It’s a wildlife special edition of the Morning Report with Joff and Harrison, packed with information about local nature and Claire talks to Milland farmer Duncan Ascoli.
Bugs, bees and wildflowers, plus the work locally of Hampshire County Council and charities such as Plantlife, Buglife, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Petersfield & District Beekeepers Association. And we reveal how evening crickets can help you tell the temperature.
Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and information to the programme.
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First some news from our friends at Canine Partners. It’s the charity’s 30th year, having been registered on 27th June 1990. The team wanted to find a way to celebrate with all you supporters – safely – and came up with ‘Paws for a Cuppa.’.
Many supporters – including Suzie – will be hosting their own ‘Paws for a Cuppa’ tea party with friends, family and colleagues to help raise some much-needed funds.
If you’d like to host your own, it doesn’t have to be on 27th June. You might prefer to wait and not have to worry about distancing. In any case, there is a handy digital pack that will help you with everything you need to make your party a success. To download the pack, please look on the website caninepartners.org.uk or Facebook page.
If you’d like to support without hosting, you could donate to Just Giving. We’ll give details of that before Saturday.
I talk to many people around the Petersphere and we seem to be saying the same thing: the pandemic has been an appalling time – but this kind of event must bring change and we need to make sure it’s a change for the better.
Yes, and instead of abusing nature, treating the countryside either as a factory or refuse tip, we should continue to engage with it and appreciate it. Older folk, who grew up here, can remember hedgerows that were alive with life. They have been grubbed out to make huge fields – and that happened throughout Britain.
Since the 1930s, we have lost three million hectares, 97%, of the UK’s wildflower-rich grasslands. That means species-rich meadowland covers less than 1% of the UK.
So what’s the plan? It’s not the whole answer but Buglife UK has been creating pollinator habitats along so-called B-Lines, to help wildlife move across our countryside, saving threatened species and making sure that there are plenty of pollinators out there to help us grow crops and pollinate wildflowers.
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have been recently mapped, leading to the completion of the England B-lines network, enabling Buglife’s vision of a river of wildflowers across the UK to be realised. The next step will be getting wildflower restoration and creation happening across the whole country. And you can help! First, check our region on buglife.org.uk and look for b-lines-south-of-england.
Councillor Edward Heron, Executive Member for Countryside and Rural Affairs at Hampshire County Council, said:
Buglife’s B-Lines complements the work that the Council is doing to support our declining insect pollinators particularly on our rural estate and where they feature along our highways. The Hampshire Ecological Network Map, together with the emerging Hampshire Pollinator Strategy, and making changes to the way our road verges are being cut will all play a part in ensuring, where possible, land owned or controlled by Hampshire County Council will be managed for the maximum benefit of pollinator species. Additionally, we will seek to influence pollinator-friendly land management with our partners and other land managers.
We all know how important bees are – but they are only one of many species that aid our crops. Plantlife is a charity that instigates local initiatives but has joined forces with other wildlife charities: we are all stronger together, as the pandemic proved. ‘Back from the Brink’ is a programme is being run by Natural England and the Partnership for Species Conservation – a coalition of seven of the UK’s leading wildlife charities including Plantlife, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
We will all benefit from this initiative: and so will our children, who will be stretched in other ways by recent events. It’s vital for our mental health to contemplate nature – but also to take positive action. Let’s return to this after today’s interview.
INTERVIEW – listen to the audio in the programme
Now here’s what we can all do in our back gardens. No, not a barbeque. A lot of people take up amateur beekeeping as an attempt to help bees. But that’s like having a game reserve where lions are starving because the antelopes have died and bringing in more lions. (Pinched from Dave Goulson’s book The Garden Jungle). We can do like Monty Don and get rid of the classic British stripe lawn entirely. This would save ourselves lots of money in treatments and water usage in sprinklers as well as saving the planet. Even better to mow it once or twice a year and see what comes up!
Research undertaken in May reveals an astonishing diversity of wild flowers growing in Britain’s lawns, with simple changes in mowing resulting in enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. Every Flower Counts found that 80% of lawns supported the equivalent of around 400 bees a day from the nectar sugar produced by flowers such as dandelion, white clover and selfheal. But 20% of lawns (dubbed “superlawns”) were found to be supporting 10 times as many – up to 4000 bees a day. Participants who had joined No Mow May revealed very exciting results for our beleaguered pollinators.
Dr Trevor Dines from Plantlife says that if you need some lawn for the children to play on, consider mowing to 1 or 2 inches once a month or so (it won’t grow in hot weather) and leave some strips unmown to let taller flowers come into bloom. You can even rotate patches around your garden so there are always some areas in flower. For flowers, bees and butterflies there is one lawn ‘haircut’ that really suits: the mohican!
What happens if you see a large swarm of bees? Don’t panic! Most bees swarm in April or May but if it has been chilly, some may still swarm in June.
Beekeeper Keith, on Facebook, says:
If you see a large cloud of bees congregating somewhere or a large cluster of them hanging on a branch, sign, fence post, etc – do not be frightened! These bees are homeless, wayward travellers and looking for a new place to set up a hive. They not only have no home to defend, but they are also full and fat on honey so that they have enough resources to start fresh wherever they end up. They won’t want to sting you.
As the old saying goes:
A swarm in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, a swarm in July is not worth a fly.
Whatever that means, a swarm of 20 to 30,000 bees can be intimidating. Leave well alone and call Petersfield & District Beekeepers Association – they have a dedicated swarm number 07531 901767, and they will collect the Queen and the swarm and give them a good home.
Sheep Street is closed this week for work on the gas network.
Work has begun outside Churcher’s College to upgrade the Pelican Crossing – they’re installing new pole retention sockets. Expect some delays at the temporary traffic control at peak times.
In Liss there’s work on Andlers Ash Road to create a bellmouth opening onto a new development
And Openreach is working on a fibre connection in Pulens Lane.
And if we’re not saying what you’re seeing, update us – call Petersfield 5 55 500.
Wall-to-wall sunshine across the Petersphere, with temperatures climbing to 23 degrees. Early evening may bring some light cloud. The soft, southerly breeze keeps it warm. We’re only just past the Summer Solstice and the weather is set to get hotter this week, so make the most of over 16 hours of daylight.
Since we’ve majored on insects today, here’s a trick for finding out what the temperature is: Next time you hear the sound of crickets on a balmy summer evening, listen closely to the chirping.
The frequency of a cricket’s chirps is consistent with air temperature, so you simply need to count how many chirps there are over 25 seconds then divide by 3 and add 4 to tell you the temperature in Celsius.
If you have any old wive’s tales, get in touch – or if you have any news items for us or story to tell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Petersfield 5 55 500.
Lucy and Alan will be with you tomorrow, but until then, have a great day!