My top ten natural history highlights of 2017

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 24 December 2017 15:42

Every year just seems to beat the last one. This has been my most prolific recording year to date with well over 15000 records entered so far this year but what were the highlights? In reverse order we have:

10. Tiered Tooth at Ebernoe Common. My all time favourite fungus which also couldn't be more Christmas if it tried.

9. The first time I'd ever seen an Osprey fishing let alone catch a fish (and then drop it). This was in the Cuckmere.

8. Rock-pooling at the Pound near Eastbourne produced my first live Lobster (which promptly nipped me) and not only my first species of sea slug but three species of them, I've still not seen them anywhere else! It's the best place I know for rock-pooling in Sussex. Thanks to Oli Froom for the photo.

7. Wildlife in Portugal was AMAZING. I had ten new birds which were all unforgettable but the highlight has to be Mediterranean Chameleon just for how much effort we put into tracking one down and its sudden appearance at the final hour.

6. Controversial as it might be, mopping up loads of rare bugs on Jersey and adding them to my PSL list was a blast. This Graphosoma lineatum says it all really.

5. After walking the beach in Hove for weeks looking for a Portuguese Man o' War, I finally struck gold after a tip off from work that they'd arrived.

4. Invertebrate survey at Butcherlands, Ebernoe Common. I still haven't identified all the specimens yet but the spiders alone were amazing. The large population of Pardosa paludicola was a real surprise to everyone. Thanks to Evan Jones for the photo.

3. The invertebrate survey at Graffham Common was even more surprising, the spiders were also out of this world there but it was perhaps this Sundew Plume, that hadn't been seen in Sussex for 20 years that was most surprising.

2. 1000 species in a day. Probably the most fun you can have in 24 hours of non-stop biological recording. Read more about this here. Photo by Alice Parfitt.

1. Pan-species Listing ALL of Sussex Wildlife Trust's 32 reserves. When I first did this last year we were on around 9770. I have six reserves left to analyse and I will have updated the list for the year. Will we have reached 10,000? I will be talking about this at Adastra soon in more detail but I can't express enough how useful an exercise this has been and will continue to be if regularly updated. I use the spreadsheet every day now and can't imagine doing my job without it.

Let's hope that 2018 is another amazing year for wildlife recording! Thanks for reading.

it is be-tween uz and die brown cow!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 21 December 2017 12:49

I've been very quiet on social media the last couple of months, mainly due to buying my first property which is taking a huge amount of my time. Work has also been very busy and the first time I feel like I have had a minute to draw breath is now, when I am off sick with the worst virus I have had in 15 years. Anyways, I heard that the excerts I was posting here from my old bird diaries (when I was 12) were quite popular, so I am bringing them back.

Basically, when I have little contemporary wildlife to report on, I can always fall back on the rich seam of laughs that is the precocious, nihilistic and snarky 12 year old I will affectionately call Little Graeme. Anything in italics is taken word for word, spelling mistake for mistake, directly from that diary...

It's the 23rd October OR the 23rd September 1990. Actually I think it's October but I put the wrong date on the above drawing, we've spent the day in Norfolk and have stopped off to twitch a Sociable Plover at Welney. In the top right of the image above you can see I've written Best bird I've ever seen, so far............(now I am a fan of using 'three points of suspension but twelve?!).

Are (let me down at the first word AGAIN!) eyes where pealled for a bunch of bird watchers on the side of a field (that's what I used to call 'field craft'), we whent round a corner and there they were. we pulled in the layby and I dashed out and asked the nearest person where it was, the woman said 'it is be-tween uz and die brown cow'! Odviously German (obviously racist you little twerp). I replied 'thanks' and bagged it straight away, then a lorry came roring up the road and slammed on his breaks and there was burned rubber on the road (oh I thought that sub plot was going somewhere, I'm like a young David Lynch!).
               The bird was not how I expected but because I hadn't looked it up in the book, I didn't really know what I was looking for (damn fool). It was very pale with dark cap and wing tips, with white eye line meeting at a 'v'on the nape, it had white in the wing and black central terminal band with a white border and rump.
               Best bag ever 'Yeh!' (did I just punch the air?!).

I've not seen a Sociable Plover since. Next up, kinglets and the easy way to bird recognition.

Is there a link between Natural History and Super Facial Recognition?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 5 December 2017 07:53

I'm going to ask you to take part in some research. I am a super recogniser when it comes to people's faces. It's a weird thing recognising people whom I know don't recognise me. I get it all the time. Most memorable recent  incidents include:

  • Seeing a guy from behind at a bar and recognising him by only seeing about 30% of his face. I shared a house with him in Cambridge 10 years ago before I moved back to Brighton. I've not seen him since and do not know him on social media.
  • Seeing a chap who pierced my septum (before it became cool with the hipsters) some 16 years ago. My friend said "no he's way too young, it can't be him". I approached and it was!
  • I've recently moved house and someone working in the Co-op set it off. When a second person in there did I realised it was because they both used to work in a different Co-op across the other side of town some 8 years ago.
  • Stranger Things 2. "That's Burke from Aliens!". Yep, I get it in TV and movies too.
It would seem that repeat exposure to a face has a real impact and the mind is also able to calibrate for age too. It's not meant to be that rare, some 5% of people fall into the category apparently.

When I say 'set it off', I mean it. I get a really strange sensation. Like an itch I have to scratch and my mind will preoccupy itself with trying to figure out why it 'knows' this person, and I usually get there in the end. Even if it means approaching the individual to verify. So what does this have to do with natural history? Well I often think it's no coincidence that I find myself in the field I am in. Did I become good at natural history because I was born with an ability to classify faces or did my ability to classify faces develop as I exercised my brain in classifying the natural world around me? The causality of this is fascinating and a question that would involve some very different research to what I am trying to figure out here. What I would like to do here is ask you to do this quick online test. It just took me about 10 minutes. There has been some confusion about which test I am talking about (I only see one on the link) so it's the Cambridge Face Memory Test: Computer Generated Faces. I think this might be part 2? If you can't see this test I will have another look later this evening and hopefully I can fix the link. Sorry for any confusion!

Now I would also like you tell me which category you fall in to:
  • A non-naturalist. Someone has never identified any wildlife, you might be interested but you certainly wouldn't consider it your primary hobby.
  • A naturalist whom considers natural history their primary pass time.
  • A pan-species lister (you know who you are!). Clearly a naturalist who can take on a wide range of different taxa and store a huge amount of information. If you fall into this category please also report your current list.
So my score. I fall into the last category above and have just scored 68. It says 54 is the average and scored higher than more than 9 out of 10 people.

So I would like to see if there are any differences between the three categories above. I know this is total pseudo-science and I am not selecting a representative sample, I am just doing this for fun. Please don't just do this test because you think you might be good at facial recognition as that will hugely bias the results. I know I did that but we wouldn't be here if I didn't. So, please have a go and leave me your scores somewhere in the comments or on social media. I'll then compile the results and do some analysis to see if there are any differences. PM if you don't want to make your results public.

Many thanks!

Confessions of a Recorderholic

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 12 November 2017 07:30

I've just entered my 50,000th record into my Recorder 6 database. It was the pirate spider Ero cambridgei. Above is a breakdown of the number of records for all taxa with more than 500 records in my database. It may come as a surprise that five years ago I wasn't keeping my own personal database at all. Look at this post from 2012 as I begin the journey. Three years after this point and I've entered my 30,000th record, read about that here. So 10,000 records a year seems about the norm for me. But I only entered my 40,000th record in late May 2017 so actually I have entered 10,000 records in the last six months and 12,770 records so far this year. None of this is backlog, making 2017 by far my most prolific recording year ever. 15,000+ is likely for the year. But I couldn't have done any of it without Recorder 6...

I love this software. It's by no means perfect but it does a great job. I have my own database on my own laptop and I use it for entering all my records onto. This includes my Sussex Wildlife Trust work but also all my freelance survey data. I then synchronize with the SxBRC every six months. I am backed up to the nines. You can do some really great things with this software really quickly, like pulling all the records out and making a distribution map in QGIS. I literally use Recorder 6 maybe 20+ times every day. I'm very pleased with what I have created here and the idea that the software might one day not be available has never crossed my mind. Until now...

This week I received news that JNCC are planning on pulling support for Recorder 6 in Marsh 2018! You can read the announcement here. This is very disappointing and really short notice but hopefully it will result in a good solution long-term, read the comment by Clare Blencowe underneath the above statement. If you use Recorder 6, then please take part in the consultation. So fingers crossed that we have a positive outcome from what appears to me to be a rash and misguided decision. In the mean time, I will plough ahead entering records with what I see as vital and intuitive software that I literally can't do my job without. Now what's the saying? Fifty records a day keeps the backlog away!

I just made that up by the way, no one says that actually except me...but they should!

Wild at Heart

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 10 November 2017 07:14

"This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it's a symbol of my individuality, and my personal freedom". Sailor, Wild at Heart.

I suspect only the hardcore David Lynch fans will have even the remotest clue as to what I am wittering on about here. Anyways, last week I ran my 'Introduction to Fungi' course at Ebernoe for the second year. It was another great day, it aims to show people that although limited, you can still do quite a bit of mycology in the field before you end up on a spore drive (see what I did there?). So our aim was to beat the 53 or so species were recorded last year and maybe a get a species new to Ebernoe like the Parasitic Bolete we recorded last year. We succeeded on the former but failed on the latter. It's hard to get a new species of fungi at Ebernoe, especially one identifiable in the field when 963 species have already been recorded there. Anyway the highlight was this Snakeskin Grisette. Only the second time I have seen this, the first being on the 1000 species challenge with Dave Green and that was at 2.00 am and I hardly had time to stop and appreciate it. Well done to the attendee who found the specimen!

We picked up some Heath Waxcaps in Leconfield Glade, the first record for the reserve for over 20 years so that was probably the most exciting record. Other highlights included Sinuous, Trumpet and regular Chanterelles, Sulphur Knight, Fluted Bird's-nest Fungi, White Saddle, Horn of Plenty, Magpie Inkcap, Pink Waxcap and a very VERY sloppy Tiered Tooth and a few little extras at the end on Ebernoe Cricket Pitch...

The same attended that found the Snakeskin Grisette found this freaky little oddity that after some discussion with Martin Allison, we think is a young Mosaic Puffball. So, we will be running the course again next year. If you fancy a romp around Ebernoe looking for some of our most charismatic fungi, then please come along.

Is this the only place in the UK you could take this photo?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 29 October 2017 19:57

Pevensey Marshes SWT reserve is an amazing place. Just one dip in the water with the net and all sorts of things can be found. So much so that it took me and Evan Jones all day to cover four ditches last week. I'll be going back to finish the survey tomorrow. The first ditch was FULL of Water Spiders and Fen Raft Spiders Dolomedes plantarius but this photo shows a Lesser Water-measurer Hydrometra gracilenta sitting on a Fen Raft Spider. I don't think the two occur together anywhere else in the UK.

And this nationally scarce wolf spider is the beefy Pirata piscatorius. It's like a Pirata went out on Halloween dressed as a Dolomedes and people do mistake them, mainly due to the relative bulk and the white stripes on the side of the cephalothorax. Note however that even this image has been photo-bombed by another Dolomedes showing it how it's done, those legs are huge! We only saw three P. piscatorius on this survey, all in the same ditch, the only ditch I have seen it in on site. It's not normally the sort of thing that would be recorded during an aquatic invertebrate survey but I will add it on to this survey. Outside of Pevensey it's only been recorded in West Sussex once at Burton Pond in its more typical habitat of a Sphagnum-rich bog. 

The molluscs and beetles are great out there too but I didn't have a lot of time for taking photos. I couldn't resist this one of a lovely Pike being photo-bombed by Notonecta glauca.

Vertebrates were pretty good too with only my second ever Brown Hare on a Trust reserve (my last one was over eight years ago at the Mens would you believe it), a Wheatear and a Golden Plover over. What will tomorrow bring?!

A bunch of suckers

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 20 October 2017 08:58

For the last two days I have carried out an aquatic invertebrate survey of Waltham Brooks. I  recorded seven species of leech there and have become quite taken with these bizarre animals. There are not that many leech species in the UK and they are not too hard to identify. So here are a few of my favourites and what they feed on. 

This is Hemiclepsis marginata. It feeds on fish and this is the only one I have ever seen. It has  a chequered margin to the body, is quite broad and has a large shovel shaped head and a big banded suction cup at the rear. Quite the looker.

When I used to do the electro-fishing for the RSPB, this is what I used to know as the Fish Leech Piscicola geometra (not knowing there was another species) regularly seeing it attached to fish. This is VERY thin and worm-like with a similar large head and suction cup.

Another one I had not encountered before. Glossiphonia heteroclita and this one feeds on molluscs. A different array of eyes to the following species.

And the darker Glossiphonia complanata which has  different eye arrangement of a 2 x 3 matrix. This also feeds on molluscs but Elliot & Mann states they get their first meal from...other leeches! That dark internal structure on these two species is the crop!

This is the Duck Leech Theromyzon tessulatum. I think someone needs to tell it that's not a duck. Wait, it's not a duck right? Actually it feeds on water birds, usually entering the nostrils. It has been known to even kill ducklings. 

This small leech has two eyes and a dot behind them called a 'callous dorsal scute' in Elliott & Mann. This is Helobdella stagnalis and feeds generally on aquatic invertebrates.

Birds were pretty good too over the two days. Two Hawfinches over but also Grey wagtail, Brambling, Siskin, Redpoll, Kingfisher, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellowhammer, Red Kite and Water Rail.

Portslade Man o' War

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 13 October 2017 17:32

So I'd planned a rare day of doing very little and somehow find myself writing a blog on spiders and rewilding for two hours. I thought I'd check my work email quickly and there was a message from Charlotte at work saying a member of the public had spotted a Portuguese Man o' War on Shoreham beach. I emailed them asking for more detail but then realised I had better chance it and  just started walking west along the strand-line until I found one! And then less than hour later I'm looking at one. Now, I've been up and down the beach several times over the last few week searching for one of these so really pleased to find my own one.

It was incredible to find this only slightly more than a mile from my house. It took a bit of searching for though. I was very twitchy about everything blue I could see up ahead.

Portuguese Man o' Poorly Secured Livestock. Tentacles: Check. Air sack: Nope. Onwards.

Portuguese Man o' Obsessive Cleaning. Air Sack: Check. Tentacles: Nope. That doesn't look right either.

Portuguese Man o' Weight Loss. No, that's not it. Although it has an air sack of sorts and some kind tentacles. Not transparent enough though.

Portuguese Man o' Colonic Inspections. Tentacles: Check. Air sack: Check (although deflated). Translucence: Check! But it doesn't smell right. Eww.

Portuguese Man o' WAR!!! All that jazz at the bottom is far stranger than I was expecting. Quite a bizarre alien like thing indeed. This one seemed to be lacking the big sail, more of a transparent pastie sitting on top of a bubble gum flavoured Slush Puppie. Awesome. Only one guy walked by and asked me why I was taking photos of a condom. I told him what it was and he actually took a photo and got really into it. 

Rewilding and spiders

Posted by Graeme Lyons 12:48

Butcherlands is a small (c80ha) series of fields adjacent to Ebernoe Common which were in arable until 2001. The site boasts some thick hedgerows but lacks veteran trees. It sits on Wealden clay so is very wet in the winter and the vegetation is neutral to slightly acidic in places. Sussex Wildlife Trust mainly manage Butcherlands by 'pulse-grazing', that is only grazing part of the year, say backing off with heavy grazing over the summer and moving animals back in in the winter for  a harder graze. We do not always stick to this plan though, in some years grazing a part of it harder and in other years not. We have maintained a network of fences and gates that allows for this flexibility. Fences act like predators by forcing animals to move around the site, it's vital that we keep them. 

We are also moving towards breaching one of our 'limits of acceptable change' when it comes to the amount of bramble cover present and so will intervene mechanically to control this. Grazing of woody vegetation by the livestock we have available is simply never going to control this plant and so a compromise has to be made or else we will lose the species-rich and invertebrate-rich grassland we have created over the past 16 years.

Which brings me to the invertebrate survey that Mike Edwards and I have been doing this year. We just finished the last visit to the site on the 9th October. Pretty late in the year but a good visit none-the-less. This also ends my season of terrestrial invertebrate survey field work! Wahoo! Anyway, I still have many jars of beetles to identify and all of Mike's records to add to the species list but my list currently stands at 447 species for the site. The one taxa I have completed is the spiders and that's what I am going to write about here.

I have been struck as I carried out this survey by how rich the spider assemblage is here considering it was arable only 16 years ago. Ebernoe Common is our second most speciose reserve (we count Butcherlands as part of Ebernoe), it's just gone over the 3800 species mark. It's actually Butcherlands that's pushed it over. You could say that the spiders have simply colonised from Ebernoe but many of these are species that have never been recorded on Ebernoe before. A total of 73 species were recorded on the survey of which 7 (or 9.6%) have conservation status. This is really high and really respectable for spiders on a nature reserve, one of the highest I have seen away from places like Iping and Rye Harbour (heathlands and coastal sites basically). So what's going on? Well, I believe it's all about the sympathetic structure provided by the pulse-grazing. It produces plenty of structural types in the sward that cannot be provided by all year round steady state grazing. In addition, plenty of structure is also being provided by the developing woody vegetation but as you will see this does not provide much of the habitat for the scarcer species.

The survey took the form of six visits. On each visit, the seven main fields were visited for half an hour each and the methods appropriate to the season were used to record invertebrates. These seven species lists were then bulked over the survey period giving a species list for each field and for the whole site. The order they were carried out in was varied. So here are the seven species lists. The conservation status is shown after the species name as being either Nationally Scarce (NS) or Nationally Rare (NR).

  Brick Nine Hill Church Lime High Spark
Species 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Achaearanea simulans 1            
Agalenatea redii 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Agelena labyrinthica 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Anelosimus vittatus 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Anyphaena accentuata             1
Araneus diadematus   1   1   1 1
Araneus quadratus 1 1       1 1
Araniella cucurbitina   1   1 1    
Araniella opisthographa     1        
Argiope bruennichi     1 1      
Bathyphantes gracilis     1        
Ceratinopsis stativa     1        
Cercidia prominens (NS)         1    
Clubiona brevipes     1 1      
Clubiona diversa   1          
Clubiona reclusa 1            
Clubiona subtilis 1            
Cyclosa conica           1  
Dictyna arundinacea 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Dicymbium brevisetosum             1
Erigone atra 1 1 1   1 1  
Erigone dentipalpis   1 1 1 1    
Ero cambridgei 1 1 1     1 1
Ero furcata           1  
Evarcha arcuata (NS) 1   1 1   1  
Gibbaranea gibbosa 1           1
Heliophanus flavipes             1
Hylyphantes graminicola   1          
Hypsosinga pygmaea 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Hyptiotes paradoxus (NS)             1
Lariniodes cornutus 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Lathys humilis     1        
Linyphia hortensis         1    
Linyphia triangularis         1    
Mangora acalypha 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Marpissa muscosa (NS)   1 1 1     1
Metellina mengei 1 1   1 1 1 1
Metellina segmentata       1   1  
Misumena vatia   1 1 1      
Neoscona adianta 1 1 1 1 1    
Neottiura bimaculata         1    
Neriene clathrata   1 1 1   1  
Ozyptila brevipes     1 1   1  
Ozytila simplex           1  
Pachygnatha clerkii     1 1 1    
Pachygnatha degeeri 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Padiscura pallens       1      
Pardosa amentata 1            
Pardosa nigriceps         1    
Pardosa paludicola (NR)   1 1        
Pardosa pullata         1 1  
Pelecopsis parallela   1          
Philodromus aereolus         1    
Philodromus albidus 1       1   1
Philodromus praedatus           1  
Phylloneta impressa   1 1        
Phylloneta sisyphia   1 1   1 1  
Pisaura mirabilis 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Platnickina tincta           1 1
Robertus arundineti 1            
Sibianor aurocinctus (NS) 1   1 1 1    
Tallusia experta         1 1 1
Tenuiphantes flavipes         1    
Tenuiphantes tenuis 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Tetragnatha nigrita       1      
Tibellus oblongus 1   1 1 1 1  
Trematocpehalus cristatus (NS) 1       1    
Trichopternoides thorelli           1  
Walckaeneria antica 1     1 1    
Xysticus cristatus 1 1 1 1     1
Xysticus lanio           1  
Zilla diodia     1     1  
Zora spinimana 1     1 1 1 1
TOTAL 29 28 33 31 32 32 25
Total spp. with cons status 3 2 4 3 3 1 2
%age spp. with cons status 10.3 7.1 12.1 9.7 9.4 3.1 8
So Hilland came out on tops and this has mostly been reflected in other taxa across the site. It sits a little higher than the rest and is more free draining (slightly sandier too) and this may explain it. Of these 73 species, only 10 (13.7%) were recorded in all seven fields while 31 species (42.4% were recorded in one field only (these are known as 'unique' species). This fairly typical for a survey of this type and shows just how hard it is to thoroughly survey a site as well as how some species naturally occur at such very low densities.

The seven scarcer species are as follows:

Cercidia prominens (NS). Only one of these beautiful spiders was found, an adult male during the October visit (photo of which is at the top of this blog). Found on Common Fleabane in Limekiln Field. I have previously only seen this on heathland and once on chalk downland. It was new to Ebernoe as well as Butcherlands. A species here associated with the grassland rather than the woody component.

Evarcha arcuata (NS). Before I started this survey I regularly would see this jumping spider at Butcherlands (especially in longer grass at Hilland). At this point it was new to Ebernoe Common. This species is abundant on the west Sussex Heaths. I have never seen it anywhere away from Heather except here at Butcherlands. I've also never heard of anyone else finding it  away from heathland so it's interesting what it's doing here so well established yet so far from heath. It's sandier here but a long way from being acid grassland. This survey proved it was widespread turning up in four of the seven fields. A species here associated with the grassland rather than the woody component.

Hyptiotes paradoxus (NS). I was amazed to find I had swept an immature one of these incredible spiders from Juncus in Sparkes Field! Nothing like what the text say it likes. This is only the second time I have seen this spider and only the first time I have seen it in Sussex. In fact this spider would have been a first for west Sussex if I had encountered it three days earlier (it was recorded at Kingley Vale). It was new to ALL Sussex Wildlife trust reserves not just Ebernoe. Although I encountered this in the grassland, it is known for being more arboreal.

Marpissa muscosa (NS). Our largest jumping spider was already well recorded from Ebernoe and is strictly not a grassland species. It's not all that scarce in Sussex, we get it in the kitchen at work! Rather this specie favours old trees and gate posts, especially if they are in the sun. In fact, it was on the gate posts that this species was more often recorded. It was recorded in four of the seven fields.

Pardosa paludicola (NR). The star of the show. By far. This massive blackish wolf spider was a totally unexpected find. It's only known from a few sites and was only the second record for Sussex (it turned up only two miles from here many years ago). In fact it's so are it hadn't even been recorded in the UK since 2004! This species is clearly an early successional species and would not do well here if it all went to scrub. So was it always here or has it moved in? (Photo above by Evan Jones). It occurs in two adjacent fields in a wet area not huge in extent and it was abundant in both those fields.

Sibianor aurocinctus (NS). This little grassland spider seems to be turning up much more frequently. I only recorded it for the first time last year but since then i have recorded it quite a few times. In this survey it was recorded in four of the seven fields and always in the grassland. Again dense blocks of scrub and woodland would not benefit this species. It was new to Ebernoe Common during this survey.

Trematocephalus cristatus (NS). This small but highly distinctive money spider was the only money spider of the survey to have conservation status and was recorded in two fields. An arboreal species already common in Ebernoe, it would also do well in a more woody dominated system not requiring a sward at all it would seem. However I have always found more of them on the edge of woodland so a mosaic of woodland, scrub and grass would be ideal.

Which is precisely what we are trying to achieve here at Butcherlands. So can you say rewilding is good for spiders? I don't think that would be fair, I haven't seen similar results at other sites where heavier grazing produces a less desirable sward for spiders. I think it's fairer to say that sympathetic and pulsed conservation grazing and the application of natural process is what's worked here. Would you call that rewilding? Many would but I see the human intervention of pulsing the grazing is what's worked here to produce a rich and varied structure so vital for spiders and many other invertebrate groups. Some might not call that rewilding but I think it's really important that we do and don't adopt a purist 'all or nothing' approach to it. It's important that we don't get tied up in semantics. 

The key thing here is to monitor and continuously adjust the management so that the grazing and the natural processes we apply (or their analogues when a more natural tool isn't available - such as the planned bramble cutting) are the best they can possibly be for wildlife. We have created some wonderful species-rich grassland here and it would be unfair to allow it to drift entirely into a scrub dominated system (and then eventually woodland) just because rewilding is the main approach to management. And that is what would happen with the livestock we have available, make no mistake. As far as I am concerned, this is the only way rewilding can ever work as a part of conservation, otherwise we are simply blindly walking into the dark being lead only by our own confirmation bias.

Nature Blog Network