Is it a bird? Is it a butterfly? No its a six-spot burnet moth for this weeks #factfriday !
These little guys are part of a group of many burnets including the five spot burnet and the new forest burnet which look very similar, however, they are the only British burnet with 6 spots. They are more rarely found with yellow spots.
They are common in Scotland and you can spot them in the daytime when the sun is out, in grasslands or meadows, feeding on flowers like thistles, knapweeds and scabious
They may look pretty but the red spots on the burnets wings signal to predators that these moths mean damage. When attacked they release hydrogen cyanide
Its #factfriday ! This week we are introducing the ring necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) This species is a non-native invasive species and is the UK’s only naturalised parrot species. The species have become popular pets since the 1800’s, the ones we see in the wild today have either been deliberately released or have escaped.
They are often found in flocks in UK parks, and have made quite a home, particularly in the south-east of England. If you want to see them in Glasgow there are around 20-30 in Victoria Park in the west end, listen out for their loud and unmistakable calls.
You wouldn’t think this species would thrive in the UK but despite their tropical origins of the southern Indian subcontinent, they have fully adapted to cold but mild British winters and thrive in suburban parks where they feast on berries, seeds, nuts and fruit.
There are an estimated 8,600 breeding pairs within the UK. They are a medium sized species of parrot with a length of 38-42cm and a wingspan of 42-48cm. They are thought to be the northernmost species of parrot.
Concerns on how they may pose a threat to native wildlife within the UK and how they may impact fruit farmers is unknown, but so far there have been no reported issues of concern, and their populations are being continuously monitored. Despite being an alien species, they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
For this weeks #factfriday we are focusing on the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)!
The word dormouse comes from the French word dormir, which means “to sleep” and that’s what they love to do best! These shy creatures are nocturnal and arboreal, living in trees for most of their lifetime. Due to this, they have few natural predators and can live up to five years! (a long time for such a small mammal).
They are one of only three U.K mammals that hibernate, one of the reasons this makes them so vulnerable to extinction in Britain. Populations of dormice have fallen by 33% in the last 20 years, mainly due to loss of woodland and hedgerow but also because of changes in countryside management practices.
It’s not all bad news however, many conservation organisations, such as the Woodland Trust and National Trust, have set up programmes in order to restore ancient woodland from coniferous forest to improve the habitat for the resident dormice.
This week for fun fact friday we’re focusing on the UK’s only venomous snake, the Adder!
Adders (Vipera berus) are relatively docile creatures and only use their venom if they are defending themselves. On average, 100 people are bitten by adders each year, but very rarely are bites fatal. The last known UK adder bite fatality was recorded in 1975.
They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and have been designated as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
They hunt lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds, such as skylark and meadow pipit. In spring, male adders perform a ‘dance’ during which they duel to fend off competition to mate. Females incubate the eggs internally, ‘giving birth’ to three to twenty live young. Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.
The adder is a greyish snake, with a dark and very distinct zig-zag pattern down its back, and red eyes. The zig-zag pattern makes it a rather easy snake to identify out of UK’s remaining snakes (grass snake, smooth snake and barred grass snake).
Males tend to be more silvery-grey in colour, while females are more light or reddish-brown. Black (melanistic) forms are sometimes spotted.
This week we’re focusing on the Red Fox for fact friday!
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is definitely an overlooked species, widely distributed across the UK in urban and rural areas. The Red Fox has a very rich history in association with humans. They have been hunted, worn and used for entertainment for hundreds of years. Nowadays we mostly see them lurking in our gardens or hear their loud mating screeches at night.
They are a very intellectual and adaptable species able to colonize the majority of Habitats across the UK. They will mostly try and make a burrow underground which is called an ‚earth‘.
Due to human activity they have mostly become night time predators and have whiskers not only around their faces but also on their legs to help them navigate and hunt their prey.