There’s nothing like a day in the field to recharge batteries. After the last couple of weeks of political pantomime, or would it be better described as a farce, fresh air, a pleasant landscape and stunning wildlife were a refreshing change.
This stunning male Banded Demoiselle was just one of perhaps forty or so of the species present along a relatively short stretch of the River Idle. No sooner had you got your camera focused on them than they flew off just a short tantelising distance away. This species is reasonably common in the Humberhead Levels where they can be found along clean water courses and a few remaining ‘hidden’ ponds where they have not been absorbed into the expanse of monoculture. I’ve even had one in my garden!
The Humberhead Levels has a number of pocket handkerchief gems, sites where time seems to have stood still. These sites are few and far between and not always well known, they are often in private ownership which can be either a blessing (as in the case of Inkle Moor) or a curse. There are some farmers as opposed to agri-industrialists who turn a blind eye and let nature alone. The issue might then be if they change hands and the new land owner or next more business minded, profit orientated generation seeks return from investment. Perhaps with Brexit the review of agricultural subsidies, or agri-welfare payments call them what you like (ex CAP), we might see payments made to farmers who are able to evidence tangible public benefit from receipt of public funds?
Drainage to benefit agricultural intensification can be detrimental to wildlife. We reported infill of a pond in the HHL recently, one where we understand there had been Great Crested Newts in the vicinity, likewise Water Voles. Both these species are protected by legislation. But, it seems that the public are now expected to provide evidence of presence rather than those with a duty?
The Biodiversity Duty: Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 places a duty on Local Authorities to consider biodiversity in the full range of their activities. It is a legal requirement that:
“Every public body must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as
is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of
Note that there have been some changes to primary legislation around biodiversity duty. However, much still remains.
Some species of ‘dragons and damsels’ are quite sensitive and have particular habitat requirements. Such species need land management practices which take account of ecological requirements. Where water courses are managed by the Environment Agency there seems to be a better understanding and a willingness to work with others to achieve biodiversity benefit. Local Internal Drainage Boards, despite being Public Bodies and in receipt of substantive public funds appear to have little knowledge or regard for relic populations in their districts. Biodiversity Action Plans seem to favour easy quick wins such as a few Barn Owl boxes along deep trapezoidal drains. How many have a biodiversity inventory for their catchment areas? How many undertake collaborative projects with third parties?
Four Spot Chaser is another commonly encountered species in the right habitat. This and the Broad-bodied Chaser below are both recorded from Thorne Moors.
Images courtesy of Martin Warne.