Jon Cranfield

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

the Xmas tree is in its third year

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2011 at 8:50 am

Will it survive the central heating for a third time? A living christmas tree to help reduce waste, pollution and the cost!

Admittedly the tree is taking on a strange shape and is also leaning to one side in its pot.

The tree spends the rest of the year in the back garden providing shelter for a variety of bugs.

When it came inside several ladybirds were found amongst the needles. They were released back into the garden into cover for the winter.

still going strong 3yrs on

still going strong 3yrs on

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the first day the pond has frozen 18th Dec

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2011 at 9:46 am

The garden pond has its first covering of ice today. After a very cold night the entire surface of the pond is iced.

Now should I worry about the ice. Well people often say that you should float a ball or melt a hole in the ice.

The evidence that this helps either amphibians or other animals is sadly lacking according to the Big Pond Thaw Survey run by Pond Conservation.

There are a number of green plants in the water column including starwort, hyacinth, duck weed, moss, grasses and algae which as long as sunlight reaches them will keep the oxygen levels up.

No snow yet but this will be scraped off the pond to keep the oxygen levels up and hopefully the invertebrates will survive the winter.

no need to worry about the ice in this shallow pond

no need to worry about the ice in this shallow pond

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South West Regional Meeting 10th December 2011

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Had a great time at the South West Regional meeting of the ARG UK. I gave a talk on Make the Adder Count and I also led a seminar on Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West.

It was very enjoyable to see how the ARGs are getting on with conserving their local amphibians and reptiles.

It was a nice mixture of talks with a hefty weighting towards reptiles which is a change as these meetings are mostly amphibian.

There was a talk on great crested newts in Devon along with testing reptile survey guidelines through two MSc research projects. The issue of disturbance was discussed alongside in relation to reptile conservation.

Apparently I came over as anti consultant in my views towards the standards of reptile mitigation in the south west. I have to say I thought I was leaning on the nature conservation bodies as they definitely do not have reptiles on their agenda. The delegates were under the impression that wildlife organisations should know what they are doing when it comes to conservation. This is continually not the case when reports of reptile sites being damaged by nature conservation activities such as clearing scrub, brambles and gorse to create ‘heathland’.

The attitude is the reptiles can look after themselves. Sadly evidence points to local extinctions of adders particularly.
The Make the Adder Count is geared to addressing this problem. Assessing status of adders and making them count in habitat management is the aim of the project.

The seminar led to selection of land managers and planners who were the most important people to raise the profile of reptiles to.

Hopefully an advice note will be produced on this as we go into the Herpetofauna Workers’ Meeting in January 2012.

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Wildlife Hero!

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 at 12:23 am

I had seen the Jordan’s Cereals Wildlife Hero request as part of their 10% campaign where people are encouraged to hand over at least 10% of their garden to wildlife habitat. I have a number of wildlife features in the garden so I thought I should apply.

I emailed in my plans for the next year and I had a response the very next day. Today I received my garden tool kit and I am now thinking up how to encourage more wildlife into the garden.

I am looking to record every species I can find in the garden over 2012. I wonder how many species there are in total. The 2011 Alresford Bioblitz recorded 450 species do I have any chance of getting half way to that?

We will see…..

the South West Regional Meeting – ARG UK 10th December

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I am looking forward to the South West Regional meeting of the ARG UK. I am presenting a talk on ‘Making the Adder Count in the South West’ and I am taking a lunch time seminar on ‘Raising the profile of reptiles in the South West’ both are favourite subjects of mine.

As a consultant I do work within the planning system where reptiles get moved around from development sites. Pretty much people accept this practice as the norm in dealing with reptiles which ‘impact on development’ as some consultants would describe it.

In my 11 years of working in reptile mitigation I have come round to looking at the problem in a different way and taking decisions on how and when you should mitigate for a development or other land use change which will impact on the conservation status of reptiles.

I missed the South East Meeting of the ARG UK where the delegates voted overwhelmingly for more conservation action for our Adder. I gather the feeling was there was a need for better protection. I agree with this and will be taking this to the South West meeting for the participants to ponder when thinking about the problem of raising the profile of these animals which tend not to feature highly on many people’s agendas.

I hope the Make the Adder Count will help the South West ARGs monitor exisiting adder sites and help find new sites along with mapping out the most important features of a site so that this can then be fed into the management plan to avoid any damage and destruction to the overwintering or hibernation sites.

It is these sites which need protection, if there is an impact mitigation is required – avoidance, modification of work methods and timing and if this cannot be done compensation is required.

How do you deal with an issue of reptiles when people only think about the individual animals?

More to follow

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foraging – medlars

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

A friend of mine called me to say that his medlar fruits were ready.
I noticed the tree when I visited last and remembered a recipe for medlars in Richard Mabeys Food for Free.

The thing is the Medlar does not ripen in the UK. You have to use the fruit when it has ‘bletted’. This is when the fruit fements and goes squishy.

The fruit picked up as windfalls were nice and squishy and brown.

I have cooked the fruit and have added sugar and lemon juice to make Medlar Jelly. The pulp is saved to make chutney with apples.

here is the bounty of medlar fruits

here is the bounty of medlar fruits

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the pond refilled

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Here is the pond, plenty of clean water, dead leaves, plants ready for the winter

plenty of leaves, animals and plants

plenty of leaves, animals and plants

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Pond update

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm

The pond is developing well in the garden. It has its full compliment of dropped leaves. It has completely filled recently and has a number of different habitat types. Mayflies are in abundance, along with snails, water beetles, and water hog lice. A few rat tailed maggots are also in the vegetation.

The end of November and there was still a resident adult frog…..