The Bexley Lepidopterist, August 2018

First 2018 sighting dates for all species of butterfly recorded in Bexley. Doing a butterfly transect. Lesnes Abbey Woods moth-trapping session report.  

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Bexley RSPB Crossness bird walk, September 18th 2018.

Migrants still few and far between as Peregrine, Kestrel and Stonechat provide the birding highlights for 24 attendees at BRSPB’s Crossness outing.

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Lesnes moth-trapping session kicks off longer term recording effort

Six people attended a short-notice moth-trapping event in Lesnes woods last night (21st August) that, it is hoped, will lead to further work next year to help plug an important gap in modern records available for the site. This will be important in informing habitat management work here.  

Ron Waters who lives nearby at Bostall provided a mercury vapour and two actinic light traps, all of which were battery-powered. The former was set out in the Ransom glade, to the west of New Road, where it appeared to be attracting more moths than the actinics which had been placed some distance away. Unfortunately it also excited the interest of a potentially dangerous number of Hornets and had to be turned off early in the proceedings, as they were crashing into the participants, who besides Ron were Lesnes Estate Manager Ian Holt, trainee Fay, volunteer John, Alan from Meopham who is a recent convert to moth-ing and was looking for more experience, and Chris. 

Alan, Ron, John, Ian and Fay surround one of the actinic traps.

Whilst conditions were good, only 14 species of moth made an appearance, including a Micro the identity of which still has to be determined. It was thought that this was due to the peak moth season having ended. The number of other insects caught was also low, and included a few adult Caddis flies, a handful of true flies, some Shieldbugs (several juveniles plus an adult of the Forest Bug, primarily a denizen of Oak woodland), a few Oak Bush Crickets and an Ichneumon type species. The recent cooler weather with downpours may have brought general invertebrate numbers down.

The broad-leaved woodland specialists trapped were two Black Arches and four Maiden’s Blush.

A Black Arches (Lymantria monacha) at the Lesnes moth-trapping session, one of two  woodland specialist species found.

The other species recorded were Centre-barred Sallow (1), Light Emerald (4), Brimstone (1), Copper Underwing (1), Beautiful Carpet (1), Common Carpet (2), Peach Blossom (1), Wax (2), Meal (1), Vine’s Rustic (1) and, somewhat disconcertingly under a closed tree canopy, the non-native Box moth (2 – one of each colour form), although we were not a huge distance from housing.    

Beautiful Carpet (Mesoleuca albicillata) was one of the species that turned up.

The Peach Blossom (Thyatira batis) tends to inhabit woodland, and has larvae that feed on Bramble.

Centre-Barred Sallow (Atethmia centrago), moderately common in the south of England, trapped at Lesnes (Photo: Alan Roman)

Ron has agreed to run more moth-trapping sessions here next year, and Ian is keen for more wildlife recorders across all taxa, including birds, to help him improve our knowledge of the current inhabitants of the woodland and parkland at Lesnes. Contact: <Ian.Holt@bexley.gov.uk>

Report and (unless otherwise stated) photos by Chris Rose

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The Bexley Lepidopterist, Issue No. 5, published

The fifth issue of ‘The Bexley Lepidopterist’, Mike Robinson’s latest compilation of information regarding butterflies and moths in Bexley, is made available for reading or download below.

This includes an updated list of the first sightings of all butterfly species seen in the Borough this year, a note on the number of species recorded in local gardens, lists of species seen on the fourth (Erith Southern Marsh) and fifth (Holly Hill Open Space) organised ‘butterfly walks’ (of which there will be more next year) , an account of the tantalising possibility that there was a Camberwell Beauty at Foots Cray Meadows, a warning about the Box Moth (for which details of any further local sightings are sought) and a report on a first moth-trapping session at Thames Road Wetland.    

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Jersey Tiger boom continues in Barnehurst

Tony Steele has been recording moths in his Barnehurst garden, a little way south of the railway station, since 1996, during which time he says he has had 683 of the 2,500 species recorded in Britain and a total of around 109,780 individual moths. I received an unexpected phone call from him yesterday evening, to tell me he had something he was sure I’d be interested in seeing. Intrigued, and having not yet met Tony in the flesh or corresponded with him lately, I was keen to go and have a look. It turned out to be the 175 Jersey Tiger moths (Euplagia quadripunctaria) he had trapped on the night of 2nd August, temporarily retained in a mesh ‘pet cage’.  This isn’t quite a record for his garden, which to date sits at 180 on 13th August last year. 

Tony kindly supplied me with some data, summarised below, which illustrates very well the recent and rapid colonisation of our area by the species which, as far as the spread in London is concerned, appears to have started in the Lambeth or Lewisham area. We are only part way through the 2018 flight season, but Tony’s average Jersey Tiger catch per night is up on 2017, so could yet reach a new year high. The data distinguishes the number of forma lutescens, which has a yellow or orange under-wing instead of the usual red.

The relatively catholic diet of the larval stage, plus a warming climate, probably favour the advance and population increase of this colourful insect, which is often seen during the day as well, so is becoming familiar even to people with little or no other knowledge of moths. 

Tony’s garden is in many respects an ‘average’ suburban garden of reasonable size, though it has been augmented with the introduction of plant species intended to attract particular moths to breed, and this has often delivered the desired results. Indeed Tony did win a Council award for this when it was still running the ‘Environmental Challenge’ to recognise volunteer groups and residents that did good work for nature in the Borough.  

The Jersey Tiger moths were to be released after my visit, but not until it was clear that the visiting Pipistrelle Bat, which has perhaps learned that Tony’s garden is a good feeding spot, had disappeared. 

Some of the near-record haul of 175 Jersey Tiger moths trapped by Tony Steele in his Barnehurst garden on 2nd August 2018.

Another view …

And another.

View from outside the temporary cage.

 

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Chris Rose

 

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Bexley Lepidopterist No. 4, and updated ‘first sightings’ list for butterfly species in the Borough

Mike Robinson has published the fourth edition of the ‘Bexley Lepidopterist’, making a first serious foray into starting to cover the Borough’s moth fauna.

The Clouded Yellow is the only butterfly species seen in the Borough over the past few years yet to be seen in 2018.

Both documents are reproduced below. There have been some minor formatting issues with the latter, which has been adapted from a spreadsheet, though this shouldn’t compromise the ability of readers to follow the detail.  

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Cory (Erith Marshes) Incinerator 2 – statutory public consult underway

Cory has begun the legally required phase of its public consultation exercise for a second rubbish incinerator on the marshes next to Crossness Local Nature Reserve (capacity the London Assembly Environment Committee and the London Mayor’s Environment Strategy says will not be necessary if recycling targets are met), along with an anaerobic green/food waste digester, battery storage, solar array, cabling and possible CHP infrastructure.  There are 5 ‘community consultation events’ to be held from 6th to 12th July at venues in Belvedere and Slade Green. The deadline for comments is 30th July. We encourage readers to submit their views at these events and in writing. This post puts forward critiques regarding both the wider environmental issues around these proposals and on some of the local impacts in order to assist with this. Direct links are given to key Cory documents. The Assembly report on energy from waste is embedded below. 

As regards a second incinerator, we have previously criticised this as a linear process, and nothing to do with the recycling of resources, something also stressed by the Mayor and Assembly. According to figures quoted by Assembly member Caroline Russell (Green) in questions to the Mayor in December 2017, 70-80 per cent of London’s household waste is recyclable, yet more than 50 per cent of London’s waste is sent to ‘Energy from Waste’ incinerators. In addition, recycling rates among the Western Riverside Waste Authority boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth,  Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea) have fallen since they started their contract with the Belvedere EfW incinerator in 2012. The conclusion to be drawn is that incineration is depressing London recycling rates.

We have not previously commented on the green/food waste digester element of this. Insofar as this material contains a high percentage of water, the carbon cost of lugging it around is exacerbated, and the last we heard it was currently carted to a facility in Suffolk, a more local solution may be preferable. However, there appears to be massive scope for increasing home garden composting in Bexley based on how few compost bins can be seen from train windows in even large gardens backing onto the railway lines. Cory’s documentation is not crystal clear as to whether such waste will also be brought in from outside Bexley or not.   

Locally, whilst the actual construction is to be within Cory’s existing site footprint, there does not appear to be a map showing the area to be used for construction vehicles and materials. The text description is somewhat ambiguous, talking about formerly used land to the south of the existing incinerator and west of Norman Road. This would appear not to mean the Cory/Borax fields. It should be noted that the green field between the incinerator and the C/B fields falls within the Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation boundary, whether previously ‘developed’ or not, so we need to be clear about the precise location they intend to use.

One publication states that delivery of waste will predominantly be by river, though Cory has recently been applying for increased lorry movements, whilst another document essentially says it is looking at the economics of river vz road and hasn’t decided on the mix yet.  Cause for concern there, then.

Clearly there will be another large visual intrusion, which Cory’s own assessment accepts is of significant negative impact. Their artist’s impressions conveniently avoid illustrating the combined effect of these new proposals plus the four-storey data centre build already given outline permission by Bexley Council, in surrounding Crossness LNR by walls of very tall buildings on two sides. Yet more night lighting will be introduced to the marsh and both the amount, directionality and spectra of that need to be taken into account. 

Cory has settled on the stepped roof option for the new incinerator building, for reasons of efficiency of the rooftop solar arrays and safety of access. We don’t really need to say more about this other than to note that the suggestions made by Bexley Natural Environment Forum that Cory should look to put solar on the roof of the existing incinerator, and should look at leasing local warehouse roofs for the installation of significant additional solar capacity has not been addressed. Indeed I cannot find a document setting  out what the feedback from the preliminary consultation has been, or how Cory has responded, or intends to respond to specific concerns and proposals raised.

The preferred route for Cory of the electrical cabling out to Littlebrook Power Station would see it put under the footpath from the Thames that runs down past the Protected Area to the dual carriageway, causing further disruption to the LNR. It also passes along the northern edge of Thames Road Wetland, though the paperwork implies that it will be buried under the road here ………

It is mentioned that Cory has looked at the combined air quality effects of Incinerators 1, 2 and the Thames Water Sludge facility, but it is not made plain whether or not this has been set within the context of wider London air quality data and problems.

Cory says it believes that there will be no significant negative impacts on biodiversity from the construction, operation or decommissioning of the proposed new facilities.  These are direct local effects of course. Even if this is true, we would contend that supporting a resource-wasteful economy by undermining recycling has indirect effects, and that all the while Cory occupies the current footprint, the scope to compensate for the loss of open space elsewhere on the marshes (most recently Cory’s own Data Centres, proposed ‘Innovation Centre’) by restoring other areas is blocked off at this location. A lot of the larger open spaces left in London are designated as sites of importance for wildlife and, in requiring large buildings, the pursuit of further incinerator capacity in London threatens such sites, as seen with the bitterly opposed Beddington Farmlands and Pinkham Way incinerators.

It should be noted that since this proposed development passes the threshold for a ‘Nationally Important Infrastructure Project’, it will be dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate at a public inquiry, at which the public and other interested parties can put forward evidence. It will not be determined by Bexley Council’s Planning Committee, but one would expect the Council to take sides at the inquiry. We will therefore need to lobby Councillors to try and get Bexley to take the right side.  

For further background see:

https://riversideenergypark.com/

The basic consultation leaflet is here and probably has enough detail for friends and relatives you can persuade to become concerned:

https://riversideenergypark.com/assets/images/Statutory-Consultation-Leaflet_FINAL_June-2018.pdf

A fuller non-technical environmental  summary that followers of this website would want to look at is here:

https://riversideenergypark.com/assets/images/Riverside-Energy-Park_EN010093_PEIR-Non-Technical-Summary.pdf

Terrestrial biodiversity impacts are dealt with here. As usual with this sort of document a large proportion of it, at the top, is devoted to rote regurgitation of all the legal constraints, policies and guidance they are supposed to abide by:

https://riversideenergypark.com/assets/images/Riverside-Energy-Park_PEIR_Chapter-11-Terrestrial-Biodiversity.pdf

A list of all available documents is here:

https://riversideenergypark.com/consultation/materials

The London Assembly Environment Committee report dealing with waste, recycling and incineration follows.

(Chris Rose, Vice-chair, Bexley Natural Environment Forum)

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Mill Meadows site – BNEF remains opposed to impoverishment of SMINC habitat

Bexley Natural Environment Forum has objected to certain aspects of a re-submitted plan to turn an area in Bexley village behind (to the west of) the Old Mill, comprising an old stable block, and various dilapidated small buildings and caravans into new housing. The key area of contention is the proposed creation of an all-weather, flood-lit hockey pitch, and a new cricket pitch, on an area of semi-natural vegetation within the River Cray Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, and the potential trampling of and disturbance to another part to be fenced off for use by the residents.

BNEF’s submission is reproduced in full below. The deadline for comments is 29th June. They should be sent to DevelopmentControl@bexley.gov.uk, quoting reference 
18/01129/FULM    

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Bexley Lepidopterist Issue No.3 published

Mike Robinson has issued the latest edition of ‘The Bexley Lepidopterist’, listing the first recorded dates for  the sightings of the adults of each species of butterfly in the Borough so far this year, up to 31st May 2018.  He has summarised other points of interest since No. 2 came out, with the high numbers of Holly Blues being particularly noteworthy. Mike now wishes to start giving more attention to moths, particularly the night-flying species.

For the latest news on Bexley butterflies and moths see:

https://www.facebook.com/BexleyButterflyandMothGroup/

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Opportunity to assist research into Birdwatching

My friend Lucia Perez Gonzalez is conducting research at University College London into how regular birdwatchers actually practice bird watching in London parks and open spaces and is looking to accompany you on one of your walks and discuss your practices.

If you are a regular birdwatcher, and Bexley Wildlife benefits from the observations of many, then you should read the leaflet below and consider working with Lucia.

Her contact details are in the leaflet.

I think this sounds a lot of fun to do.

Jonathan Rooks

 

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