Natural history of the Marches

A comprehensive account of the natural history of the Welsh Marches is due to be written over the next few years.

The area covered will be from north Herefordshire, through Shropshire and up into Cheshire. It includes the hill country of Herefordshire and Shropshire, the Severn Valley and the meres and mosses of the Shropshire-Cheshire plain. This is a chance to raise the profile of the natural history of our region, to include as much up to date research as possible and to highlight the conservation and biodiversity issues that there are.

The author will be Andrew Allott, Head of Biology at Shrewsbury School, but this it intended to be a colaborative venture and all contributions of data and information are welcomed and will be acknowledged.

Review of the UK BAP

The UK BAP review has just been published. It makes changes to those species and habitats defined as priority species or habitats and it also alters the UK targets for the species and habitats.

New UK BAP priority species found in Shropshire include:
Starling, Common Toad, Eel, Common Lizard, Hedgehog, Polecat, White Admiral, Wall, Buff Ermine, The Cinnabar, Noctule, Lesser Butterfly-orchid, Basil Thyme, and Marsh Stitchwort.
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Shropshire species that have been dropped from the UK priority list include:
Common Pipistrelle Bat, Scarce Prickly-sedge, Pink Meadow Cap (our only fungus species), and Varnished Hook-moss

New UK priority habitats found in Shropshire include:
Traditional Orchards; Ponds; Upland Flushes, Fens and Swamps; and Inland Rock Outcrops and Scree Habitats

The full list of habitats and species is available from the link below and the lists in the Shropshire BAP Species and Habitats sections will be updated during 2007.

Daddy Long-legs Book!

Pete Boardman, Biodiversity Training Project Officer at the Field Studies Council at Preston Montford, has recently published his book titled ‘A Provisional Account and Atlas of the Craneflies of Shropshire’.

The book is now available from the Preston Montford Field Centre or by post for only £15 (plus £2 p p) with all proceeds going to the Field Studies Council with the fore-thought that this publication will enable other entomologists in Shropshire to publish work of other local groups.  The book covers 233 species of craneflies and allied species that have been recorded in the county and shows maps for each species.

The printing was part funded by the Shropshire Biodiversity Partnership.  This publication will assist the gathering of information about important species of craneflies including the seven BAP species.

The Harlequin Ladybird is here!

Shropshire residents are being encouraged to look out for any unusual looking ladybirds, following recent sightings of the Harlequin Ladybird in the county.

The Harlequin Ladybird, first spotted in this country three years ago, is a large ladybird from East Asia which is used as a biological control for greenfly in Europe.

Although most ladybirds are known as a friend of the gardener, the Harlequin is larger than most British species and not only competes for their food but also eats other ladybirds, butterfly eggs, caterpillars and even soft fruit such as pears and grapes.

This new type of ladybird is about 7mm long and can be entirely black, red or yellow and has a varied number of spots.

Dan Wrench, Shropshire County Council’s Biodiversity Officer, said: “We welcome reports of sightings, particularly with a photo, as this will help us track the progress of this invader. Camera phones are often good enough for a positive identification.”

The Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner

This micro-moth, Cameraria ohridella, is spreading like wildfire through the country where it has the potential to cause serious damage to Horse Chestnut. It makes very obvious and distinctive mines in the leaves of Horse Chestnut which we can look out for this month. It seems to have arrived in Shropshire in 2006 according to the Forest Research website, but I don’t know of any specific records and it would be nice to get some idea of its presence in the county.

Pictures of its mines are on www.leafmines.co.uk species number 366a (just follow the “mine-keys” link to Horse Chestnut), and details of the moth’s spread in Britain are on www.forestresearch.gov.uk/leafminerThis should be an easy species to monitor as there’s nothing else we know that mines Horse Chestnut. Please forward any records to Godfrey Blunt on A.G.Blunt@wlv.ac.uk.

New National & County Bird Atlases

Nationally, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is organising surveys to update the distribution maps and relative abundance maps for all species published in The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-1991 and The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland (1986).

The Shropshire Ornithological Society (SOS) is participating in the national surveys, but is also taking the opportunity to produce a similar publication for the County at a more detailed level, incorporating a new Breeding Bird Atlas.

Atlas maps provide the baseline for many conservation policies, so this is a very important project. Anyone interested in birds can make a valuable contribution.

Shropshire BAP Delivery Plan

The Delivery Plan for the Shropshire Biodiversity Action Plan has just been published in the ‘Documents’ section of this web site.

This plan sets out a timetable for tackling some of the broader tasks critical to achieving the objectives of the Shropshire Biodiversity Action Plan. These over-arching tasks are beyond the scope of individual species or habitat action plans and need to be addressed before the biodiversity process in Shropshire can really be seen to drive positive change.

Using ‘SMART’ targets will allow the progress of this plan to be more effectively monitored.

Lapwing Recovery Project

The Upper Onny Wildlife Group have launched a Lapwing Recovery Project aimed at reversing the decline in breeding Lapwing on Shropshire farmland. This project resulted in a 20 acre field at Lodge Farm being specifically managed for Lapwing in 2007. As a direct consequence of the management work 3 pairs of Lapwing nested successfully at the farm and at least 2 pairs fledged young. A further 33 adult and juvenile Lapwing used the farm as feeding habitat.

 A case study document has been produced to provide information to landowners interested in becoming involved in reversing the decline of breeding Lapwing in Shropshire. The Lodge Farm Case Study provides information on funding opportunities for this kind of work as well as outlining the habitat management which was carried out at Lodge Farm. 

2008 Shropshire Rookeries Survey

We need your help!

The last full survey of Rookeries in Shropshire took place in 1975 and showed 455 sites containing 12,004 individual nests. In March and April 2008 a repeat survey is planned to confirm which rookeries still exist today, which have been lost and the locations of new rookeries in the county.

Anyone can help with the survey by visiting the Lanius website and filling in the simple form. We need to know who you are, where you are and how big the rookery is. We are also looking for volunteers to undertake larger searches and details can be found by following the link to the Lanius website above.

2007 plant updates

The Shropshire Botanical Society have kindly updated the records of axiophytes (plant indicators of good quality habtitat) available from the ‘Species Groups’ section of this web site.

The records include new sightings of rare species such as the Yellow Bird’s-nest (Monotropa hypopitys – shown opposite) that was re-found in Shropshire after an absence of 14 years.

Other exciting recent finds now shown on the maps include Sea Stork’s-bill (Erodium maritimum) and Narrow-leaved Bitter-cress (Cardamine impatiens).