Thursday, 18 April 2013

Ecologized

3… 2… 1… aaaaaand survey!!!

Reptile refugia in Ashley's Field, LERL. Copyright - Kevin Shaw Localworld 

Well I can’t really say that spring took me totally by surprise, but I’m still feeling slightly shell shocked! The ecological surveying has now kicked-off with reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, and roving records for macro-invertebrates such as butterflies; I am constantly trying to keep up with scheduling it all in!

Moschatel flowering along the banks of Gatwick Stream, LERL

Luckily I have keen volunteer ecology students and graduates assisting me who I'm enjoying showing around the place. So far we have successfully added several previously unrecorded birds on site, recorded our first Grass Snakes and butterflies of the year, started our Signal Crayfish removal from the River Mole and got our first confirmed Dormouse presence since our Biodiversity Action Plan began! Here are some pics just from this past week:

Signal Crayfish trapping with volunteer ecologist Julian

An invasive species: the American Signal Crayfish fresh out of the River Mole

One of our Mink tracking rafts repaired, re-sited and (I think) cleverly camouflaged along the River Mole

Honeysuckle bark strips are typical Dormouse nesting signs - Gatwick's ancient woodland

Rather odd-looking tracks in the mud along the River Mole, NWZ. Any ideas? Not likely to be Water Voles here but it almost looks like there is webbing between the toes.

Spring seemed to really hit here on Monday, and I got so many wildlife reports from around the airport I could barely keep up! Other sightings this week included Tadpoles, Peacock and Comma Butterflies, a speedy Merlin on the hunt for small birds and the arrival of spring migrants such as Swallow, Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Just over a week ago there was a period of overlap with the first Wheatear appearing around the North West Zone and winter migrant birds such as Redwing and Fieldfare still knocking about.

I excitedly contacted Tom Forward about hearing a flock of Siskins along the River Mole (a species not yet on our list in this area), when they somehow magically transformed themselves into a flock of Redwings. But hey ho... when I listen to their recorded calls again online I still think their chattering is kinda similar!
Hear the difference between Redwing song:

...and a flock of Siskin:


The Redwings all seem to have finally moved on, but not before giving us a special preview of their full song; an unusual occurrence around Britain as they don't tend to breed here. It is a sound which really grabs the attention, like a series of short descending blasts on a sports whistle...

And finally to finish off, here are a few more invertebrates I've been seeing around:

Glow Worm larvae found underneath a reptile refugia, LERL Copyright - Kevin Shaw Localworld

I think this is a Rustic Wolf Spider Trochosa ruricola, underneath a reptile refugia

Buzzing Spider Anyphaena accentuate, in a Dormouse box