Record Centre News

Downland Bees and Wasps Get a Health Check

Halictus eurygnathus

Halictus eurygnathus had been considered extinct in Britain but was rediscovered at seven sites. It forages primarily on Greater Knapweed.

Warwickshire entomologist Steven Falk has recently completed a major study of the bees and wasps of fifteen downland sites in East Sussex. The image-rich report is now available for download.

Download Report [PDF 4.5MB]

227 species of bee and wasp were recorded including many rarities. Most notable amongst these was a solitary bee, Halictus eurygnathus, which had not been seen in Britain since 1946 and was considered nationally extinct. But reports of its demise were clearly premature as it was eventually found at seven sites. Females rely very heavily upon greater knapweed as a pollen source, and with this new information, it should be possible to conserve it and hopefully help it to spread.

The study also revealed the important role that arable field margins, flowery fallow fields and blossoming shrubs such as blackthorn play in supporting bees on the Downs. One of Britain’s rarest mining bees Andrena niveata was found to forage primarily from flowers of charlock and hedge-mustard at the edges of rape crops, a relationship that had not been noted anywhere previously.

The study also revealed that some species are in trouble in East Sussex including Britain’s largest mining bee Andrena hattorfiana which forages on scabiouses. The study also failed to rediscover Culluman’s bumblebee which was last recorded in Britain in 1926 and seemingly had a good population in the Seaford area.

Steve also recorded the two-winged flies (Diptera) in the areas he visited and this will be subject to a future report. Hopefully the study will help the various landowners and land managers of the South Downs to promote these important insects, especially given the growing international concern regarding declining pollinators. Steven is also keen to encourage local naturalists to investigate less popular insect groups of the Downs.

Two New Reports

We are delighted to announce the launch of two new inventories which, from today, we will be including in our standard biodiversity reports.

The long-awaited Sussex BAP Species Inventory (BAPSI) is based on the new UK list of priority species and habitats, which was launched in 2007 by the UK Biodiversity Partnership.

The Sussex Invasive Alien Species Report (SIASR) is the second new addition to our biodiversity reports. With guidance from Sussex’s leading ecologists we have compiled a select list of invasive alien species which occur in Sussex. This will enable us to produce ‘Sussex Invasive Alien Site Reports’ in order to help minimise the threat posed by invasive alien species in Sussex.

Searches for your enquiry area based on these new lists are now available to you in our desktop biodiversity reports.

You can read more about these reports by visiting the following pages:

Hastings Country Park Report 2007

Hastings Country Park Report 2007

Andy Phillips at Hastings Borough Council has produced a marvellous full-colour biodiversity report for Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve. Much exciting work has been carried out during 2007; this report details some of that work and contains an updated wildlife summary and wildlife reports for the year. If you have an interest in the area it is well worth taking a look.

You can download the report in PDF format from the RXWildlife website.

Sussex Lichen Checklist 2006

Simon Davey, Sussex lichen recorder

Simon Davey, Sussex county lichen recorder and British Lichen Society representative, has produced a comprehensive checklist of Lichen found in Sussex. Simon has put a lot of time and effort into the list and so we would like to thank him for providing the community with such a useful resource.

Two versions of the checklist are available:

Bird Inventory Launch

Closeup of Jay's feather

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Sussex Bird Inventory.

Working in partnership with the Sussex Ornithological Society, SxBRC now holds over 800,000 bird records ranging from 1990 to 2005, with further records being added on an annual basis. These bird data are now available to you in our desktop biodiversity reports. It should be noted that while these reports are richly populated with bird data, they do not include breeding season records of Wildlife & Countryside Act Schedule 1 birds and several other sensitive birds. A full list of these excluded species and their breeding seasons can be downloaded as a PDF.

Birds are important indicator species of key habitats and can be more easily monitored than many other species groups, so we are confident this information will aid developers, consultants and members of the public in making better informed decisions.

The Bird Inventory searches can be based on a particular site and its surroundings, and will present all bird species recorded in that area, showing the first and last date it was recorded on, and how many times it has been recorded. Other helpful information within the report includes:

  • a contextual statement for each bird species explaining the type of habitat and food sources it requires and its status in Sussex;
  • an icon to show if it is a Schedule 1 species.

More information about the Bird Inventory is available on our Species Inventories page.