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Update on some of the Autumnwatch animals

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Tim Scoones Tim Scoones | 14:52 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Just because the show's finished doesn't mean we haven't been keeping a track on some of the animal stories that featured in Autumnwatch. And many of these stories featured you in a big way!


  • Two of the three beaver families released into Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll, in May, have built loges. These are the first beaver lodges to be constructed in the wild for over 400 years in Scotland.
  • These lodges are impressive structures, measuring 5m long by 2m high by 7m wide.
  • Beavers build lodges to shelter in during the day. This provides them with warmth and protection. The lodges usually consist of two chambers, accessed from the loch by an underwater passage.
  • The first chamber is where the beavers spend a few minutes drying off before moving into the large chamber, which is extremely dry and cosy.
  • In a nutshell, this means they are happy, settled beavers and may be thinking about kits in the spring!

Painted ladies:

  • The Butterfly conservation society received over 12,500 sightings in our online survey for the painted lady butterfly during 2009.
  • Nearly 10,500 people have taken part. This is amazing.
  • All these records are very useful, but perhaps the most exciting were the four reports we received in mid-October, each of painted ladies migrating southwards out to sea from the south coast of England.
  • This is the first time Butterfly conservation have been informed of any such sightings, and therefore solves the mystery as to whether painted ladies attempted to 'tough it out' and died trying during our winters or returned southward migration to warmer climes.
  • Three of these return migration sightings were submitted to the online survey and all three of these observers had seen the appeal for records on Autumnwatch!

Harlequin ladybirds:

As we reported in Autumnwatch, the harlequin ladybird continues to push west and northwards.

They have been spreading rapidly from the East of England into Wales, and only a few days ago harlequins were seen for the first time in Glasgow!

Despite all this, the seven spot native ladybirds did have rather a better year than the past two years, although the poor little two spot ladybird has struggled this year. There is still no hard scientific evidence as to how the harlequin is directly affecting the native species, but there seem to be no edges to the harlequin's distribution as yet, and this will be a cause for concern.

The seven spot ladybird has had a good year (image copyright Jon Mold, Buglife)

The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds. Monitoring ladybirds across the country has never been more important. We want YOU to get involved.


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