A quick summary of how we did...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 27 May 2024 18:44

So, we didn't get to 1500 species as hoped. In fact, we were considerably short of it. We got to 1,069 species (expect this number to change a bit as I process the data, I suspect it might go up a little actually but not by much). Now this is more than we achieved in 2017 but not by much and interestingly in 2017 we got to 1,000 species way before we did this time (in 2017, species 1,000 was Drilus flavescens at around 19:30 at Levin, while on Saturday it was Rosy Footman at 22:00!). Despite seven years more experience, better planning and better health (hay fever and bad knees didn't scupper us this time), we struggled at times to build up that big list of inverts we had hoped for. 

The same view as above obscured by two dodgy-looking Homo sapiens (species no 1).

Firstly, it wasn't for want of trying - the whole thing was a mixture of incredible highs and a few lows. We did not stop for the whole 24 hours. Getting up at 22:45 with just four hours sleep was brutal. Then hearing Nightjars, Field Crickets, Woodlarks and Nightingales all around Burton and watching the sunrise there was just wonderful. Feeling feint on Levin was really nasty but seeing the huge diversity of wildlife at Hoyle Farm was a site to behold. From species 2 at 00:00 being Field Cricket through to the final species at 23:59 being Great Silver Water Beetle at light, we did not stop for the whole 24 hours except to drive between sites and eat.

Several things didn't line up for us. Despite great weather in the day, between 02:00 and 8:00 it got very cold, and the dew was so heavy at Burton Pond it made sampling then impossible. It's not been a great season for moths either, so the first moth traps at Burton, were very light on moths. We also had a couple of sites that didn't produce as many species as we had hoped and finally, by 17:00 the sun went in and it got very cold again. It's also a lot harder to identify species at the microscope when you are tired out of your mind than I was expecting! And collecting specimens takes time too, which must eat into this. Game theory is quite key to this challenge and some things that you think will work in your favour don't necessarily pay off. However, all of these specimens will be identified (probably this week looking at the weather). And I will include them when I write a more detailed blog later this week.

I have entered nearly half the data so far and a few early stats include 109 species of spider, 15 species of butterfly (including this lovely Brown Hairstreak larva at Hoyle Farm) and and 146 beetles. I was hoping for something like 400 beetles and 200 spiders, clearly I was wrong to aim so high. Is 1,000 inverts possible in day? I think so easily but maybe if you are only doing inverts. Not sure how many plants we have but the Sand Catchfly at Climping was a highlight for Dave.

And finally, the really amazing thing is how much people have donated! We have raised £2284 for Sussex Wildlife's Trust reserve management! A huge thanks to everyone who donated, especially to the Pebble Trust, Edward Norfolk and Charlie Burrell for their incredibly generous donations. You can still donate here on the Just Giving page. Anyways, watch this space for a full write up later this week.

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