Nature notes and ecological news


Nature Notes

October is an in-between month – we are not yet into the heart of winter but have left the green memories of summer behind. In the wild wood, colours are a dazzling display of plum red, gold, ochre and yellow. Migrating birds have flown and their songs are being replaced by the belching and droning groan of the buck looking for a mate. Another large mammal, the grey seal, is also out diving in the wild waters, looking for love. The woodlands are filled with fungi, and the bare branches supply the last wrinkled fruits, seeds and nuts to the remaining birds. As the clock goes back an hour on the 30th, the light of day quickly fades, but take stock: now is the perfect time to bring some joy into the house and enjoy the harvest of beetroots, carrots, potatoes, pumpkins and turnips. These vegetables offer us a chance to take comfort in stews, roasts and pies. Alongside the great celebrations of Diwali and Halloween, we keep our candlelight defiant as the shorter days are here.

Positive Ecological Restoration

Women restore the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest
A project led by a Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network International (WECAN) supports women to take pro-action in fighting ecological breakdown and climate change. Through their own initiative, around 500 women are starting to restore the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted. They are also campaigning to stop illegal timber harvesting. The world’s forests absorb around 7.6 metric tonnes a year of CO2 – this makes the restoration of forest an absolutely essential part of the fight against climate change. The Rainforest in the Congo is the second largest tropical rainforest in the world, but with the current trajectory of destruction it could be wiped out within 80 years.

Endangered sea turtles hatch for first time in 75 years
The world’s smallest and most endangered sea turtles, the Kemp’s Ridley, have been nesting again after 75 years on the coast of Louisiana. The first tracks were found by scientists surveying birds “before the sea turtle nesting season really kicked off”, said Matthew Weigel, coastal resources scientist manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. They began weekly flights over the island to look for more tracks. “There was some high-fiving going on,” he added. The tracks led back to a nest they hadn’t known about, where they found two tiny emerging turtles, which they followed back to the beach. “The endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle has returned to nest on the Chandeleur Islands, highlighting the need to protect this sensitive habitat so it can continue to be home to ocean and coastal wildlife in the future,” declared Beth Lowell, vice president for the US of the environmental nonprofit Oceana.

Bees making a recovery in the South Downs
For years the bee populations in the UK have shown a steady decline. But now, encouraging numbers have been found within newly restored wildflower projects in the South Downs, through an inspiring new charity called Bee Lines. Peter King, director of Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust, said: “The funding from the South Downs National Park Trust has allowed us to create 2.5 hectares [6 acres] of wildflower meadows. Since sowing the seeds, the field has seen exceptional growth and diversity of species. It’s too early to attribute any specific species or biodiversity increases specifically to this meadow habitat; however, we have recorded a 72% increase in pollinator species using the site since the arable fields were reverted to meadow. Overall species records from the site have increased from 179 to 624 since the project as a whole was completed.”

Victory at last against the longest oil spill in US history
Taylor Energy owns a sunken oil rig off the coast of Louisiana that has been spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico since 2004 – yet they have done nothing to clean up the spill, which has caused raw slick oil stretching for miles. Earthjustice reports that Taylor Energy is now finally liquidating to pay over $400 million in cleanup costs. Earthjustice and an environmental group Healthy Gulf achieved this victory in the courts. “This means the Department of the Interior will now be able to move forward with finally plugging this long-running oil spill,” said Chris Eaton, senior attorney at Earthjustice.

Sky Events

The Draconids Meteor Shower runs from 6 to 10 October, best viewed in the early evening: look towards the constellation of Draco. If you get up before sunrise on 8 October, the planet Mercury will be fully visible in the eastern sky. A Hunters Moon or Blood Moon is with us on the 9th, traditionally a time of year when hunters begin collecting food and storing it for the long winter months. The Orionids Meteor Shower reaches us on 21 and 22 October, producing up to 20 meteors per hour; these meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion. There will be a partial eclipse on the 25th, with only 15 per cent coverage, but do not look at the sun directly as it can damage your eyes.


Spring: 10-12 and 26-28 October
Neap: 4-5 and 18-19 October

Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, writer and ecologist. He is the Director of Operations for the Earth Restoration Service Charity based in the UK

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