Nature in the city ...
It's that time of year again when the phone and e-mail are red-hot, as we get numerous reports of a range of bugs, beetles, bees and birds.
Many people ask me to identify things from their descriptions over the phone but in many cases I cannot do this without examining the 'beastie' myself. Due to hectic schedules and time restrictions, I have to rely upon people's observation and reporting skills to send in accurate records for our database.
Please make use of local wildlife organisations like the Hull Natural History Society, the Hull Valley Wildlife Group, RSPB (Hull Branch), and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust if you aren't sure what you've seen .
I've started to get a lot of reports of 'big flying things' - not aliens, but Maybugs (also called June-bugs), which are large flying beetles, and hawk-moths. These can be up to four inches across but don't panic - they're harmless vegetarians. I have had many reports of foxes and deer in the city, despite the fact that their access and escape routes are being blocked by the continuing fencing-off of railway lines. Other reports are obviously misguided. There are currently no red squirrels, badgers or otters in Hull - the former are grey squirrels (some of which have gingery patches), and the latter are possibly mink (a carnivorous escapee from fur farms which do a lot of damage by eating fish, water-voles and other animals).
Similarly, some reporters have got very excited about newts to the point where every newt seen is of the great crested variety. Now this is something we can do something about. The Great Crested Newt (GCN) is in Hull's Biodiversity Action Plan. We know we've got some in the City, but we are launching a survey of ponds in Hull to find out where and just how many.
Any help from local pond-owners, or community groups would be most welcome - we will send you a form to record details of your pond. Similarly, if there are any experts out there who know what a Great Crested Newt looks like, or have survey experience, your knowledge and time would be greatly appreciated for a few survey visits.