Almanac: July 2022

Nature notes, positive ecological restoration news, sky events, tides and moon phases.

Billy Connolly, the Scottish comedian, joked that we have two seasons: July and Winter. If he is right, we are truly in the swing of Summer. This month is the time for a proper picnic as the hedgerows are brimming with spearmint, wild fennel, thyme, watercress and wild marjoram. In the garden, all the berries are coming out, such as blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries, plus abundant vegetables such as runner beans, cucumbers, globe artichokes, fennel and beetroot. In the countryside, birds are quieter as the breeding season is now over and the chicks have hatched and flown the nest. Their parents, left behind, begin to moult their feathers and relax in the thickets. The magnificent Osprey keep their chicks close to their nests for a longer period, well into August, as they teach them flying skills. Viewing sites for this phenomenon have appeared in Scotland (as well as north-east England), in places such as Loch Garten (Highland), Wigtown (Dumfries and Galloway) and Loch of the Lowes (Perthshire); there is even a webcam over some nests. In the woodlands now you will see many species of dragonflies and damselflies, while the kings of the woodland butterflies also emerge: the White Admiral and Silver-Washed Fritillary. Look out for them as you lay out your banquet.

Bon appétit!

Positive ecological restoration news

Near-extinct Spix’s Macaws return home to the wild
The Spix’s Macaw is a small parrot with blue feathers. The last time anyone saw one in the wild was about twenty years ago. But thanks to a successful rehabilitation programme, the bird will soon be reinstated in a reserve in north-eastern Brazil. For years, a new population of Spix’s Macaws has been bred by a German NGO (ACTP) teamed with the Pairi Daiza Foundation and the government of Brazil. They’ve successfully raised 180 healthy birds. “In two weeks… we will release the first eight Spix in the wild after 22 years of absence in their habitat,” said zoological and veterinary director at Pairi Daiza zoo, Tim Bouts. This will be the first time that a bird species has been reintegrated into the wild by humans.

Vaquitas: Scientists find last of the species can survive
The vulnerable Vaquita Dolphin has often been the poster child of conservation groups and their plight has been going from bad to worse. But in recent years a team of biologists has found that even with the low numbers and the risk of inbreeding, the species remains healthy and can survive. “Interestingly, we found the Vaquita is not doomed by genetic factors, like harmful mutations, that tend to affect many other species whose gene pool has diminished to a similar point,” says Christopher Kyriazis, a co-lead of the new research published in the journal Science. “Outlawed fishing remains their biggest threat.”

Recovery of the Monarch Butterfly
Monarchs are threatened by the rate of deforestation in Mexico and the loss of native plants (especially nectar-producing native plants). Recently, a team of Mexican scientists started planting Oyamel fir trees and many more native trees and plants in the famous Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to renew and restore habitats specifically for these butterflies. Apart from planting they are also restoring the soil health across the area, which has led to a to an 83-84 per cent survival rate for the trees, a great result. At first, scientists wanted to see the region self-generate, but Dr. Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero from the Natural Resource Research Institute (INIRENA) said: “When we went to the region, it was clear that the conditions for natural regeneration did not exist, we cannot be sure this will regenerate on its own. So we advocated for an active restoration plan for the area.”

Pakistan’s “Ten Billion Trees” leading the way in eco-system restoration
Pakistan is showing what is possible by pushing forward with its ambitious Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project (TBTTP), which aims to revive forests and wildlife resources in Pakistan. The programme planted 1.42 billion trees between 2019 and December 2021. “Large-scale restoration initiatives such as The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project are central to Pakistan’s efforts to support the UN Decade and to increase ecosystem restoration,” said Dechen Tsering, UNEP’s regional director for Asia and the Pacific. “We are at a point in history where we need to act, and Pakistan is leading on this important effort.” The ongoing project is expected to create 7,000 long-term jobs.

IMAGE: BILLION TREE TSUNAMI AFFORESTATION CAMPAIGN

Sky Events

On 13 July, the moon turns into a “super moon” and will look larger and brighter as it approaches the Earth closer than usual. The planet Jupiter will be rising earlier this month and will be easier to see when stargazing. Also between the 28th and 29th, the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower passes our skies which can produce up to 20 meteors per hour. The timing of this meteor shower coincides with the new moon, offering us an opportunity to see the celestial firework clearly. For best possible viewing of the meteors, look up towards the constellation of Aquarius.

Tides

Spring
1-3, 14-16 and 29-31 July

Neap
8-9 and 22-24 July

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

Life

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