The Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar on Saturday 11 February is now open for bookings, and you’re invited!
If you’ve ever thought about getting more involved in recording wildlife in Sussex – there is no greater introduction than coming along to the seminar-formerly-known-as-‘Adastra’.
We’re really excited about the talks we’ve got lined up this year. There’ll be lots of local interest with our very own Barry Yates talking to us about the saltmarsh re-creation at Rye Harbour; Paul Johnson on the reptiles and amphibians of Sussex; Tom Forward & Brad Scott taking us on a tour of the natural history of Forest Row; an update from Michael Blencowe on ‘The Butterflies of Sussex’; and David Plummer sharing his findings from the ‘BN5’ Owl Project.
We’ve also got a chap called Chris Du Feu coming all the way from Nottinghamshire to introduce us to the wonderful world of slugs. (Chris has promised to waive his speaker’s fee in its entirety, if Sussex biological recorders bring some slugs along to the seminar for him to identify. So please bring slugs!) Mark Gurney from the national Weevils & Bark Beetles recording scheme will be sharing his love of Weevils. And Brighton resident, Chloë Rose, will also be joining us to share her experiences with the Natural History Museum’s Identification Trainers for the Future programme.
Click here to book your place.
In the hedge a couple of metres from our back door in Sedlescombe, East Sussex (TQ782188) I have recently seen several examples of the rather handsome Privet Sawfly (Macrophya punctumalbum) wandering about on the leaves. I have not come across this here or anywhere else and have been unable to find any previous records from Sussex.
There is a thin spread of records across the southern part of Britain and it is widespread in Surrey, so it is probably simply under-recorded in Sussex, though I am surprised I have not seen it in our hedge before as I usually walk past it several times a day. It may have cycles of relative abundance and scarcity.
The larvae feed on ash, privet (Ligustrum vulgare), lilac and other members of the Oleaceae family and, rather unusually for insects of this kind, the adults browse on leaves of the same plants. There is a characteristic grazed patch towards the top right of the picture above. The picture is of a female and while males are found occasionally, the species is said to be mainly parthenogenetic.
This record, which may be a first for Sussex, shows the value of walking round the house several times a day and looking out for anything interesting. It helps one to see things that would otherwise have been missed as in the wider countryside the eye is drawn on to more interesting looking sites. It also provides a little exercise for the relatively housebound. The piece of hedge where these sawflies occur does not look a particularly promising spot though wild privet and ash grow together there.
Patrick Roper 7th June 2016
“Hello! I’m Clare Blencowe – your new Record Centre Manager.” It’s something I’d meant to say sooner and now I find myself already a month into the job. Wondering, how did this happen?!
I’ve been an admirer of the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre for the best part of a decade, since I was one of Penny Green’s volunteers. I’ve valued the support of the team here, in the intervening years, in my voluntary role as the Sussex coordinator for Butterfly Conservation’s BNM recording scheme.
Returning as the Record Centre Manager feels like an enormous privilege; I’m conscious that being the custodian of Sussex’s biodiversity information is also a great responsibility.
I’m lucky that there is already an excellent data request service in place, providing professional bespoke reports for anyone wanting biodiversity information for sites in Sussex.
I’m also inheriting good working relationships with a growing list of partners, including local planning authorities, government agencies, conservation bodies and other organisations to whom biodiversity information is important, such as water companies. Through these partner relationships we make high quality environmental information available to decision-makers in planning, land management and conservation across Sussex.
These are services we can only provide by working closely with the local recording community: the people who are actually out there, in Sussex, identifying the great variety of species and habitats that exist and feeding that information through to us. The effort that goes into this – driven largely by volunteers, enthusiasts and folk who’ve simply made the time to notice and appreciate what’s around us – is hugely inspiring. And the results, from microscopic observations to landscape-scale surveys, as showcased at our annual Adastra seminar, are endlessly fascinating.
We couldn’t handle all this information without technology: systems and databases enable us to organise, analyse and interpret all this data, as well as present it in accessible and interesting ways. I’ve arrived at a time when technology, especially online recording, is revolutionising biological recording, and is bringing with it a new set of opportunities and challenges. This makes recording groups and the people involved in recording as critical as they’ve ever been, to ensure data users can continue to have confidence in the quality of the information we provide.
But these are not challenges we’re facing on our own. Here at Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, we’re also part of the Association of Local Environmental Record Centres, and the National Biodiversity Network (known as the NBN). We will all need to work together to ensure biological data continues to be collected, valued, looked after and shared appropriately.
As the saying goes: we live in ‘interesting times’. And I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.