Monday 31 December 2018

Wildlife calendar year at Gatwick

A selection of wildlife commonly found on the biodiversity sites, landside at Gatwick Airport.


Roe Deer - Capreolus capreolus

Our largest mammal species on site. I've also seen Fallow Deer very closeby, but never actually within our site boundaries.


This isn't a fungus, but is actually a type of bacteria called Nostoc commune; a colonial species of cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria are thought to have converted Earth's early atmosphere into an oxygen-rich one. It occurs extensively on the bare clay soil around the North West Zone and from a distance resembles squished rabbit poops.


Common Toad - Bufo bufo

We often find Toads under the reptile matts long before the Grass Snakes wake up from their winter sleep. Breeding occurs in the ponds and within the reedbeds along the River Mole. Unlike frogs, Toads lay their eggs in long strings.

Toad spawn, North West Zone


Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta. Horleyland Wood

Found throughout the woodlands at Gatwick, this ancient woodland indicator species crates a heady scent on warm spring days.


Not a mirror image, but in fact a mating pair of Eyed Hawk-moths Smerinthus ocellata, spotted by Tom Forward along the River Mole grasslands.


Grass Snake  - Natrix helvetica

Our most common reptile species at Gatwick; widespread across both sites but they are particularly found of the grassy margins of scrub areas.


Platystomos albinus - (a type of fungus weevil)

This is a Nationally Notable B species, found in a well-rotted pile of oak and willow logs. It may not seem obvious from the pic, bit this little dude measured only about 1cm from nose to rear! (Thanks to Graeme Lyons for correcting my I.D on this one).


A colony of these Willughby's Leafcutter Bees (Megachile willughbiella) set up shop in a bee hotel constructed by Tom Simpson's volunteers.

Leafcutter bee nest


Harvest Mouse - Micromys minutus

One of our smallest mammal species, these tiny mammals weigh in at around 5g. Their nests
are commonly found in the reed beds along the River Mole.


Brown Long-eared bats - Plecotus auritus

Arguably the cutest bat species on site, they often utilise the bat boxes in the Land East of the Railway Line. In order to open and check bat boxes, a licence holder must be present, which in our case is ex-air traffic controller Martyn Cooke.


Eyelash Cup Fungus - Scutellinia scutellata. Upper Picketts Wood

These tiny and beautiful fruiting bodies are commonly found on very damp, well-rotted wood.


Tawny Owl Strix aluco

It just so happens that Tawny Owls are the subject of a current BTO survey, which members of public can also join in on.

Happy New Year everyone and all the best for 2019!!

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