Tag Archives: survey

Asian Hornet – Vespa velutina

Asian HornetThe Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is the invasive non-native species to look out for at the moment.  It arrived in Britain, the first sighting being in Tetbury, last autumn, and at that time the hornets nests found in that area were successfully destroyed, and it is hoped that the population found last year has been eradicated.  However, this does not mean the war is over, even though that small battle was won.  Experts from the National Bee Unit believe that it is almost inevitable that there will be another invasion of Asian Hornets this year, and are asking the public to be vigilant.

The Asian Hornet originates from the area bordered by Northern India and China, and was first discovered in France in 2005, thought to have been transported in pottery that was imported from China.  The climate in the hornets native range is similar to that in Southern Europe, and may be the reason why is has spread rapidly.

hornets European and Asian Identification

European Hornet on the left, Asian Hornet on the right.

The Asian Hornet can potentially be a threat to people if they sting, but whilst the stings are painful, the hornets are not considered aggressive to people.  They main threat these invasive insects pose is to bees.  They predate social wasps and honeybees, and have been observed hovering over the entrance to bee hives waiting to charge and catch honeybees laden with pollen and nectar.  They eat the majority of the honeybee, and pulp the rest for larval food in the hornets own nest.  This is not good news for the honeybee, which is already under threat due to habitat loss and increase in intensive agricultural practices.  Asian Hornets also consume a wide variety of spiders and other insect prey.

 

You canhornets European and Asian Identification download a fact sheet which will enable you to identify the Asian Hornet here.

 

Advice for Beekeepers regarding this species can be found on BeeBase.

If you think you have seen an Asian Hornet please report your sighting here.

River Guardian Training Workshop

 

BEACON River Guardian TrainingBEACON held a fantastic River Guardian workshop on 25th January at Marthall Hall.  There were over 30 volunteers who attended the day-long workshop, which was a mixture of indoor desktop training, and then outdoor practical learning.

The aim of the workshop was to train volunteers, who have come from all backgrounds and levels of experience, to be able to safely take  water samples from local watercourses, and test the samples there and then using simple test kits.  These kits test phosphate and nitrate levels, pH and temperature of the water.  Volunteers then record this information and send the results to BEACON where we can analyse this information and see where problem areas are.

The day was kicked off by Terry Dudley, of the Birkin Fly Fishers, who explained the work that has previously been done by the anglers, and also students from Manchester University who took and tested water samples from various points along Birkin and Mobberley Brooks.  There is therefore already a good deal of baseline data for us to work with.

BEACON River Guardian TrainingCaroline Riley, from Healthy Rivers Trust, then spoke to the group about the importance of water quality testing, what we use the information for and how to carry out the tests themselves.  Caroline gave a practical demonstration of the equipment and test kits, and also answered questions.  Anna Gilchrist of Manchester University was also on hand to answer any tricky questions the volunteers had!

After lunch the group walked from Marthall Hall to Pedley Brook where they were all able to practice carrying out the water tests and how to accurately record the information.  A quick kick-sample was also carried out and a stickleback was found in the bottom of the brook!  The tests carried out on the brook showed low levels of both phosphate and nitrate too.

BEACON River Guardian Training

 

 

 

BEACON River Guardian Training

On returning to the Hall volunteers were encouraged to ‘Adopt and Spot’, to take and test water samples from on a regular basis, and equipment and test kits were handed out.

The day was a huge success with positive feedback received from the attendees.  People from over ten different partner organisations attending the training, as well as individual interested volunteers.  The volunteers have now ‘adopted’ 25 spots along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks as well as along the Rivers Dean and Bollin.

BEACON River Guardian Training

If you would like to find out more about the River Guardian project, or become a River Guardian yourself please contact us here.BEACON River Guardian Training

 

River Guardian Training Workshop

 

The Ruploading-resultsiver Guardian training session being held on Wednesday 25th January is now fully booked.

If you are still interested in attending River Guardian training, please contact us here and if there is enough uptake we will be running another date.  You can find information on what the training entails here.

Thanks everyone for your support!!   

Volunteer Surveyors Workshop – 11th December 2014

RDWP Training Attendees PhotoAs you may already know, BEACON has been granted Catchment Wise funding to support a project that focuses on the water quality of Birkin, Mobberley, Marthall and Sugar Brooks, in the western end of the Bollin catchment.   As part of this project, BEACON volunteers will carry out walkover surveys along the corridors of these brooks, to try and find out what the major causes of rural diffuse pollution are here.

Three training events have been held since the project started in October. One was held on Halloween to train volunteers to carry out walkover surveys and record incidents of diffuse pollution (you can read more about this training below). The training was recently repeated on 11th December and run by Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer. The day was less than kind, being cold and very wet, and so everyone was glad of the morning indoor session. Here volunteers learned about what diffuse pollution is, what causes it and the techniques used during a walkover to identify and record it. After a wonderful lunch, locally produced by Earlams Café in Styal, all the volunteers went to the Carrs in Wilmslow to put their new found walkover and recording skills to the test.

The Carrs Riverside Nine volunteers attended and practised their survey skills along the River Bollin. Everyone found the training informative and useful. One volunteer commented on Facebook: ‘It was a great day and an excellent presentation by you Sally. Thanks for hosting it’. A short refresher training session is being held in Bowdon for all volunteers in the New Year.

BEACON has now trained 27 volunteers carry out these walkover surveys, and so we are expecting results to start being submitted in the next few months.

For more information or to get involved in this survey project please contact Sally Potts, Project Officer, on 07825 115 303 or sally.potts@nationaltrust.org.uk

Catchment Walkover Tool

Walkover Tool Training

On 26th November a training session was held as part of BEACON’s Catchment Wise Diffuse Water Pollution Project.  This session was run by the Environment Agency to train volunteers on how to digitise the data we will be collecting from the walkover surveys being carried out along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks. 

The Environment Agency use a database called the Catchment Walkover Tool to collect walkover survey data in a standardised format, and then this database is used to create interactive maps and educational resources to illustrate the survey results. 

The volunteers really enjoyed the day, and we all learned some new IT skills as well as more about data input and sharing.  We just need to make sure we hire a warmer venue next time!

This Diffuse Water Pollution Project is not just a data collection exercise, as BEACON wants to achieve much more than this.  By the end of the year we will have trained approximatley 30 volunteers to input data and survey for Diffuse Water Pollution, providing these volunteers with skills and knowledge in areas of ecology, water quality, IT and science that they did not have before. 

We will also be using maps made from the Walkover Tool to educate and engage people on their land management practises and signpost them to other places where they can get help, advice and even funding. 

The next training session being held as part of this project is shown on the events page.  If you would like to get involved please contact us using this form.

Counting the Costs of Invasive Species

JKW in Living Room Wigan

Invasive species cost the UK economy approximately £1.7 billion per annum to control or plan for (CABI, 2010). This figure, whilst carefully calculated, is predicted to be significantly less than the full economic cost as it cannot take into account and quantify many indirect costs resulting from infestations of invasive non-native species, such as the damage to ecosystem services and loss of biodiversity.

JKW Removal on Construction Site

Agriculture and horticulture bear just under two thirds of this £1.7 billon cost, with construction, development and infrastructure sectors having the second highest direct cost at approximately £212 million for Great Britain. Invasive non-native plant species inflict the highest costs to the British economy, with Japanese Knotweed being the most costly species. More information and statistics on the costs of invasive non-native species to the British economy can be found here.

Giant Hogweed LymmEmily Fisher, an undergraduate student from Manchester Metropolitan University is undertaking research on the costs of invasive species to businesses, farmers and communities in the Bollin Catchment, and also which invasive species are perceived to pose the greatest threat. She is undertaking surveys, interviews and distributing questionnaires. The results of this research will be very useful for BEACON in seeing how the local community views invasive non-native species, and where BEACON could help deliver cost savings or efficiencies.

To complete a questionnaire, which will contribute to this important research, please click here.