The weather was rather miserable today so I decided to catch up with submitting records to iRecord. This included records from the last two weekends. Last Sunday I went to three reserves in Bedfordshire owned by The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire with Brian Eversham, the chief executive of this wildlife trust. Firstly we went to the heathland areas of King’s Wood and Rammamere Heath in the search of cup lichens (Cladonia sp.). Cladonia lichens are found all the way to the arctic where they are the primary food source for reindeer so have a huge economic importance. Brian is extremely knowledgeable on most groups of wildlife but really loves Cladonia species, and I can see why as they are rather attractive! Every patch of bare ground between the heather seemed to be colonised by a different Cladonia species, which was rather overwhelming for a lichen novice such as myself but by the end of the day I felt a lot more confident in this group.
While looking for lichens we stumbled upon some horse droppings, Brian dropped to the floor with excitement to examine the fungus growing from these droppings as he believed it to be a rare species mainly known from the New Forest. He however confirmed the identification of this nail fungus, Poronia punctata, by examining the fungal spores under a microscope, a really great record of a Biodiversity Action Plan species!
We next moved onto Cooper’s Hill, this reserve could not have been more well hidden as it is nestled between housing estates and football pitches, forming a refuge for the heathland species in the area. This site contained more Cladonia species including some species that Brian couldn’t confidently identify in the field so they must be something special! I also spotted a fungus I haven’t seen before, Fomes fomentarius, which used to be used as tinder.
The last reserve we visited was only a fleeting visit but comprised of two wonderfully different habitats, neither of which I have encountered before. Despite visiting it in heavy rain, Flitwick Moor was a beautiful reserve comprising of a Sphagnum bog and Alder Carr wood. This autumn and winter I have discovered bryophyes thanks to up and coming botanist Lindsay Stronge and Dr M , a lecturer at the University of Reading. There is no going back now and I have been gripped by bryophytes! Anyway, since Lindsay kindly sent me some Sphagnum mosses from Northern Ireland, I have wanted to visit a proper Sphagnum bog and see the mosses for myself. I was not disappointed and if it wasn’t for time pressures and the rain, I would have loved to have taken more pictures and explore further. All this gives me a reason to visit again and get lost in the world of mosses and liverworts. The second part of Flitwick moor is an Alder Carr woodland. I could only peer into this habitat from a bridge but it looked wonderfully rich and I think I could spend many a happy day exploring the habitat and still want to come back for more. My walking boots weren’t really suitable for exploring this habitat though as it is extremely wet (and bryophyte rich eep!) so next time I’m going to bring my waders! I can’t thank Brian enough for showing me these habitats that he loves so dearly.
This weekend it was my turn to show off a habitat that I love deary, chalk grasslands! I met up with Brian Eversham and James Harding Morris at Grangelands and Kimble Rifle Range, my favourite place in the area. We were mainly on the hunt for snails as James is trying to see every snail species in Britain this year! We saw approximately 20 species including some species in which we saw empty shells only, these however don’t count for James’ list!
There were two main target snail species for this trip, both of which I had seen on the site before. These were Balea sarsii and Abida secale. You will just have to keep an eye on James’ blog to see if we found them or not!
We also found some non snail species, almost by accident which were all rather interesting and new to me including:
Two of my favourite finds from the day however were the snail Vitrina pellucida and the Rhinoceros Beetle (Sinodendron cylindricum).
I also saw my first bumblebee, Bombus terrestris and solitary bee, Lasioglossum calceatum of the year. This site is the location of my butterfly transects this year so I look forward to spending as much time as I can there, discovering the secrets of this wonderful place. A huge thanks to Brian and James for finding these species on the site, it is always interesting when other naturalists visit the site on which you regularly record wildlife and find completely different species.
As I saw lots of new species in the last couple of weekends, I decided to retally the number of species I have recorded in Britain, to my surprise I have now broke the barrier of 1500 species recorded in Britain. You can see a breakdown of these species on the Pan Species Listers page. I however haven’t recorded any species in most of Britain, as the maps below show, so lots of new areas and habitats to explore!