Fort Blox

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 18 February 2017 09:01

I had the day off on Wednesday and went and helped Steve Teale and Tony Hutson do a survey in the tunnels under Newhaven Fort. Steve's been doing moth surveys there for a few years and I love any opportunity to get underground. Now most of these tunnels are not open to the public so it really was quite exciting getting in there.

First up, a Pholcus phalangioides spider that has been infected with some strange fungus! Hanging in the air in the torch light, this really was a creepy site! Loved it. Here is our team entering the first tunnel.

Probably the highlight for me was seeing 13, yes that's 13, Bloxworth Snouts (above)! Counting these moths whilst listening to the unnerving sound of an air-ride siren was a rather odd experience. last time I heard one of them I was running for my life in a forest fire in Australia but that is a different story. I saw the 7th record for this moth in Sussex back in 2008 and then again in Waterstone's in Brighton in 2009 but I have not seen it since. Great to see so many of them there, they must be established close to the Fort. This moth must be a candidate for the most stupid name of any animal in this country, just brilliant. I do hope that we name less species in the future after people and places and instead leave behind a legacy of English names that have some use to aid identification. Bloxworth Snout is OK though for its outright daftness.

Great to see lots of Heralds too. Almost guaranteed in any kind of cave or tunnel.

There were lots of spiders but no Cave Spiders sadly. Amaurobius ferox (below) was perhaps the most common with Nesticus cellulanus and Steatoda grossa also present. A couple of Tegenaria silvestris were a surprise away from the woods.

Always nice to see this beauty too. It's the subterranean bristle-tail Trigoniophthalmus alternatus.

Only slugs I saw were Limax maximus and Limacus maculatus. One Brown Long-eared bat was the only bat action. Apparently it's THE only bat there which seems odd.

Here is some primitive cave art.

I got one lifer, the little moth Agonopterix purpurea. Thanks Steve for organising this, it was a great day!

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