NWH Wildlife – observations and background information for wildlife enthusiasts

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David Beeson (Ex-biological sciences lecturer, small mammal and otter researcher) and John Solomon, an odonata and butterfly specialist, offer their information and knowledge to Hampshire and the world.

CONTACT: only checked monthly – dandabeeson@gmail.com

We live near Andover, a market town dating back 1500 years, and are surrounded by rolling chalky hillsides which are often clay-capped and support oak woodlands. The valleys are lush and contain famous chalk rivers – The Anton and Test.

With hazel coppice, ancient woodlands and reedy riverine fringes the small mammal diversity is good. We have dormice, wood and harvest and yellow-necked mice, common and pygmy and water shrews, water and short-tailed and long-tailed voles. Stoats coast around the woodlands and weasels also occur, but are seldom spotted. Fallow, red, roe and muntjac deer are found in Harewood, although the red may have been shot out. Foxes are frequent where the gamekeepers cannot reach. Martens occur south of here, in the New Forest, and hopefully will expand into our territory. Otters grace our waterways.

With a mostly hilly, rural environment the insect populations are holding on. Less so where there is arable farming. Our big bonus is Salisbury Plain – square miles of unfarmed grasslands, chalky hillsides and bronze and iron age fortifications that are protected. This year, 2020, saw an explosion of marsh fritillaries.

Clear running rivers and streams, wet meadows plus the inevitable water-filled gravel pits have donated a wealth of mayflies, damselflies and dragonflies to us.

Our flora is dominated by calcicoles – chalk-loving species, of which the orchids are possibly the stars. For acid-loving plants we can travel just an hour south to the New Forest or north to Greenham and Snelsmore Commons with their adders, carnivorous plants and heathers.

Sadly reptiles are seldom encountered on the chalky areas. Slow worms are common, yet finding other species is often unrewarding. Happily, frogs, toads and newts are still around, so there are ample food supplies for the snakes … but we have lots of non-native pheasants and they are known to predate young reptiles.

Birds – yup, we’ve lots of them! But, unless they keep very still John and I are not majorly interested! Sorry ornithologists.

David

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Ox Drove Meadows

It is a small meadow ‘given’ to the local population to compensate for the urbanisation of other local habitat. The meadow will end up as a dog-running area but the thick hedges will supply additional dormouse habitat, nesting sites and food for many other creatures. Good to see the additional planting around the site. MyContinue reading “Ox Drove Meadows”

Plants Fight Back

David Beeson, 31st May 2021 If someone attempts to steal your money would you be happy? Here you are, have another £1000. I doubt it. So, plants will feel the same about being eaten … the organism is taking the plant’s resources and giving nothing in exchange. Okay, what do you do to stop theContinue reading “Plants Fight Back”

Carbon dioxide removal and no-cut May

David Beeson, 24th may 2021 Firstly, an article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/24/trials-to-suck-carbon-dioxide-from-the-air-to-start-across-the-uk This looks at a trial, about to start across the UK, into the most effective ways of removing atmospheric carbon dioxide – critical in reducing Global Warming. Worth scanning to give your day some optimism. We fitted solar PV panels some 11 yearsContinue reading “Carbon dioxide removal and no-cut May”

Spring? What Spring?

John Solomon, mid-May 2021 So here we are, still grinding our way through the coldest spring I can remember with those long, hot days of summer feeling like a foreign country that we shall never reach. With the welcome exception of a stray warm and sunny day it seems to have been a relentless paradeContinue reading “Spring? What Spring?”

Botany 2 – They eat like animals and look (a little) like plants. And some wander around, as well. Amazing organisms! What are they?

David Beeson, mid-May 2021 Yes, you’ve guessed it … they are FUNGI. At one time the fungi were considered as part of the plant kingdom. Sure, they do produce spores (as are pollen grains and those liberated by ferns, horsetails and mosses) and a few have cellulose cell walls, but they contain no chlorophyll, andContinue reading “Botany 2 – They eat like animals and look (a little) like plants. And some wander around, as well. Amazing organisms! What are they?”

BOTANY 1: The world’s commonest green organisms

And they are not what you possibly think they are! David Beeson, mid-May 2021 Biology is currently dominated by the FIVE-KINGDOM concept of organism diversity: plants, animals, fungi, protista and those organisms without a nucleus, such as bacteria – the prokaryotes. Generally, plants, animals and fungi are mostly easy to recognise. Protista contains those nucleatedContinue reading “BOTANY 1: The world’s commonest green organisms”

Yellow and Blue

David Beeson, 5th May 2021 The weather has been cold this year, and plants have responded by glowing more slowly. Yes, the light levels have been good, but the enzymes driving metabolism are temperature sensitive and that wins. Our grassy meadows are low, and even those parts that we trim (Paths and lawn edge) areContinue reading “Yellow and Blue”

The Natural World in Photographs – 4, Dragonflies.

Note: The INDEX is with Rocky Mountains, USA. You will have a list of nearly 90 posts about wildlife. Information free of adverts. Photographs by John Solomon, 2020. Dragonflies are aquatic during their immature stages. Locally, they live in fairly still freshwater. The immatures, like the adults, are fiercely carnivorous and in garden ponds canContinue reading “The Natural World in Photographs – 4, Dragonflies.”

Signs of Spring?

David Beeson With the cold snap having evaporated, and our local temperature hitting the mid-teens, our wildlife is waking up … slightly. NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index.

Inside Plant Roots

Inside plant roots – an introduction David Beeson, February 2021 You would be advised to see the articles on stems and leaves first. Seldom seen, but roots are useful plant components! Most people first come across in the form of carrots, parsnips and swedes. These are food-storing tap roots, while most roots are fine andContinue reading “Inside Plant Roots”

Feeling sleepy? How about being awake for only a few weeks each year … and it is a European mammal!

Adverse conditions David Beeson, January 2021 The weather changes in the UK from day to day and with the seasons. With the Earth at a moving orientation to the Sun throughout the year, the input of energy in a particular spot changes. In the UK winter, the constant energy output from our Sun is spreadContinue reading “Feeling sleepy? How about being awake for only a few weeks each year … and it is a European mammal!”

The Natural World in Photographs

The odonata John Solomon Sometimes it is just lovely to see the organism in all its glory … not long now until the UK’s wildlife opens up again! NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index.

Wildlife Encounters

Encounters David Beeson, 15 /12 /20 It was in my early days of wildlife watching and I had a brand-new telephoto-lens. And I needed mammal photographs for a lecture course I was about to teach. So, I drove out to a stream just outside Salisbury – near Odstock, where watervoles had been spotted. Now, myContinue reading “Wildlife Encounters”

Plants are Clever, 3

Plant metabolism David Beeson, 24th November 2020 Posh words, like metabolism, frighten some folks. Not you, I’m certain. This word just means the total chemistry inside an organism. And we, plants and even our friend Covid-19 are bundles of chemicals, and they all work via chemical reactions. Yup, you and me are bags of chemistry.Continue reading “Plants are Clever, 3”

Dormice

David Beeson 4th November NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index. Muscardinus avellanarius As I have mentioned before, dormice are declining and generally rare or uncommon in the UK. They are southern in distribution and have been one of the mammals I look out for moreContinue reading “Dormice”

Harewood Forest

A Walk through an Ancient Forest, 1. RE-posted 1st November 2020 NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index. A walk from the B3400, south along the footpath from Andover Down to the Middleway. SU403463. Pisa Cottage stop on the 76 bus route from Andover to WhitchurchContinue reading “Harewood Forest”

A Win for UK Conservation

Wild Justice statement on gamebird licensing 30th October 2020 12:23 pm Wild Justice secures an historic environmental legal victory Just days away from facing a barrage of legal arguments in court (on 3 and 4 November) DEFRA has agreed to license the release of Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges to control ecological damage to wildlife sites.   WildContinue reading “A Win for UK Conservation”

A Brilliant Day!!!

Dormice David Beeson Hazel dormice are not common in the UK, but they are slowly being reintroduced, with some success. My area is a comparative ‘hot spot’ for the species and I have found live animals and nests in the past. The nearest nests have been within 1Km, but species-specific nest boxes and searching forContinue reading “A Brilliant Day!!!”

Dorset heaths

The Dorset Heathlands David Beeson My part of Southern England is dominated by a chalk geology. That results in thin, calcium-rich soils and a characteristic ecology. Much of south-east Dorset has sand and gravels beneath the surface, and these generate very different conditions. I was based a few kilometres north of the walled, Saxon townContinue reading “Dorset heaths”

An English Canal

David Beeson September 2020 The Basingstoke Canal (This is located in Central Hampshire, close to the M3) Serendipity led me to this spot. We had an appointment in the ever-enlarging town of Basingstoke, and, having completed this chore aimed somewhere new. Having arrived at Odiham, a Georgian-styled town, we explored: finding beautifully-designed houses, the villageContinue reading “An English Canal”

Early September

David Beeson A tour of the chalk landscape. For me, this is a quiet time. The male birds (except the pigeons)are non-territorial and mostly quiet, although the UK robin is his normal pugnacious self. Butterflies have largely vanished to dust, while a few struggle on. It is the same with the flora, some show theirContinue reading “Early September”

Plants are clever. Part 1.

Plants are well adapted to life, part 1. David Beeson, August 2020 Annuals, biennials and perennials Evolution, through Natural Selection (Survival of the Fittest), is a powerful force. Death does that! If a plant’s strategy is poor, it dies and fails to pass on its genes. On the other hand, if it gets everything perfect,Continue reading “Plants are clever. Part 1.”

Here be DRAGONS and DAMSELS! A major article.

A major article by John Solomon, August 2020 A guide to the ODONATA of the ANDOVER region. Introduction Odonata is the Latin term for the insects more commonly known as Damselflies and Dragonflies. While superficially very similar they do differ in several ways. Firstly, Dragonflies are larger than Damselflies and when they rest they alwaysContinue reading “Here be DRAGONS and DAMSELS! A major article.”

Nectar, food of the gods?

Firstly, some questions. Now, no cheating and you really should write down the answers. Question one. (An easy one to give you confidence) Does nectar contain dilute honey? Question two. Are nectar and honey of the same composition, even if honey has less water? Question three. Where is nectar made? (Precision needed here!) Question four.Continue reading “Nectar, food of the gods?”