following information

Micrommata virescens, common name green huntsman spider, is a species of huntsman spiders belonging to the family Sparassidae

The cephalothorax and the long legs of the females are bright green, with a lighter green abdomen showing a darker green median stripe. The eight eyes are arranged in two rows and surrounded by white hairs.

Males are dark green-olive and have a narrower abdomen, with red sides and a red to red-brown median stripe bordered yellow.

Young spiders have a yellow-brown cephalothorax, with dark marginal and median stripes. Only after the last molting in the following spring the juveniles assume the typical coloration of the adults.

So from this I think we can be sure that Eirian spotted and recorded a female

So what does the male look like… for now we will have to revert to using a “stock picture” which is kindly provided by Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be and used here under CC licence 



So … Have any members got a picture of a Male Green Huntsman Spider ?

If you haven't yet it may be getting harder because I noted this comment on distribution in the UK...

"Can be found throughout most of the UK, but a rare species (and probably declining due to habitat loss).  Majority of sightings are in southern England"

if you have we would love to see and with your permission share the pictures

Useful links and references

https://www.uksafari.com/green_huntsman_spiders.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrommata_virescens

Ungricht, Stefan; Knapp, Sandra & Press, John R. (1998). "A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)". Bulletin of the Natural History Museum, Botany Series. 28 (1): 17–40. https://archive.org/stream/bulletinofnatura28natulond#page/17/mode/1up




Sunday, October 20, 2019

New Year Birdwatch details now arranged

We are adding to our programme this event for Sunday 19 January 2020

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, Penarth. CF64 5UY ST17846918

Meet at the Visitor Centre in the car park at 10am.

Cosmeston’s two lakes attract plenty of waterbirds, and the surrounding bushes, reedbeds and meadows support a variety of other birds. Afterwards we may go on to a different site depending on the weather and other birding opportunities, such as last January’s Black-necked Grebe in Cardiff Bay. Mostly we will be on firm level paths.There is a cafĂ© (with toilets), or bring a packed lunch.

This is a joint meeting with the Cardiff Group of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, led by Linda and Rob Nottage



If you are not a member please get in touch to let us know you would like to come along, There won't be a charge, but we like to have an idea of numbers. if you would like to become a member please click the Join Us link

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

T-shirts

We now have Cardiff Naturalists't-shirts for sale at the low price of £10.00 plus p&p if you can't collect at a meeting

A choice of 2 logo designs using the logo we recycled from 1876

If you are interested please contact the society via the contact form or speak to Andy at one of the meetings

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Newsletter 117 Now Online

As our latest newsletter (117) has been with members for a few weeks now we are also now making it available online

This edition includes articles about the following: -
  • Poisonous Plants: Wenvoe Field Trip
  • The Colonel Morrey Salmon Project
  • Howardian Local Nature Reserve
  • Gigrin Farm Red Kite Feeding Centre
Howardian Nature reserve is definitely looking good as you can see from the picture below



As an update the lecture that was still to be arranged when the Newsletter went to print has been arranged and there is an update on the Programme page

You can find a link to the Newsletter and all of the ones available digitally HERE


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Professor Anthony Campbell 120th President

Congratulations to Professor Anthony Campbell on becoming the 120th President of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society, after a vote at our AGM last night (wearing the presidential medal in photo).


Born in Bangor, North Wales, but grew up in London, he came to Cardiff after time in Cambridge where he did his PhD and is now Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University.

He has worked extensively with bioluminescence, animals that produce light, and on how calcium regulates processes inside cells

Tony believes passionately about communicating science to the public, and in exciting pupils and students about natural history and cutting edge science. This led him to found the Darwin Centre (www.darwincentre.com) in 1993

The Society is proud to have him as it's new President

Monday, June 3, 2019

Cosmeston Lakes

if you were not on the walk you have just missed a lovely evening looking around the Cosmeston Lakes Country Park with Sharon Mullins
Assistant Countryside Ranger

Here are a couple of pictures firstly of their new  education area and meadow turf grassland 


And the Absolutely fabulous new carved oak nature themed statue that is in the area


More pictures to follow in the newsletter

Regards
Andy Kendall
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