Some Biology of Insects

David Beeson, October 2022 On land, they are everywhere – the teeming hordes of life. So, their biology and lifestyles must be a big evolutionary success. In the UK we have over 22 000 species of insects in all manner of shapes and sizes. They range from the inquisitive dragonflies, through the singing grasshoppers withContinue reading “Some Biology of Insects”

Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis)

John Solomon, October 2022. The Emerald Damselflies are often called the ‘Spreadwings’, as they habitually perch with their wings open in a delta position. There are five European species, including the Common Emerald (Lestes spoons), Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis), Scarce Emerald (Lestes dryas), Southern Emerald (Lestes barbarus) and Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fascia). The Common EmeraldContinue reading “Willow Emerald (Chalcolestes viridis)”

The Biology of Freshwater (flowering) Plants

David Beeson, September 2022 Evolution is powerful. If you fail to fit in, something else will take your place, and freshwater is today only filled with the fittest of plants. Yet, those plants originated as marine organisms that migrated onto the then uncolonized land. Here the conditions were very different, and evolution forced them toContinue reading “The Biology of Freshwater (flowering) Plants”

I Hit the Headlines!

David Beeson, 19th August 2022 Southern England, and much of Western Europe are having a hotter and drier summer than average. Rainfall for the year is well down and, with river levels dropping, local hosepipe and sprinkler bans are in place. Our water is pumped out of our underlying chalk bedrock and, when extraction exceedsContinue reading “I Hit the Headlines!”

A Journey to the Jade Sea

(Now called lake Turkana) Aspects of Africa 1 – The El Molo of Kenya David Beeson July 2022 In 1998 our family spent some time exploring Kenya for the first time. Perhaps one of the most interesting journeys was to the far north-east of the country, to Lake Turkana, beyond the lands of the SamburuContinue reading “A Journey to the Jade Sea”

Some wildlife in South Wales

David Beeson June 2022 Annette and I embarked on a two-week exploration of the coastline at the start of June. Our first stop was just west of Newport at the Tredegar House caravan site. This allowed easy access to The Newport Wetlands which are partly managed by the RSPB and dominated by present and pastContinue reading “Some wildlife in South Wales”

YOU SHOULD READ THIS ————-SOIL – an article from the UK GUARDIAN newspaper.

From David: Worth reading. The author is a well-known environmentalist. The newspaper is straight and factual (unlike some others). Don’t dismiss soil: its unknowable wonders could ensure the survival of our species by George Monbiot Sat 7 May 2022 09.00 BST Beneath our feet is an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of ourContinue reading “YOU SHOULD READ THIS ————-SOIL – an article from the UK GUARDIAN newspaper.”

The Ecology of the UK’s Snakes

David Beeson, April 2022 I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. If some creature is being ‘got at’ then I’m prepared to put in some effort to attempt to right-the-wrong. That was how it was when I started working with the Mammal Society and then the Otter Trust to stop the hunting of theContinue reading “The Ecology of the UK’s Snakes”

Newts on Patrol

David Beeson, April 2022 We have Palmate Newts, Lissotriton helveticus, in and around our pond. These are amphibians and are rather like lizards in appearance, but with moist, unscally skins. They are often missed by gardeners as they keep a low profile, especially in weedy ponds. They are not organisms I associate with rivers, althoughContinue reading “Newts on Patrol”

The Wild Orchids of Crete in Early April

David Beeson, April 2022 Spring in the mid-uplands of Crete is the main time for seeing the flowers on wild orchids. The mild winters, hot summers with winds often coming from the Sahara and the calcareous soils all add to making this a favourable environment. This last winter the rain and snow exceeded expectations, soContinue reading “The Wild Orchids of Crete in Early April”

The Coastal Communities of Crete

David Beeson, April 2022 Earlier this month we embarked on a botanical visit to the Greek island of Crete. We have been there twice, previously both walking and seeking plants, but this time headed for the centre of the island, to Rethymno. We had not been to this part of Crete. Crete is a mountainousContinue reading “The Coastal Communities of Crete”

Algal Microscopy

David Beeson, April 2022 A bit of a specialist topic, I agree, but stay with me and perhaps I will change your mind about algae … they can be quite interesting. And, as for a microscope, well, mine cost only £105 and it is first-year university standard, but cheap as an unwanted present bought fromContinue reading “Algal Microscopy”

The Deer of Southern England

David Beeson, March 2022 UK deer have antlers that are shed yearly, while sheep & goats have horns that grow and are not shed. Although you are unlikely to need that fact in the field! Deer are Ungulates, having hooves instead of claws and they are in the Cervidae family, being ruminant browsers and soContinue reading “The Deer of Southern England”

Small Mammal Carnivores of the UK – Martens, polecats, stoats and weasels.

David Beeson, March 2022 This article will look at the pine marten, polecat, stoat and weasel. The former pair are very unequally dispersed, while the latter two are mostly found across the British mainland. I have only seen one live, wild marten, and that was in France as it hurtled across a road. Many areContinue reading “Small Mammal Carnivores of the UK – Martens, polecats, stoats and weasels.”

I had forgotten just how magical a drop of pond water can be.

David Beeson, March 2022 I’m about to sell my microscope, as a new one is on its way to me. So, I thought I would give the old one an outing – a sample of pond water. Oh, what wonders! If you have access to a microscope and have never looked at pond water doContinue reading “I had forgotten just how magical a drop of pond water can be.”

The Invasion of Land, and the first land plants … The Bryophytes (Mosses and Liverworts)

David Beeson, 28th February 2022 About 450 million years ago, in the Silurian era, plants invaded the land. With water and land / air being such different habitats evolution had to throw up some divergent life forms to survive there. It would take millions of years for the complete colonisation of land. The first trueContinue reading “The Invasion of Land, and the first land plants … The Bryophytes (Mosses and Liverworts)”

Gallery 2 – 2021

John Solomon John & David have a number of articles on INVERTEBRATES. Riverfly Sampling and Riverfly 2 Odonata Roundup Perhaps Butterflies are not as nice as you think Small red-eyed Damselfly Emerald Dragonflies of Bentley Wood Simply Hoverflies Southern damselflies The Barberry Carpet Moth Secret Pond in Late June Butterflies of Salisbury Plain Or HowContinue reading “Gallery 2 – 2021”

Riverfly 2

David Beeson, January 2022 “The Riverfly Partnership is a network of organisations, representing anglers, conservationists, entomologists, scientists, water course managers and relevant authorities, working together to: – protect the water quality of our rivers; – further the understanding of riverfly populations; – and actively conserve riverfly habitats. The Riverfly Partnership is hosted by the FreshwaterContinue reading “Riverfly 2”

Peat and pollen analysis

David Beeson, January 2022 For us, northern hemisphere people, the year is edging towards longer days and shorter nights … and about time too! And there are signs that life is at least starting to think about spring. We have snowdrops just coming into flower, the Tulipa sylvestris have popped up above soil level andContinue reading “Peat and pollen analysis”