This is a ******* wasp!

Regular readers will know how the Ranger has an uneasy respect for waspkind. At this time of the year there aren’t many around yet and it’s easy to forget our yellowjacketed friends, but don’t be fooled: they are busy getting ready for the summer.

The Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia
The Asian Giant Hornet, Vespa mandarinia

 

I was entertained to find, whilst reading Imgur’s ‘Best pictures of 2010′ one wasp-related graphic which I decided not to use earlier this year as, well, it’s a bit profane. In fact, very profane. But I enjoyed it so much I thought that you could probably make the decision for yourself. So if you don’t like rude words, don’t click through.

This is a wasp (NSFW)

 

Is the Isle of Wight bigger than Rutland at low tide?

Is the Isle of Wight bigger than Rutland at low tide? This question has been having a bit of a battle on the Isle of Wight page at Wikipedia. The Ranger is interested in this question, for, although like much of Wikipedian debate it involves dancing on the head of a pin, it also raises some interesting questions and sheds light on current proposals.

Hambleton Hall, Rutland © Niko
Some place in Rutland

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Malta – massacre on Migration. A message from Chris Packham

Chris Packham

“For many years I have lobbied the UK’s bird charities to campaign to raise awareness about the slaughter of migrant birds on Malta. I have equally tried to stimulate television programme makers to cover the issue – both without success – a sad reflection of our complacent and risk adverse times.

“Well, I’ve finally run out of patience and together with three colleagues and the support of Birdlife Malta this spring I will be making a nightly video diary of the days events on the island which will be posted on . . .

YouTube at 9.00 PM (UK time)
between the
21st and 26th of April 2014

Our mission is to generate a wider awareness of this heinous practice with frank and factual reports from the frontline where our much loved migrant birds are being shot in huge numbers. It will not be pretty, the species killed include many UK favourites and rarities and the hunters are infamous for being confrontational and violent. I don’t care, this is not a holiday, it’s an attempt to bring this forgotten issue to a wider public attention and then to offer a couple of ways the viewers can actually do something to effect positive change.

Please try to watch our broadcasts and please publicise them as widely as possible. I believe that people will be truly horrified when they see what happens on Malta to ‘our birds’, I believe they care and they will do something to change it.

Thank you

Chris Packham”

Find out more background to this issue here: http://www.chrispackham.co.uk

This spider is pretending to be a beetle

Piotr Naskrecki
Coccorchestes ferreus by Piotr Naskrecki

Jumping spiders are known to imitate ants – and some of these clever mimics can be found in the UK. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen a beetle-mimic.

The species is Coccorchestes ferreus which is mostly found in New Guinea, and very rarely on mainland Australia.

Spurn Spawn!

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener “We’ve got loads of frogspawn. Would you like some for your pond?” is the question most asked of the Wildlife Gardener at this time of year.

Tons of spawn

And when my answer is a firm “No thank you”, the response is usually “Why not? I’ve got far too much.” In the spring, the Wildlife Pond resembles a bowl of tapioca. The water boils with copulating amphibians and soon it is just a jellified mass. Surely far too much spawn? Why not take it out? Continue reading

Squirrels on crack – the Ranger’s special investigation.

This one you must have seen. In 2005, according to the Currant Bun, Brixton grey squirrels were becoming addicted to crack cocaine. The story went global, being picked up by the Guardian, countless blogs, and even Fox News. Almost all, including most of the US sources, reported something along these lines:

Crack squirrels are a recognised phenomenon in the US. They are known to live in parks frequented by addicts in New York and Washington DC.

A crazed squirrel (c) scary squirrel world

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Spiders by post – that’s got to be cruel, hasn’t it?

In a bizarre news item, the BBC reports:

A man has admitted sending a rare venomous spider in a package to a colleague at work. Mahlon Hector, 22, of Leicester delivered the Mexican red-kneed tarantula in a box addressed to a Marks & Spencer branch in Leicestershire. Hector handed in his resignation after dropping off the parcel at the Fosse Park store.

Mexican red-kneed tarantula

Now that’s curious enough. Curiouser still, however:

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: “The spider may also have suffered and we would have pursued the matter under animal cruelty legislation but it does not cover invertebrates.”

How crazy is that? Just look at that cute, furry spider and imagine it being shaken up in a box for some weird practical joke! What if it was one of those sweet little grey squirrels, or rats? People would be marching in the streets, probably led by Sir Paul McCartney. Well, the spider was probably OK, but the Ranger is very fond of spiders, and was startled to learn that there’s no way in law to be cruel to invertebrates. Perhaps there’s room for one more pressure group? No more flyswats! Ban the beer-trap! Calamari and prawns will be off the menu when the Invertebrate Cruelty Act is finally passed…

First published 2006. Republished with corrections 2013.

Tasty snails in peril… or maybe not any more.

The Times has the courage to highlight the plight of the the edible Burgundy snail (Helix pomatia), pointing out the concerns of Buglife, which campaigned to make it illegal to collect the snails from the wild for eating. It’s a pleasure to see the mainstream media for once taking a stance on invertebrate conservation. David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth is an honourable and outstanding exception.

Helix pomatia (c) Max Westby

 

The Ranger would have found the article more convincing, however, if it had not described Burgundy snails in the headline as “big, tasty snails“, and then gone on – apparently quoting Buglife – to say how to collect them, what parts of the country to look in, and then, just in case you didn’t get the idea, provide a tempting recipe showing how to cook them. Possibly if the same had been done for baby seals there may have been some sort of complaint.

(This story was first posted Nov 2005, and updated in 2008, 2013) Note that since 2008 H. pomatia now has legal protection so do not try collecting them – it’s illegal in England! See more about this interesting change in the law in our second post on this topic.