Feathers


It’s wonderful to notice things

The way in which the bold white spines of the feathers lay diagonally across the screen

The shades of green and earthy brown representing the solid connection to nature

The vibrant blue moving focus across the image

The intricate intertwining of delicate hairs

The perfectly designed placement to provide a locomotion of ultimate ease

This world

Is always beautiful 💚💙

The Great British Bee Count

During the bank holiday weekend I took part in the Great British Bee Count. As we all know, bees are essential for our own survival, but they are rapidly declining due to a number of factors including heavy usage of strong pesticides, climate change, and the stress of the same bees being trucked from field-to-field to pollinate many different crops.


The Great British Bee Count is an annual survey that anyone in the UK can take part in by simply counting the bees that they see in a certain area, whilst noting the species of bee that they see using an easy identifier. This information is then sent to experts at the Friends of the Earth organisation where they can then determine which species of bee are most at risk of extinction, and therefore need the most help to ensure that they do not die out as others have done in the past.

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Last year, 15,000 people took part in the survey and so far this year 100,855 bees have been recorded within just 12 days of the month-long survey period.

All you need to take part is the app called ‘the Great British Bee Count’, which can be downloaded for free. From here you can view the most common species of bee that you are likely to see, as well as some rarer bees and bee-look-a-likes. Once you have the app, you simply click the plus sign next to the photo when you see that particular bee.

Taking part is a fun activity and a chance to see how much nature you really have in your own garden or local park, at the same time as being able to learn more about bees. I did my survey with my 8 year old godson who loved scrolling through the app and discussing which bee he thought we may have found. With just one walk around my garden in about half an hour we managed to find 41 bees from 6 different species, including the honeybee, the banded white-tailed bumblebee and the early bumblebee.

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The decline of bees is a problem for all of us due to our heavy reliance on them for the pollination of a large variety of food crops, from coffee to strawberries to almonds.

If you would like to read more about why bees are so important, you can read an earlier article that I wrote which explores this in more detail.

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But for now, here are five fun facts that I bet you never knew about bees. Use them to impress your friends and spread the word about the Great British Bee Count:

– A bee’s wings beat 190 times a second, that’s 11,400 times a minute – no wonder it’s so difficult to take photos of them!

– Bees are the only insect in the world that make food that people can eat

– Honey contains all of the substances needed to sustain life, including enzymes, water, minerals and vitamins

– Each colony smells different to bees, this is so they can tell where they live

– Bees communicate by smells called ‘pheromones’ and by performing special ‘dances’ to show the other worker bees where a good supply of pollen is

I have many many more bee facts which will be featured on my Animal Fact Of The Day on my instagram @acctojess, so head on over there and click follow!


You have until the 30th June to take part in the Great British Bee Count and do your part to save the bees!

Send me your photos of the bees that you find and let me know what your favourite species is over on my Facebook page!

How to make fat balls in 3 easy steps

Garden birds love fat balls and bird cakes that are commonly available in pet stores, garden centres and even some major supermarkets.

However, they are also super easy to make at home using a few simple ingredients.

What you will need:

  • bird seeds
  • peanuts
  • raisins
  • grated cheese
  • vegetable suet
  • A container such as a yoghurt pot with some string attached to hang it up – (I used half of a coconut which I bought from a supermarket filled with the mixture before I found out how easy it was to make at home!)

You can use as many or as few of the above ingredients as you would like, although the suet is the essential element which must be at room temperature – this is the ingredient that holds it all together, and is also super tasty for birds.

  1. Put all of your ingredients in a bowl
  2. Add the suet and squish together until it is all stuck together
  3. Squash it all down firmly into your container and place it in the fridge for an hour

And that’s it, it’s as simple as that.

 

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These are great for encouraging birds such as blue tits, woodpeckers and finches.

I hope you have found this useful, and I’d love to see your own fat ball creations for the birds in your garden…

What you should do if you find a baby bird

This is Troy the tawny owl.

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I recently had the opportunity to meet Troy and hear his very valuable story about how he came to be a resident at a bird conservation facility called the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

Troy was found by a member of the public when he was a young chick. Upon finding Troy and presuming he had been abandoned by his parents, the resident took the little bird to her home to care for him until she suspected that he was old enough to be released, which is when she took him to the Conservancy Trust to ask them to safely release the owl for her.

However, the Trust soon realised that Troy could not be released due to the fact that he had already been imprinted, as he had received an excessive amount of human interaction since he was very young.

This therefore made him entirely reliable on people, meaning that he would not survive if he were to be released into the wild as he does not know how to hunt for himself, and simply relies on people to give him food, as this is all he has ever known.

Whilst people often believe that they are saving the bird by taking it into their home to look after, this is actually one of the worst things that you could do, and will seriously impact the bird’s future.

So what do you do if you find a chick alone and out of its nest?

Below I have compiled a list of the steps that you should take if you ever find yourself in such a situation – I hope that you find it helpful…

  1. First, identify what stage of growth the bird is at by using this simple guide:
  • Hatchling – has no feathers, its eyes are closed, it can hardly move
  • Nestling – eyes open, small amount of tiny feathers, that may be clumped together
  • Fledgling – can hop, can flutter its wings, has short feathers

2. If the bird is a hatchling or a nestling, look to see if you can find the nest – it will be nearby as it is likely that the bird has simply fallen out. If you find it, gently return the bird to the nest. If you cannot see it, quickly make a small nest from a basket lined with dry grass that you can then secure to a tree as close as possible to where you found the chick. Place the chick inside and monitor the nest. If the parents do not return within 2 hours, call your local wildlife rehabilitator.

3. If the bird is a fledgling, it is best to leave it alone. Fledglings are birds that are still being fed by their mothers, but will often be on the ground because they are trying to learn how to fly. Despite the bird looking awkward and unsure, this is a natural process. Therefore if you take the bird into your home, you will distress both the fledgling and the mother who will have lost her baby.

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Well done for doing the right thing. Although it is natural to want to intervene, this could cause irreversible harm to the bird, just like Troy the tawny owl.

As with everything, there are exceptions to these guides, which include if the bird is injured. If you find an injured bird, or if you are simply unsure of if the bird is a nestling or fledgling, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitator for advice.

 

Taiwan becomes first country in Asia to ban eating cats and dogs

A bill has just been approved by Taiwan’s parliament that bans the slaughter of both cats and dogs for human consumption. Despite this being a long time coming, Taiwan is the first country in Asia to ban the eating of the animals. The bill also prohibits anyone pulling their pets alongside them when travelling by car or motorbike, after numerous reports were emerging of dogs being injured when forced to run alongside a scooter or car driven by their owners.

Reports have claimed that anyone who is caught carrying out these acts will now face either a large fine of between NT$50,000 (£1,300) and NT$250,000 (£6,500), according to the China Post newspaper, or up to two years in prison, whilst also having their names and photographs made public.

These measures that were put in place on Tuesday are a positive step to improve the country’s animal protection laws, whilst also adding a landmark amendment to Taiwan’s Animal Protection Act. Whilst Taiwan passed legislation that banned the sale of meat and fur of pets such as cats and dogs for “economic purposes” back in 2001, the consumption was still allowed. Reports claim that a lamb hotpot restaurant was found last year to be serving dog meat in an attempt to cut costs. Dog meat was regularly consumed in the past, but now it seems that attitudes have changed to consider dogs as a member of the family instead of a meal. Animal rights supporters hope that this decision will prompt the remaining Asian countries to follow suit and make the same laws.

Nature the healer

Those who live closer to nature are less likely to have an array of medical issues, including obesity and depression, according to a new report. The study found that middle-aged Scottish men who lived in areas that were surrounded by greenery and an abundance of nature had a death rate that was 16% lower than their more urban counterparts. Together with this, the research conducted in Bradford found that pregnant women had added health benefits by living in a greener environment, and consequently had lower blood pressure and gave birth to larger babies.

The study concluded overall that “nature is an unrecognised healer” which offers a huge amount of health benefits, from allergy reductions to increases in self-esteem and mental wellbeing. The study consisted of 11 researchers at the Institute for European environmental policy (IEEP) who spent an entire year looking at more than 200 academic studies for the report. The study was also the most wide-ranging investigation into the relationship between health, nature and wellbeing.

After initially appearing as an unpublicised 280-page European commission literature review in autumn last year, the project was then augmented for Friends of the Earth Europe together with an analysis of the links between nature-related health outcomes and deprivation. Robbie Blake, a nature campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, which commissioned the analysis, said, “The evidence is strong and growing that people and communities can only thrive when they have access to nature. We all need nature in our lives, it gives us freedom and helps us live healthily; yet deprived communities are routinely cut off from nature in their surroundings and it is suffocating for their well-being.”

The new study also includes reference to several other studies that point to nature as an aid in wealth equality, due to the fact that deprived communities generally have fewer natural environments within easy reach. The study also combined research which states that 26% of England’s black and minority ethnic populations visit natural environments less than three times a year, which is compared with just 15% of the rest of the population. Cities such as Oslo were praised by Patrick ten Brink, the IEEP’s director, for consciously taking productive steps to make nature more accessible to all. He said, “We should be inspired by this and work together so that all Europeans have nature within 300 metres of their homes in the next 10 years.”

Introduction to the animal abuse registry

In recent years, worldwide consciousness has increased with regards to topics of animal abuse and protection of the environment. Due to this, animal abuse is being taken a lot more seriously than it ever has been before, which has resulted in countries introducing new laws to adapt to this change. Recently, a number of United States jurisdictions have made laws that will require the names of those who have abused animals to be displayed in a registry that is similar to the ones that are used for the names of sex offenders.

The main aim of these registries is to ensure that those who have harmed animals in the past do not get the opportunity to do so again. The result of this will mean that those abusers will not be able to obtain animals from places such as retail outlets or shelters, which are required to have a “prospective adopter read and sign an affidavit that provides assurance that they are not on the registry”, according to recent reports.

The animal abuser registries will also be a vital tool for those who are looking for pet sitters when they are away, as it will allow people access to information detailing whether your potential pet sitter is safe to do the job. Although the registries are not yet a requirement in all states, they are slowly becoming more common throughout the country, and so far include New York City, Tennessee and Cook County, Illinois.

The additional hope with the introduction of these laws is that individuals will think twice before harming animals if they know that their names will then be found on a list that is easily searchable by the public.

 

Is a spider about to eat you?

A recent entomological survey has concluded that a worldwide abundance of spiders means that, theoretically, the eight-legged arachnids could eat all of the humans currently on the planet in the space of just 12 months. This conclusion is however, only to put the amount of food that spiders eat into a comparative perspective, as spiders mostly eat insects, not people.


The survey conducted on homes in North Carolina found that spiders were present in 100 percent of the homes that were examined, which included 68 percent of bathrooms and more than 75 percent of bedrooms. Together with insects, a spider’s diet also consists of lizards, birds and even small mammals, depending on the species of spider. The high percentage of spider presence caused the two European biologists to ponder just how much food the entire world’s spider population consumes each year.

The estimate by Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer was published in the journal The Science of Nature earlier this month, which caused the predictions to shock many readers. The biologists agreed that the world’s spiders consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tonnes of prey in any given year, which means that spiders eat at least as much meat as all of the 7 billion humans currently on earth combined. The authors also noted that humans consume around 400 million tonnes of meat and fish each year.
To conduct this insect investigation, Nyffler and Birkhofer came up with estimations after looking at existing research that states how many spiders live in a square meter of land for all the main habitat types on Earth, together with the average amount of food that is consumed by spiders of different sizes in a given year. Studies into the global average spider density came out at around 131 spiders per square meter, whilst studies into the weight of all the spiders on the planet points to a figure of around 25 million tonnes.

Despite these potentially quiver-inducing statistics for those with arachnophobia, spiders are actually a huge benefit to the planet. This is primarily due to the fact that they largely feast on an array of bugs, consuming approximately 10 percent of their body weight in food each day, according to spider biologists, which means that there are fewer pests in the garden, fewer mosquitoes in the yard and fewer flies in the house.

 

Think twice before you throw

A turtle named “Bank” has died following surgery to remove almost 1,000 coins from her stomach, according to vets in Thailand. The coins found inside Bank were a result of tourists repeatedly throwing them into the pond that was the turtle’s home. Her death was caused by blood poisoning from the loose change, which was confirmed by doctors at the veterinary faculty at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. Dr Nantarika Chansue, who removed 5kg (11lbs) of coins from the turtle’s stomach in a very long operation on 6 March, said, “She at least had the chance to swim freely and eat happily before she passed.” Chansue, the vet in charge of Chulalongkorn hospital’s aquatic research centre, told reporters, “At 10.10am she went with peace. She is my friend, teacher and patient.”

Local media in Thailand began publicising the story of Bank last month, which prompted the public to donate about 15,000 baht (£350) towards her crucial surgery. A total of five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty worked tirelessly to remove the coins inside her body for four hours whilst Bank was anaesthetised. The coins had to be removed just a few at a time, as the huge mass was too large to take out through a 10cm incision. Many of the coins had already corroded or partially dissolved, which caused the blood poisoning.

Chansue said that she was furious when she discovered the cause of the turtle’s agony. “I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle.” Initially, Bank began to recover well following the operation, but sadly a checkup on Saturday revealed a problem with her intestines that prompted doctors to perform a second operation. Due to complications, Bank never woke up from the second procedure and died on Tuesday morning.

Bank’s life consisted of two decades in a public pond in Chonburi province, about 110 miles (175km) south-east of Bangkok. Surgeons found that the turtle had swallowed a total of 915 coins that had been thrown into her home by tourists. The coins eventually formed a mass that cracked her shell. After being distraught with her death, and angry at the cause, vets hope that the media coverage of the tragedy will make people think twice before throwing coins into water where animals live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poachers target captive rhinos in brutal killing

Following the devastating news of the recent poaching attack on the orphaned rhinos at Thula Thula in South Africa, a similar tragedy has just occurred, only this time in a place that perhaps most would not expect. Reports have just come in claiming that a rhino has been murdered at a zoo in France, with poachers using a chainsaw to remove the four year old rhino’s horn before fleeing the facility.

The white rhinoceros, named Vince, was found dead this morning by the keepers at Thoiry Zoo near Paris. The poachers broke into the zoo in the middle of the night and shot Vince in the head three times before cutting off his horn. Local publication, Le Parisien, reported that one or more poachers are believed to have broken in to the zoo, and forced their way into the enclosure where three rhinos lived. Despite getting away with one rhino horn and the life of Vince, evidence suggests that the poachers may have run out of time during their attack, or their equipment may have failed. This explanation is drawn from the fact that Vince’s second horn had been only partially hacked off and the other two white rhinos in the enclosure, five year old Bruno and 37 year old Gracie, were both unharmed and have been reported to be safe and healthy.

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Vince was born at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands in September 2012 and arrived in Paris in March 2015, meaning that he has spent his entire life in captivity. This tragic incident is thought to be the first time in Europe where a live animal living in captivity has been killed by poachers. Previous theft of ivory horns in Europe has taken place at auction houses or exhibitions in the past. The current black market value of rhino horn is around ÂŁ30,000 and they are particularly sought after in Asia where they have beliefs that the horn provides aphrodisiac qualities, amongst other medicinal values. In actual fact, rhino horn is made of keratin which is the same protein that is in our own nails and hair. Therefore, biting your nails would have the same effect as taking rhino horn.

Since the discovery of the incident early this morning, an enquiry has been launched into Vince’s death. It will look into how the incident happened as security cameras where present, as well as the presence of five zoo staff members who live on the site, whilst also examining what kind of gun was used. This recent incident has highlighted just how bad the poaching crisis has become, pointing to a need for more wildlife welfare awareness, as well as better security protection.

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