Biodiverse Society - Blog July 2017

Friday 14th July 2017

May and June were extremely busy months for our Biodiverse Society Team, with events all over Lancashire and Merseyside to attend. Here two of the trainees explain just exactly what they were up to...

May (by Amelia Airey, Lancashire trainee)

"This was a full on month for us Biodiverse Society Trainees with site visits well underway! The fine weather encouraged butterflies to emerge with ten species seen on sites across North Merseyside and Lancashire. These included Orange Tip, Peacock, Red Admiral and the small vivid Green Hairstreak; a traditional heathland species seen at Longridge Fell. Plant species with a preference for damper areas such as scarce Marsh Valerian and Yellow Pimpernel (an Ancient Woodland Indicator species) were also recorded within the wet flushes in the woodland.

" North Lancs Wildlife Group joined the site visit on Artle Dale that is listed as an Ancient Woodland. Over 10 ancient woodland indicator species plants and entomological indicator species were recorded; entomological highlights include the Common Copper Butterfly, Longhorn Beetle and 14 Spot Ladybird.

"May was also the prime time to conduct amphibian surveys and I’ve been carrying out amphibian surveys at Cuerden Valley Park as part of my personal project. Early results indicate the presence and breeding of Frogs (spawn is laid in clumps), Toads (spawn is laid in strings) and Smooth Newts (lay eggs on leaves in the water and fold them over with their hind legs) in several of the ponds.

"An 'Introduction to Amphibian' surveying was delivered at Plantation Road in Hyndburn. The survey method included the identification of aquatic invertebrates to help us to establish water quality. We recorded Cased Caddisflies, Dragonfly and Damselfly larvae, and notably an Emperor Dragonfly larvae. These larvae can spend several years in the pond but once they emerge they will only spend a couple of months on the wing."

JUNE (by Johnny Pescod, Mersesyside trainee)

"With June comes #30DaysWild, the national challenge designed to get you closer to nature by taking you outside every day of the month. This year we decided to tackle it as a team, taking turns to post pictures showing what we had been up to each day.

"In between our wild encounters, we’ve also been improving our vegetative ID skills – all four trainees took an FSC course of grasses and an MMU course on sedges, equipping us with the skills to hopefully identify them in the field. I also had the opportunity to attend an 'Introduction to Invertebrates' course with Hilary and Alan Bedford, covering the essentials of identifying insect families along with other inverts.

"The end of June brought our Biodiverse Society residential trip to Mirey Nook LWS in the Forest of Bowland. Between us we managed to create a comprehensive species list and despite the horrible weather and climbed the Great Stone of Fourstones. The next day saw a short trip to Piper Hole Coronation Meadow and Farm in Kirby Stephen. Here we got a fascinating insight into alternative farming practices in contrast to the intensive farming which can be so damaging to wildlife... and came away with a bar of goat-milk soap apiece!

"Finally, I organised a Marine Invasive Non-Native Species identification course in Fleetwood Marina, with the help of our Marine Officer Sally Tapp. Lucy May of Natural England led the session, and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn some species ID skills in an area not often covered.

"My personal highlight of the month (and possibly the year) though, was finding my first ever nudibranch (also known as sea slugs), Facelina bostoniensis. If you have any recording firsts, let us know on Facebook, using the hashtag #WildlifeCounts."