Saturday, June 25, 2022

Howardian Bioblitz / survey day

 We used to call them wildlife surveys, but the "in" term these days seems to be bioblitz 

Anyway when you get a whole load of eyes on the plant and animal life in one location with people of all abilities calling out what they have noticed and a scattering of experts along to help with the trickier identifications you can find a whole load of things and add them to the records for the site 

CNS members recently went to the Howardian Local Nature reserve with the friends of the reserve and spent a valuable few hours looking for and identifying things and we have a nice new species list on our website to show for it 

The Friends group already have an impressive list on their website, but if you look carefully you can find things on this new list that are not as yet on the howardian site (we are sure they will update to include them soon, so by the time you read this it could be updated)

There will be a full write up of the day in the next newsletter, but for now why not take a look at what we found and enjoy these pictures taken by Rob and Linda Nottage 

Some of the team at work

Oedemera nobilis Thick Legged Flower Beetle

Arge cyanocrocea Bramble sawfly

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

2021 and 2022 Newsletter update

2021 and 2022 (to date) Newsletters are now being posted to our website. 

Due to a technical hitch the 2021 newsletters were delayed, but issues 121, 122 & 123 are now available along with 124 for Jan 2022

Many thanks to our excellent editor Stephen Nottingham and all the authors and photographers for giving us these fascinating articles to read and these wonderful pictures to look at 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Gill Barters Fields

 Many members may not be aware, but some years ago our very own Gill Barter purchased a number of fields near Pencoed in order to ensure that they were conserved in line with their SSSI status. 

Yesterday members of the society were treated to a guided tour of the highlights of the fields with Gill acting as tour guide 

We had a wonderful trip and here are some of the highlights with identifications from me. if any of them are incorrect please leave a comment or send a message via the contact us form

View of a field, Whorled Caraway Carum verticillatum, Sedges etc.

Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus

Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria

Red Sword-grass, Xylena vetusta Catterpillar
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria

Dog Rose Rosa canina

Nuthatch Sitta europaea nesting hole

Common Sundew Drosera rotundifolia

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Eleanor Vachell will be featured on this Thursday's episode of The Great British Menu

 We've had a message from the family of Eleanor Vachell our 64th and first female President 

Dear all

I thought that you might be interested to know that Eleanor Vachell will be featured on this Thursday's episode of The Great British Menu.  Apparently Eleanor was the inspiration for one of the Chefs,  Ali Borer.  No idea is what capacity but I thought people might be interested.  

Here is the link:

So how does a famous botanist inspire a famous chef? You will need to watch to find out.  

Ali Borer is now head chef of Nutbourne Restaurant in London.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

From our friends at the Ruperra Castle Preservation Trust


The link below will take you to our approximately 55 minute virtual Open Doors event for 2020 instead of our usual walk around the edge of the Ruperra Castle estate as part of Cadw's Open Doors festival.

RCPT was fortunate to be awarded a grant from the National Lottery to celebrate their 25th anniversary this year together with a donation from the Cooperative Society Community Fund to help local people during the Covid crisis. 

We are grateful to both of them for permission to use these funds to commission a local film-maker to make this video for us. We hope that RCPT members, local people in Caerphilly and those from further afield will enjoy it.

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 / 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

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.

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