Country Life Today: Brexit ‘turbo-charges’ zoo breeding, terrifying barn owls and a royal takeaway

In today's news round-up we bring you an unlikely benefit of Brexit uncertainty, a study into the hunting powers of white barn owls and The Queen's penchant for fish and chips.

Underwater meadow to catch carbon

Threatened seahorses are hoped to thrive in the habitat. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

An undersea meadow of seagrass, planned to catch carbon from the atmosphere and provide a habitat for marine life, is to be planted off the Pembrokeshire coast.

The flowering plant was once common in British waters, and can capture carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than rainforest vegetation. It also provides a haven for wildlife, including seahorses, and a patch of 10,000 square metres can support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates.

Members of the public are collecting seeds from meadows and they will be taken to Swansea University to be prepared for planting.

Full story (The Times)


Zoo ‘turbo-charges’ breeding amid Brexit fears

A pair of Von der Decken hornbills are among the new arrivals. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

A zoo in Hertfordshire has decided to “turbo-charge” its breeding programme amid fears that a no-deal Brexit would affect how animals enter Britain.

Shepreth Wildlife Park in has brought forward planned arrivals of animals from Europe and as a result, recently received a maned wolf, an aardvark, a red panda, a pygmy slow loris and a pair of Von der Decken hornbills.

Staff have worked around the clock to build enclosures for the arrivals.

Full story (The Times)


The terrifying powers of barn owls

The white feathers exploited the voles’ aversion to bright light. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

Scientists have found white owls are superior in their hunting ability to their darker counterparts.

A study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution explored the colour of barn owls, and revealed that their prey are significantly more terrified by the lighter varieties of bird.

‘The vole is so scared,’ said Alexandre Roulin, from the University of Lausanne. ‘It’s like a ghost coming on it; it really panics.’

Full story (Country Life)


On this day…

William Lyons. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

William Lyons, ‘Mr Jaguar’, was born in 1901 in Blackpool. He co-founded the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, which became Jaguar Cars Limited after the Second World War.

Find out what Richard Parker made of the Jaguar XJ R-Sport saloon on a trip to Scotland in pursuit of silver salmon.


The full impact of selective breeding

Labradors were among the breeds involved in the study. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

Selective breeding in dogs influences far more than their outer appearance, research has shown.

A study has identified that humans have altered the animals profoundly, changing their brains, not just in size and shape, but in their very functions and structure.

The study, published in in the JNeurosci, the Journal of Neuroscience, explored 62 dogs of 33 different breeds, including beagles, dachshunds, greyhounds and Labradors.

Full story (Country Life)


Cockerel ruffles feathers

Good morning? Not everyone enjoys the cockerel’s crow. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo.

For around two weeks a noisy cockerel has been ruffling feathers in Selhurst, Croydon, and he isn’t showing signs of quieting down.

The urban environment is an unlikely setting for poultry patter, but this cockerel seems perfectly at home in the city, rising at around 5.30am to the disdain of his neighbours.

Full story (Country Life)


Goodwin Sands SOS

A campaign group from Deal, Kent, is working to protect the Goodwin Sands, a 10-mile sandbank in the English Channel. The popular landmark is at risk of irreversible damage caused by dredging.

Find out more about the threat, as previously reported by Country Life, here.


And finally… A royal takeaway

The hat may be pink but the fingers are green: HM The Queen at NIAB on July 9.

The Queen’s penchant for fish and chips has been revealed. Her majesty is said to treat herself to the takeaway at Balmoral. Reportedly, a footman is dispatched to pick up the dish from the local town of Ballater.

Full story (Tatler)