Archive for July, 2011

Great crested newt monitoring at Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

It’s the fourth year that United Environmental Services have monitored the ponds in Kings Cliffe following a major trapping and relocation scheme. So far this year a good number of adult great crested newts and developing great crested newt larvae have been caught in bottle traps  and pond nets and recorded whilst torching. A healthy population of other amphibians including Smooth and Palmate newts have also been recorded on the site, as well as reptile species such as slow worm and grass snake.

UES caught a particularly large female great crested newt, which was heavily pregnant whilst bottle trapping. Courtship and egg-laying normally lasts from mid-March to mid-May. Female great crested newts lay eggs individually on leaves of submerged vegetation, which she then carefully folds up into a package. After about 3 weeks the great crested newt larvae hatch out and spend the next 2 to 3 months developing into juveniles, whilst feeding on a wide variety of pond life including small crustaceans and other newt larvae.

On the hunt for orchids

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

There are 56 species of wild orchid in Britain and Ireland (out of around 25,000 known species worldwide). In the UK wild orchids can be found in a variety of natural habitats including woodland, grassland, marshes, heaths and sand dunes, as well as in managed sites such as abandoned pits and roadside verges. Each orchid species has its own blooming season, which can run from as early as April in the case of the Early-purple orchid to as late as September for the Autumn ladies tresses.

The main threats to wild orchids in the UK are habitat change and destruction. In Britain, orchids are protected by the Wildlife And Countryside Act, 1981, which states that it is an offence to uproot them unless you have permission from the land owner.

UES spotted these wild orchids whilst completing ecological surveys in Cheshire, Liverpool, and Hampshire.

Moth monitoring surveys

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

There are over 2500 species of moth in Britain. As there are so many species of moths, experts split them into two groups, the larger (or macro-) moths and the smaller (or micro-) moths.

UES has been lucky enough to spot 51 species of macro-moth so far during monitoring surveys, including the impressive Eyed hawk-moth so called due to the large and beautiful spots on each of its hind wings, and the Peppered moth whose white with black speckled patterning across the wings make it well camouflaged against lichen-covered tree trunks which it rests on during the day.

Other favourite species observed include Burnished brass, Elephant hawk, Garden tiger, Ghost, Light emerald and Lime hawk-moth.

UES contributes to the National Moth Recording Scheme (NMRS), which brings together sightings of all macro-moths across the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands in a bid to create full ‘Britain and Ireland’ distributions for all species.

Newest member of the UES team

Monday, July 18th, 2011

UES welcomes Kathryn James as their new Graduate Ecologist. Kathryn is currently completing a MRes in Aquatic Ecology and Conservation at Swansea University, having recently completed a BSc in Zoology at Cardiff University.

“Since coming to UES my survey skills have increased dramatically; I have honed my identification skills and have learnt how to juggle a diverse and challenging workload.

I’ve enjoyed the sheer range of clients and projects I get to work on and the fact that no day is ever the same. I particularly enjoy going out on bat surveys and learning about different botanical species, which is an aspect of ecology that I had not delved into before.”

UES volunteer for the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT)

Friday, July 15th, 2011

BCT runs a number of national, annual surveys to monitor the status of bats throughout the UK. These surveys form the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP). UES volunteers with around 3000 others to collect essential data on bat populations every year.

UES is currently completing field surveys of 3 sites in Cheshire. Each survey involves walking a triangular route in a randomly allocated 1km square on two evenings in July, to record noctule, serotine, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle bat activity. UES uses several pieces of equipment during a bat survey; bat boxes which can detect the echolocation calls of bats, and the Anabat system which detects bat echolocation calls and displays them visually on a PDA screen which makes recording of the bat calls and identification of the bat species much more accurate.

The NBMP is of great importance as UK bat populations have declined considerably during the past century due to building and development works affecting roosts, and the loss of feeding habitats and flightlines.