Bexley Bird Report for 2016 – 153 species, 13,000 records, 80 contributing observers.

Bexley Wildlife is pleased to be able to publish the latest ‘Bexley Bird Report’ compiled by Ralph Todd, which covers the whole year 2016, as opposed to the previous half-yearly documents.  153 species were seen, 13,000 records were examined and there were 80 contributing observers. Congratulations are due to all concerned. This has  taken a huge amount of time and effort to produce, and Ralph is currently considering whether to do another in 2017, or to concentrate on producing a ‘Birds of Bexley’ publication that will give a historical overview and a more rounded picture of the changing status of the various species.  

The report contains sites, dates and in some cases counts, for all the species listed, and there are a number of photographs, including of the rarer sightings, throughout the report. 

Ralph highlights sites and species that could do with more attention and urges the continued submission of records, not just of rarities by expert birders, but also of commoner species from gardens. People willing to lead a more co-ordinated study of species such as Sparrow, Swift and Skylark in Bexley are sought so that we can better and more accurately discern population trends.    

Some species are not safe in Bexley given the current Council regime’s attitude to nature, and it is hoped that this report, highlighting the wealth of birds in our Borough, will encourage more residents to take an interest in and speak up for their right to continue to live, breed and thrive here. 

Download the PDF file .

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Bexley butterfly species – latest update for first adult sightings of 2017

The latest update from Mike Robinson, listing all butterfly species currently known to be resident or occasional in Bexley, with the dates and locations for when the first adult was seen this year, is available for perusal or download below.

June has thrown up Marbled White sightings at two localities so far, with 3 at Hollyhill OS, where Mike found one in 2015, further raising hopes that this species will be able to colonise our Borough.

The only species yet to be seen are Clouded Yellow (a transient visitor in small numbers most years), Gatekeeper (which should be out very soon) and White-letter Hairstreak (normal flight season is July-August).

It’s worth watching out for the Wall Brown butterfly, extinct in Bexley for perhaps 25 years. It is most likely to turn up, if at all, along the Thames path at Erith (Crossness) or Crayford Marshes. Two were seen at Swanscombe Marshes in May 2016.  

Download the PDF file .

 

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Recording Stag Beetles this summer

Stag beetle in Sidcup May 2017.

Always important to share records of Stag Beetles with organisations conducting surveys. An important survey at this link:

https://ptes.org/get-involved/surveys/garden/great-stag-hunt/stag-hunt-survey/

How we can help Stag Beetles in our gardens.

Download the PDF file .

Link for above pdf. Build-a-log-pile-for-stag-beetles

 

 

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Odonata survey training event adds Red-eyed Damselfly to Crossness roster

Some ten plus Red-eyed damselfly (Erythromma najas) seen on the Southern Marsh at Crossness by attendees at the June 3rd Dragonfly and Damselfly identification workshop led by London Wildlife Trust’s David Courtneidge, brings the total number of species recorded at the reserve to 18, two more than the next best site in the Borough which is Foots Cray Meadows with 16.

Male Red-eyed Damselfly at Crossness Southern Marsh, 3/6/17 – a new site record. (Photo: Karen Sutton)

Red-eyed Damselfly has been present in Bexley since at least 2009, and has now been recorded at Danson Park, Lamorbey and FCM, also at Tump 53 in Thamesmead, so its appearance at Crossness was expected, and it may have simply been overlooked to date. The site is probably also the best-placed in the Borough to be colonised by other ‘new’ species now moving up the Thames estuary. 

Four people attended the event, along with David and Reserve Manager Karen Sutton.  It started off at the Thamesmead Football Club at 10:00 with a presentation on key ID features. The group had lunch and made its way to Southern Marsh at 12:30, on what was lovely sunny Saturday.

The survey group in action. (Photo: Karen Sutton)

Six species were recorded:

5+ male Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) which were seen patrolling along the lake edges, 2 four spotted chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata), 1 male black tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), 10+ red-eyed damselfly (Erythromma najas),           20+ blue tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) and 50+ azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella). Efforts were concentrated on the Wetland Field and Saline Field water bodies, and all the vegetation in between the two. The Saline Field didn’t turn up any species that we hadn’t already recorded (Emperor dragonflies and Azure and Blue-tailed Damselflies), but the Wetland Field was where the Red-eyed Damselflies and Four-spotted Chasers were seen.

Four-spotted Chaser at Crossness. (Photo: Karen Sutton)

Mating Azure Damselflies, Crossness Southern Marsh. (Photo: Karen Sutton)

David will be doing more surveys in Bexley and it’s not too late to get involved. A survey calendar will be published shortly and anyone is welcome to join in. Meantime contact David at <dcourtneidge@wildlondon.org.uk> if you are interested.

Info for this post provided by David Courtneidge, Karen Sutton and Chris Rose. 

Posted in Bexley, Crossness, Crossness Nature Reserve, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Erith Marshes, Recording | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free training available for Dragonfly and Damselfly survey volunteers

The London Wildlife Trust is offering a free Dragonfly and Damselfly identification and ecology workshop at Thamesmead Football Club /Crossness Nature Reserve on Saturday June 3rd, for anyone willing to do a monthly survey at a site, or join LWT’s David Courtneidge on his surveys. The practical session on the marshes will be weather-dependent.  

Everyone attending will need to bring a packed lunch, water and sun cream and binoculars or cameras if they have them. 

Male Broad-bodied Chaser (Photo: Ralph Todd).

Data generated will help assess the health of London’s freshwater habitats. Also, whilst we now know quite a lot about the distribution of things like birds, butterflies and dragonflies and damselflies in Bexley, this is thanks to a pretty small number of dedicated individuals. By getting involved with this project you can add to that local knowledge and start generating the population size and trends information which we are currently lacking. Crossness LNR, Footscray Meadows, Thames Road Wetland, Danson Park, Lamorbey lake, Thamesmead canals and the River Shuttle/Parish Wood park pond  are all sites in the Borough that would benefit from regular monitoring.  

As at 26th May there are still places available – to book please contact David Courtneidge <dcourtneidge@wildlondon.org.uk> /
call 07834 867422 .

For information about Dragonflies and Damselflies in Bexley see: 

http://www.bexleywildlife.org/dragonflies-and-damselflies-in-bexley/

 

Download the PDF file .

 
  

Posted in Bexley, Crossness, Crossness Nature Reserve, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Recording | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nature history – Bexley conveniently forgets about previous Skylark policy

Over the last year Bexley Council has approved building on two of the three known Skylark nesting sites in the Borough – the only Skylark breeding habitat on Erith Marshes, and on part of the main breeding site at Crayford Marshes – without any reference to its overall conservation status in the area. This is a red-listed species due to a massive 61% decline between 1967 and 2008.  Recent acquisition of a hard copy of Bexley’s 2002 Biodiversity Action Plan reminds us of how the Council’s attitude had changed by the time of the replacement 2010 to 2015 BAP, by which point Skylark had been ditched (though it remains a UK and London BAP species). An objective of looking for ways of expanding the size of Erith Marshes/Crossness Local Nature Reserve had also conveniently vanished from the Council’s policy portfolio ……. 

Bexley Council’s first (2002) Biodiversity Action Plan. It now seems determined to insert the word ‘concrete’ before ‘jungle’.

The Skylark is a prominent feature.

Skylark text.

Back in 2002 it is clear from the document that Bexley Council explicitly sought to increase the amount of Skylark habitat and thus the number of breeding Skylarks in the Borough. It also seems to have wanted the public to take an interest in the bird and to be able to carry on seeing it in Bexley. By 2016 the Biodiversity Officer was absurdly refusing to say – on the grounds it was the subject of a live planning application – whether Core Strategy policy CS18   

c) resisting development that will have a significant impact on the population or conservation status of protected species and priority species as identified in the UK, London and Bexley Biodiversity Action Plans;

meant that as the Skylark was very low in numbers in Bexley and loss of any was now a significant impact, it should be so protected (or did it have to be the case that the last few in the whole UK had to be in Bexley to merit Bexley action?). A generic question to this effect, mentioning no particular species then went unanswered, and a chase-up got the response that ‘we decide these things on a case-by-case basis’. In other words Bexley admits making planning recommendations and decisions affecting wildlife of national conservation concern without reference to or provision of relevant, independent, published data, or the wider context or adherence to clearly defined policy – and therefore in a wholly unaccountable and opaque way.

Meanwhile, Bexley Council’s 2010-2015 Biodiversity Action Plan has expired, and to the best of our knowledge there has been no attempt whatsoever by the Council to talk to stakeholders, including groups and individuals that were helping to implement it, about reviewing progress or updating it or replacing it with some other document and ‘process’. The national biodiversity action plan monitoring website has been taken down and the London Biodiversity Partnership, which in theory drove the wider BAP process across the capital, has fallen apart.  

Some kind of more dynamic ‘Local Biodiversity/Wildlife Partnership’ is needed to pick up the pieces. 

 

Chris Rose

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RSPB Bexley Group Field Trip – River Shuttle/Bexley Park Woods – Tuesday 16th May 2017

Report from Ralph and Brenda Todd on the RSPB Bexley Group’s walk along the River Shuttle and into Bexley Park Woods on Tuesday 16th May 2017:

Download the PDF file .

 

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Bexley butterfly recording – Mike Robinson provides first dates and a sightings log for early 2017. Transect count volunteers sought.

Local butterfly recorders are beginning to work together to build a better picture of the distribution, flight period and numbers of Bexley’s butterflies. Mike Robinson has been collating available data to produce a list of first sightings for the year for each species (to end of March), an overall sightings log and a Small Tortoiseshell log, all of which are provided below. For details of how to contribute sightings, message Mike through his Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100015053893361&fref=ufi&rc=p

Meanwhile both Crossness Nature Reserve on Erith Marshes (Karen Sutton karen.sutton@thameswater.co.uk) and Braeburn Park (London Wildlife Trust) in Crayford (contact Shaun Marriott smarriott@wildlondon.org.uk, mob: 07710194268) are seeking people who are willing  to identify and record the numbers of butterflies on set routes on a regular basis so as to be able to determine population trends at these particular sites and contribute to London-wide data. The good news is you’re only supposed to do this in weather suitable for butterfly flight, so you’re not tied to going out on what might be a rainy day …. Training provided. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT to help with this, most species are fairly distinctive and you could do it with a friend.

FIRST SIGHTINGS 

Download the PDF file .

GENERAL SIGHTINGS LOG

Download the PDF file .

SMALL TORTOISESHELL SIGHTINGS REPORT

Download the PDF file .

 

Chris Rose

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Bexley RSPB walk at Foots Cray Meadows, April 25th – report

Ralph and Brenda Todd report on a chilly April bird walk at Foots Cray Meadows.

Download the PDF file .

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Reed Warblers back at Thames Road Wetland as Green Hairstreak shows up for 2nd year and first Damselfly seen.

As reported from other sites, Reed Warbler is back in Bexley from its African wintering grounds, and a few could be heard chuntering from out in the reedswamp at Thames Road Wetland on April 12th. A Cetti’s Warbler was present as usual, and there were a few others along the river and nearby.

Reed Warblers swop Africa for the urbanised surroundings of Crayford in spring and summer. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Of note was what may well be the first record of an adult Damselfly or Dragonfly in the Borough this year – a teneral (recently emerged) individual which didn’t stick around to be identified but was almost certainly a Large Red Damselfly.

The Green Hairstreak butterfly was first recorded at Thames Road Wetland last year by David Courtneidge of LWT and myself. The sighting of another on this sunny afternoon raises hopes that a small colony may be establishing on or around the area. Bexley hotspots for it are Crossness and the Crayford Rough/Braeburn Park complex. A male Orange Tip was seen on the site, another species first noted here in 2016, in that case by Joe Johnson. A Speckled Wood, 1 or 2 Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock or two were also present.

Several plants of Star of Bethlehem – a bulbous perennial – had been present on the hot, gravelly Thames Road bank when I took on the role of Site Manager in 2010, but most were smothered by a pile of bricks put in by contractors for a reptile hibernaculum. I was interested see 4 flowering plants appear last spring, and very surprised to find 13 in flower now. The leaves are thin and grassy, so difficult to spot when not in bloom. There is some doubt as to whether it is native or not, and if so it has a very restricted natural distribution in the UK. In any case it will be a garden escape via road embankment aggregate here, along with a couple of varieties of Grape Hyacinth. 

Star-of-Bethlehem, a garden escape, seems to be bouncing back at Thames Road Wetland after almost being lost. (Photo: Chris Rose)

 A further six plants of the nationally scarce Marsh Sow-thistle were planted out, in this case ones which had somewhat miraculously come up in cracks in my front door step brickwork last spring from a plant I have been growing in a large pot nearby. The same hasn’t happened again, but it’s been a very dry start to the year ….  The original and other subsequent plantings of the species at the site are leafing out nicely, with the oldest specimens having gone in back in May 2011 and now powering up to send their flower stems skywards to a height of around 9 feet over the summer.  

Chris Rose. Thames21 Thames Road Wetland Site Manager.

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