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 – email@example.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.
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David Beeson, late September 2021 Central Wales is probably less visited than the north and south coasts, yet for wildlife it offers some gems. It is a largely remote area of high hills, although some people feel they are mountains. Sheep dominate the lower elevations, and their winter pastures are so improved that only grassContinue reading “A Journey Through Central Wales – The Cambrian Mountains”
Dr John Moon (main words) and David Beeson (images and introduction). 1st September 2021 Photographing the Naked Ladies … now do not get too excited, this may not the article you thought it might be! As you will all know, Naked Ladies is a common name of the Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron, scientific name: ColchicumContinue reading “Naked Ladies in Everleigh Ashes”
David Beeson, written August 2021 All our images It is seldom that the Beesons go to the same spot twice. That we went to Yellowstone twice in two years is unprecedented. It was just so magnificent, and I urge you to go! The geology, botany and wildlife just blew us away, also the Americans areContinue reading “Yellowstone National Park, 1”
David Beeson It has been an indifferent summer in Hampshire. Yet we are hugely appreciative of having no fires or floods or plagues of locusts. I guess dampness is preferable to desertification. The cool rainfall enhanced grass growth by removing growth-limiting factors, so with some of the meadows now cut the compost bins are fullContinue reading “Wildlife Garden in Late August”
David Beeson, late August 2021 With time to spare in Salisbury I took the opportunity to re-visit the water meadows there. (If this topic is of interest see the previous article.) The C17 innovation of water meadows changed agriculture in Southern England. Comparatively warm river water was flooded onto the meadows to warm the soilContinue reading “Watery Meadows and Late Summer Colour”
David Beeson, late August 2021 It could be argued that wildlife enthusiasts spend too much time looking and too little in thinking. I bet you disagree! Sure, I do. The sights and sounds of the natural world is alluring and gives me a buzz. I am never more content than exploring for the unknown orContinue reading “The Chemistry of Wildlife”
David Beeson, August 2021 PLUS: photographs of plants on Eastern Salisbury Plain Army Training Area. But, firstly let us separate the two different genera of ‘helleborines’. There are Epipactis and Cephalanthera helleborines. The Cephalanthera genus contains the white, red and narrow-leaved helleborines. The white helleborine I find locally, sometimes in good numbers. I associate itContinue reading “Epipactis, the helleborines and other summer-flowering orchids of the southern UK.”
Conservation? What conservation? Britain is a land of shooting – pheasants in the south and grouse in the north.
Article stolen from the Guardian newspaper. Britain’s national parks dominated by driven grouse moors, says study Exclusive: Area twice the size of London devoted to grouse shooting in UK’s parks, threatening efforts to tackle climate crisis Patrick Barkham@patrick_barkhamThu 5 Aug 2021 06.01 BST National parks supposedly at the heart of efforts to tackle the climateContinue reading “Conservation? What conservation? Britain is a land of shooting – pheasants in the south and grouse in the north.”
David Beeson, late July 2021 My Apeman Wildlife camera has again been pointed at a peanut feeder just alongside our garage. This is adjacent to where I found two (rare) UK dormouse nests in November last year, and then recorded a pair on this feeder. Since that time brown rats found the feeder and startedContinue reading “Small mammals on the night camera”
John Solomon, 24th July The UK’s three commonest Damselflies are the Common Blue, the Blue-tailed and the Azure, and they can be found throughout our islands, even up into Scotland. In the lower half of England, not so much into Wales, broadly below a line drawn across between Liverpool and Kingston-upon-Hull, they are joinedContinue reading “Small Red-eyed Damselfly”
David Beeson, July 2021 Living in fresh water sets up challenges for organisms. It is quite a different environment from dry land or from salty marine places. And it is a rare space on Earth – 2.5% of the earth’s water is fresh. Yet most of the earth’s fresh water is unavailable: locked up inContinue reading “Living in Fresh Water”
John Solomon It was an overwhelmingly dull day on Sunday, the day of the Euros Final, but I had an itch I just had to scratch. Near Salisbury, just to the west of West Tytherley, lies Bentley Wood, which was bought by a charitable trust in the 1980s and is husbanded as a conservation project.Continue reading “Emerald Dragonflies of Bentley Wood”
July is hoverfly season. David Beeson, 11th July. References: https://bna-naturalists.org/id-guide-hoverflies/ and https://www.naturespot.org.uk/gallery/hoverflies Flies have a single pair of wings and, before them, a pair of halteres (shown). Halteres are a pair of small club-shaped organs on the body of two orders of flying insects that provide information about body rotations during flight. They have compoundContinue reading “Simply Hoverflies”
John Solomon, 10th July 2021 On 23 June a friend of mine, Brain Cartwright, a local birder who haunts Anton Lake, sent me a series of photographs he’d taken that day. There was no special reason for this, he’s keen on local wildlife and a very keen photographer, so he regularly emails the latest cropContinue reading “Southern Damselflies”
David Beeson, July 2021 Many people feel that plants ‘do not do anything’. Clearly, that is far from the truth, they often just work at a different speed. The clearest example could be a giant US redwood – they generate more height, more bulk and more potential offspring then me. But it takes them aContinue reading “Botany – Plant Movement”
David Beeson Note: a garden meadow is a garden feature. It is designed as part of a garden and not as a wildlife reserve. The wildlife that comes with the garden meadow is a bonus. Our Summer Meadow is ideally only cut from early autumn and is part garden feature and part wildlife reserve. WithContinue reading “The Eco-garden in Early July and the Problem with Clay Soils.”
David Beeson, 1st July 2021 North-west Hampshire’s non-urban areas are dominated by three land uses. 1) Forest on the alkaline, chalky clay caps, 2) Damp riverine meadows, some of which were proper water meadows until the mid-1900s and 3) Traditional farmland, which is mostly arable, growing grass crops – wheat, barley and blue ryegrass forContinue reading “Waste ground?”
Graeme Davis is a guest contributor. 28th June 2021 The Barberry Carpet is a medium size British moth, now reduced to 12 colonies, though this is a recent increase in numbers, thanks to a project by Back from the Brink. The moth is a red data book species, and on the UK Biodiversity Action PlanContinue reading “The Barberry Carpet Moth”
David Beeson, 24th June 2021 Just a ramble through some of my recent images. A bit of this and that! The Dorset area called Purbeck is a great wildlife location. It also offers ‘family’ entertainment and great cream teas at Worth Matravers. When the steam railway is not operating the track bed offers good sightingsContinue reading “Photo Essay – Plants in June”
John Solomon, 21/06/2021 And it has most certainly been late spring, but, finally, it is here and everything is bursting to make up for lost time. Reeds that seemed forever stuck at ankle-nibbling height are now shooting up over my waist, nettles are over my shoulders and various Cow Parlsey-like plants are threatening to towerContinue reading “Secret Pond Late Spring 2021”
John Solomon, 08/06/2021 I’m not too familiar with Salisbury Plain but David visited there last year and, so he told me, saw huge numbers of Marsh Fritillaries. A plan was hatched. He knew where they were and I had the toy, a small, two-seater sports car with rather too much engine, endearingly known asContinue reading “Butterflies on Salisbury Plain”
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”
David Beeson 07/06/2021 I have been looking in three spots for plants, on one occasion as John wielded his camera in pursuit of butterflies. Spot one was in my own garden: spotted, southern marsh, twayblade and lesser butterfly orchids are currently in flower. Location two was alongside the A303 road, the route from London toContinue reading “Some early summer orchids and other floral delights”
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”
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”
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?”
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”
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”
I’m passing on an article in the Guardian that explains why careful land / tree owners may wish to be less tidy. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/05/secrets-of-dead-wood-how-old-trees-hold-key-to-new-life-aoe Also reminder: are you taking part in the NO CUT* of lawns in May? I am, and so far it it covered in the yellow of buttercups and the white of theContinue reading “The Value of Ancient Oaks”
It has been much colder than usual this year. The bluebells are two or three weeks behind last year, and still fail to show in the woodland, yet optimism fills the Hampshire air and a few over-wintering butterflies are fluttering. David Beeson, 30 April 2021 For INDEX of 100 nwhwildlife articles see: https://wordpress.com/post/nwhwildlife.org/1539
An English Eco-garden in Early April David Beeson The garden at Forest Edge is around an acre or 0.4 hectares. It is longer than wide and ends on the very fringe of an ancient oak and hazel forest that has probably always been there. Our soil is clay-over-chalk and is sticky in winter and rock-solidContinue reading “An Eco-garden in Early April”
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.”
David Beeson We have been fortunate in having visited this area twice – once via Denver and again via Seattle. If you have the opportunity, go! The USA is easy to explore and booking hotels or AirB&B in advance is possible but not vital. A few images to catch your imagination as the world mayContinue reading “Rocky Mountains, USA and Index”
Images by John Solomon NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index. The legs bear many spiky hairs, seen beautifully in this image. The venation of the wings shows clearly here, as does the metallic colour that seems to occur across all the odonata. A leopard ofContinue reading “The Natural World in Photographs – 3”
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.
NOTE: over 90 articles available, free of adverts. See: nwhwildlife.org – Rocky Mountains, USA and Index. John Solomon’s images from 2020. We can all look at a damselfly and say to ourselves, “Sure, it is only another damselfly.” Today, you have the chance to take a second look at these British species, and to enjoyContinue reading “The Natural World in Photographs – 2”
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”
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 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.
David Beeson Bet you are as fed up with 2020 as I am. I want some sunshine and non-muddy trackways … and a tasty vaccination. Most of the plants are in hibernation – hiding their resources away from herbivores. Only the fruits, with the plant’s seeds inside, are being offered – and there is anContinue reading “Photo essay – a frosty 1st January”
December 2020 Forest Edge is an eco-garden, in that we attempt to optimise the wildlife, whilst still delivering a beautiful garden AND a play area for the grandchildren. We cannot do everything in the area we have, so there are limits. We have had herds of fallow deer (30+) in the garden – that hasContinue reading “Photo Essay – Winter and Summer in our Eco-garden”