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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Epipactis, the helleborines and other summer-flowering orchids of the southern UK.

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.”

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

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”

Living in Fresh Water

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”

Simply Hoverflies

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”

Southern Damselflies

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”

Waste ground?

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?”

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”