News and Information

A collection of requests for information and other matters of interest.

Nuthatches (Harry Green)

The BTO Garden Bird Watch revealed a dramatic increase in the numbers of nuthatches visiting gardens during winter 2001-2002 where they had never been seen before. This may be due to poor supply of winter food in woods, especially beech mast, though this is less likely in Worcestershire. Nuthatches are also regarded as a species likely to do well in mild winters and to benefit from global waring. Their British distribution is expected to extend north. I heard of several reports of unexpected nuhatches in Worcestershire gardens last winter but did'nt make note of them. I should be pleased to hear from anyone who has unusual records.

Hawfinches (Harry Green)

Langston, R, Gregory R & Adams R 2002 The status of hawfinches in the UK 1975-1999. British Birds 95:166-173 suggest that hawfinches have decelined considerable over the last 20 years but data are scarce. They probably breed in small numbers in West Worcestershire woods. I should be interested to hear of any records, summer or winter. They are strongly associated with hornbeam, feeding on the seeds in winter.

Land Caddis Enoicyla pusilla (Harry Green & Brett Westwood)

We are still very keen to receive records of this odd woodland leaf litter insect. Readers can refer to various reports in earlier Worcestershire Record. The search for them was severely curtailed by Foot & Mouth Disease in 2001, but we have already added around 20 1 km squares to the distribution map this year. If you find them please let us know as soon as possible (contact Harry Green - see page 2 for details). Our plan is to determine their distribution more exactly. More details to follows.

Freshwater Invertebrates

In his talk at the April Annual Meeting Garth Foster mention a well illustrated French book. It was Tachet, H. Richoux P, Bournaud M & Usseglio-Polatera P 2000. Invertebres d'eau douce. Systematique, biologie, ecologie. CNRS Editions. Available from CNRS Editions, La Librairie, 151 bis rue Saint-Jacques, 75005, Paris. Can be purchased by email (in Euros) libraire@cnrseditions.fr.

Sudden Oak Death _ A New Fungus Disease

Dr Chris Prior - Plant Pathologist has commented on Press reports

Host range and the threat to European oaks. DEFRA and EPPO both suggest that European oaks may be resistant. EPPO states that white oaks are resistant. White oaks and European oaks are in the same sub-genus. The susceptible Californian oaks are in a different sub-genus. It is also worth noting that the disease has been recognised in Netherlands and Germany on rhododendrons since 1993, but there have been no records of it attacking European oaks in those countries.
Recognition of the problem if European oaks are attacked. Bark cankers caused by Phytophthora spp. occur on many different trees. A common symptom of Phytophthora canker is bleeding of a dark red or brown liquid from the cankered bark: we see this in UK on sweet chestnuts, horse chestnuts, apples, etc. The liquid dries on the surface to a black, tarry deposit. The bleeding is not a specific symptom of Phytophthora, other diseases such as honey fungus can also cause bleeding. Another common symptom in many countries including California is that cankers are attacked by various beetles that are attracted to dead or dying wood. In California, these include scolytids (bark and ambrosia beetles) and buprestids. There is therefore a frequent association of Phytophthora canker with beetle attack. In the case of bark beetles, there can be copious wood frass on the outside of the bark as a result of their wood boring activities. In UK thebuprestid Agrilus pannonicus is sometimes found breeding in bark beneath tarry spots on the bark of oaks which have been stressed, and the beetle may be responsible for these tarry spots. Phytophthora is not present in the bark in these cases. To add to the confusion, another Phytophthora attacking oaks in Europe has been described recently: this is P. quercina, which only attacks fine roots. It occurs in UK, but is not known to cause cankers. However, it may be involved in the complex of stress factors leading to oak decline syndrome, in which Agrilus is also implicated. This could cause a lot of false alarms, now that there is concern about Phytophthora ramorum, these Agrilus-associated tarry spots on oak bark are quite common. QUARANTINE Phytophthora ramorum is notifiable in the UK and all suspect cases must be reported by law. This applies to everybody, not just the horticultural trade. For viburnums and rhododendrons, ring the Plant Health Inspection Service (headquarters in York, 01904 455174) and for trees, ring Forestry Commission Plant Health Service on 0131 314 6414. If appropriate, the inspection services will visit the site and samples may be taken for testing. The fungus is subject to eradication and affected plants will be destroyed if the disease is confirmed. DEFRA has also taken steps to prevent the import of some plants and timber from some parts of the USA. USEFUL WEBSITES www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pestnote/sudden.htm. www.eppo.org/QUARANTINE/Alert_List/Fungi/oak_death.html This site has many links to NAPPO, Sabine Werres' own site, many north american sites, etc., some of which have additional photos or information. www.forestry.gov.uk/website/oldsite.nsf/ByUnique/WCAS-4Z5JLL

Oil Beetles Records Wanted - Past and Present

The new insect conservation charity BUGLIFE is appealing for records so that the current national situation can be defined and conservation action taken as Oil Beetles are declining. See Worcestershire Record No 5 November 1998 pages 10-12.

Noble Chafer

If you see any please contact Harry Green immediately! This rare beetle probably occurs in some of Worcestershire's old orchard and may have a predilection for rotting plum trees. There is much national activity to promote conservation of this species. See Worcestershire Record No 11 November 2001 page 7 where there are pictures etc.

BTO Migration Atlas

This important atlas will be on sale in September 2002 at retail price 55. There is currently a pre-publication offer to BTO members and Bird Ringers at 39.50. There never was a better time for you to join the BTO! See www.bto.org for information.

Migration Watch

More than 1000 observers have contributed records to this innovative internet based system which has logged spring migration. Well worth a visit www.bto.org/migwatch to see then changing distribution maps charting the northward surge of migration

This page occurred as a space-filler! If anyone would like to contribute to the next one send me a contribution: Ed.

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