A long time ago in a bog far, far away...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 7 March 2020 08:55

Well about an hours drive away. Just before I left my seven years at the RSPB, one of the last thigs I did was a load of monitoring at Broadwater Warren RSPB reserve, a recently acquired conifer plantation with some isolated pockets of heath, acid-grassland and mire. I did a baseline NVC survey but also put out a series of pitfall traps and pan traps in the existing habitat. I didn't know how to identify any of this stuff back than, 12.5 years ago. The spiders were passed to Ian Dawson but because the records were in the SxBRC, when I set up my database, the records were synced with my database. 

So I have frustratingly a number of records for spiders that I have technically seen but don't feel like I have and won't count them on my own personal list. Including some goodies, like the only Sussex record of Jacksonella falconeri, our smallest spider and loads of records of Walckenaeria furcillata, what must be my most wanted spider. All in all, there were 82 species recorded and 8 of these have status (a respectable 9.8%). I am sure that more spiders have been recorded since but I sued this as the site species list and headed back there yesterday. Probably my only day out in March.

The posts from pan traps are almost all still in place, despite so much grazing! Even a bit of solidified raspberry net was still in place, what I used to pin the traps down.

I recorded 34 species yesterday in half a day. Most of the action was in the bog. A lifer for me was this diminutive Hahnia pusilla (NS) sieved from Sphagnum. Only the 2nd Sussex record, and the first since 1969.

I was struck by how many of the species recorded yesterday were not picked up in the pitfalls in 2007, albeit they were in the summer so it's not that surprising. All in all 21 new species and six of these had status, bringing the records I have for the site to 103 and 14 with status (13.6%), suggesting the assemblage is improving, which marries up with observation on site.

The other goody was my first Sussex Walckenaeria nodosa, and the first in Sussex since 1969 also! The other new species with status were Cercidia prominens, Sintula corniger and the ubiquitous Meioneta mollis.

I went to have a look at this W5 Alder carr, I was expecting great thing from the tussocks but for some reason they were not very rich but I did get Theridiosoma gemmosum from them.

The huge changes on this site though are the great expanses of open heathland, all this was under conifers 12.5 years ago, a remarkable achievement. Woodlark were singing away nearby.

It's amazing how much things have changed for me in 12.5 years, or an eighth of a century. I was so desperate to move back to Brighton then living in Cambridge at the time and moving back down here and getting the job at the Trust was an amazing experience. Once upon a time I never thought I'd leave the RSPB, then I thought I'd never leave the Trust! I never thought then though that I'd end up as a freelance entomologist and county recorder for various groups. Pan-species listing wasn't even a thing then. I was in my late twenties when I last looked at this site in detail and now I'm in my forties, about to start the next chapter. 

I absolutely can't wait for my first full year of freelance, I can't wait to get out in the field too! My spider year list is now on 160 with nine new species today. I will try and go back in the summer to refind Walckenaeria furcillata.

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