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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cold Christmas

Christmas now over and recovery in progress, temperatures rising again over 5 degrees C after what seemed like an eternity of freezing conditions. Snow melting away quite quickly today and the grass showing in the fields. The photos were taken yesterday.
Last week watched a small flock of Redwings in our front garden where the pyracanthus berries are rapidly disappearing. It appears that Redwings  are keeping the Blackbirds away whilst they strip the bushes. Tough on the Blackbirds who have had it all their own way for several weeks now. Interesting to compare the tactics of both birds. Where as the Blackbirds more or less act alone and even chase away other Blackbirds the Redwings work together and strip the bushes in a day or so.
The Blackbirds were sitting around in a tree looking quite fed up and cold.

If you're interested in the question about whether this cold spell is part of global climate change then you might like to read the reports and comment on the Blog:  "Real Climate", ( link here) which I personally find very informative on any aspect of climate change and very topical.

I was surprised to get as a present, a new book by Prince Charles,  called Harmony. I haven't read it yet so I can only note that its chapters cover a very wide range of subjects all of which are relevant to how we should live in harmony with one another if we are to conserve a world fit to live in. I will post comments in due course. He starts with a quotation from Shakespeare. The  lines underlined are quoted in the book  and are part of a longer speech which shows more of the context in the play:

As You Like It
Act II. Scene I.
The Forest of Arden.
Enter DUKE Senior, AMIENS, and other Lords, like Foresters.

Duke S. Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference; as, the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

I would not change it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

British Butterflies

If you missed the one hour programme on British butterflies on BBC 2 on Thursday, " Butterflies: A Very British Obsession"  your really should have a look at BBC  I Player using this link, click here:
You've got 6 days left to view it.
Amazing photography and information about many of our favourite butterflies plus interesting stuff about people involved in butterfly conservation.
Controversial reporting about reintroduction of rare species by breeding off site for instance.  But also an account of how important it is to manage habitats to ensure their survival. Somerset Wildlife Trust is very proud of its reintroduction work for the Large Blue.
My only slightly negative comment on the  programme was  however that  I did find the background music a bit intrusive at times.
As a humble offering I'm including a photo of my own showing a pair of Small Coppers enjoying the sunshine in the grass, and a Large Blue  from the Somerset Wildlife Trust library.

Here's a brief extract from the programme notes.

"Wildlife documentary featuring the fascinating lives of Britain's beautiful butterflies filmed in exquisite detail and also a celebration of their enduring appeal to the British people. Butterfly-costumed carnival-goers dance at Notting Hill, street artist Nick Walker uses their image to brighten bare city walls, burlesque dancer Vicky Butterfly recreates butterfly dances and at Britain's biggest tattoo convention women reveal their butterfly tattoos.
Britain's butterflies have never been so threatened, three quarters are in decline. A search for butterflies leads to some of the most beautiful parts of Britain. It opens up the intriguing possibility that a passion for butterflies could help us preserve the landscapes that we love.

Two more links on the subject of moths and butterflies in Somerset.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Traditional Orchards

Been looking back at our our local involvement with orchards.

 To highlight their Biodiversity importance we held a public meeting earlier in the year and more recently got involved in supporting a one day workshop to talk about and give practical help in the care and preservation of orchards. Photos show talks in the morning, walk in the orchard pm and an unusual apple,   red  like a tomato!
This morning I have written a letter of support for a County Project for the conservation and development of our traditional orchards. As the photos show there is a lot of interest in this subject and a lot to learn as well.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Climate change.

This seems a good step in the right direction. I'm sure all the NGO's involved will take it as a big opportunity to press hard for all governments to start to take action. How will the UK respond now?

Here is part of the official press release from the UN conference.

UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún delivers balanced package of decisions, restores faith in multilateral process

(Cancún, 11 December 2010) – The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún, Mexico, ended on Saturday with the adoption of a balanced package of decisions that set all governments more firmly on the path towards a low-emissions future and support enhanced action on climate change in the developing world.
The package, dubbed the “Cancún Agreements” was welcomed to repeated loud and prolonged applause and acclaim by Parties in the final plenary.
“Cancún has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all,” she said.
“Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time,” she said.
Nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations, which will increase going forward.
They also agreed that countries need to work to stay below a two degree temperature rise and they set a clear timetable for review, to ensure that global action is adequate to meet the emerging reality of climate change.
“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning. It is not what is ultimately required but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition,” said Ms. Figueres.

Richard Black on his BBC Blog gives his own view. Click here to read Blog.

Cancun: The chihuahua that roared

Richard Black | 11:29 UK time, Saturday, 11 December 2010

If Copenhagen was the Great Dane that whimpered, Cancun has been the chihuahua that roared.
And what a surprise it was.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Progress report on Cancun

The pace seems to be hotting up a bit in Cancun and Richard Black has reported on current activities.
Click here to see his Blog:

The future is not looking good if these talks fail to achieve positive results. The form of the talks is interesting as a process and the results may give hope for the future of world agreement's.

Here are some of the points Richard  covers in his Blog.:

From the UN Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Richard Black report.    See the full report:

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, president of the UN Climate summit conference, has asked 10 ministers working in five pairs with developing country paired with rich world counterpart, to find compromise solutions to the most difficult problem areas and they have just three days to save the planet.

Sweden and Grenada are trying to find a description of what countries want this process to achieve. Currently there are at least three distinguishable visions.

Spain and Algeria are discussing adaptation.

Australia and Bangladesh are looking at finance, technology and capacity building. Areas which really deal with how rich countries help poorer ones to deal with climate change.

New Zealand and Indonesia have to debate the big issues concerning the developing countries, the US, and the long-term goals.
Finally the UK and Brazil are just left with the future of the Kyoto Agreement.
Mr Huhne and Ms Teixiera have so far talked to Japan, the G77 group of developing countries, Australia, the African group.

Monday, December 06, 2010

CBC News - Edmonton - Ad mocks Alta. oilsands at UN climate meeting

Just been checking to see what is going on in Cancun. It seems all 15,000 officials have been working hard over the week end to try to get some agreements over the last week of the conference. Here are a couple of reports in the world press.

CBC News - Edmonton - Ad mocks Alta. oil sands at UN climate meeting

An ad in a Mexican daily newspaper on Monday mocks Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner’s attendance at the United Nations conference on climate change.
A Canadian environmental group designed and paid for the ad, which features a grinning Renner wearing a sombrero. Under the photo, a fake oil association thanks the minister for keeping oil flowing from the oil sands.
Renner is in Cancun to defend the oil sands at the International Climate Conference and to talk with other countries about carbon capture and storage.
The ad appeared in Novedades de Quintana Roo, a Cancun newspaper.
“The mood going into Cancun, expectations were fairly low," said Gillian McEachern, a spokeswoman for the group Environmental Defence. "People were disappointed coming out of Copenhagen. We're trying to use a little bit of humour to lighten the mood but draw attention to a serious issue.
“It is just trying to be a bit tongue in cheek and lighten it up a bit, but coming back to the fact that this is actually a quite serious issue and we need governments in Canada to start taking it seriously and acting."
The Cancun conference is heading into its final days. About 15,000 officials are taking part.

Read more:

CANCUN, Mexico – U.N. climate talks moved into their decisive week Monday with the agenda dominated by future cuts in carbon emissions and keeping countries honest about their actions to control global warming.
Government ministers arrived in force to begin applying political muscle to negotiations that in the past week have narrowed some disputes, but which are likely to leave the toughest decisions for the final hours of the 193-nation conference on Friday.
Delegates were feeling pressure to produce at least a modest agreement from the two-week U.N. meeting to restore credibility to the talks after the last summit in Copenhagen failed to agree on any binding action to rein in emissions of global-warming gases.
"We cannot leave Cancun empty-handed," warned Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's top climate official.
The conference seeks decisions on establishing a "green fund" to help poorer nations rein in greenhouse gases and to adapt their economies and infrastructure to a changing climate; an agreement making it easier for developing nations to obtain patented green technology from advanced nations; and pinning down more elements of a system for compensating developing countries for protecting their forests.
"I can see a workable result that gets decisions across all the major areas. I can't predict whether we're going to get there," said U.S. special envoy Todd Stern.
New negotiating documents put on the table over the weekend were generally well received, despite criticisms of flaws and omissions.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Archerontia atropos, Deaths Head Hawke Moth

 These two photos were taken by John Bebbington, Chair of the Somerset Moth Group. On the Moth Group web site John gave a brief introduction:

"Mon 22nd November 2010 15:22 by John Bebbington
Successful emergence of Death's Head Hawkmoth
Of the four A. atropos larvae from Somerset which were in my possession 3 produced deformed pupae which died but one pupated successfully (despite having to change foodplant from Woody Nightshade to Potato to Tomato and back to Potato!). It emerged last night and I hope to encourage it to feed so that it can be shown at the AGM on Friday night. What a superb moth!"

 Click here for a link to the Moth Group web page.