Look out for Wolves!

Over the last year we have explored species ‘new’ to Rushcliffe that may have arrived as a consequence of range expansion: Silver-washed Fritillary, Ivy Bee and Purple Emperor. Tim Sexton’s recent talk, part of our Winter Wildlife Talks Programme, raised the possibility of adding to that list a small, but truly fascinating insect with a remarkable lifestyle.

To find out more, read our article here

Ivy on Trees

There is a common misconception that ivy “damages” trees, but it is important to realize that Ivy is a native species and is a normal component of most, if not all, woodland sites.

Ivy provides a valuable habitat for small mammals (including bats), birds and insects (including bees, hoverflies and butterflies). Its woody structure and evergreen nature provides safety, roosting, hibernation and nesting opportunities all year round. Whilst its berries provide an important food source for birds during winter, its long flowering season means it is an important source of late season nectar for bees and other invertebrates. It can also provide year-round ground cover and reduce the effect of frost hardening the ground in winter months, which means animals can continue to forage in the leaf litter during extreme cold weather (Woodland Trust, 2020).

The Woodland Trust states “Ivy uses trees and walls for support, allowing it to reach upwards to better levels of sunlight. It is not a parasitic plant and has a separate root system in the soil and so absorbs its own nutrients and water as needed. Ivy does not damage trees and its presence doesn’t indicate that a tree is unhealthy, and it doesn’t create a tree-safety issue.”

Another misconception is that ivy blocks the tree from photosynthesising. An already weakened or dying tree might appear to be failing because of the ivy, the ivy being more obvious than any fungal, bacterial or viral infections that may be blighting the tree. Ivy may help create a sort of sail effect in some trees. If it is old, declining or  disease-weakened a tree is more vulnerable to structural damage in strong winds. The ivy only marginally increases that risk.

Action to remove ivy from trees would negatively impact on a valuable wildlife resource, without meaningfully reducing any risk of tree damage; Indeed, there have been instances locally where poorly executed ivy removal has actively damaged trees.

Where there is a tree safety management issue an assessment should be made if the tree is safe. If it represents a risk, the tree should then be dealt with appropriately and whilst the presence of ivy might marginally increase the risk, it is the health of the tree and its core structure that is the problem.

RNCSIG would recommend that tree condition be monitored by land owners and farmers to prevent damage, loss or danger irrespective of the presence of ivy. Removal of ivy is unlikely to represent a solution. Where there is concern for tree safety, remedial advice should be sought.

Skylarks Bird Walk with Neil Glenn

A big thanks to Neil (the Birdhunter) Glenn for a lovely (if frosty in the shade) bird walk at Skylarks Nature Reserve today. Some 20 hardy souls turned out at 9pm and we were able to explore the bird life of the site. Don`t know about other people but amongst the highlights for me was two Green Woodpeckers on the ground (regularly hear but rarely see), a Song Thrush close up (only know them by song), the Heronry (not heard tell of that on site) and the  Great White Egret (didn`t know they were now appearing locally.

But then there was the supporting cast of raptors – Buzzard, Merlin (well Neil saw it anyway), Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, plus a range of ducks and geese (as you would expect) and also the little birds (Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Robin and the rest of the birds in the band) and Raven (apparently they are also now found locally, who knew). Oh yes and some rabbits.

If I had visited on my own I would not have noticed half the birds that were pointed out or been able to work out what they were (combination of eyesight and binoculars). But Neil also went into QI mode – did you know that Coots migrate – I thought they were resident, or that the Goldeneye mating displays are prior to flying north to their breeding grounds, so when they arrive for the short arctic summer the pairs are good to go.

So thanks Neil for a good morning bird stalking and also for the impromptu lesson of Greater or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker I heard  a week ago ? (Greater – the Lesser is apparently only known in Sherwood Forest nowadays).

Gordon Dyne 8th Feb 2023




Wildlife Courses

Notts Wildlife Trust are running a whole string of courses (mainly one day) at Attenborough Nature Reserve on a range of wildlife related topics through the winter and into summer. It includes such diverse things as Wildlife Photography (Conventional and Smartphone), Winter Tree ID, Family Bushcraft, Willow working, Foraging, Winter Bird ID, Bird Song, Bat Walks, Painting , Bumblebee ID, Butterfly ID and Understanding Rewilding and maybe the odd one I have missed. If you want to know more follow this link   https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/events  to explore.