Stirling University Biologist Discovers Rare Hybrid Plant In Scotland


A new species of plant, which has overcome infertility to evolve, has been found on the bank of a stream in Scotland.

“monkey flower”

The discovery of the new “monkey flower” near Leadhills in South Lanarkshire was made by Stirling University‘s Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin.

He said it was a rare example of a species being found to have originated in the wild within the last 150 years. Only a handful of examples exists in recent history.

Dr Vallejo-Marin, a plant evolutionary biologist, said:

“Our discovery will help enable scientists to understand how new species form.

“Finding examples of the process in action is rare, so this is an exciting opportunity to study evolution as it happens.”

British monkey flowers: North and South American parents (A, B); the sterile hybrid (C); and the new species (D). Scale bar = 1cm
British monkey flowers: North and South American parents (A, B); the sterile hybrid (C); and the new species (D). Scale bar = 1cm

The new yellow flower is derived from the union of two American species, originally brought to the UK in the 1800s. Soon after their arrival, the parent plants escaped garden confines and began to grow in the wild along the banks of rivers and streams. Reproduction between these parents then produced hybrids which are now widespread in Britain.

Normally, genetic differences between two species render hybrid offspring infertile and unable to go beyond the first generation but, surprisingly,

Dr Vallejo-Marin said he found wild hybrid plants that have overcome these genetic barriers to possess fully restored fertility.

The fertile hybrid therefore represents a completely new species, native to Scotland.

His research is published in the journal, PhytoKeys.

Meanwhile, a highly invasive plant called piri piri burr, originally from New Zealand, has been found on the sand dunes near the Forvie national nature reserve in Aberdeenshire.

Mike Smedley, Scottish Natural Heritage‘s operations officer, discovered several patches of piri piri burr growing near a path a few hundred metres from the Forvie reserve.

It has already been found around the River Tweed in the Borders and around the coast in East Lothian, but Forvie is the furthest north it has been seen yet.



Scottish Wildcats Found In Cairngorms National Park


Conservationists have discovered previously unknown populations of Scottish wildcats living in the Cairngorms National Park.

Scientists have warned the species remains under threat because of cross-breeding with domestic and feral cats.


Story reported by BBC.


Acuter 70mm digital imaging spotting scope

Acuter 70mm digital imaging spotting scopeThe Acuter 70mm digital spotting scope is a superb example of modern technology – a perfect fusion of photography and observation! The Acuter digiscope features clear, bright, high-resolution 70mm optics and a built-in high resolution camera with 3.1 million pixel resolution.

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See it, capture it – instantly! Now you can get up close and personal with your favourite subject matter and capture the moment instantly, in either Still Photo or Continuous Video format.

Integrated digiscope camera. What ever you see you can record it at the touch of a button on the special anti-vibration electronic cable release – see bottom picture for detail. The spotting scope has its own 32Mb internal memory and in addition has an SD Card slot.


Acuter 70mm digital imaging spotting scopeIn addition there is a AV Out connection for viewing images directly on your TV, and a USB port to connect to your PC.

Fully rubber armoured This superb instrument is designed to go anywhere and observe wildlife in the field. The exceptionally well made body Acuter 70 is finished in smooth rubber armour that shrugs off the rough and tumble of field use and ensures a secure grip when handling.

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Padded carry case with shoulder strap. The digiscope is supplied with padded carry case with shoulder strap.

Acuter 70mm digital imaging spotting scopeSD card slot

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Magnification 14x Object Lens Diameter 70mm Focal Length 210mm Field of View 4 ° Near Focus 4.8M Length 280mm Weight 1.59kg

Specification (Digital Camera)

Image Sensor CMOS Resolution (Max) 3.1MP (2056×1536 Pixels) Digital Zoom 4x Memory 32MB Internal, SD Card Slot Focus Assist Sharp Focus Meter Camera Magnification 7x or 14x Field of View 5.6 ° -2 ° Hi-Res Images 38 pics @ 3.0MP (Fine) Lo-Res Images >600 pics @ 0.3MP (Econ) Continuous Video (VGA) 30 secs VGA @ 30fps 4.5 mins CIF @ 15fps TV Out Preview PAL/NTSC Connectivity Ports USB/TV Out/Shutter Release/12v DC.

Cables Supplied: USB/Video/Shutter Release Cable System Requirements Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP, 600MB free, Hard drive space, 128MB SDRAM, CD ROM Drive, USB Port, Video card with 2MB RAM (16 bit colour) Power Requirement 2 x AA Alkaline

Imaging wildlife, shipping, planes is child’s play with the Acuter 70 digital spotting scope!

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Thumbs Up Eye Scope Zoom Lens for iPhone 4

An ingenious zoom lens that fits your iPhone 4.

Get up close and personal with this amazing iPhone zoom lens. Simply click it on to your existing iPhone camera and get picture detail you never thought possible.

Mobile phone photography is improving all the time and now rivals or even exceeds the quality of many small digital cameras. But one thing that mobile phone cameras can fall down on is the level of optical zoom available.

This clever add-on is a simple solution to the problem giving your iPhone camera an 8x optical zoom ability. Now you can get pictures of small or distant objects while retaining great picture quality.

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Minimum focus distance: 3m
Magnification: 8x
Field view: 246m
Compatible with the iPhone 4 only

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Missing Perthshire Osprey Returns To Nest





Blue 44 back home
Blue 44 went missing on Monday after his first flight.

The eight week old osprey that went missing after his first flight has returned to his nest.

“Blue 44” was born to 27-year-old Lady eight weeks ago, at the Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire.

He fledged the nest on Monday, but then disappeared and could not be traced, despite searches by volunteers.

The young bird of prey eventually re-appeared at his mother’s nest on Friday.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust said it was unusual for an osprey chick to fledge and not return to the nest within 24 hours.

It is thought Blue 44 was daunted by the maiden flight and became reluctant to try again.

Satellite tracking eventually reassured the search team he was fine, after information from a data tag the bird was wearing showed he was moving and keeping to trees.


Story by BBC.

Iconic Brands Join Forces To Save Red Squirrels

The Scottish Wildlife Trust and the House of Bruar have joined forces, raising money to protect Scotlands dwindling red squirrel population.

The House of Bruar, the prestigious department store in Highland Perthshire, yesterday (Thursday) hosted an event for The Scottish Wildlife Trust, lead partner in the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project.

The partnership will raise funds and awareness for the project in Perthshire, stronghold of the native red squirrel. The project aims to halt the spread of grey squirrels from the south, through targeted grey squirrel control, protecting the iconic red squirrel. The House of Bruar will be donating a percentage of this weekends art gallery sales to support the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project.

The Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project includes the fight to contain the threat from deadly squirrelpox disease in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Since 1952, a staggering 95% of red squirrels have been wiped out south of the border. Without urgent action now, they could be gone from Scotland within our lifetime.

Scottish Wildlife Trust Chairman Allan Bantick said:

This is a prestigious partnership for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The area around the House of Bruar is critical to the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project. We hope that the guests at the exclusive event tonight appreciate the seriousness of our fight.

More funding is urgently required to ensure the long term success of the Saving Scotlands Red Squirrels project and the survival of the iconic red squirrel in Scotland. Money raised as part of our partnership with the House of Bruar is vital to continue trapping, monitoring and containing the threat of squirrelpox.

Many thanks to those people whove already contributed to the project, both landowners whose land has been used and those who have contributed money.”

House of Bruar Managing Director Patrick Birkbeck said:

We are very lucky to live in beautiful surroundings of which the wildlife plays such a big part. I am delighted to be in a position to offer support to The Scottish Wildlife Trust and I am glad that The House of Bruar can play a small part in raising awareness for such a worthy project.

Wildflowers The Winners In Wet Weather

The recent poor weather is having an effect on Scotlands wildlife, but the news isnt all bad.

While the weather could have been harmful to ground nesting birds, some plant life is positively thriving. The BBC recently visited our Jupiter Urban Wildlife Garden to see for themselves.

Click here to see the impact of the weather on wildlife at Jupiter.

Simon Milne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said:

In areas where theres been heavy amounts of rainfall, it interferes with butterflies life cycle, meaning their lifespan is reduced and that causes problems with population numbers. Ground-nesting birds can be vulnerable to wet weather, with nests being flooded and chicks dying from the cold. Species such as grouse are particularly at risk.

The effects could be short lived as wildlife is only really affected with prolonged bad weather. Scotlands wildlife populations could recover if next spring is warmer and drier than this year.

Simon Milne said:

Wildlife can be fairly resilient to wet and cold, as long as its not a constant pattern. We can get away with it for one year and populations can recover. However, if we have a second or third year of this sort of weather, it can have a huge impact.

Scottish Wildlife Tourism Call To Businesses

Accommodation providers are being urged to provide guests with more information about local wildlife, nature reserves and trails

Sea Eagle in flight in ScotlandBusinesses have been urged to tap into Scotland’s wildlife tourism market after figures indicated the country attracted more than a million wildlife trips a year.

The call came in a new guide published by Tourism Intelligence Scotland (TIS).

Wildlife tourism is already estimated to generate £276m a year for the Scottish economy.

Ministers said the figure should rise further because of growing interest in sustainability and responsible tourism.

The new guide offers advice on how businesses can help wildlife enthusiasts make the most of their trips in Scotland.

It encourages accommodation providers to offer guests access to maps, keep spare binoculars and waterproofs for guests to use, and place information about local wildlife, nature reserves and trails on their websites.

The Wildlife Tourism in Scotland guide has been produced in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Wild Scotland.

‘Abundant wildlife’

Launching the guide, Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“Scotland has an abundant range of rich and unique wildlife and habitats – from ospreys to otters, and forests to farmland.

“We also have some of the most fantastic, world-class settings in which to enjoy wildlife.

“Over a million wildlife trips a year are already taken to or within Scotland, where people visit specifically to view our rich wildlife.”

He added:

“In reality, however, the scope of wildlife tourism is much larger, with some 58% of all visitors to Scotland citing our scenery and landscapes as their top reason for choosing us as a holiday destination.” 

Story by BBC