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the.southend.communitynews@gmail.com   - editor David Wilson  07714772707 -   Journalist, melaniejanette@gmail.com     07917730238

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by Melanie Tyler-Thomas

Nature Notes

16

 

‘If we and the rest of the back-boned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world's ecosystems would collapse.’

    Sir David Attenborough

click on images to enlarge

 

Essex County Council is responsible for seven country parks, a heritage site, five mills and over 30 woodlands as well as two disused railway lines. We manage these sites to:

 

give residents access to open spaces, woodland trails and historic parklands

protect and encourage rare and important plants and animals

Essex County Council’s Wildlife and Biodiversity team work closely with the council owned Country Parks to ensure that the parks maintain and manage a diverse number of habitats within their borders and encourage native species to thrive

Hadleigh Park offers something for everyone – idyllic countryside, magnificent views, important historical sites and one of the UK’s top mountain biking courses. It's a perfect place for picnics and wildlife watching, or to try something a little more challenging

  At 152 hectares (387 acres), Hadleigh Park is one of the largest in Essex, renowned for its views and undulating hills, pasture, hay meadow and marsh, old hedgerows and ponds, making it an ideal place to walk. In spring, the bluebells, archangel and celandine put on a magnificent display. Summer sees the meadows in bloom with scores of butterflies drifting over, ideal for a picnic. In autumn, blackberries and sloes are a great attraction. Winter brings large flocks of birds and perhaps a chance to go sledging!

 

 

As reported by Southend Community News last year, EWT’s success at reintroducing one

of the UK’s rarest butterflies – the Heath Fritillary - to its Belfairs Woods reserve, remains one of the high points for invertebrate conservation across Britain. And indeed, it would appear, across the whole planet.

According to the first global scientific review published last month, the world’s insects are

“hurtling down the path to extinction” with more than 40% of species declining and a third

now placed on the endangered list, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s

ecosystems”. According to the best data available, invertebrates could vanish within a

century.

 Andrew Impey, Chief Executive Officer for Essex Wildlife Trust explains: - “Insects really are the unsung heroes of the animal world and it’s no exaggeration to say that the planet

wouldn’t exist as we know it, were it not for their existence. For many people they are just

creepy crawlies that look a bit weird, but they perform vital roles in the ecological

functioning of the countryside. From pollinating much of our food, to the decomposition of

dead organic matter, insects are at the heart of any habitat.

“ It’s everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge these issues and demand that habitats and

species are preserved in perpetuity”.

 

‘If we and the rest of the back-boned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world's ecosystems would collapse.’ Sir David Attenborough Insects are crucial to many

ecosystems and vital for the food chain - extreme losses will have disastrous consequences for the species MAN.

Essex Wildlife Trust and its partner organisations, such as Buglife, are working hard to protect key insect habitats and monitor insect populations across our home county.

   What YOU can do to help

Everyone can help insects to thrive; with a few simple steps you can create your own garden

insect habitats.

 Plant bee-friendly plants

Flowers and shrubs that are rich in pollen will have your garden buzzing with bees.

  Leave your lawn

By cutting your lawn a little less often, you can create a haven for insects. Allow plants such

as Daisies, Clovers and Buttercups to flower and they will provide valuable nectar and pollen resources.

 Create a mini-meadow

Butterflies, bees and many other species love to visit wildflowers including Knapweed,

Cowslip and Meadow Buttercup. Plant in a sunny spot if possible without fertilising the soil -wildflowers love poor soil.

 Build a Bug Hotel

Create a home for bugs with your very own Bug Hotel incorporating dead wood, dry leaves

and hollow stems, old stones and tiles. Download your very own guide at

www.essexwt.org.uk.

What to look for in

April

Bees in Judaism and Christianity

 

Bees and honey are mentioned widely in the Bible and clearly have significance in Judaism and Christianity.

 In Judaism, their symbolic role can, for example, be seen in the celebration of Rosh Hashana.  On the eve of the holiday it is customary to eat symbolic foods which may include dipping challah (leavened bread) and an apple into honey.  This can symbolise the hopes for a happy and healthy new year.

 In Christianity, the bee has historically been seen as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s attributes.  The honey reflecting his sweet and gentle character, whilst the sting pertaining to justice and the cross.

 There are four mentions of bees in the Bible (Deuteronomy 1:44, Judges 14:8, Psalm 118:12, Isaiah 7:18).  In one of these mentions, in the story of Samson, the reference of bees relates also to honey

 ‘After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.’ Judges 14:8

 The three other passages refer to the power of bees:

  ‘Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah.’ Deuteronomy 1:44

 

‘They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!’ Psalm 118:12

 

‘In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.’ Isaiah 7:18

 

There are many references to honey in the Bible.  These emphasise the health benefits of honey:

 

My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.’ Proverbs 24:13

 

They also refer to the pleasurable aspects of eating honey:

 

‘And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.  But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright.’ 1 Samuel 14:26-27

 

And they advise to eat in moderation:

 

‘It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.’ Proverbs 25:27

 

‘One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.’ Proverbs 27:7

 

Bees in Islam

Chapter 16 of the Quran, believed by Muslims to be the revelation of God, is called ‘The Bee’.  The specific reference to the bees is in verse 68 (the translation by M.A.S Abdel Haleem (Oxford University Press) is used throughout):

 

‘… your Lord inspired the bee, saying ‘Build yourselves houses in the mountains and trees and what people construct.  Then feed on all kinds of fruit and follow the ways made easy for you by your Lord.’  From their bellies comes a drink of different colours in which there is healing for people.  There truly is a sign in this for those who think.’ The Bee 16:68

 

Interestingly, the words relating to the worker bees are grammatically assigned the female gender throughout (as they should be!).  Even several hundred years later, the correct assignment of gender, as we discussed in the last article was mistaken.

 

Honey is also mentioned in the context of paradise:

 

‘Here is a picture of the Garden promised to the pious: rivers of water forever pure, rivers of milk forever fresh, rivers of wine, a delight for those who drink, rivers of honey clarified and pure, [all] flow in it; there they will find fruit of every kind; and they will find forgiveness from their Lord.’ Muhammad 47:15

 

The healing characteristic of bees is also emphasized in the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet):

 

‘A man came to the Prophet and said, “My brother has some abdominal trouble.” The Prophet said to him “Let him drink honey.” The man came for a second time and the Prophet said to him, “Let him drink honey.” He came for a third time and the Prophet said, “Let him drink honey.” He returned again and said, “I have done that.” The Prophet then said, “God has said the truth, but your brother’s abdomen has told a lie. Let him drink honey.” So he made him drink honey and he was cured.’  Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri

 

Bees in Other religions

In Hinduisim early Hindu Vedic scriptures, as old as 1500 BC, have references to pollen and honey which it refers to as:

 

“the nectar of the Sun”

In the Hindu scripture Srimad Mahabhagavatam, it states:

“Like a honey bee gathering honey from all type of flowers the wise men search every where for truth and sees only good in all religions.”

 

Honey is also one of the ingredients of Panchamrit ‘the five Nectars’ which also include milk, sugar, ghee, and buttermilk.

 

In Buddhism, honey is important in the festival of Madhu Purnima.  This commemorates the Buddha making peace between two disputing factions of disciples by retreating into the wilderness.  The legend is that during this time, an elephant brought him fruit and a monkey brought honeycomb.  The monkey, so excited by the Buddha’s acceptance of his gift, jumped from tree to tree and fell to his death.  But because of his generosity, he is reborn in Tavatimsa (second heaven).  Buddhists observe this festival by bringing gifts of honey and fruit to the monasteries.

 

 

 

Bees Throughout The Ages:     Bees in Religion

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What is in a bee colony?

Every bee colony has one queen with worker bees usually numbering about 10 000 in the winter and increased to as high as 50 000 in the summer.  The male bees are called drones and which number in the region of 1000.  At the end of the summer, the workers kill the drones so usually there are no drones during the winter period.  The colony also has its infant and junior bees at varying stages of development.  These start as eggs laid by the queen bee and then develop into larvae and pupae.  These developing bees spent their early life in individual cells and are collectively termed brood.

Bees do not sleep – but they do remain motionless to preserve vital energy for the next day of foraging. During the day, and out on their travels, bees eyes can detect a wide array of colour. Their eyes are sensitive more to the blue end of the spectrum and into ultra violet. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultra violet light and to a bee will be very bright. Curiously, when it comes to red, bees are totally blind.

The distance each bee flies in its life is astonishing. It is possible for bees to fly as far as 5 miles for food, however an average distance would be less than a mile from the hive. A strong colony therefore flies the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon everyday.

 

The normal top speed of a worker would be about 15-20mph (21-28km/h) when flying to a food source and about 12mph (17km/h) when returning with nectar, pollen, propolis (resin collected from tree buds) or water.

Honey bees mix plant pollen with water to form a type of bread that is fed to the growing larvae. It provides a rich source of protein and fat whilst honey provides energy (carbohydrate). Bees collect about 20kg of pollen every year - that’s 1 million pollen loads at 20mg per trip!

 

Get planting!

We need people to plant more flowers wherever they live – the more flowers, the more food (forage) for the honey bees. Greater food sources enable honey bees to be much stronger in the face of disease. You can find a comprehensive guide to planting here which tells you which pollen will be available when the bees need it throughout the year.

The RSPB and its partners have put together three consumer packages to help each of us

play a part in dealing with the ongoing and burgeoning environmental crisis which is

resulting in a threat to the world’s wildlife, climate change, droughts and famine, massive

wildfires and destructive floods.

Switching to greener alternatives is a great way for you to reduce your carbon footprint and

help save nature, and some switches are simpler than you might think.

 

1. Change starts here

Electricity and gas accounts for up to 50% of your household's carbon emissions. One of the

easiest changes you can make is to switch to 100% green electricity and carbon neutralised

gas.

You can switch online today to Britain's greenest energy company - Ecotricity. It takes five minutes and they will do the rest. Check them out at www.ecotricity.co.uk.

When you switch, Ecotricity will donate £50 to the RSPB, plus £50 for every year that you stay with them. Together the RSPB and Ecotricity have already saved over 10,000 tonnes of carbon emissions through this partnership.

2. Travel Green

Save money and travel carbon neutral too, by using the new RSPB rail booking site rspb.trainsplit.com.

You can make your trip carbon neutral through contributions to the RSPB's Gola Rainforest

project and save money on your ticket price too.

3. Holiday Green

Enjoy some of the UK's wild places and natural spectacles on a staycation.

The RSPB has teamed up with holidaycottages.co.uk to help restore ancient woodland, locking up carbon and creating homes for nature. Choose from a huge range of properties

from North East Scotland to the tip of Cornwall. Some are pet friendly too!

More information can be found at www.rspb.org.

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Small Changes Make A Big Difference

Change 3 Things Today - With Help From The RSPB

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Millions of migrant birds will be flooding into Britain from south of the Sahara. Cuckoos , swallows , house martins  and delicate willow warblers  arrive on the south and east coasts.

  Among our resident birds, the nesting season is well under way. Great tits , blue tits  and long-tailed tits  are rearing young and robins, song thrushes  and blackbirds  are fledging.

 It’s breeding time in the water too; watch out for sticklebacks  in ponds and rivers; the red-bellied males will be busy tending their nests of sticks and vegetation. Smooth newts  float in their spring finery like miniature dragons in garden ponds.

 The first bats  are emerging from hibernation; look out for our smallest, the pipistrelle , and our largest, the noctule .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are three species of Britain's smallest bat. They often roost in modern houses, but are found roosting and foraging everywhere. Our most common bat species, pipistrelles live in colonies of 1,000 or more.

 

Wingspan: 22cm

Body length: 35mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In woods, tides of bluebells  are a magnificent sight. Look out for other spring woodland flowers like dog violet , yellow archangel  and greater stitchwort .

pip

The pipistrelle

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dog violet 

Essex haven for nature gets new protection Natural England has confirmed a new Site of Special Scientific Interest on a network of land around Langdon Ridge in Basildon, Essex.

As the Essex town of Basildon celebrates its 70th birthday this year, Natural England has announced new protection for the iconic landscapes of nearby Langdon Ridge.

 2019 marks the UK government’s Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature. Langdon Ridge is easily accessible from Basildon, and the newly-notified Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will help ensure it remains both a thriving place for nature, and a valuable green space enjoyed by future generations.

 Around 345 hectares of land across parts of the town and surrounding areas has received legal protection for its nationally significant array of grassland, woodlands, rare plants and insects.

 The new designation will ensure stronger protection for features such as wildflower rich grasslands, woodland habitats, as well as rare species such as the Deptford Pink and the Grizzled Skipper butterfly.

 The new SSSI will encompass sites that are well known for their natural history in the local area, including the Dunton Plotlands Nature Reserve, Langdon Hills Country Park, Marks Hill Wood and Willow Park.

 Natural England’s Interim Chief Executive, Marian Spain said:

 Natural England is here to make sure that people and nature can thrive together. I am delighted therefore that we have been able to extend the protection for this nationally important network of sites around Basildon which as well as being of huge value for wildlife is a much loved and much used open space for local people.