Record Centre News

Butterfly Conservation Wider Countryside Survey

We need more surveyors to help with this national survey in Sussex. Only two surveys a year are needed: one in July and one in August. If you fancy getting involved then here are the squares we have available:

TQ1219Goose Green
TQ2436Ifield, Crawley
TQ2932Balcombe Forest
TQ3126Brook Street

If you’d like to know more about what the survey entails then drop me a line via email or call 01273 497521 and I can send you the survey instructions.

Any butterfly records that you collect during the survey will also help towards the Sussex Butterfly Survey.

Cutting the Mustard

Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines
The Orange-tip, one of our earliest non-overwintering butterflies and a sure sign Spring has arrived. Picture by PAUL MARTEN / Sussex Wildlife Trust.

One of the first signs of spring is glimpsing the unmistakable bright orange flashes of the male Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines as it patrols along country lane verges and hedgerows looking for a female. Emerging in April they are one of our earliest non-overwintering butterflies to see, and a sure sign that blissful sunny spring days are here and butterfly recording can start in earnest.

The male butterfly is easy to spot when it is on the wing, with its vibrant orange wing tips; a wonderful sight for us but this bright colouration is thought to be a warning sign to repel predators. This bold butterfly wouldn’t make a very tasty snack due to the mustard oils which will have built up in the body when it was a caterpillar feasting on its foodplants, such as Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata and Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis.

We’re looking to collect as many Orange-tip records as we can in order to fill the map of Sussex for the forthcoming Butterfly Conservation Sussex Butterfly Atlas and we’d like you to send in your records.

Drop us a line when you spot a male Orange-tip, whether it’s in your garden or in the countryside we’ll be grateful to hear from you. We’ll need your name, the date you saw it, and where you saw it, preferably an OS grid reference, and a road name and town — the more detail the better.

Please send your Orange-tip records to Penny Green or 01273 497521.

Parham Park Recording Day

Rosy Footman by Dave Green

Every year we organise a recording day somewhere in Sussex, usually somewhere that is under-recorded, but this year we were lucky enough to be granted access to Parham Park.

The Parham Estate comprises 354 hectares, including an historic deer park. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with veteran oak trees. Thirty enthusiastic biological recorders attended the event; we all split into groups and pottered off in different directions, some looking for plants, some for lichens and fungi, and others for invertebrates.

Among the interesting finds of the day was a first for Sussex netted by the Sussex Beetle Recorder, Peter Hodge: the last tortoise beetle needed to complete the set in Sussex – Cassida nebulosa. This species isn’t commonly recorded, and potentially quite rare.

There were several interesting species of fungi found by Vivien Hodge, including Citrine Waxcap Hygrocybe citrinovirens, Mosaic Puffball Handkea utriformis and an inkcap for which we only have a few records, called Coprinellus xanthothrix.

In the evening about ten recorders stayed on to run five moth traps which were set out in different habitats. The evening started well with one Dark Bordered Pearl Evergestis limbata being netted while it fed on Hemp Agrimony, and a second one was caught nearby later in the evening. This was a rather fitting species to catch as it is the emblem of the Sussex Moth Group. Interesting moths caught included local species Small Rufous, Double Kidney, Black Arches, Pine Hawkmoth, Rosy Footman and Scarce Footman. The bat surveyors recorded Serotine, Noctule and 45kHz Pipistrelle. The Serotine was heard at close quarters chomping on its dinner; the surveyors didn’t even need a bat detector to hear it.

Rosy Footman picture by Dave Green

Ancient Woodland Inventory Launched

Ancient woodland

The Revised Ancient Woodland Inventory for West Sussex has been launched after an extensive two-year ancient woodland survey of the county.

You can read more about the survey on the project page and download the complete survey report, including maps.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our friend and colleague Victoria Hume who carried out the survey. She will be sadly missed by our little team here at Woods Mill.

[ Visit Ancient Woodland Inventory Project Page ]

Great Nut Hunt

Dormice are hard to find because they are small and nocturnal, so very few people are lucky enough to see them in the wild. The best way of finding out if dormice are using a wood or hedgerow is to look for hazel nut shells that they have opened to get at the nut inside.

Dormice open these nuts while they are still green and on the tree, but the shells turn brown once they are discarded and fall to the ground. Other animals like hazel nuts too, but even so it’s often possible to tell which animal has opened the nut. Birds and squirrels usually split the shells completely in half or smash them to pieces, but small rodents (mice, voles and dormice) gnaw a neat round hole and leave characteristic toothmarks around the edge. By searching for, collecting and examining nuts we can get an idea if dormice are present at a site.

The Sussex Mammal Group are running a Sussex Great Nut Hunt as part of the National Great Nut Hunt where they would like to re-visit sites which have had previous records of dormice. This is an important way of monitoring how well dormouse populations are doing and see if they are still present to help with future monitoring and site management. If you would like to join in then please register your interest on the Great Nut Hunt website who will send you an information pack and also with the Sussex Mammal Group [email] who will provide you with a list of woods to pick from.

Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count

Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count
Fancy getting involved with a bit of butterfly recording this summer?

Then you may be interested to hear about the Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count which is taking place between 4th and 12th July:

Download the ID and recording form to record the butterflies you see between Saturday 4 July to Sunday 12 July at a location of your choosing. This could be your garden, school grounds, a local park, downland, woodland or any other suitable habitat. Try to give the maximum numbers of each butterfly seen.

Please send your completed form to the address on the form or enter your results at:

Bat Surveyors Wanted in Brighton

Brown long-eared bat
Do you live in Brighton?

Do you have two evenings free in August? Want to help out with a bat survey?

Ideally you will have a bat detector but if not, don’t worry, we can lend you one.

What’s the survey about?

  • We are trying to find out more about bats in urban areas.
  • We need surveyors to walk a survey route from their house and record the numbers of bats they hear. The survey itself takes about 45 minutes and needs to take place just before sunset.
  • You don’t have to identify individual bat species.

There will be a short training session on Wed 22 July in the evening at the Booth Museum for anyone who wants to take part.

This survey is a repeat of one that took place in 2007 – all previous surveyors are welcome to take part again!

If you interested please send a message to Cath Laing containing:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your daytime and evening telephone number
  • Do you already have a bat detector?

[ Email Cath ]

Dormouse and Field Vole Surveys

Field Vole

The Sussex Mammal Group is looking for volunteers to join in with the following two surveys:

  • Sussex Dormouse Nut Hunt (the best time of year for this survey is autumn and winter)
  • Sussex Field Vole Survey (the best time of year for this survey is spring through to autumn)

If you would like to be involved your help would be greatly appreciated. You can download the survey methods/recording sheets for both surveys here on our website:

If you would like to participate in the Dormouse Nut Hunt please get in contact with Penny Green and she can supply details of the grid references and names of woods that need surveying. This will be provided as a list from which you can choose as many sites as you have time to do.

And, as always, the Longworth traps are available for use so please get in contact to book them out.

We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

To contact Penny, either send a message directly, or write or phone.

Picture: Darin Smith, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Bat Training in Brighton

Pipistrelle bat in flight

The Sussex Bat Group and Sussex Mammal Society – with some help from the lottery – are trying to find out more about bats in cities.

What does the survey involve?

  • You need to come along to a training session (see below)
  • You will be given a bat detector (if you don’t have one) and a place to survey.
  • We will cover the survey method during the training session.
  • You will need to be able to find someone who can come with you on the survey – no one should survey alone.
  • You will be asked to walk your survey route twice in August and fill out a simple survey form. I will collect your survey forms and detectors at the end of August.
  • Sorry, you have to be 18 to do this survey!

Bats in Brighton Training Session
Date: Sunday 29th July
Time 5pm – 10 (ish)pm

We will have a short training session indoors and then hopefully go and hear some bats.

If you are interested please send a message to Cath Laing containing your name, address, daytime and evening telephone number. Also please let Cath know if you have a bat detector.

Picture: Hugh Clark/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Stag Beetle Hunt 2007

Stag Beetle

The Great Stag Hunt 2007 is now under way. This is the third national survey of its kind and organisers PTES hope to generate more records than ever this year. The Stag Beetle is now thought to be very rare or even extinct in many countries throughout Europe and is protected by law in the UK.

One of the ways to help conserve this charismatic creature is to keep a check on where it is found, through recording, in order to try and maintain – and increase – its population.

If you spot a stag beetle or would like to know more about identifying them, visit the Great Stag Hunt website for more information.

Picture: Stag Beetle by David Plummer,