Country Life Today: Fresh hope for moths

In today's round-up, we discover why moths are not facing as steep a decline as previously thought; discover a new system to track mountain hares; and meet the man who completed a marathon in every country in the world.

Why there’s yet hope for beleaguered moths

Moths in the UK have been steadily declining since the 1980s, according to a new study by the University of York. However, note scientists, the animals’ biomass — the combined weight of all the moths found in a given area — remains much higher than it was in 1967 and there is no evidence we are facing Insect Armageddon.

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The Holy Grail of moth-ing! The stunning Clifden Nonpareil, or Blue Underwing, is a former resident of Kent that disappeared around the 1930s. In the last ten years or so it is believed to have recolonised areas in southern England, as well as being a scarce migrant. Now is the time to look out for this moth, which is attracted to sugar and occasionally light. Let us know if you get lucky! ? Photo – Tamas Nestor #KentsMagnificentMoths . . . . . #mothclub #mothnight #mothsmatter #lepidoptera #lepidopterist #macromoths #moths #igcb_moths #mothtrapping #mothsofinstagram #bluemoth #kentmoths #nationalmothweek #kentwildlife #kent #britishwildlife #nativewildlife #naturelover #naturephotography #ukwildlife #ukinsects #invertebrates #insects #entomology #buglife #conservationinaction #extinctionrebellion #ecowarrior

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‘Our study does not support the narrative that insects are vanishing en masse before our eyes, because there has been a net increase in biomass over the last 50 years,’ says the study’s lead author, Dr Callum MacGregor.

Nonetheless, he continues, we need to remain vigilant: ‘The clear decline we observed since the 1980s is still a cause for concern.’

Moths are facing the greatest drop in woodland and grassland areas, putting paid to the theory that the culprits for the insect’s disappearance are intensive agriculture and light pollution. Instead, say researcher, the causes could be changes in climate and weather patterns.

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Full story (The Guardian)

Hare tracking goes high-tech

A new app is helping land managers count mountain hares in Scotland. The new system, which has been tested in a number of grouse moors, not only ensures that estates can share the same methodology to keep track of the elusive animals but also collects real-time population statistics in a single place.

‘We believe that this will become the default means of recording numbers and making a return, removing the need to write out count cards and send them in for further input,’ Ross Macleod, of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust told The Press and Journal.

‘It is vital that we understand what’s happening to mountain hare numbers across all areas. Every land use with an interest in the conservation status of mountain hares should be contributing.’

Full story (The Press and Journal)

Ancient church faces £50,000 bill after thieves steal lead from its roof

Sign on a church warning metal thieves that steps have been taken to prevent theft.

Churches are being urged to adopt security measures to fight the rising trend for lead theft

The Grade II-listed Church of St Hilda, in North Yorkshire, faces a repair bill to the tune of £50,000 after thieves stole lead from three parts of its roof last month.

The 12th-century building was left exposed to the elements and the interiors were flooded. But it’s the roof that will prove particularly expensive to fix, with the church having to dig deep into its savings.

North Yorkshire Police, who called ‘the actions of whoever did this.. as selfish as they are disgraceful,’ are asking anyone with any information to get in touch with them.

Full story (Country Life)

On this day…

On November 12, 1439, Plymouth was granted municipal status by an Act of Parliament.

Earlier that year, the people of Sutton Prior, Sutton Ralf and Sutton Valletort had petitioned Henry VI, asking for the three manors to be combined into a single, independent borough — Plymouth. The King initially granted the request by Royal Licence, which was later confirmed by Parliament. In 1440, a charter then ratified the incorporation and defined the liberties of the newly formed borough.

The Lake District could have car-free zones

Popular parts of the Lake District are suffering from such traffic congestion that the National Trust is considering introducing a car ban for visitors.

Among the worst-hit areas is the village of Seathwaite, where people tend to park when they go and climb Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak.

view from waswater lake district of snow capped mountain with reflection

The proposal for a car-free zone has been welcomed by local people (who would still be able to continue using their vehicles under the plans) although some ramblers said the move would be ‘a big blow’.

Full story (Country Life)

Airlines under fire for putting fuel-bill savings ahead of the environment

Climate campaigners have criticised the aviation industry, which has been engaging in a cost-cutting practice even though it increases carbon dioxide emissions.

Low Angle View Of Airplane Flying Against Sky During Sunset

In a bid to save money, airlines have been loading their aeroplanes with more fuel than necessary so they can avoid refilling at expensive airports. The practice, called ‘tankering’, comes at a huge cost to the environment — in Europe alone, it produces an extra 901,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, the same as a city of 100,000 inhabitants.

Full story (Country Life)

And finally…

Nick Butter, a Dorset-born runner who lives in Bristol, has become the first man to complete a marathon in every country in the world, ending, fittingly, in Greece, whose history was the inspiration for the first Olympic marathon. It took him 674 days to pull off the extraordinary feat.

Mr Butter has been raising funds for Prostate Cancer UK to honour a friend who suffers from the disease.

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Day 674 – Marathon 196 of 196! Greece ?? Athens — I did it. I actually did it. Ha ???‍♂️??Against all odds. I ran a marathon in every country in the world ? Ha, I can’t believe it. A new world first and a new world record and big relief. Please donate if you can. Link in my bio! — I crossed my two year finish line today hand in hand with my brilliant friends – AND KEVIN WEBBER! As you know, Kev was my inspiration behind this journey, and he promised me he would stay alive to be here at the finish – I’m so pleased we could share today celebrating life, and this wonderful world we live in. Thanks to Kevin who changed my life for the better – I just only wish I could stop him dying from Prostate Cancer. Sadly not. We can stop other men dying though. Donate now. — I got by with a little help from my friends as the saying goes. In reality I was a very very small runner man in one giant network of wonderfully selfless, smart and determined people. — Thank you so much to all of the brilliant team, supporters, Prostate Cancer UK, family, friends, donors, random strangers, sponsors, airlines, security firms, visa offices, the UN, the British embassy, and of course YOU! A big thanks to @doaportlive who powered me around the world with their energy. — The story is not over yet my friends. Over the coming days I’ll tell you my big plans for wants next. 2020 is all about sharing the story in a huge UK and European speaking tour. If you would like me to speak at your SCHOOL or if you can help organise a talk at a VENUE near you please email If you want me to come and speak at your place of work or business please also get in touch. I have so much to share. — I’ll be showcasing my souvenirs from every corner of the world, all the photography, a preview of the documentary, and my photo book. The written account of this journey will be published by Penguin publishers in April/May ish. ? — Run far, run free, and do yourself proud. Thank you for all the support friends. — #runningtheworld196 #runningtheworld #traveller #runnerguy #nickbutter #inspiration #running #run #runner #travel #adventure #guy #globertrotter #hot #worldtravel #love

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‘Extinct’ moth returns to Britain after forty years

The Clifden Nonpareil, whose resident population disappeared in the 1960s, had only been occasionally spotted in the UK when European