The small learned society is a mainstay of British amateur natural history. Continuing the work of the gentleman-naturalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, amateur enthusiasts today still provide a formidable body of data and research on the subject of British wildlife.
I’ve been lucky enough to sit on both sides of the blanket-covered table at many such local societies over the years, be it a horticultural society, a natural history society, or even a women’s institute. It is often after the lecture (when I’m giving it, anyway) that the interesting part begins; and I am struck by how some members of these modest institutions seem to be the storehouse for a unique depth of local knowledge and wisdom that cannot readily be accessed any other way. That enjoyably fascinating – and slightly scary – feeling the novice gets when talking to someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience was also engendered in me when reading Faith Anstey’s newly-published book, “Flowers in the Field, how to find, identify and enjoy wild flowers”. Continue reading
Oh deary deary. I’ve tried to hold off, really, I have. I’ve been stifling back a really moany post about newspapers’ punctuation and italicisation of scientific names. Really, it’s for my own good. It wouldn’t show me at my best. But while all my attention is on the errant capitals another one sneaks up in the Telegraph today – and this time it’s a corker.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent: The summer mix of sunshine and rain has helped some of Britain’s rarest wild flowers make an unexpected return to the countryside, claims charity. Perfect weather conditions for plants in recent months have seen a number of the UK’s native species, including carnations and ferns, brought back from the brink of extinction.
The Ranger obtained a little Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) plant from a local garden centre to see if it would catch the fruitflies that tend to buzz around in his living room. Lo and behold, after some watering with carefully husbanded rainwater, at last the plant secures its first victim. Hoorah, one fly fewer! But wait – what’s this? When the satiated plant finally opened its little leaf, what was revealed?
Looks like a male Drassodes went looking for love and found more than he was bargaining for. Bad plant!