The Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar has grown and grown in size every year. 2007 was the 18th seminar held with nearly 200 people attending. The first seminar, in 1989 had just a handful of attendees but some of those are still attending the seminar 18 years on. It is a brilliant day with a buzzing atmosphere that could only be found at Adastra Hall. You can view photos taken on the day on our Adastra Flickr photo page.
The mood of the day was set by Henri Brocklebank’s vibrant record centre update. Henri reviewed the year at SxBRC telling of the exciting projects that had taken place during 2006 and how the data that SxBRC holds is growing in quality and quantity (although quality is most important of course).
Our first guest speaker of the day was Helen Roy from the National Ladybird Survey, based in Cambridge. Helen’s talk was about the Harlequin Ladybird, which is the “most invasive ladybird on Earth”. Helen fascinated the audience with talk of this sex-mad, cannibalistic species that is populating the UK at an alarming rate, threatening the UK’s native ladybirds on the way. The project aims to record the advance of this species, so please send in your records via the project’s website.
Nourished by tea and biscuits, the audience was ready to be shocked by Arthur Hoare’s talk about the aliens that live in Sussex; alien plants that is. Each time a picture of an invasive alien plant appeared on the big screen, rumbles of disdain rippled through the audience. Arthur spoke eloquently of how Sussex habitats, especially waterways, are under threat from these invasive species. It is important that we record these species in order to help monitor and control them.
After that, Barry Kemp reminisced about 20 years of the Sussex Amphibian & Reptile Group. Barry covered the projects that they have been involved in and instigated, including “toad crossings” and getting the public enthused about the newts and frogs in their garden ponds. The amount of records that SARG has helped generate, and the projects that they have achieved in Sussex, is remarkable.
Then the only thing standing between the audience and their lunch was Sarah McIntyre. Sarah is from the RSPB and did a presentation about the Reedbed Habitat Action Plan and how she is coordinating a pioneering project to restore and create reedbeds in Sussex. This project has been helped immensely by the records that have been generated by Sussex recorders over the years. It is hoped that many invertebrate and bird species will benefit from this habitat’s improved condition and expansion in Sussex.
Over lunch, the recording community caught up with each other, discussing latest projects and new Sussex species over a piece of quiche. The atmosphere was lively and the audience was hesitant to sit back down again for the afternoon session, although they were glad they did.
Attendees returned to the “open-mic” slot, which is a short session where delegates can publicise their projects and request for volunteers. Here is a run down of each of the sessions:
Laura Bristow – Sussex Mammal Group
Sussex Mammal Group has been relaunched and is currently looking for volunteers to get involved in mammal surveys, including Otters and small mammals. Training will be given, so no experience necessary. Please contact Laura if you are interested.
Roy Ticehurst – Friends of Bedelands LNR
The land around Bedelands Farm LNR is under threat of development, and Roy is hoping to get some ideas of how action groups against development can work together. Please contact Roy if you have any ideas.
Mary Parker – ElmAware
Richard Cowser – Sussex Ornithological Society
The BTO Winter and Breeding Bird Atlas 2007-2011 surveys will be starting in the winter of 2007/2008 and the SOS is hoping to get volunteers to cover all Sussex tetrads. There is a training day at Plumpton College. If you would like to get involved please contact Helen Crabtree, the SOS coordinator.
Henri Brocklebank – Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre
Every year the SxBRC presents the Sussex Biodiversity Recording Award. This is £1,000 which gets divided up and shared among recording schemes or individual recorders who need equipment, training, etc. to aid recording in Sussex. Awards of up to £200 will be given to successful applicants. If you would like an application form please contact Penny Green. The closing date for applications is 16/04/07.
Paul Pendlebury – Exotic Reptile Recorder
Paul would like to hear of any sites which may have a viable breeding population of terrapins.
Stephen Savage – Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve
Anyone interested in recording on Shoreham Beach please send in records as they would be useful to help find out more about this interesting habitat of vegetated shingle, which is especially good for invertebrates.
Barrie Watson – Barn Owls
If you find a dead or injured Barn Owl please contact Barrie as soon as possible so that he can try to determine whether a nest that needs attending to. If the Barn Owl has a ring around its leg please make a note of the number and report it to him. Also if you hear of any Barn Owls that may be threatened with development or barn conversions etc. please let Barrie know so that he can put mitigation in place.
Ali Wright – Veteran Tree Project
Ali is conducting a Veteran Tree Project and would be pleased to receive any records of veteran trees. Please contact Ali Wright for details of what information is required. If you would like to volunteer for this project, no previous experience is required and training will be given.
Paul Harmes – Sussex Botanical Recording Society
The first speaker of the afternoon session was Sam Bayley, a Horsham District ranger based at Warnham Local Nature Reserve, and a keen moth recorder. Sam’s talk was about a year of moth recording and was depicted with lots of beautiful moth images. 2006 is said to have been the best year yet for moth recording in Sussex, with lots of exciting species turning up in Sussex such as the awe-inspiring Death’s Head Hawkmoth and the impressive Clifden Nonpareil. As Sam said, if you weren’t excited by moths in 2006, you’re never going to be.
Next in the programme, a double-act of Robin Pepper and Sam St Pierre from the Sussex Ouse Conservation Society. They spoke of the macro-invertebrates that they have been methodically surveying in the Ouse tributaries in order to monitor the water quality.
The audience took a tea break before the whirlwind of Tony Whitbread, from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, hit the stage for the grand finale. Tony spoke of how ecology on a landscape scale is happening in Sussex and how biological records are helping make decisions about land management over larger areas. Linking networks of rides and connecting woodland were investigated to help the movement of different species’ populations across large tracts of land in Sussex.
At the end of the day Henri Brocklebank chaired a plenary session in which many questions were directed at Tony Whitbread, enough to fuel another seminar just based on landscape projects.
Many thanks to everyone, including the audience, who made this yet another successful biological recorders’ seminar. See you next year.