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Loss of wild flowers across Britain matches pollinator decline

The first ever Britain-wide assessment of the value of wild flowers as food for pollinators shows that decreasing floral resources mirror the decline of pollinating insects, providing new evidence to support the link between plant and pollinator decline.

In recent years, there have been considerable concerns over threats to wild bees and other insect pollinators which are vital to the success of important food crops and wild flowers.

Amongst the many pressures facing pollinators, a key factor is likely to be decreasing floral resources in Britain. 

The study, published in Nature combines vegetation survey data recorded over the last 80 years with modern day measurements of nectar to provide the most comprehensive assessment ever published. 

Read more

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Channelling Spring Stormwater: Success!

I’ve written quite a bit about this project, because it was the main challenge in making this corner of the garden workable.

Every year, the grass plane pictured would be flooded in late winter and early spring, which made me afraid to plant too many trees in this side of the garden. Beyond pears, there aren’t a lot of fruit trees that tolerate standing water.

As such, I’ve done a lot of work with hügelkultured bioswales, and made a semi-permeable (ie. “leaky”) pond. It’s turned out that together, these two additions have the capacity to hold the entirety of the spring runoff.


Swales

You can read about the swales in this archive. They are far from finished, because work on lining them stopped when the wet winter set in, but nonetheless, they hold a huge amount of water.

This is what they look like in summer:

Once I finally finish them up, all the water from around the house will be piped into them via a french drain.


Pond

Most of the posts about the pond are here. It looks small, but it’s very deep. I’m allowing it to grow more or less “wild” in order to encourage mallards to move in.

This is what it looks like in summer:

It’s surrounded by trees, and planted with a whole mess of different semi-aquatic irises (1, 2), so hopefully the ducks that scope out the yard every year actually move in to the nesting box we have built for them.

They were swimming in it before it was finished.

Their ducklings should be nice and sheltered, and also have a place to swim and dabble.


I’m actually surprised to see that a few simple landscape fixes could fix such an enormous problem. I honestly thought I would have to do more digging to make this work.

Now, this entire side of the yard is open for tree-planting, whereas before I had only been planting the perimeter, and on little elevated hügelkultur “islands.”

More trees will further improve water permeation and groundwater recharge, as their roots make drainage channels through the clay subsoil. In a few years, even the worst rainfall likely won’t flood this space for more than a few days.

I’m Ron of Ron Beck Designs and I hand design-hand craft artificial aquarium decor plants, reptile plants, snake habitat plants and home-office decor. The plant designs are well crafted, life like and made of either plastic or silk. I use non toxic products and re-purpose plastic elements within the design structure.

My original designs offer a realistic, attractive, unique plant for your freshwater aquarium, reptile or snake habitat enclosure and home decor-office decor.

ronbeckdesigns.com | ebay | etsy        rbd | instagram

Hola all snake enthusiasts! I was wondering if I could have a bit of advice. I have a corn snake. He has a great enclosure, UTH, always sheds great, and all of that. I am looking to possibly get a ball python next. I see on here a lot of people go with plastic tubs instead of glass enclosures because they hold the heat better and such. Soooo my questions are….how do you set that up? Do the UTH work without melting the plastic? I know pythons are more picky when it comes to temp and humidity so I just want to make sure I get the right setup. Pictures would be greeeeat if ya’ll have any! I’ve tried googling and looking on here but I just get frustrated. Thanks, loves <3

Catch and release is great but... its means nothing if we don't have habitat

Catch and release is great but… its means nothing if we don’t have habitat

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Encountering bruising bass like this is far more likely in rivers with great habitat. It is truly great to see large portions of the recreational fishing community really getting behind catch and release… From the early days of Rex Hunt kissing fish and letting them go while chanting yibbida-yibbida to the continued support of the movement by fishing personalities since, guys like Steve Starling,…

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Common Shelduck….. Dazzling Gajaldoba by pallab seth
Via Flickr:
The common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is a waterfowl species widespread and common in temperate Eurasia, and wintering in subtropical regions though rarely seen in eastern part of India. It is a striking bird, with a reddish-pink bill, pink feet, a white body with chestnut patches and a black belly, and a dark green head and neck. Gajaldoba is a small village on the western side of Teesta River in the Oodlabari area of Jalpaiguri district (West Bengal, India). Gajaldoba is famous for the dam on River Teesta, constructed for irrigation of agricultural lands, which resulted in a large waterbody upstream and has become home to many migratory birds during the winter. The natural beauty of the place with its view of the forest, river and majestic Kangchenjunga is awe inspiring! The wetland with sprawling vegetation and reedbeds is a safe haven of at least 100 species of birds, primarily the waterfowls, which attracts a number of winter migrants. Birds from Europe, Central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas winter here. Gajaldoba now host at least 20,000 waterfowls in the peak season (November to March) and becoming a significant global waterfowl habitat. Gajaldoba took increased prominence due to the state government’s initiative to promote a mega tourism hub in the area. An area of more than 200 acres has been demarcated for the purpose and infrastructure is being developed. In the near future, the area is expected to become one of the high end tourist destinations of Bengal. Experience Bengal, Experience India

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Kindergarten Habitats & High School Design

Along with returning to my studies I have been visiting classes to talk programming, space and backwards design.

Kindergarteners love hands on work and it’s one of the best ways to teach a new concept. During “L” week I challenged students to design a Lunar Habitat. This is apparently really hard to describe to a Kindergartener. After showing pictures of a habitat and making ones out of construction paper the idea clicked after building habitats out of Legos, Bristle Blocks, Tinker Toys and Mega Blocks. The definition best used to describe the Lunar Habitat to Kindergarteners is- “A place where astronauts can live on the Moon without a spacesuit on. It provides resources (like water, air and power) that the moon doesn’t have.” We also made a Yeti dance on Google’s Made With Code website, drew astronaut’s EVA suits and ate astronaut ice cream.

Once again high schoolers have been assigned the dreaded toothpick bridge project. I have friends who are therapists and they say this project is a family buster. I visited freshman science classes from my old high schooler to talk about backwards design. I shared how backwards design can help them in their bridge project, real life applications of backwards design while chatting about my NASA projects and admitted what I wish I knew as a freshman. When talking about backwards design I described that the design stage of a project should take the most brain power and more time then expected. Once a design is made you need to think about how much time each stage of production will take, what materials you need and if you learned as much as you can about the project so unknowns are resolved.

Tips for high school freshman I have are…

1) Keep alternate forms of postsecondary education and options in mind like Community College, ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), Technical Colleges, Study Abroad, Americorps and even taking a year off between high school and college.

2) Take honors classes only if the topic interests you.

3) Find a paid internship to replace you generic summer job (even as a freshman). This way you will be paid to do something meaningful that you are interested in.

4) Network with folks in your community that have your dream job. Ask CEOs, managers and other company leaders if you can shadow them. Ask for a tour of a business that you are interested in.

Although I use lesson plans I write about in previous posts some of the best lessons come from getting off topic. Building the habitats out of materials and talking about freshman advice was totally unplanned but still valuable.

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

Visit a local classroom to read a book, talk about your career, or ask teacher how you can help out!

Teach programming with drag and drop code: https://www.madewithcode.com/projects/animation

Check out AmeriCorps: http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps

Check out ROTC: http://www.goarmy.com/rotc.html

Find ways to give back to the community: https://www.volunteermatch.org/