Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 8 August 2010 21:14

I've had another epic day's natural history running around East Sussex with Oli and Jo. This is going to have to be a two-parter again as there is so much to fit in. We started at Castle Hill, the target being Wartbiters. Soon after arriving at the site we heard the call which sounds a little like a Dark Bush-cricket but  the frequency of the notes increases over time, the books say like a bicycle free-wheeling down a hill.  I filmed one cricket and managed to get a sound recording so hopefully you will be able to hear it, this is  my first  video post and although you can't see much of the cricket it is  quite a good sound recording! This is a very stocky, thick-set cricket with huge dark eyes and a quite dark-green colour. I think we heard and saw  around 10 males, all within a few metres of the path. Some were completely green and some had quite strong  black markings. This one had very dark markings but it was difficult to get a good shot.
This RDB2 species is also protected and it's not a good idea to go walking extensively where they are. However, at Castle Hill you can see and hear them easily from the path. Look for longer tussocks of grasses, like Tor-grass (but not exclusively - I heard them singing from other rank grasses in a cultivated field nearby) within the tighter grazed chalk-grassland. The area in the photo below, taken from the path, had many singing crickets in it. We were there for less than an hour and heard around 10 within a few metres of the path. They are good at casting their songs though, often sounding closer than they really were.
Other sightings included Prickly Poppies (photo), Rough Poppies, another daytime Badger (third one this year!), the first Wall butterflies (photo) I have seen in two years (I can't believe how few of these I see now), Willow Warbler, Raven, Chalkhill Blue and the first 2nd brood Adonis Blue of the year I've seen.
Tomorrow's blog will be a report of three rare plants seen in the Cuckmere area.

3 Response to "Wartbiters!"

Neil Says:

Excellent stuff. Wart biters are on my too see list, so Im impressed with those!

Kingsdowner Says:

In East Kent it seems that Wall Browns had made a good recovery last year, but this year looks like being another poor one. Good pic though!

Steve Covey Says:

I'm going on a field workshop tomorrow to learn how to monitor Wartbiters at their Wiltshire colony near Calne. Good job my hearing is still OK as your video highlights how quiet and ventriloquial they can be!

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