White Admiral Newsletter 93
Suffolk Naturalistsâ€™ Society
Spring Members Evening & AGM
An Invasive Alien – The Asian Hornet
Another Stag Beetle Predator
Dr Simone Bullion
Valerian as a Nectar Source
Almost another BAP Species
Bee hotels, more than just a gimmick
Wilderness Unexpected visitors - Braconid wasp and Agonopterix moth in the living room! Wild Flower Society Winter Months Hunt – a follow up Clunch In West Suffolk New mammal for Suffolk
Two records in one from Kelsale New Fungus for Suffolk More What’s on?
A year of Suffolk Biological Recording Online
ISSN 0959-8537 Published by the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society c/o Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP1 3QH Registered Charity No. 206084 © Suffolk Naturalists’ Society
Cover Photo: Hollesley Marshes by Aaron Howe (RSPB) using a drone
Newsletter 93 - Spring 2016 I am writing this editorial on the back of what has to be viewed as one of our most successful conferences. ‘Freshwater Revival’ attracted over 175 natural history enthusiasts who were treated to a great variety of talks on the subject of freshwater conservation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the speakers for delivering so well on the brief but also to all the people who helped make the day the success it was. I spent the whole conference videoing the talks and it is my next job to edit these and get them uploaded to the website. The first presentations from what has become referred to as the virtual part of the conference will be available in the coming weeks. There was an huge amount of information to take in on the day so these videos will certainly help me remember some of the finer points highlighted on the day. We were lucky enough to receive extensive press coverage courtesy of John Grant, of the East Anglian Daily Times, who featured a three part serialised report from the day. These can be read here:
One of the features of the conference was a preview of the soon to be published Suffolk Dragonflies atlas by Adrian Parr. This book, edited by Adrian Parr and Nicholas Mason, is now available to pre-order on the SNS website for £12 (inc. post & packaging). Editor: Ben Heather Suffolk Biological Records Centre, c/o Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich, IP1 3QH email@example.com White Admiral 93
Spring Members Evening & AGM 14th April 2016 | 7:30pm Cedars Hotel, Needham Road, Stowmarket IP14 2AJ Agenda: Apologies for absence Minutes of the 86th Annual General Meeting Chairman’s Report – Martin Sanford Treasurers Report – Joan Hardingham Secretary’s Report – Gen Broad Any Other Business (The Chairman reserves the right to consider only items submitted in writing 2 weeks before the AGM.) Following the conclusion of formal business and refreshments there will be a series of short presentations on natural history by members and projects funded by SNS.
Drinks available from the pay bar on arrival and half-time refreshment break provided (tea and coffee). New Suffolk Biological Recording Bursary for FSC Courses The SBRC & SNS have teamed up with the Field Studies Council at Flatford Mill to offer a bursary to support individuals (over 2 5 s) w i s h i n g t o a t t e n d a s e l e c t i o n o f F S C c o u r s e s a t F l a t f o r d . The bursary will provide up to 100% of the non -residential course fees on the condition of submitting a set amount of records to the SBRC within 3 months of completing the course.
More information & the courses offered can be found here http://goo.gl/Ay7iwB 2
White Admiral 93
What’s on? Save the Date - 2016 Bioblitz Events
Tiger Hill Bioblitz - 7th May Africa Alive Bioblitz - 4th & 5th June Orwell Park Bioblitz, Ipswich - 11th & 12th June Flatford Mill Bioblitz - 23rd July Brandon Country Park Bioblitz - 29th & 30th July
More details will follow (when available) on the SNS website. Suffolk Wildlife Trust - Wild Learning Courses Why not make this year the year you engage more with the natural world? By signing up for one of SWT’s ‘Wild Learning’ courses for adults, you can learn more about the work of the Trust and its reserves, get out in the fresh air, meet new friends and learn a new skill! The courses are specifically for adults and will take place at our five education centres, nature reserves and village halls (so there is bound to be one in your area). Come and learn in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with supportive, knowledgeable tutors. Check out what’s available by browsing our ‘What’s On’ brochure or our website. To book and pay online, visit www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/ wildlearning or telephone 01473 890089 to book with our friendly reception team. There’s a great variety on offer: wildlife photography at Captain’s Wood for bluebells in April, with more wildlife photography throughout the year including a Fen Raft Spider workshop. Brush up your birding knowledge with a resident & migrant bird ID by song and sight or learn how to look after hedgehogs on our basic and intermediate hedgehog care workshops. New courses at Iken on the Alde estuary include Breeding Bird Census techniques and Saltmarsh Habitat & Plant life. Experience the world of solitary bees, moths or dragonflies, and learn how to identify tumuli & Neolithic flints and watch a flint-knapping demo at Knettishall Heath!
www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/wildlearning White Admiral 93
An Invasive Alien – The Asian Hornet Like other bee-keepers I am concerned about the possible arrival of the Asian Hornet Vespa velutina in the UK and the BBKA (British Beekeepers Association) has asked beekeepers and the general public to be on the alert. The Asian Hornet was introduced accidentally to France from China in 2004 with some pottery; it has spread across our European neighbours and is only a short Channel hop away. See http:// www.nonnativespecies.org. It is a voracious predator of Honey Bees Apis melifera and other insects with which it feeds its young. It is a master of ‘hawking’ - picking off bees one at a time; and as ‘our’ bees tend to drift lazily into the hive on returning home, they are easy prey.
Environment and Rural Affairs) outlined plans to tackle the 2000odd invasive species already established in Britain, particularly ones which cause significant expense such as Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica which costs £166m a year to control. In 2015, the updated Invasive Alien Species Regulation put greater emphasis on preventing introductions.
In 2008 the Great Britain Nonnative Species Strategy from DEFRA (Department of the
The 1000 reported sightings of the Asian Hornet have all proved false, this is not surprising as wasp
The German Wasp V. germanica
The plan with the Asian Hornet is to rapidly intercept the pest should it appear in Britain. 1000 sentinel apiaries have been set up and the public are encouraged to report sightings. Should it be spotted the National Bee Unit and the Animal and Plant Health Agency has a crack response team, trained in France to locate and destroy the nests.
The Common Wasp V. vulgaris
White Admiral 93
European Hornet – note more yellow on abdomen (Wikipedia commons Sven Teschke, Büdingen )
species are quite difficult to identify. There are 10 species of Vespidae or Social Wasps in the UK, though the Paper wasp Polistes dominulus has only a tenuous foothold. Many species can only be told apart by close attention to detail: the markings on the face and the hair colour. See http://goo.gl/FNtmZi – see photos on previous page.
Median, Tree, Norwegian and Saxon are larger. To add to the confusion the queen, males and workers of each species are different sizes. The European Hornet Vespa cabro is notably larger and generally brown and yellow though the colouring is similar to the queen Median, this is much smaller. The European Hornet’s head is brown with a yellow face; the thorax velvety brown and the abdomen mainly yellow. The Asian Hornet is smaller, the face is yellow-brown, its head and thorax are black and
The yellow and black Vespula wasps: Common, Red, German, Austrian and Cuckoo are very similar, the wasps we are generally familiar with. The Dolichovespulas:
European Hornet – note brown head (eakringbirds.com)
Asian Hornet – note yellow feet (Wikipedia Commons, BlueGinko)
White Admiral 93
Asian Hornet – note black head (Wikipedia Commons Danel Solabarrieta)
The nests may help identification: the Asian Hornet builds a nest with side entrances in trees and shrubs, as does the German Wasp V. germanica but here the entrance is at the base; the European Hornet builds in hollow trees and the common wasp Vespula vulgaris builds underground in old mouse nests or in buildings.
A sian Hornet nest – note lateral entrances. (Chris Luck www.planetepassion.eu)
the abdomen is dark except for 4th abdominal segment which is orange-yellow and it has distinctive yellow feet.
Identifying wasps to species level is complex but - better to be safe than sorry – if you see a large dark hornet, notify the specialists firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully this threat may get people interested in studying the whole fascinating wasp group. The Asian Hornet is on the SBRC (Suffolk Biological Records Centre) list – who will be the first to spot it? Joan Hardingham
Free to a Good Home! A run of Suffolk Natural History Vol.15 (1969) - Vol. 35 (1999). Collect from Barton Mills or rendezvous at Lackford Lakes. Contact: Norma Chapman email@example.com
Contributions to White Admiral Deadlines for copy are: 1st Feb (Spring issue), 1st June (Summer issue) and 1st Oct (Autumn issue) The opinions expressed in White Admiral are not necessarily those of the Editor or of the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. 6
White Admiral 93
Another Stag Beetle Predator Articles in White Admiral 83 (Autumn 2012) and White Admiral 84 (Spring 2013) illustrate the wide range of known stag beetle predator species in the UK and Europe. In the UK, thirteen species were known to prey on this insect, eight of which are birds and five are mammals. However, the list of stag beetle predators is by no means complete, as David Walker has recently shown. On Wednesday 15th July 2015 he observed a Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus), (‘one of many wheeling and circling over Reade Field’, Holbrook) take a stag beetle in flight some five metres above
the ground. Unfortunately, David was unable to see the sex of the beetle, or witness the gull consuming its prey, but he did observe the bird fly off with its catch. As far as I am aware, this is the first UK record of a gull preying on a stag beetle. David’s observation increases the number of stag beetle predator species in the UK to 14. Note: Earlier in July, David observed gulls showing the same behaviour at the Reade Field location, catching and feeding on chafers in flight. Colin Hawes
References: Hawes, C. J. Some predators of the Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus: Part 1. White Admiral 83 Autumn 2012, pp. 5-6. Stebbings, R. Stag Beetle Predators: Letter in response to Vol. 83 – Colin Hawes’ article, pp. 5-6. White Admiral 84 Spring 2013, pp. 15-16.
New poetry book published: Wilderness by Tim Gardiner A new collection of natural history poems by Tim Gardiner has been published by Brambleby Books (April 2015). The collection is titled ‘Wilderness’ and aims to reflect the emotional connection between poet and wildlife, focusing on an array of species including glow-worms, large marsh grasshoppers, oak White Admiral 93
trees and the destroying angel fungus. Notes and photographs accompany each poem to further aid the reader’s understanding of the species and habitats mentioned. One poem (over the page) ‘Dedham Veil’ reflects the passing of a storm on the Essex/Suffolk border. 7
Dedham Veil Standing by the veteran black poplar the gathering breeze rustles delicate branches, decaying leaves tremble and fall at my side aware of the thunderous storm’s advances. Dedham’s lonely tower disappears from view, as the distant beams of falling rain
Publisher: Brambleby Books Format and Pages: Paperback 120pp ISBN: 9781908241344 Retail Price: £7.99 Brambleby Books Discount Price: £6.50
decorate the isolated pastures anew. Restless cattle seek shelter under willows as the heavens above are painted black, the first vengeful lightning bolt flashes and strikes the ghostly hay stack. No longer the optimism of light and shade, which separated the perfect autumn sky and generations of painters duly made. Joyous bird song follows the fire storm spears of light pierce Flatford’s empty frames, colour returns to the blood-red fields of corn the Vale reborn by the cleansing rains.
Available direct from Brambleby Books www.bramblebybooks.co.uk/wilderness.asp or from Amazon.
Unexpected visitors - Braconid wasp and Agonopterix moth in the living room! My wife and I were just settling down in front of our wood-burner one evening in January when I noticed a small wasp on the wall. I caught it in a p ot then concentrated on the TV. Next day I took some photos of the wasp and 8
was struck by its unusual red “eyebrows”. I posted the photos on the Facebook UK Bees, Wasps and Ants group page where Devon Henderson, a keen amateur Hymenopterist suggested that it White Admiral 93
looked like a male Braconid, possibly Doryctinae. As luck would have it, a chapter about British Braconids which includes a key is available as a free download from the Royal Entomological Society (RES) website. I had started working through the key when Dr Gavin Broad, Senior Curator of Hymenoptera at the Natural History Museum, identified the insect as a Dendrosoter protuberans. He explained that the key characteristics of this species are the raised sculpted areas on the White Admiral 93
head (i.e. the â€œeyebrowsâ€?), the swollen maxillary palp and the wing venation, including the stigma on the hindwing. I like to record my local wildlife via the SBRC and iRecord. However the genus Dendrosoter was not included in the taxonomy. If that is changed in the future then this could be the first observation recorded. That does not mean that the wasp is particularly rare, only that few people record Braconids. The majority of the Dendrosoter wasps that occur in Britain are 9
Dendrosoter protuberans (male) - details
ectoparasitoids of beetle larvae that live beneath bark or in dead wood. The female wasp locates the beetle larva within a log, penetrates the bark with its ovipositor, injects the larva with paralysing venom and lays a single egg on it. The wasp larva emerges from the egg and feeds on the beetle larva until the wasp pupates and the beetle larva dies. The next spring, if the wasp has survived the winter, it chews a hole in the bark and emerges. But how did it find its way into my living room? The most likely route was in wood for the wood-burner. A glance at the logs in the basket confirmed that many of them had been home to beetles. The galleries in this kiln-dried ash log have been made by beetle larvae. But I could not find any 10
Bark beetle galleries in log
between Dendrosoter protuberans and ash beetles. It was introduced in the USA from Europe in an attempt to co ntro l a be e tle ( Scolytus multistriatus) which can carry Dutch Elm disease and a Czechoslovakian study found it to be an important parasite of beetles associated with fungal diseases of oak. I asked Dr Mark Shaw, an expert on Braconids and one of the authors of the RES chapter, about this wasp and ash and he informed me that numerous specimens of this species have been raised from ash bark beetles in the National Museums of Scotland. Since finding the wasp, I have been closely observing the log-store and front room walls in the hope that they will yield further interesting insects! White Admiral 93
Less than a week after finding the Braconid, my wife noticed a small moth fluttering across the living room. It has been identified as an Agonopterix species by Dave Grundy on the Facebook UK Micro Moth Identification group page.
I have read that the hibernating adults hide themselves in dense cover, scrub, thatch, wood stacks or even indoors! Martin Cooper, Ipswich
Wild Flower Society Winter Months Hunt – a follow up Wow, what a month! December 2015 turned out to be a record breaking month in so many ways. Throughout England and Wales we saw unseasonably mild weather, which brought with it severe flooding across parts of North Wales, northern England and Scotland. Here rainfall totals were 2-4 times the monthly average. According to the Met Office (http:// goo.gl/ACvUmq) the UK mean
White Admiral 93
temperature was 7.9°C, which was 4.1°C above the 1981-2010 long term average, making it the warmest December for over 100 years. Here, in East Anglia, the average temperature for December was 10° C, which is 5.4°C higher than the 1981-2010 long term average. Of particular note were the warm nights, with the average daily minimum temperature of 7.2°C 11
and lack of air frosts. These are temperatures more comparable with October or April rather than December. Whilst other parts of the UK recorded their wettest ever December, East Anglia fared a little better with only 53.3 mm of rain, which is roughly in line with amounts expected for December. As has become a family tradition, we repeated our Wild Flower Society winter months hunt (as reported in White Admiral 92 – Autumn 2015) for December 2015. Of the previous 4 years, 2011 had the highest number of wild plant species in flower for December at 133. December 2015 topped this with a record number of 149 – a reflection of our exceptionally mild weather. Whilst people were reporting early flowering daffodils, winter aconites and snowdrops in their gardens before Christmas, so naturalised ones were also found in the countryside. Several species were recorded for the first time for December, with traditional spring
flowers appearing noticeably earlier than might be expected. Primroses, celandine, barren strawberry and cow parsley were all recorded in flower on 1st December. Those trees that are generally the first to flower in the spring, namely hazel, alder and cherry plum were all recorded as flowering (i.e. shedding pollen) in December. However, the strangest anomaly for me was holly, traditionally, a tree that flowers in May. It seemed a little incongruous to have adjacent trees with flowers and berries (it was mostly the male trees that were in flower) at the same time. As I write this half way through January and with the coldest nights of the year (down to -5°C) just recorded I wonder how some of these early flowering species will fare? Only time will tell. Anne Kell
Clunch In West Suffolk The term ‘clunch’ is used to describe hard layers within the Chalk that are used as building stone. The most commonly used layer in West Suffolk is the Totternhoe Stone. This is a widely 12
developed marker bed in East Anglia, occurring within the Lower Chalk (Cenomanian; 98.9 – 93.5 Ma) at the base of the Grey Chalk. It was deposited onto an irregular surface, channelled into the Chalk White Admiral 93
The clunch at Kentford church shows how easily it weathers. Acid rain and frost shattering are particularly important.
The fine church at Lakenheath shows extensive use of clunch. The brown stone in the photo above is a coarse ferruginous sandstone â€“ Carstone.
White Admiral 93
Internal and external carved clunch columns at Santon Downham church
Marl. Other hard bands include the Melbourn Rock and Chalk Rock, but they are not used so much in Suffolk. Totternhoe Stone is a grey-white colour, sometimes with a green tinge due to the presence of glauconite, and can be silty or gritty as it contains comminuted shell material, especially Inoceramid bivalves. It is usually compact and welljointed. The Totternhoe Stone outcrops from Burwell (Cambs), where it is known as â€˜Burwell Stoneâ€™, through Mildenhall and Lakenheath to Brandon and northwards into
Norfolk, often forming a positive feature in the landscape marked by springs and spring-line settlements. It is generally about 6m thick, but thins northwards. The Totternhoe Stone contains a distinctive mid-Cenomanian fauna. This includes bivalves, such as Chlamys fissicosta and Oxytoma, the belemnite Praeactinocamax primus , and the ammonite Acanthoceras rhotomagense . Several brachiopods species, fish, trace fossils and other remains also occur. A soft limestone, Totternhoe Stone was traditionally hewn from
White Admiral 93
quarries using a type of two-edged battle-axe or sawn into blocks. It was easily carved but also weathers readily and was thus often used for interior work. However, if properly dried, traditionally during the summer months, it became harder and more durable and was used
outside. Rough clunch walling can commonly be seen in many West Suffolk villages and farms, but it has also been used in more substantial buildings. No working quarries survive today. Roger Dixon
A fine example of a clunch building: the Victoria National School in Brandon, established in 1813.
Clunch has historically been used as infill to doors and arches at Exning church. Recycled clunch is used nowadays in restoration work.
‘The clunch of West Suffolk’ was part of a GeoSuffolk display on Breckland at the Geologists’ Association Festival of Geology at University Collage London in November 2015
White Admiral 93
New mammal for Suffolk
Photo by Peter Dean - Glis Glis (Edible Dormouse)
In December 2015, an edible dormouse (Glis glis) was trapped in a house near Saxmundham. This non-native species is renowned for being a favoured food of the Romans, although they were not living in the wild in Britain until 1902, when Lord Rothschild released an unknown number of animals into Tring Park in the Chiltern Hills. This introduced population has been slowly expanding and a series of satellite populations have also be found further afield, although none of these are close to Suffolk.
large pieces of felled timber are moved from areas where they are present. Unfortunately, they can be a pest of forestry and orchards as well
It is unknown how this animal came to be found in Suffolk, but they can be transported when 16
White Admiral 93
as readily entering houses. Any possible sightings in Suffolk should be reported to Simone Bullion at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, to assess whether there are any other locations where they may now exist. Dr Simone Bullion Simone.Bullion@suffolkwildlifetrust.org
Photos: Right: Edible dormouse found in Suffolk Simone Bullion Below left: Glis g lis - Roger Wasley
Hollesley Marshes Just imagine an area of grassland that has very little standing water, very few breeding and passage waders and yet has so much potential with a little imagination. Hollesley Marshes was falling well short of our aspirations and targets for the reserve, this was mainly due to the layout of the field system and our inability to raise the water levels high enough to create shallow pools.
White Admiral 93
After a lot of consideration we decided to create a new 13ha freshwater wetland habitat. The design consisted of a shallow wetland with a high percentage of islands, some grassy, some bare and some covered in sand or gravel. A sluice would be installed to control the water level, dropping it in the spring and summer to expose extensive muddy areas and ultimately make it very attractive to breeding waders. Lastly, an electric anti-predator fence around the margin of the wetland would keep the local foxes as mere spectators. The objective of the scrape was to primarily attract breeding waders, 17
such as Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Redshank, and certainly passage and roosting waders, but also hopefully breeding terns such as Little, Sandwich and Common. All these species are under pressure in the Alde-Ore Estuary, from loss of habitat, disturbance and predation. On the nearby Havergate Island, Avocets, terns and smaller gulls have all but been replaced by Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls relocating from elsewhere in the Estuary and the long-term future of the island itself is far from secure due to sea level rise. So creating a new habitat for these species on the ‘mainland’ will hopefully help to secure their future in the local area. And so the wetland creation ground works at Hollesley started in August 2013 once all of the consents required to progress the project had been granted. It took the contractors 11 weeks of hard work to form the basic shape of the wetland. The striking thing about these earthworks was the sheer industrial scale of them and from the outset of the build we knew the lower Alde and Ore would never be the same again. The work on the wetland was undertaken by Barry Day and Sons Ltd and they started by taking off an average of 20cm
across the land and moving 16,000m³ of soil. This material was used to form a low bank around the perimeter of the site and build up a higher area to the south of the field. Once the land was lowered we then set about creating 10 kilometers of deeper features using a rotary ditcher. As part of the project the RSPB purchased a replacement rotary ditcher from the USA. This specialist machine is powered by a very large tractor and can create some fantastic features on wet grassland. In addition to creating the deeper features the machine created a fine covering of loose soil which would produce a perfect bed for invertebrates to flourish. To create the islands for terns we imported 1250 tonnes of shingle from a local quarry in Wangford. This was enough to spread across one hectare of island. This was laid on a geotextile which should suppress the grass growth and keep it suitable for terns for some time. The islands have very gently sloped edges to create lots of feeding edge for young Avocets, Lapwings and Redshanks and hopefully Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers. These edges should prove popular with passage waders.
White Admiral 93
To manage the water we installed two sluices to control water levels on the site. This is a very simple system of diverting water from the current ditch, through the wetland and then fed back into the same ditch system. This has worked very well and the water supply for the wetland is more than sufficient to keep it wet if required even in a dry summer. To keep the grass and rush in check across the site we will be using Konik/Exmoor ponies from the nearby Minsmere reserve. This hardy Polish pony is at home in this mix of shallow water and grassland and will graze the site every year to maintain the required short grass conditions. The final task was to install the 5 foot high anti-predator fence around the edge of the wetland to prevent mammalian predation. The combination fence is a high tensile badger mesh which is dug into the ground with five strands of electric wire. This was completed by the end of March 2014. It was clear in our first breeding season (2014) that the project had been a complete success. A variety of scarce birds appeared from the day of flooding, including Glossy Ibis, Temminckâ€™s Stint, Garganey,
Blue Headed Wag, 11 Ruff, 50 Dunlin and 25 ringed plover. The breeding bird figures for 2014 were amazing for year one with 41 pairs of Avocet fledging 82 young, 25 pairs of Lapwing fledging 60 young, 3 pairs of Ringed Plover fledging 9 young, 3 pairs of Oystercatcher and 10 pairs of Redshank fledging 30 young. This is the highest level of avocet productivity on the Suffolk coast for 30 years. 2015 Breeding season also exceeded our expectations with 50 pairs of Avocet, 31 pairs of Lapwing, 8 pairs of Redshank, 4 pairs of Ringed Plover and 3 pairs of Oystercatcher to name a few. However, unfortunately productivity was not as high as the previous year due to a rogue pair of crows that were seen on a regular basis specialising on eggs and chicks. We hope that this will just be a one off and that our wader chick survival rate will start to increase again this year. Hollesley marshes is a great spot to visit, it has birds on the scrape all year round which can easily be seen from our viewing mound or from up on the see wall. Lyndsey Record, RSPB
See front cover for aerial photo of the Marshes taken by Aaron Howe (RSPB) using a drone.
White Admiral 93
Valerian as a Nectar Source
Photo by Richard Stewart - Valerian outside French windows at home
In Suffolk I tend to associate Valerian with the shingle beaches along our coast, there are some good clumps at Shingle Street and a long proliferation at the edge of Aldeburghâ€™s shingle beach. Here it blooms in deep pinks, reds, whites and variegated colours. We have a similar abundance in our back garden at Westerfield road, Ipswich, though just the deep pink and restricted to our patio. A glowing profusion spreads right across the view from the French windows in our lounge, over four feet high in places and on eye level when we are seated. The other advantage is a long flowering period. Although five of our gardenâ€™s nectar sources have attracted ten or more species of butterfly Valerian has so far 20
recorded just four: the occasional Large White and more frequent Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. These are, incidentally, virtually the same species as recorded on the plants at Aldeburgh. The main feeding activity is at dusk when moths come, including the migratory Silver Y and the spectacular Hummingbird Hawk moth. Our 2015 records list fourteen garden visits, six of them to Valerian, one in light rain and two in July as late as 8.35pm. Any visit of this superb and frenetic feeder is an event to be treasured, perhaps more often in future as this migrant is slowly overwintering in sheltered spots and could follow the Red Admiral as a more resident species. I White Admiral 93
actually timed one visit; visiting fifty florets took just thirty seconds on the first timing and forty on the second. I wasnâ€™t able to see if every time produced nectar but much must be needed to replace the energy used.
Regrettably Valerian is a vigorous coloniser and has now started to penetrate our house foundations at the back-so it will have to go. We will however keep the plants growing in pots. Richard Stewart
Almost another BAP Species Doing a spot of gardening in Aldeburgh recently, I spotted what I thought were the seed heads of Holly Hocks which I had previously just dead headed, but what were these doing near the base of an overgrown Leyland Cypress? I broke one up in my fingers and to my surprise realised there was a spore sack inside. Immediately I thought to myself â€˜Weather Earthstarâ€™ (Geastrum corallinum) so called because of its habit to curl
up to protect itself in dry weather and expand when rained upon. 4 remained intact so I took these home to examine in detail and check out the spore measurements. G.corollinum is a BAP species almost confined to Norfolk and Suffolk in the UK. Looking up details in my reference book it mentioned this as having a smooth base with no soil attached and this was how I found my samples - now all I had to do was
G.floriforme (Right: 20 minutes after a good soaking with a pipet)
White Admiral 93
measure the spores under the microscope. Sadly, my spores measured 6-7 µm and not 4-5µm, which told me I had found the very similar Daisy
Earthstar (G.floriforme ). Never mind, still a rare species and one I hadn’t seen before. Neil Mahler
Photo right: Two H truncorum busy provisioning nest holes
Bee hotels, more than just a gimmick We’ve seen them in garden centres, in various different forms and guises, twee wooden boxes crammed full of bamboo canes and pine cones and sold off as bug hotels. However, do these actually benefit the insects they are intended for, or are they just a cute garden decoration jumping on the bandwagon of greenness and ‘save the bees’? Often I have seen them in the gardens of friends and relatives, hanging on garden fences or from trees, swinging idly in the breeze (the hotels, not my friends), always as empty as they day they were bought. I resisted the temptation of purchasing such an item for years until I witnessed something one day last year (2014) during a bioblitz at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Foxburrow Farm. It was coming to the end of a successful day and some of us were chatting, by coincidence, to Suffo lk Hymenoptera recorder Adrian Knowles. I was leaning against one of the old oak supporting beams of the farm when I suddenly noticed a small bee land on the beam and 22
walk into a small nail hole. I pointed this out to Adrian and we noted that there were a few other nail holes in the beam, which had been completed and sealed. I took a specimen and gave it to Adrian, who later confirmed I had found a small bee by the name of Heriades truncorum, a small to medium sized bee, which caps the nest tube off with a pine resin cap. Interestingly, it was only the 5th record for Suffolk. This got me thinking. Maybe the holes in these bee hotels were just too big? So, during the cold winter months, I set to work and using an old pallet from my workplace and knocked up a rough looking wooden frame, backing it with a bit of old hardboard from an old cabinet that was being turned into firewood. Then, with some 8ft White Admiral 93
A small parasitic wasp inspects a completed chamber
Megachile sp provisions a cell
bamboo canes purchased (the only thing I purchased for this project) from Wilkinson’s I cut them all to the same length (9cm) and glued them into the box. I specifically bought the 8ft canes as these tapered towards the ends, thus giving me a variety of tube diameters. I also placed in the box some off-cuts of wood and drilled them with small holes, again of varying sizes. Then, this year, as the weather began to warm up, I took the bee hotel to work at SWT Lackford Lakes and placed it against one of our bird feeding posts facing east so it would catch a fair amount of sun and about 4ft from the ground. It wasn’t too long until the warm weather kicked in and soon there was activity spotted around the bee hotel. Due to work, I wasn’t able to get out to check what was happening at the hotel until mid-summer. On inspection I noticed a familiar looking bee going in and out of the various holes. I took some photos with my phone and forwarded them straight to
White Admiral 93
Adrian who confirmed again, I had found H.truncorum. I noticed that not many of the larger bamboo cane holes had been provisioned and sealed. I had also made one of these hotels for my own garden and positioned it facing south. I found that that this one had much more limited use, although it had still been used. The species I found using my bee hotel was Leaf-cutter bees (Megachile sp) and some parasitic wasps were also spotted hanging around the filled chambers. So it would seem that it’s not just a matter of placing bamboo canes in a box, but providing holes of various sizes and positioning the box correctly. If I had the time, I would like to do a scientific based study on this, but maybe I should leave that to more expert, time free hands. I still haven’t bought a bee hotel yet, there’s something more pleasing about knowing that nature has chosen something you created to build a home in. Hawk Honey 23
Two records in one from Kelsale Leptinus testaceus MĂźller, 1817 (Coleoptera : Leptinidae) and Harvest Mouse (Micromys minutus (Pallas,1771)) (Mammalia: Muridae). On the evening of November 5th 2015 our cat Tufve bounded in through the back door carrying a small mammal in his mouth. His usual prey is bank voles ( Myodes glareolus) with the occasional wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) or common shrew (Sorex araneus) but on this occasion we were surprised to see a female harvest mouse (Micromys minutus), alas, dead, on the kitchen floor.
On bending down to pick up the mouse, a slight movement in the fur caught my attention and a small beetle was quickly transferred to a specimen tube. Under the microscope I recognised it as Leptinus testaceus, a beetle associated with the nests of small mammals. We had found several a few years ago, in old bank vole nests uncovered during the breaking up of a concrete path at our previous home in Thorpe-le-Soken, in north Essex. At around 2 mm in length this tiny beetle is highly modified for life as a commensal with small mammals, lacking, as it does, both eyes and wings.
White Admiral 93
On submitting the record to SBRC and enquiring about its status in Suffolk, I was contacted by Howard Mendel, SNS Coleoptera Recorder, who informed me that he had recorded the species only once before in Suffolk, at Assington Thicks, and that it was rarely
found and widely scattered in Suffolk. This also seems to be the first recorded association with harvest mice for the County. Thanks to Howard for information on the Suffolk status of Leptinus. Jerry Bowdrey
New Fungus for Suffolk
Strangely, the Ellisâ€™s do not seem to have recorded any fungi for this area, instead the only records in their Suffolk booklet (including supplements) come from members of the Lowestoft Field Club, notably Alan Beaumont and Reg Blacker. But then, last September, Tony Brown (also a LFC member) came across something a little bit special whilst hunting around with his partner Anne. White Admiral 93
Back home, Tony took photos and sent them on to a social media site where two experts agreed this was Rhodocybe gemina which has not been recorded in Suffolk before. The surprise is that this fungus produces pink spores so is closely related to the Entoloma genus. The only other member of Rhodocybe to be recorded in Suffolk to my knowledge is R.popinalis (formerly R.mundula) which I found at RSPB Minsmere in 2010. Neil Mahler Rhod ocybe gemina by Tony Brown
Gunton Wood to the north of Lowestoft used to be part of the gardens of the old Gunton Hall which was pulled down in 1963 and the gardens shamefully became overgrown and neglected. This benefitted the wildlife but a lot of the architectural features were lost. In recent years, with help from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the locals have turned this neglected area into a community woodland and it is now designated as a local nature reserve.
More What’s on? Butterfly Conservation Field Meetings The Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation cordially invites SNS members to join us on any of our field meetings. The calendar of events can be found on the Suffolk Butterflies website, www.suffolkbutterflies.org.uk/ events.html, where you will see a range of events spread across the county and the season. Do please
let the leader know that you are planning to attend, as this will avoid you turning up at an event that has to be cancelled or altered. Several of the events are suitable for novices and youngsters. You will be welcome to share our interest. Rob Parker (Suffolk Branch of Butterfly Conservation)
Monday 2nd May - FAMILY EVENT Spring Wood Celebration Day Join Suffolk Branch at Kiln Meadow for butterfly and other guided walks, woodland crafts and demonstrations, family activities, music, food and much more. Park at Bourne Park off Stoke Park Drive and take free minibus to the event on Kiln Meadow. Where: Kiln Meadow, off Marbled White Drive, Ipswich Time: 11.00 am to 16.00 pm Contact: Helen Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday 8th May - BUTTERFLY WALK Spring Butterflies in King’s Forest (suitable for novices) Map Ref: TL826752 “FC King’s Picnic Place” on the B1106. Assemble by the Information Board in the grassy area. Time: 10.00 am to 13:00 pm approx. Bring packed lunch. Contact: Rob Parker on 01284 705476 Wednesday 11th May and Wednesday 25th May - SURVEYS Dingy Skipper Surveys at King’s Forest Assemble at access track to John O’Groats cottages, on west side of B1106. First count is at King’s Archery Site. Please enquire in advance to notify availability and whether you can assist with 26
White Admiral 93
other locations. Surveys continue until end of May. Map Ref: TL826738 Time: 10.30 am Leader: Bill Stone 07906 888603 Saturday 21st May - NOVICE RECORDERS Holywells Park, Ipswich Identification and recording. Suitable for novices. Meet: Outside the Orangery Map Ref: TM175433 Time: 10.30 am - 12.30 pm Contact: Peter Maddison 01473 736607 Tuesday 7th June - BUTTERFLY WALK SWT Newbourne Springs - morning walk (2 hrs) Meet: Reserve car park Map Ref: TM274433 Time: 10.30 am Leader: Peter Maddison 01473 736607
Geo Suffolk - Pliocene Forest Open Day - June 26th GeoSuffolkâ€™s Pliocene Forest at Rockhall Wood SSSI, Sutton is part of the Sutton village gardens open day. See Suffolkâ€™s Pliocene pollen interpreted by living trees!
Touching the Tide Events The strandline on our beaches is one of the most diverse and least studied of any ecosystem. Touching the Tide, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be leading beachcombing walks from now until July 2016 to study the treasures cast up twice daily by the tides. From rock-boring shells to hatchling shells that cannibalise their siblings to metre long shipworms that are actually molluscs check www.touchingthetide.org.uk/ events/ to find a beachcombing walk near you.
White Admiral 93
A year of Suffolk Biological Recording Online
Record Distribution & Density 2015
White Admiral 93
Suffolk Naturalists’ Society Bursaries The Suffolk Naturalists’ Society offers six bursaries, of up to £500 each, annually. Larger projects may be eligible for grants of over £500 – please contact SNS for further information. Activities eligible for funding include: travel and subsistence for field work, visits to scientific institutions, scientific equipment, identification guide books or other items relevant to the study. Morley Bursary - Studies involving insects (or other invertebrates) other than butterflies and moths. Chipperfield Bursary - Studies involving butterflies or moths. Cranbrook Bursary - Studies involving mammals or birds. Rivis Bursary - Studies of the county's flora. Simpson Bursary - In memory of Francis Simpson. The bursary will be awarded for a botanical study where possible. Nash Bursary - Studies involving beetles. Applications should be set in the context of a research question i.e. a clear statement of what the problem is and how the applicant plans to tackle it. Criteria:
1. Projects should include a large element of original work and further knowledge of Suffolk’s flora, fauna or geology.
2. A written account of the project is required within 12 months of receipt of a bursary. This should be in a form suitable for publication in one of the Society's journals: Suffolk Natural History, Suffolk Birds or White Admiral.
3. Suffolk Naturalists' Society should be acknowledged in all publicity associated with the project and in any publications emanating from the project. Applications may be made at any time. Please apply to SNS for an application form or visit our website for more details www.sns.org.uk/ pages/bursary.shtml.
See a summary from the conference on twitter by searching #SNSCon2016
Naturalists’ Society w w w. s n s . o r g . u k
Goosanders in Christchurch Park by Ben Heather
The Suffolk Naturalists’ Society, founded in 1929 by Claude Morley (1874 -1951), pioneered the study and recording of the County’s flora, fauna and geology. It is the seed bed from which have grown other important wildlife organisations in Suffolk, such as Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group (SOG). Recording the natural history of Suffolk is still the Society’s primary objective. Members’ observations go to specialist recorders and then on to the Suffolk Biological Records Centre at Ipswich Museum to provide a basis for detailed distribution maps and subsequent analysis with benefits to environmental protection. Funds held by the Society allow it to offer substantial grants for wildlife studies. Annually, SNS publishes its transactions Suffolk Natural History, containing studies on the County’s wildlife, and the County bird report, Suffolk Birds (compiled by SOG). The newsletter White Admiral, with comment and observations, appears three times a year. SNS organises two members’ evenings a year and a conference every two years. Field meetings are held throughout the year often in conjunction with other specialist organisations. Subscriptions: Individual members £15.00; Family membership £17.00; Student Membership £10.00; Corporate membership £17.00. Members receive the three publications above. Joint membership with the Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group: Individual members £30.00; Family membership £35.00. Joint members receive, in addition to the above, the SOG newsletter The Harrier. As defined by the Constitution of this Society its objectives shall be: 2.1 To study and record the fauna, flora and geology of the County 2.2 To publish a Transactions and Proceedings and a Bird Report. These shall be free to members except those whose annual subscriptions are in arrears contact: 2.3 To liaise with other natural history societies and conservation bodies in the County 2.4 To promote interest in natural history and the activities of the Society. For more details about the Suffolk Naturalists’ Society contact: Hon. Secretary, Suffolk Naturalists’ Society, c/o Ipswich Museum, High Street, Ipswich, IP1 3QH. Telephone 01473 400251 email@example.com