Fun Fact Friday!

This weeks #FactFriday is focusing on the European sturgeon, Acipenser sturio.

This fish species is classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to overfishing, poaching, water pollution and destruction of their habitat.

The sturgeon is a large fish with an elongated body and flattened snout with recognisable plates along it’s body. They can grow up to 6 metres and weigh a whopping 400kg, part of their reason for decline is due to their long juvenile phase, they don’t reach sexual maturity until 20 years and can live for over 100 years.

They are found along most European coastlines, and being anadromous, migrate to inland rivers to breed. However, despite this being their distribution, there is only 1 freshwater river left in which they are known to spawn – the Garonne river basin in France.

They feed on molluscs and crustaceans and locate them using barbells on the front of their mouths

Interesting fact: sturgeons are the only species that have diamond shaped pupils!

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No photo description available.

Fun Fact Friday!

This week, for #FactFriday we are looking at the Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) !

This bird is Europe’s largest wader and is instantly recognizable by it’s mottled brown upperparts, long legs and a long, downcurved bill. It’s also known as the “whaup” in Scots.

The diet of the Eurasian curlew consists of worms, shellfish and other invertebrates. In the summer they can most commonly be found in upland moors, bogs and wet grassland.

They have high site fidelity, meaning curlew pairs will return to the same area to breed every year. At the end of their breeding season they then head towards the coast and large estuaries where they overwinter.

The UK population of this wader accounts for over one quarter of the global breeding population. However the UK has seen declines of 65% in our national population since the 1970’s and it is now classified as near threatened. Low productivity (chicks don’t hatch/ survive to fledge) is thought to be main cause of UK decline which has been attributed to predation and a reduction in quality of breeding habitat. For this reason the Eurasian curlew is now widely acknowledged to be the UK’s highest bird conservation priority.

They have THE best call of all the waders- definitely worth a listen on YouTube!

May be an image of bird and nature
May be an image of bird

Fun Fact Friday!

This #factfriday we are fueling your insect knowledge with facts about the comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album).

Once only found in the south of England, this butterfly has colonised huge areas of the UK over the past 50 years and now breeds right up to central Scotland.

Their wings are scalloped and are commonly referred to as anglewing butterflies. They have brownish-orange wings with black marks when unfolded. When folded, they resemble a dead leaf and have a white curve on the underside which looks like a comma, hence their name.

Comma caterpillars are camouflaged to resemble bird droppings and are designed to keep predators away.

They have a flexible life cycle and, depending on the weather, some spring and early summer caterpillars develop into butterflies that go straight into hibernation. Others become adults that breed straight away and give rise to a new generation in the autumn.

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Fun Fact Friday!

FactFriday next up is the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) also known as the common seal

The harbour seal is the smaller of the two seal species found in Scotland. They can be distinguished between the grey seal by it’s smaller size, shorter head and more dog-like profile.

They generally feed on fish, but also eat squids, whelks, crabs and mussels. Their average lifespan is 20-30 years.

Harbour seals normally stay underwater for 5-10 minutes when diving for prey. Their blood contains more haemoglobin than ours, allowing them to store more oxygen in the bloodstream.

They limit their oxygen use by decreasing their heart rate to 15 beats a minute and diverting blood away from the skin and intestines, to keep the brain and heart functioning.

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Fun Fact Friday!

This weeks #FactFriday we are introducing the gorgeous redwing (Turdus iliacus)!

These birds are commonly spotted in winter as migrant birds from Northern parts of Europe, although there are around 13 resident pairs in Northern Scotland.

They are the UKs smallest thrush and are identified through their distinctive white stripe above their eye and red-orange flank patches.

They are highly sociable birds, found in flocks of up to 100 birds sometimes! You can spot them in Queen’s Park on the South side of Glasgow

In winter, these birds feed on invertebrates and berries.

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Fun Fact Friday!

This week we’re kicking off the new year with a special #FactFriday and introducing the giant horntail (Urocerus gigas) also known as the giant woodwasp.

While these creatures may look like wasps, they are actually a member of the sawfly family and, despite their menacing appearance, are harmless to humans.

They do however live up to their name when it comes to size. These sawflies can range from 28-52mm with females being the biggest.

The female uses her long stinger-like tail to lay her eggs inside the trunk of trees, especially pine, where they spend up to 5 years growing!

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Fun Fact Friday!

#FactFriday introducing the humble robin (Erithacus rubecula)!

This little bird is unmistakable and is especially associated with Christmas because of its resemblance to Victorian Britain postmen which delivered Christmas cards.

In America, robins look very different and despite being called the same thing, they are actually a completely different species, Turdus migratorius!

The robin is a member of the thrush family and are related to blackbirds and nightingales. They have been declared the UK’s national bird (unofficially) twice, once in 1960 and again in 2015.

Despite their cute appearance, robins are fiercely territorial and will defend their habitat – even to the death!

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Image may contain: bird, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

Fun Fact Friday!

#FactFriday its the time of the week where we introduce a new (slightly winter themed!) animal; the moutain hare (Lepus timidus)

Unlike the brown hare and European rabbit, the mountain hare is native to the UK. They are found in moorland in the Highlands of Scotland, Southern uplands, Peak District and some Scottish Islands. They are classified as near threatened in the UK.

Like several other species in the Highlands, mountain hares have a brown/grey summer coat which turns white in winter dependent on the temperature.

In Ireland, there is a genetically distinct subspecies of mountain hare, Lepus timidus hibernicus.

Mountain hares look similar to brown hares. One way of telling them apart is their ears. Brown hares have long ears whereas mountain hares have shorter ones. Additionally a brown hares fur is… well… brown while a mountain hare has more grey fur (and white in winter).

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Image may contain: outdoor

Fun Fact Friday!

#FactFriday this week we are getting into the festive spirit and introducing the rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)!

Rock ptarmigans are game birds. They have 2 different plumages; in summer they are a mix of brown, grey and black whereas in winter they become pure white!

They reside in the Highlands of Scotland where they feed on shoots, leaves, leaf buds, berries and insects

Ptarmigan have feathers on their feet during winter to keep them warm in the snow!

Fun Fact Friday!

#FactFriday ! This week we are looking at the whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus).

Whiskered bats echolocate between 32kHz and 89kHz, sounding loudest at 45kHz. Their calls sound like dry clicks.

The whiskered bat is a small bat that is very similar to the Brandt’s bat, they were only separated in 1970 and are very difficult to distinguish between .

The maximum known age for a Whiskered Bat is 23 years! (but they usually average around three and a half to five years)