River Mole grasslands
Spiders play an important role in our ecosystems by keeping other invertebrates in check. Only since attempting to identify some out in the field, have I come to really appreciate the beauty and diversity in their colour, patterning and textures. I believe that the tabloids should be made to apologise to all UK spiders in person.
Walnut Orb-Weaver (Nuctenea umbratica), bedded down in the moss of a dormouse box
In more local news, Gatwick Greenspace Partnership (GGP) have a new team member in the form of Tom Simpson - a skilled countryside ranger and volunteer co-ordinator. This is fantastic news for our habitat management plan as there is a lot to be done and Tom is already on the case! He joins the GGP team consisting of Pete, Kev and Tom Forward who are based over at Tilgate in Crawley.
This month has been the biggest so far in terms of our habitat management, with coppicing works on the River Mole in the North West Zone and thinning the young woodland in the Land East of the Railway Line. GGP led two departments from the airport, picking up the work at Goat Meadow which had been started several years ago; it is great to see it back underway. Two teams - BT Openreach and the BDO of City Place - were led by West Sussex County Council Volunteering, focusing on opening up the ride into Upper Picketts Wood and creating a dead-hedge. This makes a real difference through creating structural diversity, allowing more light to hit the ground and increasing the floral diversity. A massive thank you to all!
BT Openreach team building - Ashley's Field
GAL Planning and Development Team - Goat Meadow
GAL Communications Team and Corporate Sustainability and Affairs - Goat Meadow
Dead-hedge running along the footpath at Upper Picketts Wood, creating
shelter for a variety of invertebrates, small mammals and birds
BDO Tax Team - Upper Picketts Wood
Recently, while collecting invertebrates from our Malaise trap, a local couple stopped to chat to me and were carrying with them this awesome gadget... a remote control helicopter with GPS tracker and high resolution camera mounted underneath for taking low-height aerial photos, picking up all the detail in the landscape. This could make my job somewhat easier! I want one.
Helicamera, aka my Ecology Drone
And finally... after discovering a population of Harvest Mice in the North West Zone, we will be carrying out nest searches and contributing to a study by the Sussex Mammal Group. Also, looking ahead to November we have a Fungi survey (not foraging for the cooking pot, but instead learning about the diversity of species) and a Winter Thrushes survey, supporting research by the British Trust for Ornithology. Seeing the Fieldfares and Redwings arriving will be a welcome reminder that life is still out there in the colder darker seasons.