Saturday, 16 March 2013

Week 15: Grey Squirrel (Scuridae Carolinensis)

The grey squirrel was @SpeciesofUK from 10th to 16th March 2013.

Grey squirrels (or Eastern Grey Squirrels to give them their full name) are part of the family Scuridae which contains circa 285 squirrel species in total. The only other Scuridae species found in the UK is the red squirrel.

Grey Squirrel
[Source: Flickr Creative Commons © Dean Thorpe]

Grey squirrels are not UK natives. They were introduced to the UK from the USA in the late 1800s. They’ve been rampantly successful, out-competing native red squirrels and driving them into ever smaller outposts.[1]

Friday, 15 March 2013

Week 14: Springtails (Collembola)

Springtails were the @SpeciesofUK from 3rd to 9th March 2013.

Springtails are tiny animals named for their ability to jump. They aren't actually a single species. They're a large grouping, 'Subclass,' of several thousand species, of which about 250 are found in the UK.

[Source: Flickr Creative Commons © smccann]

Springtails are found all over the UK, most of the year round. They eat vegetation such as rotting leaves and bacteria, and so are often found in leaf litter and compost.[1]

Week 13: Sallow (Salix caprea and Salix cinerea)

Sallow was @SpeciesofUK from 24th February to 2nd March 2013.

Sallows are species of willow. Willows form the genus Salix. There's about 400 species of willow in total.

'Sallow' is the common name used for “Old World” (European) broad-leafed species of willow. In the UK, there are two species known as sallow, Great Sallow (Salix caprea) and Common Sallow (Salix cinerea), and these form the subject of this blogpost.

Great Sallow Catkins
[Source: juergen.mangelsdorf]

Great sallow and common sallow have various other names. Both are commonly known as ‘pussy willow.’

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Week 12: Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis)

The slow worm was @SpeciesofUK from 17th to 23rd February 2013.

Slow worms, despite their name, are not worms, and despite their appearance, are not snakes. They are lizards.

Slow Worm
[Source: Jonas Bergsten]

Historically all lizards had legs so the lack of them is an evolved characteristic. There are a number of families of lizards that have evolved leglessness, many independently of each other.

Week 11: Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

The long-tailed duck was @SpeciesofUK from 10th to 16th February 2013.

The long-tailed duck is a sea duck. Other sea ducks found in UK waters include eiders, scoters, goldeneyes and mergansers.

Male Long-tailed Duck
[Source: Rictor Norton & David Allen]

The long-tailed duck is not resident in the UK; it's a winter visitor. It's most common in estuaries and bays in northern Scotland but is also seen as far south as Norfolk.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Week 10: Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

The Scots pine was @SpeciesofUK from 3rd to 9th February 2013.

The UK only has three native conifers - Juniper, Yew and Scots Pine. Of these, Scots Pine is the UK's only native pine.

Scots Pine is native to Northern Europe and Asia. It ranges from Ireland in the west to Siberia in the east and Portugal and the Caucasus in the south. In fact, the Scots Pine is the most widely distributed conifer in the world.[1]

Scots Pine, Glen Affric
[Source: Chris]

In the UK, the Scots Pine’s natural range is restricted to Scotland. It is the dominant tree in the UK’s only truly native pine forest, the Caledonian Forest in Scotland.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Week 9: Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus)

The mountain hare was @SpeciesofUK from 27th January to 2nd February 2013.

The mountain hare, ‘Lepus timidus,’ is found from eastern Siberia to Norway. There are isolated pockets elsewhere, including in Scotland in the UK, the Alps, Ireland, the Baltics, Poland and, remarkably, the island of Hokkaido in Japan.

Mountain Hare, Scotland
[Source: Andrew Easton]

The mountain hare is also known as the blue hare, tundra hare, variable hare, white hare, snow hare and alpine hare. (Just don't mix the mountain hare up with the arctic hare! That's a native of Canada/Greenland and a different species altogether.)