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This forum has now been more or less replaced by the Club's Facebook page at
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Wed 18th March 2009 07:28 by Peter Harvey
Your large bumblebees are probably queens of Bombus terrestris, the 'buff-tailed bumblebee'. Like other queen bumblebees these spend a lot of time in spring feeding up after winter hibernation, searching for places to nest and then establishing nests (although some nests are now even known to be going through the winter in favoured locations and in London etc). There is no point (and in fact potentially destructive) to leaving any areas uncut now that will be cut later in the summer - this would simply encourage nests, which would then be destroyed at a time when established and working towards the next generation.

What you need are areas in the garden that are undisturbed throughout the whole spring/summer/early autumn period, and hopefully at least one or two will be deemed suitable by the bumblebees.

Once nests are established, the most important resources are suitable flowers i.e. not double varieties of any flowers, and depending on the bumblebee species specific kinds of flowers, but most important are usually those in the Fabaceae (pea family), Lamiaceae (dead-nettle family), Scrophulariaceae (figwort family), as well as some Asteraceae - the more the better!
Tue 17th March 2009 20:12 by Mary Smith
more bumble bees
Starting on Sat 14 March, the weather turned to summer and everyone and everything was out in the garden.  Among other things, we saw several huge (~3cm long) bumble bees, presumably queens, with white or whitish bottoms, and dark brown and lighter brown bands round their middles. There were more on Sunday and more again on Monday, but not on Tuesday today, as the clouds are bigger and a slight chilly nip in the breeze. Please has anyone any idea which sort they were? And where were they hoping to make a nest? Should we not cut the grass, or not pull up weeds, or not cut down dead bits of shrubs, or not disturb the compost heap, or what?
Tue 3rd March 2009 08:37 by Peter Harvey
You need to try and (rapidly!) stir your local wildlife trust, Natural England, maybe Buglife, etc into action to respond to this planning application. I note that table 4.9 which purports to give an assessment of Potential for regional and local extinction looks distinctly dodgy to me for several species, based on the other text in that table, and the risks are probably much higher than indicated (not surprisingly, since the consultancy is working for the developer).

Paragraph 5.1 notes that "a full and detailed impact assessment will be undertaken as part of the Environmental Statement of the EIA. At this stage we do not wish to pre-empt the potential impacts until all of the environmental surveys have been completed."

Hence until this has been done it SHOULD be impossible for planning officers and planning committee members to properly assess the information and determine the application, and if they do so they may be open to subsequent legal challenge. Always worth pointing out.

With Ceratina cyanea listed as a priority species in the local BAP, you need to find out what the local authority policy is to these BAPs - presumably they will state something about trying to ensure their survival (!) etc. At the very least there should be mitigation and probably also compensation sought as part of the planning approval - 5.2 Potential mitigation measures states that "Once the impact assessment for the Bath Transport Package scheme has been completed, a detailed mitigation plan will be formulated to ensure that the scheme is developed to ensure the minimum possible impact on the ecological value and conservation importance of the features within the impact areas." Once again this appears to be 'later'. There is also a very great need for mitigation proposals specifically relating to invertebrates such as Ceratina - the sorts of things proposed by consultancies are usually hopeless and need specialist input from people that actually know what they are talking about - promote the idea for example that the developer should be talkling to and getting advice from Buglife etc. This needs to be pinned down now, as part of the planning application, otherwise it will never happen. Also I advise strongly against any reliance on Section 106 agreements, in my experience they are a total waste of time and usually not adequately followed up or monitored, with no-one interested in their detail later.

Your strongest line may well be that there us currently insufficient information and detail for this application to be adequately considered - but you need help from regional wildlife groups.

Mon 2nd March 2009 23:42 by Robert Page
Bath Council set to tarmac over the Blue Carpenter Bee
Dear Esex Field Club

I am looking for advice on how to stop our local Bath and North East Somerset Council destroying the habitat of the Blue Carpenter Bee which lives in Bath on the proposed site of a new bus road to be built on an old railway line, please? I gather you have some experience in this field having lost an important population of this bee in your area.

The link below is to the Ecological impact report for the bus road and page 23 shows the list of invertebrates sampled and the potential impact on their populations of going ahead with the project. Ecological impact report link

The link below is to this same Council's Biodiversity Action Plan which features the Blue Carpenter bee as a species to be protected. link

What can we do? We have to complete our objections by the end of this week. Feel free to join in!


Robert Page




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