Lesser ______ ______?

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 10 July 2018 18:09

I wonder if you can guess what this post is about? I have been at Butcherlands today monitoring the progress of the vegetation, I do it every three years. All plants in a circular plot and I measure the woody regeneration. It's an interesting year having had a hard graze this winter and spring. Both fluellens are everywhere (the first records of Round-leaved Fluellen {below} since 2001 when the project started in fact).
And here is Sharp-leaved Fluellen, Scarlet Pimpernel, Mrash Cudweed and Small Toadflax.
Fluellen flowers up close are so cool, love that colour combo!

And elsewhere old meadow plants spread like this Sneezewort.

Whilst working on the veg I disturbed a small white moth that looked interesting, it turned out to be Lesser Cream Wave, a new record for Ebernoe Common. Oh, were you expecting something more feathery? It's not easy to get a new moth for the site you know! This is quite a nice wetland species and it looks to be a new 10 km square for the species according to the Sussex Moth Group page! For the keen eyed, don't panic the discal spots are present on the hind wing.

I carried on surveying and bumped into a young female Wasp Spider.

Many of the oaks are well over a decade old (this one with a girth at ground level of 15 cm but well under a metre tall!) yet are 'bonzaid' by the livestock and Roe Deer. They are surviving well though, growing a little each year. This one has future veteran written all over it.

There were a few Dusky Plumes Oidaemetophorus lithodactyla too, they feed on Common Fleabane which does very well under these conditions.

Butterflies were good too with all the usual suspects for woodland and a few Purple Emperors were flying about the tree tops too. I've never seen so many of them as I have this year. 

With four Turtle Dove territories this year and around double figures of Nightingales, the site is thriving. I was just getting towards my last plot of the day when I heard the unmistakable call of...

...LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER!!! It was a double bluff the whole time!

It called once and a few minutes later I saw it fly along the tree line in the image below for a few metres (the oaks at the back). Despite 30 mins of waiting, nothing. No more calls, no sign. In fact I was in that field for well over two hours either side of the encounter and only heard/saw it the once. 

It's amazing that this is the first LSW I have recorded on a Trust reserve. What's even more strange is that only about four or five weeks ago I bumped into my first Sussex LSWs in East Sussex during a freelance invertebrate survey. Ten years I have been back in Sussex and these are the first I have seen. They happened to be a recently fledged family party (the only known ones in Sussex at the time) but the Butcherland animal was just a single bird as far as I can tell. That said, it's only the 10th July so you would think that they've bred nearby. Talking to Ken Smith it could be very easy to miss them on a CBC without early visits. Might they have been out here for sometime? It's a huge area with a wealth of suitable habitat and they are very secretive birds.

What struck me about the two sites was how similar they were in structure. Big thick hedges, flower-rich meadows and ponds nearby. A long way from dense, continuous high forest. I might have to squeeze an early visit in next March...

Now, a few hours before I found this lot. I had assumed this to be a GSW (and the chances are it probably was just a Great Spotted). I am glad I collected the feathers though just to check...

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