Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - Adding New Species to my List

I like to record the wild plants and insects that I encounter using tools such as iRecord.  This year I recorded approximately 350 species of which nearly 100 were new to my lists.  This compares well with last year's 290 (with about 80 new).  This post is going to focus on the species that are new to my lists this year.  I have seen some of these before but this is the first time I've recorded them.

Some of the new entries are the result of me working in Leatherhead where I explored a new riverside habitat but many were much closer to home. Two species that I saw in both Leatherhead and Uckfield were the Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo) and Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens).

Female Beautiful Demoiselle - near Lime Tree Avenue - May
Uckfield's Banded Demoiselles were rather camera shy but I did get some photos of the Leatherhead ones. The two males below were part of a group (over 16) that roosted overnight in a clump of strappy leaves near the river. There must be similar roosts near the Uck. Has anyone seen one?

Male Banded Demoiselles - Leatherhead - June
My recorded year started with more humble species. I did the BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt, which meant that I needed to hunt out any wild or naturalised plant that was in flower. The plants that are most likely to be blooming are the hardy, versatile weeds that grow in supermarket car parks, industrial estates etc. A new one for me was Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua).

Annual Mercury - Bellbrook Industrial Estate - January
This year, I paid a number of visits to Holy Cross churchyard to identify the plants there for the Sussex Botanical Recording Society churchyard survey.  While I was investigating the plants I found a number of species of both plants and insects that I had not encountered before.  The Girdled Mining bee (Andrena labiata) is "scarce" and relies on "unimproved" grassland - i.e. grassland that has not been fertilised etc. Our old churchyards often have this type of ancient grass.

Girdled Mining Bee - Holy Cross Churchyard - April 2017
Cockspur (Echinochloa crus-galli) - Holy Cross Churchyard - August 2017
In early June, I did a Bioblitz of our garden. This means finding as many different species of wild plants and animals as possible. I found over a dozen that were new to me including:

Cantharis livida - No-mow zone - June 
Rhopalus subrufus - Flower bed - June
Selimus vittatus with her egg case - Oak tree - June
One of the highlights of the year was joining the Uckfield Local Nature Reserves Supporters Group. We went on a number of bird song/bug walks and a fungi hunt. I also did a little exploring of my own.  I am fairly familiar with Hempstead Meadows Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and found a few new bugs and beasties including:

Devil's Coach Horse (Ocypus olens) - Hempstead Meadows LNR - August
Notostira elongata - Hempstead Meadows LNR - August
West Park LNR is less familiar and enjoyed exploring it with the group. In November, we went on a fungi hunt and found a good variety of fungi. Beware that I got in a bit of a muddle trying to identify them and it will be a while before they are verified. They included:

Blushing Bracket (Daedaleopsis confragosa) - West Park LNR - November
Witches' Butter (Exidia glandulosa) - West Park LNR - November

It's not all about surveys and special expeditions. I saw the Beautiful Demoiselle on the way to the town. Mum showed me this dear little 10-spot ladybird (Adalia decempunctata) that she found while gardening.

10-spot ladybird - Found in our own garden.
This Large Garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) bumbled into a patch of garden I was sorting out, sending me scurrying into the house for my camera.

Large Garden Bumblebee - my gardening is constantly interrupted by bees!
In Uckfield, we are lucky that we have plenty of green spaces and paths that we can follow as we go about our daily lives. I've been amazed at just how many creatures and wildflowers I see by looking out while going about my day-to-day shopping trips etc. If you ever see a woman in a red beret peering into her phone, it could be me recording wildlife on the run.

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