Worcestershire Record No. 25 November 2008 pp. 5-6
At each committee meeting we have space on the agenda for people to report any unusual or otherwise significant records they have. There is always something to enhance our knowledge of the county we are privileged to live in, ranging from common but important changes to rare “one-offs” and the downright bizarre. During the course of the year there is a large amount of information passed on and I hope my selection below will give some idea of our discussions. Many of the records will be presented in more detail elsewhere but an overall synthesis seems worthwhile to give a flavour of wildlife and recording activity in Worcestershire during the course of a single year. In the interests of brevity I have not appended the name of the recorder to every record but I am grateful to the whole committee, each member of which has contributed data.
I have started here as Mick Blythe’s presence on the committee has led to a vast number of new records of sometimes common and sometimes rare species and groups of diptera that have been studied little or not at all in the past. He has added records of midges and fungus gnats as well as many of the rare and red data book species of the Wyre Forest flushes and Hartlebury Common. Details of most of these will be found elsewhere in the Record but just to give a flavour at the last meeting Mick reported Forcipomyia brevicubitus at Hartlebury Common, 3rd or 4th British record; Miltogramma germari at Hartlebury Common, RDB3; Ellipteroides alboscutellatus associated with wet flushes at Self Held Coppice, RDB1; Paradelphomyia ecalcarata associated with wet flushes at Self Held Coppice, RDB2 and many more.
Other recorders add to diptera records with a particular emphasis on hoverflies, robber flies and soldier flies. Thus the fields at Upper Blackstone Farm yielded Chrysotoxum cautum (a hoverfly) and Dysmachus trigonus (a robber fly). Other unusual hoverflies recorded were Chrysotoxum festivum (Birlingham), Sericomyia lapona (Wyre Forest), Eumerus funeralis (Little Comberton) and Sericomyia silentis (Tiddesley Wood). True flies rarely have common names but when they do the persons giving them can come up with some crackers! Paracrocera orbiculus, the top horned hunch-back fly was recorded at Hartlebury Common whilst Tiddesley Wood field pond yielded Oplodontha viridula, the Common Green Colonel and Odontomyia tigrina, the Black colonel (both soldier flies).
2008 appears to have been a relatively poor year for this group, at least up to our meeting in September. However, Erythroma viridulum (the Small Red-eyed Damselfly) was recorded at a pool in Broadheath.
The Lepidoptera have had mixed fortunes this year. The “whites” and many of the “browns” have done quite well though all committee members continued to report the demise of the once common Small Tortoiseshell and the severe decline in the Peacock. However, among the more notable records was Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth in Wyre Forest and the first records of Essex Skipper and Green Hairstreak at Upper Blackstone Farm.
There have been few records this year but the continuing spread and increasing numbers of Harmonia axyridis (the Harlequin Ladybird) have been a persistent feature. As an aside from the records, members of the Amateur Entomologists Society will have seen the first small but scientific study by Prof. Michael Majerus of the impact of H. axyridis on one of our native ladybirds (Adalia bipunctata (the Two Spot Ladybird). This does not make re-assuring reading as the number of A. bipunctata hibernating annually in his house dropped from a mean of 505 (max. 1194) between 1990/91 and 2005/6 to 289 in 2006/7 and 145 in 2007/8 when H. axyridis arrived and bred.
Among the ladybirds that were reported we had Chilocorus bipustulatus (the Heather ladybird) at Hartlebury Common and Coccinella magnifica (Scarce 7 Spot ladybird) in Wyre Forest.
The rare longhorn beetle Pyrrhidium sanguineum emerged from logs taken from Lords Yard Coppice, Wyre. Polydrosus splendidus a Na weevil was taken at Defford as was Luperus longicornis, a leaf beetle previously recorded from the New Forest and a few places is southern England. There were new records of Gnorimus nobilis (Noble Chaffer) from Knightwick and Great Witley.
Two uncommon spiders were reported from Pound Green Common, Cercidea prominens and Xerolycosa nemoralis.
Similarly to the odonata, the hymenoptera have not had a good year. However, among the ants we continue to receive new records of Formicoxenus nitidulus (the Guest Ant), which lives as an inquiline in the nest of Formica rufa (the Wood Ant), and of Leptothorax nylanderi also in Wyre Forest. Further study in Wyre Forest confirmed that Formica sanguinea (the Slave Maker) continues to thrive, even if in relatively few areas and most of these just over the border in Shropshire.
Two notable records have been of bumblebees. Bombus hypnorum, a species only relatively recently found in Britain and believed to be spreading as a consequence of climate change, was recorded in Redditch and Worcester and at Norchard Farm. Norchard Farm also provided a new site for a thriving colony of the rare Bombus ruderatus which a species listed in the national Biodiversity Action Plan as in need of a recovery programme.
A new gall on acorn cups, Andricus grosslariae, has now been found.
Generally birds do not figure large in the committee reports, unless it is a real mega-tick. Reports this year concerned a large number of Bramblings last winter, tree sparrows and a Firecrest, the first report of a curlew at the new marsh created near Salwarpe and a stone curlew near Kidderminster. Pride of place, of course, for the absolutely outrageous goes to the Gannet recorded on Dowles Brook.
Mammal records have, not surprisingly, been a major item on the committee agenda because of the impending mammals atlas. However, there were no records of exceptional rarities except for unconfirmed reports of a pine marten near Kidderminster. Otherwise the only notable record was a water shrew at Kemerton Lake.
The uncommon Cecilioides acicula (Blind Snail) has been found on Broadway Hill.
Our regional speciality, the Land Caddis, was recorded at West Hagley.
Several uncommon or rare species were reported by our mycologists. These included Battataea palloides (extremely rare) at Blackstone Country Park, Catinella olivacea (last recorded in Worcestershire between 1923 and 1927) at Beckford Gravel Pit and Entoloma incanum and Agrocybe arvalis at Bliss Gate.
The bryologists have had another busy year and among their finds were the 1st county record of the very rare Syntrichia amplexa and, at Hartlebury Common, Hypnum imponens.
Poa infirma was reported from Malvern. This is probably only the 4th county record.
Botanists continue to scour the county and several interesting records have come to the committee though few of these are new. However, Aethusa cyapium ssp agrestis, a rare subspecies of Fool’s Parsley, was found at Norchard Farm providing the first record since 1987.
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