Friday, 27 June 2014

Late summer invertebrating

You might not think there's much in the way of quality habitat around an airport. Fair doos, as I used to think that too.

Clay Slope, North West Zone

Last Monday, Jeremy, Scotty D and his little dog Ro returned to our site in the North West Zone for the follow-up invertebrate survey. By surveying twice at the same site, both early and late in the season, we can detect a greater diversity of species.
   
River Mole floodplain

The past few weeks, the River Mole floodplain at Gatwick has looked the bee's knees (I'll be coming back to the subject of bees!). This is the result of some large-scale sculpting works which took place back in 2000 when the watercourse was diverted. It is now a veritable hotspot in terms of floral diversity... 

Greater Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)

Grass Vetchling (Lathyrunissolia)

Betony, Ladies Bedstraw, Quaking Grass

Meadow Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Lesser Stitchwort to name but a few. 
Artificially seeded? Either way, this lovely wildflower mix is a great thing for biodiversity

So colourful that my outlandish running trainers almost blend in

For this survey, we spread out to cover as great an area of the North West Zone as possible. The variety habitats, their different ages and structure provide plenty of options for food, water and shelter; potentially pleasing to even the fussiest kinds of invertebrate! 

Scotty grubbing around the dry slope while Jeremy searches for bees down on the floodplain

Ro the dog, focusing his efforts on keeping cool


Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug (Aelia acuminata). 
The weird angular head and stripes reminds me of the Muto in the latest Godzilla movie

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) in cute begging pose


Since our recent exciting find of a rare species of bee, Jeremy and I spent some time staking out this section of the clay slope. We were hoping to see a few of the female Long-Horned Bees (Eucera longicornis) returning to their nesting sites...

Possible Eucera burrow?

I'll let you know the result of our great Eucera count at the end of this post!

Sharing observations

A pretty good indicator of how well a survey has gone is the number of specimens which Scotty has to take home for further microscope identification...

Just a few of his tubes; dude's got his work cut out

This type of sampling might look a bit grim, but we are unlikely to impact any populations and it is all in the name of science, with all data being passed onto the Biodiversity Record Centres.
   The following is a selection of Jeremy's excellent shots from the day (thanks again Jeremy!)...

 Broad Centurion (Chloromyia formosa) female. This looks like a Hoverfly but is actually a Soldierfly

Dusky Cockroach (Ectobius lapponicus) female. 
This is the first Cockroach species I have seen in Britain, and it is local to the south

An uncommon and nationally notable species of Hoverfly (Neoascia interrupta) female

Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri) male. This is a migrant species to Britain

Semaphore Fly (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus) male. Lots of these happy chaps gathered around small pools in the wet clay. They are named for the outlandish dance which the males perform with their wings

Striped Slender Robberfly (Leptogaster cylindrica), one of the most noticeable species out and about 

Water Ladybird (Anisosticta 19-punctata), the first time I have knowingly seen this lovely beetle

And last, but most definitely not least...

Long-horned Bee (Eucera longicornis) female. In the end we only spotted 3 individuals, so we had sadly missed its peak. In previous weeks we have counted over 10 in just one small area.

I'm afraid I will keep banging on about this particular bee until the cows come home (I have no cows).
Seriously though, the world of entomology means I can never be bored again!