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Is YOUR dog good enough for Scruffts?

Previous Scruffts winner (2004) Credit: PA

Scruftts, the competition that gives crossbreed dogs the opportunity to compete in the main arena at Crufts, is looking for local dogs to enter the competition.

They'll be on the lookout at the Great North Dog Walk at the Leas in South Shields, Tyne and Wear on the 5th of June.

Dogs and owners competing at the heats are hoping to make it through to the class semi-finals in London in October, and from there six lucky crossbreed dogs will qualify for Crufts 2017.

All crossbreeds and mixed breed dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages of dog are welcome.

There are six competition categories:

  • Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog
  • Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch
  • Child’s Best Friend
  • Golden Oldie Crossbreed
  • Best Crossbreed Rescue
  • Good Citizen Dog Scheme class
Previous Scruffts winner (2001) Credit: PA

The Great North Dog Walkholds the world record as the largest dog walk ever held in 2011, which had 22,742 dogs.

This year’s event, which aims to continue breaking records, will be held on Sunday 5th June 2016 at the Leas, South Shields.

How can I enter?

  • Registration for the competition starts from 9am and the competition judging begins at 12.30pm.
  • Entering a dog into Scruffts costs just £2 per class.
  • There is no need to enter in advance, simply turn up on the day.
  • Class entries being taken on a first come, first served basis - with a max fo 30 dogs per class.

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Butterfly spotters wanted in the North East

The Dingy Skipper Credit: Durham Wildlife Trust

Could you help find a rare and threatened butterfly in the North East?

The Butterfly Conservation and the Durham Wildlife Trust survey are looking for volunteers to help try and spot the Dingy Skipper.

What is the Dingy Skipper?

  • A small, inconspicuous, brown and grey butterfly, the Dingy Skipper has declined nationally by 42% in recent decades.
  • The butterfly receives no legal protection in England and this has contributed to a number of important sites being lost in the North-East.
  • County Durham still holds some strongholds for the butterfly because its larval food-plant, bird’s-foot trefoil, occurs on many of the unimproved grassland and brownfield sites in the county.
  • The main threat is from development of the sites for agriculture, quarrying, industry and housing or neglect, all of which means that the butterfly has vanished from many areas.

“We would like people to join us the hunt for this sometimes difficult to find butterfly.

Many of the areas where the Dingy Skipper was once found in the county have changed enormously since recorders last focused on this species.

“It is also often a species that is quite easily overlooked as it can blend in well with its sounding environment, which makes seeing this champion at the art of camouflage all the more satisfying. Our workshops will help surveyors to locate them."

– Mark Dinning, from the Trust

Durham Wildlife Trust will be running survey training courses based around the Dingy Skipper on Thursday May 5th at its Low Barns reserve near Witton le Wear and on Sunday May 15th at Rainton Meadows - its headquarters near Houghton le Spring.

The survey will take place in May and June

Birds of a feather - that don't stick together!

Kielder Ospreys on camera Credit: Kielder Water and Forest Park

For the second year running, Kielder Ospreys returning to their Northumberland nests have been spotted having "flings" and demonstrating courtships with birds other than their life partners.

The Nest 2 antics are being watched by visitors through a camera on the nest and footage is streamed to visitors at Kielder Castle.

The “extra marital” activity occurs when one bird from a life pairing returns to a nest ahead of its partner and encounters an osprey of the opposite sex.

You can keep up to date with all the stories as they unfold through the Kielder osprey blog.

Kielder Ospreys on camera Credit: Kielder Water and Forest Park

Osprey Fact File

  • Ospreys are migratory and arrive in late March and April and leave again for Africa in August and September.

  • The bird is an Amber List species because of its historical decline (due to illegal killing and egg theft) and low breeding numbers.

  • Ospreys normally breed for the first time when they are aged between 4-5 years old.

  • They are largely monogamous and faithful both to nest and mate.

  • The nest is generally built on the top of a large tree.

  • Females lay two or three eggs at 1-3 day intervals which are incubated for about 38 - 42 days per egg.

  • Ospreys divide the nesting duties between the pair. The female does most of the incubating, brooding and direct feeding of the young. She guards them throughout the nesting period and will share the hunting at later stages when the chicks are larger. The male is the major provider of fish for the female and chicks.

  • Chicks fledge about seven weeks after hatching.

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