Crossness – it doesn’t have to be rare or hard to identify to be a new site record

Two new species were added to the Crossness/Erith Marshes list last weekend (23rd August), neither especially rare in the south of England.

The presence of the picture-winged fly Urophora cardui was detected by the presence of a few swollen stem galls on Creeping Thistle, caused by the larvae, on both Southern Marsh and the Norman Road field.

A Chicory plant (Cichorium intybus), a relative of the Lettuce and dandelion but with blue flowers, was spotted growing by the footpath along the south side of the sewage works. Occasionally seen in the Borough, but only as single plants in my experience.

Female Wasp Spider in the Long Meadow at Erith Marshes. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Female Wasp Spider in the Long Meadow at Erith Marshes. (Photo: Chris Rose)

A deliberate search quickly revealed two female wasp Spiders in the long grass on the Southern Marsh Long Meadow, but none in other areas examined. With no reference to it in my partial set of Friends Group newsletters going back to 2012, I thought this may be new as well, but an e-mail exchange with Site Manager Karen Sutton revealed it had been featured on the front page of the first edition way back in October 2006.  It seems it’s been noted a few times since, but perhaps not entered in the site logbook.

5 Lapwing, 1 Little Grebe, 2 juvenile Pied Wagtail and a probable Sandpiper species were on the Southern Marsh Wader scrape where, annoyingly, an unauthorised horse incursion has obliterated the recent Marsh Sow-thistle planting. There’s probably a 40% chance some of them will grow back next year.

There were 3 Common Blue butterflies and 1 Gatekeeper on Long Meadow. c22 Long-tailed Tits were in the vicinity of the ‘teapot’ pond.


North of the road a Green Woodpecker was heard, plus 3 Cetti’s Warblers. 1 Stock Dove was seen and there were 3 Grey Heron on West Paddock. 74 Teal were off Great Breach outfall, and around 500 Black-headed Gull off the sewage outfall along with 5 Cormorant and 2 Common Tern. 1 Swift, the first I’ve seen in Bexley for several weeks, circled briefly over sea wall field at 19.35, perhaps on its way south to Africa.

You don’t have to be an expert in the minutiae of obscure species to find something new, even in Bexley – so get out there and get recording!

Chris Rose

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