Category Archives: bees

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges … (with apologies to Darwin)

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms, which were there before, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what is there now after the mowers moved in.

Many will realise that is a parody of the fantastic poetic conclusion to Darwin’s  The Origin of species.

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, ……..

 

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That might baffle you why this photo is here and what it is.

It is the flower of one of 25 Southern Marsh Orchids mown down on a tiny grass verge in Lancashire. This flowered was beheaded or decapitated by someone unaware what it was, and perhaps it is reminiscent of the head of one of Henry VIII’s many victins on the executioner’s block.

Here is a fine specimen of a Southern Marsh Orchid a few hundred yards away and then the verge as it was early in June before the phantom mower came. The first is from an “amenity centre” which fortunately is not mown indiscriminately and one of a hundred along with a host of other flowers. The second is of the narrow verge of short grass where 25  orchids were flowering until 11th June 2020.

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That changed when it was mowed on the morning of 11th June. Wyre Council claim it was nothing to with them

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/decapitating-orchids-in-lancashire-environmental-vandalism/

The grass was so short. The first shows one surviving ording and the second a mangled one.

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Another example near Scorton of Red Campions and cow parsley just trashed.

 

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Mowing machines have been the scourge of lockdown this spring. I don’t mean those which you use (or shouldn’t have used) to mow your lawn, but the excess misuse of mowing machines on roadside verges this year. It’s not only Lancashire but every part of the country as mowers have gone in and removed the flora.

Consider the contrast both in beauty and wildlife of these two images taken from twitter

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Every day over the last few months I have noticed mangled banks and verges, where mowers have gone in to do their damage. I ought to explain that most days I go out for a 30 odd mile cycleride in the lanes of Lancashire. Rather than improve my speed, I prefer to see what is there and especially enjoy the wildlife, whether a hare, rabbits, stoats, various birds including the Purple Heron. I had a close shave when a buzzard nearly flew into me near Inskip. I also look at the flora and continually improve my skills of identification.

But as I saw the trashed flowers the words of the last paragraph of The Origin came to mind and then I decided to parady it in honour of the mowers.

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms,  so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, which were there before,have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what was there before the mowers moved in. These new laws of environmental vandals, taken in the largest sense, being no Growth without Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost lost by lack of reproduction; invariability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of  the fossil-fueled mowing machines, and from extermination; a Ratio of Increase so low as to lead to an inevitable Death, and as a consequence to Unnatural Selection, entailing loss of Divergence of Character and the Extinction of all improved forms. Thus, from the war against nature, from moving, pesticide and herbicides, the most unexalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the loss of all fauna and flora, directly follows. There is no grandeur in this view of life, despite life having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved, are now being hurried to extinction by the wanton disregard of the Creator’s allegedly highest creation, the damned miscreator.

I have come across not only those decapitated orchids, but rare stands of Ragged Robin and Red and White Campions with their hybrids cut right down. I have only seen one example of those two floral gems. That is apart from  common wildflowers being mown down just before flowering. I blogged some details of the mowing here; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/where-have-all-the-flowers-gone-stripped-from-verges-everyone/

The total area of road verges in Britain is immense as mile upon mile of 2 metre wide strips adds up to an awful lot, giving space for an immense diversity of flora and thus of insect, bird and mammal life. We cannot afford to lose it. It is comparble to domestic gardens which are increasingly hard-surfaced or put down to plastic grass.

Sadly , this mowing has taken place throughout the countries of the UK. Many have complained to their local councils.

I have complained to local councillors from Lancashire County Council and Wyre borough but have had no useful response.

In my twitter comments I also linked to the twitter accounts of Lancashire County Council and Wyre Borough Council, which elictied responses, which were unhelpful. LCC were quick to say verges were Wyre’s responsibility. But Wyre said that the verge with the orchids was not their remit. Even senior employees of either council gave me no answer. As a result I cannot say who was responsible and only deal with the results.

The results are very clear;

  • Mowers have no regard for flowers, whether common, or less so, in flower or in bud, and simply mow them down.
  • In many lanes a mown strip 2 to 3ft wide would be sufficient, but often anything up to 12 ft /4 metres from the road is mown, without regard to the flora.
  • often strips are mown right up to base of a hedge, if present, thus removing plants about to flower or in flower eg. ramsons, campions, ragged robin , various parsleys, Meadowsweet, vetchs etc.
  • A frequent appeal is for safety and visibility , but that would never require mowing back several metres from the road.

My observations also indicate that councils are not the only ones mowing, as it is often done by local farmers or residents, and, possibly other bodies.

I would suggest that every local council and councillors  need to be challenged on this by as many people as possible, until a better policy is implemented.

Despite by very much an amateur naturalist, it is clear to me that councils need good sound botanical advice to inform their mowing regime AND then enforce it.

I could go on, but will finish with quoting that final paragraph of Darwin’s Origin,  which is an excellent scientific picture of our natural world.

Have lived in Shrewsbury, Darwin must have ridden past many entangled banks as he travelled the area on his horse. Some of the best banks were on his various routes to Woodhouse, where his visited his first girl-friend Fanny Mostyn Owen, before he went to Cambridge.  The entangled banks near Downe House are equally gorgeous.

So I’ll give Darwin the last word, with a few of my photos.

The conclusion of The Origin of Species (1st ed)

 

 

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank,

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clothed with many plants of many kinds,

 

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with birds singing on the bushes,

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with various insects flitting about,

P1010170P1010570 (1)

 

and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

********

A most useful guide on how verges should be mown

 

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/application/files/3315/7063/5411/Managing_grassland_road_verges_Singles.pdf

Decapitating orchids in Lancashire. Environmental vandalism

Being retired I go out most days for a cycleride near Garstang in Lancashire. Usually I cover 20 to 40 miles and average about10 mph. I don’t cycle for speed but to explore and make great use of OS maps.

Recently I have been looking more and more at verges with their variety of flowers and change of flora during the seasons. Often it is fantastic to see what is there. I also note mammals and birds,and had a close shave last year when a buzzard missed me by inches!

Sadly in the last few months I have a spate of phantom mowers who strip the verges of all greenery and don’t give a damn about flowers.

As a result of finding so many flowers decapitated and mangled I wrote a blog last month

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/where-have-all-the-flowers-gone-stripped-from-verges-everyone/

I often end up in Lane Ends Amenity area near Pilling, which is totally man-made and has two lakes. The material was used to make sea defences. At any time of the year there is something to see but the best is March to July as these photos show

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In March and April the central “meadow” is covered in cowslips and then other flowers take over, most notably Southern marsh Orchids and some hybrids. There are a large number of them, but some vandal dug up the biggest clump in May.

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There are also scabious, poppies, red and white campions. moon daisies, bacon-and-egg and other flowers

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I visited again on Thurs 11th June and enjoyed the various flowers. I then cycled out of the entrance where a week earlier I saw these lovely southern Marsh Orchids in short grass on the verge.

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i have to admit I felt a sense of foreboding  as I cycled out on to the road (entrance is by the clump of white moon daisies at the end of the road.) Sadly my foreboding was justified. Gone were the 25-30 orchids and only two were still standing.

This photo shows the area mowed – just a narrow strip of grass, no more than 9 inches high.

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Here is the damage.

The left photo shows one survivor and the right a mangled orchid.

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Here is a flower I put on top of a post – rather like an executioner’s block and another lying forlornly on the ground..

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More decapitated orchids

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These two photos are looking eastwards to the Lane End’s entrance. It was mowed on both sides, but on the left they stopped before the daisies. Even so there was no need to more.

The second shows the strip with orchids with another survivor.

 

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Another view looking east, with the large white clump of moon daisies in the distance.

It shows the contrast of the mown and unknown verge and the height of the original verge.

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While taking photos a dog-walker went past and she told me that the Environment Agency had come to mow it in the morning. I am not convinced that it was the EA, as if so some of their operatives will be in serious trouble. I hope.

I peddled off in a filthy mood and later looked at the flowers on the embankment beyond Fluke Hall.

On Friday I sent another email to my Wyre Councillor and hope for an explanation .

I put details on twitter so various councils and environmental groups could see yet another example of damage caused by mowing.

Mark Billington Corporate Director Environment tweeted to me on the matter twice on 12th June;

Michael – I understand your concerns but I do not believe that this work has been undertaken by Wyre Council.

It appears to be a highway verge@wyrecouncil do not control all grass cutting within the Wyre area.

At present I cannot find out who mowed it. Maybe an FOI to Wyre council may help?

This spring I have been appalled at the vandalistic mowing of verges in my part of Lancashire – Fylde and Wyre Council areas.

The decapitation of these orchids is only the worst example I have found on my travels.

Only on occassion did I see Wyre workmen mowing – with limited sensitivity.

Most of the time I cannot work out who did the mowing but it is often excessive cutting 6 feet or more of verges when 2 to 3 foot would be ample by any standards. The usual answer is for safety and visibility, but that would only apply to verges by road junctions.

Sadly this story is repeated throughout the country.

It does seem that those who mow have had no training on the value of wildflowers and other flora, not only in themselves but also to encourage bees , other insects, small mammals and birds, and don’t seem to get beyond “tidiness”.

I also reckon that local councils are shirking their responsibilities.

orchids

 

Being retired I go out most days for a cycleride near Garstang in Lancashire. Usually I cover 20 to 40 miles and average about10 mph. I don’t cycle for speed but to explore and make great use of OS maps.

Recently I have been looking more and more at verges with their variety of flowers and change of flora during the seasons. Often it is fantastic to see what is there. I also note mammals and birds,and had a close shave last year when a buzzard missed me by inches!

Sadly in the last few months I have a spate of phantom mowers who strip the verges of all greenery and don’t give a damn about flowers.

As a result of finding so many flowers decapitated and mangled I wrote a blog last month

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2020/05/24/where-have-all-the-flowers-gone-stripped-from-verges-everyone/

I often end up in Lane Ends Amenity area near Pilling, which is totally man-made and has two lakes. The material was used to make sea defences. At any time of the year there is something to see but the best is March to July as these photos show

P1030459P1030577

In March and April the central “meadow” is covered in cowslips and then other flowers take over, most notably Southern marsh Orchids and some hybrids. There are a large number of them, but some vandal dug up the biggest clump in May.

P1030713P1030693

There are also scabious, poppies, red and white campions. moon daisies, bacon-and-egg and other flowers

P1030761P1030762

I visited again on Thurs 11th June and enjoyed the various flowers. I then cycled out of the entrance where a week earlier I saw these lovely southern Marsh Orchids in short grass on the verge.

P1030687P1030688

i have to admit I felt a sense of foreboding  as I cycled out on to the road (entrance is by the clump of white moon daisies at the end of the road.) Sadly my foreboding was justified. Gone were the 25-30 orchids and only two were still standing.

This photo shows the area mowed – just a narrow strip of grass, no more than 9 inches high.

P1030773

Here is the damage.

The left photo shows one survivor and the right a mangled orchid.

P1030765P1030767

Here is a flower I put on top of a post – rather like an executioner’s block and another lying forlornly on the ground..

P1030768P1030769

More decapitated orchids

P1030770P1030771

These two photos are looking eastwards to the Lane End’s entrance. It was mowed on both sides, but on the left they stopped before the daisies. Even so there was no need to more.

The second shows the strip with orchids with another survivor.

 

P1030772P1030774

Another view looking east, with the large white clump of moon daisies in the distance.

It shows the contrast of the mown and unknown verge and the height of the original verge.

P1030776

While taking photos a dog-walker went past and she told me that the Environment Agency had come to mow it in the morning. I am not convinced that it was the EA, as if so some of their operatives will be in serious trouble. I hope.

I peddled off in a filthy mood and later looked at the flowers on the embankment beyond Fluke Hall.

On Friday I sent another email to my Wyre Councillor and hope for an explanation .

I put details on twitter so various councils and environmental groups could see yet another example of damage caused by mowing.

Mark Billington Corporate Director Environment tweeted to me on the matter twice on 12th June;

Michael – I understand your concerns but I do not believe that this work has been undertaken by Wyre Council.

It appears to be a highway verge@wyrecouncil do not control all grass cutting within the Wyre area.

At present I cannot find out who mowed it. Maybe an FOI to Wyre council may help?

This spring I have been appalled at the vandalistic mowing of verges in my part of Lancashire – Fylde and Wyre Council areas.

The decapitation of these orchids is only the worst example I have found on my travels.

Only on occassion did I see Wyre workmen mowing – with limited sensitivity.

Most of the time I cannot work out who did the mowing but it is often excessive cutting 6 feet or more of verges when 2 to 3 foot would be ample by any standards. The usual answer is for safety and visibility, but that would only apply to verges by road junctions.

Sadly this story is repeated throughout the country.

It does seem that those who mow have had no training on the value of wildflowers and other flora, not only in themselves but also to encourage bees , other insects, small mammals and birds, and don’t seem to get beyond “tidiness”.

I also reckon that local councils are shirking their responsibilities.

Chronicle of a Grassland Saved

The dangers of tree-planting as the universal panacea, without checking what is already there.

an excellent blog giving a much needed warning.

BTW I have 30 rowans looking for homes

a new nature blog

For those of us of a certain age, The Milky Bar Kid was part of our childhood. A boy, dressed as a cowboy, implored us to eat white chocolate  – which was not particularly popular back then. By coincidence one of the boys who played The Milky Bar Kid (there were several) was at the same primary school as I was (there was a famous acting school nearby). I remember him being a bit smug, but then who could blame him? He was The Milky Bar Kid! There was a catchy jingle which I can still recall 50 odd years later. The funny thing is now I realise that white chocolate doesn’t have any more milk in it than milk chocolate (perhaps it has less)  – it’s white because of the cocoa butter that’s used, not the milk. Amazingly, Milky Bars are still selling well nearly 85 years after they…

View original post 1,396 more words

Nature red in tooth and claw in the garden

Much of my planting in my tiny garden has been to encourage wildlife. For bees and butterflies I’ve planted loads of sedum spectabile aka Ice Plant. This has been highly successful from the numbers of hoverflies, bees and butterflies. This summer, if the weather was reasonably fine, I could go out and expect to see a good number of butterflies.

However, today I’ve seen the other side of nature – red in tooth and claw – as at least two tortoiseshells have met their doom in a spiders web.

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Earlier today I was pleased to see a few tortoiseshells appreciating my sedum and buddleias. But it got sinister.

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Here is a spider munching away on a butterfly a few inches from the happy tortoiseshell

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Dinner was almost wrapped to be ready to eat.

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Here you can see the spider inspecting its dinner.

 

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The spider left its supper when I re-appeared! The spider was chomping away and then scuttle d away staying on its web and is visible in the middles of the sedum.

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Meanwhile a few inches away are two bugs I cannot identify. They look similar but different colours.  edit The greeny one seems to be a Green Shieldbug nymph

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and again.

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Meanwhile in the back garden a tortoiseshell which had been feeding on a buddleia had been trapped in a spider’s web.  The spider wrapped it up in silk in preparation for dinner.

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The poor thing was hauled off to safety in a nearby hydrangea.

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and dinner began

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unless the spider was waiting

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and so it was pulled out of sight and ready to eat.

Two memorable takeaways!

This was so unexpected and very rewarding.

Of course it raises issues about the harshness of the natural world and for a theist of any sort even more issues as Darwin  raised in connection with his favourite Ichneumon fly.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/parasitic-wasps-and-the-death-of-jesus-with-hat-tip-to-darwin/

A Science Charter for the European Parliament Elections

Many good points made here how the EU is influenced by anti-scientists whether By anti-vaxxers, opponents of GMOs various insecticides and pesticides, energy, especially nuclear and gas.

Some of the Green NGOs are the worst culprits.

Too many are not aware on how these groups influence the EU and thus the UK, with their dodgy science and appeal to the moral high ground

The Risk-Monger

The last European Parliament has proven to be the least scientifically competent political entity since the days of Lysenko and Darré. In the last five years we have seen the sorry lunatic ideas of anti-vaxxers like Michèle Rivasi,  chemophobe Pavel Poc and agtech neophyte Bart Staes – activists using the Parliament and public money to spread fear and ignorance. This May’s European elections, with the rise of extremist populism on the fascist far right and the Green Marxist left, is making the outlook for science and rational dialogue in Europe even grimmer.

Science is not a big vote winner in an election where, as in this year, the European electorate has been juiced up on fear-based issues like immigration and pesticides. So how a candidate feels about science may be a good bellwether to how rational of a public representative he or she will be. Wouldn’t it be…

View original post 486 more words

Europe’s Plant Breeding Exit: A Regulatory Failure

Another good blog by Zaruk on the appalling decision by the EU to ban GMOs etc.

This is largely due to the pressure of anti-science NGOs who con too many people.

 

GMO EU action

Perhaps it gives an argument for leaving the EU – and the only one a remainer like me could be convinced of.722352388

Below must be the little shits in bee costumes

Featured Image -- 11199

 

The Risk-Monger

On 25 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that plants bred via recent mutagenesis techniques would fall under the suffocating 2001 GMO regulatory regime. The pre-designed hurdles this legislation intentionally imposes on researchers (data, time, money) will lower the likelihood of approving any seed breeding innovation in the EU to, well, zero.

This is a confused, scientifically illiterate decision in a European court that highlights failure on many levels:

  • A failure for science and science-based decision-making;
  • a failure of the European legal system to recognise how this case is part of a larger activist issue exploited by opportunistic zealots;
  • a failure for farmers and consumers who are becoming more dependent on technological advances to deliver healthy, safe, affordable food;
  • a failure for researchers in developing countries whose vital solutions to local problems will be stymied by regulatory copy-paste;
  • and most importantly, this is a failure…

View original post 1,675 more words

How to Kill Dialogue

Sadly this is the case for many environmental issues. There is a desire to keep those who ask questions out.

That also applies in Christian green groups……………..

Why do some not want rational dialogue?

The Risk-Monger

Are we entering into a post-dialogue world? When did we stop listening to other ideas? Why are so many resorting to ad hominem attacks rather than engaging with people who disagree?
This post-dialogue world didn’t just happen – it was premeditated.

The third and final part of the Insignificant Trilogy will look at how the environmental activist cults impose their new authority by denying dialogue or a role for expertise. The first part looked at how activist gurus have skewed our understanding of leadership in order to profit from the fear they promulgate. The second part examined how the naturopathic cult populism has created an “entitled elite” who impose an intolerance towards others. This populism would do well to block dialogue, condemn any opponents to the ideology as threats and put a premium on emotional rhetoric. A Jacobin Terror script has been played out in every populist uprising. Part Three…

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The Precautionary Principle gone to excess

A warning against the precautionary principle gone wrong and used by extreme environmentalists like FoE and GP to stop any possible advance.

Too many have fallen for their pseudoscience

The Risk-Monger

What follows is the base text for a presentation made at the BAFSAM general assembly in London on 17 May 2018. As the presentation was delivered without notes, the actual content may differ slightly.

Happy 50th Birthday!

50 years may only be one monarch in the UK, it might only be a blink of the eye since The Risk-Monger had entered grade school, but it is two full generations and a world of change for farming. What has happened to the feed additive industry over the last 50 years? What has your half-century of technology advances done for the world? How have you helped advance farming and food security since your parents’ time? … since your grandparents pioneered the advances in food and feed technology?

Our Grandparents’ World

The world of farming and food production of our grandparents was quite different from what we see today. Increasing food production following…

View original post 2,586 more words

Requiem for Neonicotinoids: A Failure in European Leadership

More on pernicious effect on pesticides and bees. Often based on Friends of the Earth misinformation

The Risk-Monger

Last Friday, the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) voted through the European Commission’s proposed ban on all outside applications of three main neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam). This capped off a four-year ordeal which pitted industry and farmers on one side and activists and the organic food lobby on the other. The European Commissioner for Health, Vytenis Adriukaitis, celebrated the vote as evidence of the consistent use of science in EU policy. It was nothing of the sort, and the sad thing is that the Commissioner knows this.

It was never about the science

The EU Commissioner for health knows full well that pollinator health is a complicated issue and he has some of the best scientific advice at his disposal … that he managed to completely ignore.

laddomada-labs Only one lab reported pesticides as a cause of bee colony mortality

His own DG Santé (then…

View original post 2,989 more words