Purple patch

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 6 July 2019 12:34

The proportion of species with conservation status in an invertebrate survey is a great way to assess a site's conservation value. One of my favourite surveys of the year is that of the National Trust's East Head reserve. It's currently coming in at 17.4% of species with some form of conservation status, the highest I have ever observed. That's 40 out of 230 species. Now, it's a small site and it's ALL coastal habitat, so there is little dross here to pad out the list (one patch of neutral grassland/scrub and it would get a whole load more common species that are just not present on this site). This means that it's a hard site to work, I have named only 230 species so far from four visits (compare this to 251 field dets from the Ken Hill Estate in Norfolk in one day). The May and June visits were very slow due to the spring drought but yesterday the dunes were a wealth of flowers and there were bees everywhere. Most of the beetles are still to be identified and the June visit is entirely in alcohol, so I would expect the percentage to change quite a bit. Here are a few of yesterday's highlights. First up and a lifer for me is the sea-lavender feeding Nb weevil Pseudaplemonus limonii. I need more purple weevils in my life.

I netted a Rosy Wave, a Nb coastal moth.

An immature Graptopeltus lynceus, a Nb ground bug that is clearly expanding its range in the south east.

And the Dune Robberfly Philonicus albiceps was everywhere in the fore dunes and mobile dunes. Four species of stiletto fly too.

I finally got a decent photo of the very active and nationally rare Phlegra fasciata male. Of the 52 spiders recorded so far, 12 have cons status (23.1%).

But the aculeates dominated things yesterday. Megachile leachella (Nb) was EVERYWHERE.

As were the signs of their handy work. Every birch sapling was worked in this way, shows how a bit of scrub has value. Smicromyrma rufipes, Dasypoda hirtipes and Coelioxys conoidea were just some of the aculeates recorded.

Lesser Cockroach was everywhere too.

It's amazing how much nectar and structure there is now after the rain. Can't wait until visit five. What's the highest proportion of conservation status that you know of? Oh I nearly forgot, in the toilets at West Wittering I found a Channel Island's Pug, also a lifer! Not surprising given the toilets are completely surrounded by Tamarisk.

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