A milestone & …. congratulations?

This post sees us reach a milestone, and to be honest one I thought would be much further along the line.  You would be forgiven for not knowing that today’s post is our 100th blog post!  The only reason I know is because the software allocates a number!

Since we started we’ve had mixed reactions, from the “unscientific” and “waste of time” to “very helpful, thanks”, “interesting and useful”, “that was a bit cautious” or “keep on campaigning”.  I understand that we’ve even been ‘tweeted’, now that is definitely Forum in the 21st Century!  Our subscribers and the number of hits increase so do we deduce at least passing interest?

If you will indulge me a little I will begin by reviewing why we started the blog.  It was envisaged that it would deliver a quick, not quite instant win for the Executive to let people, that is to say the general public or people with an interest in Thorne and Hatfield Moors and the wider ‘Humberhead Levels’ area know about events or issues which had either a natural history or environmental conservation aspect to them.

We invite and accept images and short accounts of interesting natural history finds.  We are happy to consider acting as a Public Information Service by publicising events from like-minded organisations or groups within the broad description above.  We would like to take this opportunity also to thank those people who share their stunning images with us, likewise our network who feed through useful data follow appeals for information, your endeavours and observations are appreciated.

So, today four items are offered as being of potential interest, to our lepidopterist readers at any rate perhaps?

I decided to treat myself to a paper (yes, I’m of  the generation who love paper) copy of the new “Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles”.  As Butterfly Conservation explain below the checklist published at the end of last year completely overhauls the out-dated Bradley list and brings us into line with the current European classification of moths and butterflies.

RES Handbook: Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles is the result of a huge amount of work led by David Agassiz, Stella Beavan and Bob Heckford. The new checklist will be adopted by Butterfly Conservation and the National Moth Recording Scheme. However, there will undoubtedly be months or even years of transition from the ‘old’ to the new checklist as the field guides and species dictionaries used in recording software and websites are updated. There is no need to worry about the new names or checklist. For now, it is fine to continue to record the way you have been and we will be happy to receive datasets and moth records using the ‘old names’ and numbering systems as the new ones become familiar.

My copy duly arrived, but sadly had to be returned because of a binding issue but the replacement arrived equally promptly and examination of the ‘Checklist’ revealed substantive changes, groan …. but in fairness I suppose I can see where they are coming from and the case for consistency etc.  But no longer is it going to be easy to jot down 1884 for good old Abraxas grossulariata!  The declining Magpie (moth) has now evolved to 70.205!  Not quite the same ring to it?

Butterfly Conservation are also announcing the plan for the publication of their A Macro-moth Atlas for Britain and Ireland in 2018

The production of a full, hardcopy atlas of the larger moths has always been the intention of Butterfly Conservation, but the timescale was dependent upon the progress of the NMRS. Due to the success of the scheme we now plan to work towards the publication of an atlas of macro-moths in Britain and Ireland towards the end of 2018, in collaboration with MothsIreland. It will be based on records up to the end of 2016, providing moth recorders across the land with three more full years of fieldwork towards the planned Atlas.

There is a substantial amount of work to be done between now and the end of 2016; the historical baseline of the NMRS needs to be improved and targeted recording of under-recorded squares is another challenge. However, we hope that making this announcement now will stimulate further recording effort and encourage County Moth Recorders, local moth groups and moth recorders themselves to redouble their efforts to achieve the best possible coverage of the country.

To find out what squares are under-recorded in your area or indeed other areas please contact the relevant County Moth Recorder in the first instance. In due course we will be producing a list of under-recorded 10km squares based on the NMRS database. However, this may not be 100% accurate as there may be records that we have not yet received from the County Moth Recorder network.

If the ‘Provisional’ version which appeared in 2010 and was based on around 11 million records was anything to go by, then the 2018 ‘Atlas’ is set to be a significant landmark and operational achievement!

That reminds me, National Moth Night this year is 3 – 5 July 2014 and the theme is Woodland Moths.  The Moth Night website explains the rationale behind the choice as being Woodlands are constantly in the news with respect to the recent introduction of fungal diseases like Chalara or ash dieback caused by Chalara fraxinea and sudden oak death by Phytophthora ramorum. These diseases along with other issues, for example the lack of woodland management, increase the pressure on our already threatened woodland moths. Moth Night 2014 will help to raise awareness of how important our woodlands are for British moths.

So, why did we post these items today, why did we consider them of interest?  Many of our network are interested in or are keen lepidopterists, so if they’ve not already done so then they might consider purchasing a copy of the new ‘Checklist’ but maybe more importantly by disseminating the ‘Macro Atlas’ item we may prompt people to assist in the data provision for the project.  It might see more northern records incorporated into print and what better feeling than seeing that dot on a map of the UK that evidences a first and it being your record?  Setting the ‘twitcher’ emotion aside, contributing to data sets provides the academics and researchers with the evidence to identify gains, losses and trends associated with climate change.  Let’s face it, where would the ‘professionals’ be without the amateur naturalist, without the astonishing number of hours contributed by ‘citizen science’?  I wonder, does  anyone know if that has been assessed in terms of eco-sytem services?

For the latest edition of BCs E-moth Moths Count Update (January 2014) click here.

What will our next post be about I wonder?  There are many topical items at the moment which are having serious impact upon our natural environment, sadly too the environment also seems to be low on the mainstream political agenda.  Floods, the planning system, statutory agencies evolution ….

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