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Shared Earth
Fridays 15.00 - 15.30
Shared Earth is a new series from the BBC Natural History Unit which celebrates the natural world and explores what we can all do to help conserve wildlife and habitats and reduce our footprint on the planet
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We're keen to hear your suggestions for future programmes via our Contact Us page or write to Shared Earth, BBC NHU Radio, Bristol BS8 2LR
Friday 15 June 2007
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The rare arable plant, Mousetail, in bloom
The rare arable plant, Mousetail, in bloom. © Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

If you've spotted any dying or dead birds belonging to the finch family in your garden and it's not through being taken by cats, it might be that they are suffering from a bird disease called Trichomoniasis. Since 2005, this disease which is caused by a parasite has been affecting chaffinches, greenfinches and sometimes house sparrows.

Outbreaks of this disease occur after changes in weather, mainly following hot spells and are spread by birds sharing food and drinking water as it is spread through their saliva. Ensuring your bird feeders and bird tables are spotlessly clean can help reduce the spread of the disease.

The British Trust for Ornithology and other bird conservation organisations are monitoring the numbers of birds affected. Further advice and information can be found here.

Rare Arable Plants

We have a beautiful diversity of flowering farmland plants in the UK with wonderful names like Spreading Hedge Parsley, Mousetail, Shepherd's Needle. Having been viewed as weeds they were subject to control with herbicides and now many of them are endangered.

Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, are running an Arable Plants Project to identify the key sites for the rare species and offer farmers and land owners advice on how to manage their crops to allow the flowers to flourish once again. Lower Smite Farm owned by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust are taking part in the scheme and have 4 rare arable plants growing again on their land.

The Birds' Nest Orchid

The Bird's Nest Orchid. © Harry GreenReturning to the Gloucestershire woodland owned by a Shared Earth listener and his family in early June, Brett Westwood and Harry Green were lucky enough to find the birds' nest orchid in full bloom and plenty of them.

These saprophytic plants don't need sunlight to grow and produce chlorophyll so are never green but they receive their nutrients from decaying vegetation below ground - helped by a tiny fungus living in the soil around and on their roots. They are always a pale straw colour but very beautiful nonetheless.

Brett also spotted what might be, when it finally comes into flower, a rare orchid in the wood - a narrow lipped helleborine but if it's not that it's the more common broad leaved helleborine.

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