9 July 2011

Grassland wildlife

Yesterday I talked about some of the new grasslands in Brede High Woods that have developed since conifer plantations were cleared in 2009.

As well as grasses and other plants, they are also attracting a wide range of invertebrates.  One of the most dramatic is Roesel's bush cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) which sings like a Savi's warbler (if you know what that sounds like) and takes to the wing very readily.

20110706 Rye Harbour SV BHW 021

Mainly recorded from Rye Harbour in our area, this species now seems to be spreading, maybe in response to climate change.  I saw several in Compartment 4c which was a dense Christmas tree plantation less than two years ago and it is encouraging that creatures such as this can colonise new areas so quickly.

Grassland butterflies like meadow browns, small heaths and the summer skippers have all increased in numbers since last year, and I found both small and Essex skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris & T. lineola)  to be present in some numbers.

Essex skippers have black patches on the underside of the tips of the antennae:

20110704 BHW Essex skipper 005

Whereas small skippers are dusky orange at the tips of the antennae:

20110605 BHW 087

Small skippers tend to prefer Yorkshire fog grass in their early stages, and there is plenty of that in the 'new' fields, but Essex skippers usually go for cock's foot which is not nearly so common in the area.  Perhaps here the larvae are feeding on another species of grass.

blog comments powered by Disqus