Paul Leyland – Green Tiger Beetle

Paul writes: Green Tiger Beetles (Cicindela campestris), with their elegant long legs, look as though they’re built for speed. They are one of the fastest beetles and can run at up to 60cm per second. They combine this with a quick low flight, so often when I find one I end up dashing along a path trying to keep up with it, hoping to get a good look or even a photograph. They are fairly easy to identify. In good light they have a beautiful iridescent green body with purple-bronze legs and antennae. They use their speed to advantage and are great predators of other invertebrates, typically spiders and ants. This photograph just manages to show their fearsome mandibles.

They love sunny dry heaths and moors. The bare ground warms up quickly in sunshine which helps them to move faster. I chased this one along a path on the North York Moors and luckily it stopped long enough for me to get a photo. They are very widespread in suitable habitat and can be seen throughout Britain, usually between April and September.

The larvae are also carnivorous. The female lays eggs in a small burrow in the ground, where the larvae emerge. This acts as a pitfall trap for passing invertebrates and the larvae, which also have large mandibles, will grab anything that falls into the burrow.


Sunday quotes (2)

A series of quotes relevant to the environment and/or campaigning.

This week’s quote is from Frederick Douglass (died 1895).

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

There is little point in sitting around waiting for the evils of the world to be sorted out by magic. We, you and I, must seek the changes that we want to see. We must mobilise and be active.

More on Frederick Douglass – click here.


A nice way to start the year

This was nice – even though I’m not entirely sure what it means!

I’m listed as #8 in the Colour of Money, Triodos Bank, Sustainable 100 for the first week of 2019. It’s a measure of Twitter influence using the kred index.

This is not something to be that bothered about really, but the 7 names above mine are an impressive bunch, as are the 92 names below mine. So it’s just nice to be on the list.


Sunday book review – Noor by Andy Rouse and Aditya Singh

I’ve never seen a Tiger in the wild and I probably never will. But this book introduces the reader to one tigress, Noor, and her family, and the place she lives, Ranthambhore National Park. This is a feast of images and a pleasure to hold in one’s hands and turn the pages.

Aren’t Tigers amazing? So powerful and they look so confident. That personality comes across in these images.

But I enjoyed the images of the habitat almost as much as those of the Tigers. And there are images of other wildlife included.

A book which celebrates the beauty of the natural world through one of its most iconic species.

Noor: queen of Ranthambhore by Andy Rouse and Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh is published by Andy Rouse.

Remarkable Birds by Mark Avery is published by Thames and Hudson – for reviews see here.

Inglorious: conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

Tim Melling – Hume’s Ground Tit

Tim writes: This bird is a lot more interesting than it looks.  It was originally called Hume’s Ground-pecker as it uses its long beak to peck the ground.  Later it was thought to be a Ground-Jay, and the smallest member of the crow family, being about the size of a sparrow.  But DNA molecular sequencing has shown it is definitely a member of the Tit family, with Great Tit as its closest living relative, though it is in a genus all by itself (Pseudopodoces), which translates as false ground-jay.   To my mind it resembled a wheatear with a highly-odd bill.  It nests at high altitude in the flat, treeless plateaux of the eastern Himalayas in China, Bhutan, Nepal and India, often among colonies of Pikas.  It nests in burrows, but despite there being abundant Pika burrows, it excavates the nest burrow itself using its long beak.  I photographed this one at 3500m in China, on a snowy day with a solid, frozen ground.  Winter in their range is a harsh place, yet they are resident, but sometimes descend to lower altitudes when the weather gets really bad.