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!”

Longstock Water Garden in July

David Beeson The name John Lewis is synonymous with quality department stores in the UK. It has a subsidiary, Waitrose, that is its supermarket chain. However, unlike many similar companies, JL has other sides. It owns arable, dairy, mushroom and apple farms in Hampshire and its vineyards produce quality wines. Yet, there is more: itContinue reading “Longstock Water Garden in July”

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”

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”

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)”

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”

Odonata Roundup

Highlights of Andover’s Odonata 2021 We entered into 2021 with an all-out attack on Covid that, as the spring got underway and summer approached, seemed to be putting the disease on the back foot. Perhaps a more normal season was to be cautiously anticipated. The weather, however, had other ideas. February, and the first twoContinue reading “Odonata Roundup”

Riverfly Sampling

David Beeson, December 2021 In Hampshire, we have some unique river systems. With chunks of the county dominated by chalky geology the rainwater is held in huge aquifers and only slowly released. It emerges comparatively warm in winter ( and remains cool in summer) and is enriched with dissolved calcium. The waters are usually crystalContinue reading “Riverfly Sampling”

Wildlife Garden in Late August

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”

The Chemistry of Wildlife

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”

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”

Emerald Dragonflies of Bentley Wood

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”

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”

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 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”