My top ten natural history moments of 2011

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 22 December 2011 19:36

10). Finishing the South Downs arable bird survey single-handed

So it took nine months, I walked nearly 600 miles and I saw some great things including: Honey Buzzard, Quail, Black Kite, Hawfinch, Waxwing, Hen Harrier, Striped Lychnis, Night-flowering Catchfly (photo), Blue Pimpernel, White Horehound and Narrow-fruited Cornsalad. It was a privilege to complete the contract so a big thank you to Natural England, everyone who helped and all the farmers.

9). Five new birds for me and all of them in Sussex!
It's great when you don't have to go that far to twitch. Quail I found myself out working (I'll cover that on its own below), Little Crake at Arundel, White-winged Black Tern at Chichester, Pallid Harrier at Burpham and Isabelline Wheatear (photo) that turned up within a few miles of me for just one day near Beachy Head were all welcome additions to my list. I think the harrier was the best bird of the year.

8). My first trip to the New Forest
If only we could turn back time and do things a little differently. I saw some great things but learnt a valuable lesson about how far obsession can go. Here is a rather smart longhorn that I saw quite a few of in the forest, Stictoleptura scutellata.

7). Time in the field with Howard Matcham
I spent some great days out with Howard this year and made a great new friend. We went to Ebernoe, Wakehurst Place even Ladies Winkins! Howard added perhaps 40-50 species to my list but this photo was my favourite,  Dark Honey Fungus.

6). Seeing three Quail in one day
I can't remember the last time I found a lifer (a bird lifer). I think it was perhaps Glossy Ibis at Dunge in 2001. So, to find my first Quail was a real treat and then one month later to see three in one day was ludicrous. Here is the worst photo of a pair of Quail in flight that has ever been taken.

5). My encounter with Shelob
There are few things that make me jump (other than E.T.) but this did. When I coaxed this spider out of a wall in Chichester it just kept coming. What an absolute beast. It might be an alien but it made my day! It's Segestria florentina and if you have the balls for it I would go and have a look.

4). Cowdray invertebrates
Hollow trees, golf balls and a number of species new to Sussex. The first Wood Crickets in the county. An RDB saproxylic micro moth called Dystebenna stephensii new to Sussex. This rather handsome click beetle Ampedus cardinalis. However, one day in the field with Mark Telfer I heard him say something I have never heard him say. "What the *@#£ is that!?" in reference to a strange looking beetle that I had just found. It was only the RDB1 Laemophloeus monilis. A huge thank you to Mark for being such a help with everything natural history and giving me the beetle bug.

3). Finding a Black Kite during a farm survey
Perhaps the bird I expected to see least on a farm survey was Black Kite. Especially as it was fighting one of those common or garden Red Kites. I was a little excited.

2). The Podcast
The most fun three men can have with a microphone and some wildlife. I'm happy that people like it but I wouldn't mind if they didn't as I have so much fun recording with with Michael and Mat that anything else is a bonus. I love our theme tune that much it's my ringtone on my phone!

1). Crimson Speckled
It was a great autumn for moths and we might have seen more Flame Brocades than anyone in over a hundred years but that was nothing compared to my strange encounter with a Crimson Speckled. So, I have added 710 species so far this year. I might add a few more but not many. I'm winding down and next year will be much slower. 19% of everything I have ever seen, I have seen this year for the first time! That is crazy. Anyway, the next thousand is going to be much more chilled out.

1 Response to "My top ten natural history moments of 2011"

Mark Telfer Says:

Thanks Graeme. It's been great reading the blog through the year (despite being massively gripped off by your Crimson Speckled and many others!).

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