Thursday, 17 August 2017

Pat Bateson

I have just noted the obituary of Sir Patrick Bateson 1938-2017 ( I met him at a conference in Sitges (Spain) in 1982. He was an excellent scientist, a natural communicator and an all-round good guy.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Seeing the Changes 1231

Mixtures of rain and sun. In Loughor, more fungi appeared (possibly Blackening brittlegill Russula nigicans). Hairy tare (Vicia hirsuta) bloomed in Bynea, where clouds of Small white butterflies (Pieris rapae) appeared. Visited, in Loughor by a Sloe carpet moth (Aleucis distinctata).

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Great Welsh Bee-knap?

There's rustling and there's rustling! A mass abduction of Honey bees has been reported ( along with a note that the value of a Honey bee brood with a queen has recently quadrupled to about £200 (bee keeping is getting more popular but bees are not thriving). The event occurred in Rhydwyn on Anglesey and presumably involved someone knowledgeable and equipped for the 'sting'. I would be surprised, however, if this event genuinely qualifies (as reported) as Britain's biggest hive heist. Occasionally (as in the above picture) broods become available for free.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Interesting news that a 'bullshit detector' is being developed to enable journalists to rapidly check for actual fake news, including fake, fakes ( The trouble is that there are masses of bullshit generators (including some journalists). In addition, it appears that people are often only too willing to believe fake news if it fits with their preconceptions, even in the face of masses of evidence suggesting their beliefs are erroneous (remember the anti-expert dialogue of recent times). I suspect that the identities of the 2 benefactors financing development of the detector software, will generate more fake news in certain circles.


There is news of the eventual reaction of a 12,500 bicycle garage under Utrecht Rail station ( Although this will become the largest facility in the world, Dutch cycle organisations are already claiming it is inadequate. Reportedly, around 43% of journeys under 7.5 km in the Netherlands are by bike. It (along with the very substantial network of cycle lanes, pedestrianised areas and protections of people on 2 wheels) makes UK provision for cyclists look paltry. Increasing cycling in UK cities would eventually improve our shameful air quality but there would have to be a sea change here.

Seeing the Changes 1230

Visited in Loughor by a Canary-shouldered thorn (Ennomos alniaria).

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Another Snake in the Grass

Professor Fritz of Germany has identified a new species of Grass snake, the Barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) which is distinct from the Common or Eastern grass snake (Natrix natrix) in the UK ( The new species has stronger dark markings on a grey background and lacks the distinctive yellow 'collar' of its cousin (as shown above). There are, apparently, reproductive barriers between the two species in areas where their ranges overlap (which is why they can be classed as species rather than local variants). This brings the number of UK species of snake to 4. 

Pat Bateson

I have just noted the obituary of Sir Patrick Bateson 1938-2017 (