Is there a reason why swans have long necks?

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Full screen image – Whooper Swans, Udale Bay, Black Isle, Highland Scotland ©Nick Sidle

Swans are incredible birds, very graceful in flight and you can’t help noticing the long neck as it is extended when they are in the air. It may really help them, on the water the extra height from which they see must be an advantage to keep a look out but in the air you might think it is an encumbrance and they hold it out straight just to cope, not so.

The Royal Society – The role of passive avian head stabilization

Research has shown that the whole neck structure, and it is very complicated – swans have 200 muscles on each side of the neck – acts as a stabiliser so they can still see well despite beating their wings at five times a second.

Nick

Scotland’s Birds gallery

Whooper Swan – Cygnus cygnus

 

 

 

Do Scottish Bees have to work harder?

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Full screen image  Honey Bee, Glen Convinth, Highland Scotland ©Nick Sidle

New research has shown that whilst in high concentrations caffeine is toxic to insects, smaller amounts in the nectar of certain plants keep bees more alert and likely to return to feed at the flowers which is of course good for the plant as well as the bee.

BBC News – Caffeinated plants give bees a buzz

So it’s not just people who wake up and get on with the job better after their morning caffeine boost. Unfortunately, leaving a double extra size latte from the coffee shop next to the flower bed isn’t going to help, it has to be in the nectar. I’m not an expert botanist and if anyone knows any better please add a comment, but from the lists of plants mentioned in the research, it does not look like any of them grow wild in Scotland. This means that apart from a few privileged bees with access to specialist collections in greenhouses, almost all Scottish bees just have to get on with it without the help of a caffeine lift.

Nick

Insects in Scotland gallery

Honey Bee – Apis mellifera

Scotland Nature Online

scotlandnature.com, a new blog dedicated to the heritage and science of the natural world in Scotland. Launched to coincide with the publication of the books ‘Glen Convinth’, produced with support from the Highland Council and available from Blurb at their standard printing rates without a markup as a service to the community and a resource to all friends of the area. The books are a team effort, it really is true to say “I’m just the photographer”, their design and the concept is from a group of community curators, Frances Baxter, Denise Davies, Sandra MacRae, Cathy MacRitchie and Sitakumari and the final page layout work was shared with Zeno Agnew-Davies.

Glen Convinth Volume 1 Cover

Glen Convinth Volume 2 Cover

Glen Convinth Books ordering Blurb UK

Glen Convinth Books Ordering blurb.com

Scotland is a unique country with a unique natural heritage. I hope to, in a small way, share some of its magic though this site as it grows. Till then many of the photographs from the books and images from across Scotland can be seen on flickr

Glen Convinth

and

Scotland Galleries – Nick Sidle

I was and will always feel privileged to have been able to be there when I created them.

Nick Sidle