Country Life Today: Why England’s heather is under threat

In today's news round-up we find out why heather is being lost across much of England, discover whether Big Cats are roaming the countryside and come up close and personal with a giant spider.

Withering heights: Moorland heather faces climate-change threat

England’s ‘dun and purple moors’ could just turn dun if climate change is not stopped.

The National Trust says that a deadly combination of last year’s drought and this year’s heather beetle explosion, which, in turn, is linked to milder winters, has severely damaged heather plants, with many unlikely to flower.

Full story (The Guardian)

Solving the mystery of Britain’s Big Cats

Are there big cats in Britain? Young film-maker Mike Coggan thought he had spotted one a few years ago, so he set out to discover the truth.

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A black panther peeks from behind leaves

After a hugely successful documentary, he now intends to launch ‘a full investigation’ and try and track down the cats using a thermal drone.

Full story (Country Life)

Aragog on the loose

This is arachnid season but motorists who pulled at the BP petrol station on the A3 in Wisley, Surrey, certainly weren’t expecting to find a spider the size of a hand crawling across the car park.

The hairy creature turned out to be a Mexican red-knee tarantula. Named Aragog, after the Harry Potter spider, it has now been rescued by the RSPCA.
Full story (Surrey Live)

Bee aware of killer hornets

Aggressive Asian hornets have been spotted across different locations in England. They are no more dangerous to people than a normal hornet but they spell disaster for honey bees — they can eat up to 50 a day.

Asian hornet in flight

Beekeepers and the Government are asking the public to report any sighting so they can eradicate the invasive pest before it gets established.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

On September 6, 1642, Parliament banned public-stage plays on the grounds that they were ‘Spectacles of Pleasure, too commonly expressing lascivious Mirth and Levity’.

Instead, it recommended ‘to the People of this Land the profitable and seasonable considerations of Repentance, Reconciliation, and Peace with God’.

Desperate appeal for missing puppies

Heartless thieves stole seven springer puppies (six of which were only five-week old) from a farm in Devon earlier this week.

In a bid to retrieve them, their distraught owner has posted an appeal on social media. Dog theft is on the rise, with criminals selling them on or breeding them in puppy farms.

Full story (FarmingUK)

And finally…a French rooster has won the right to keep crowing in the morning

The cockerel, named Maurice, had become embroiled in a legal battle after his neighbours called it a nuisance and lodged a noise pollution complaint. The case quickly made international headlines, with the bird gaining support from across the world.

A judge has now ruled in favour of Maurice’s owner, Madame Corinne Fesseau, and the rooster can once again look forward to his early morning cock-a-doodle-doos.

Full story (BBC)