Alive and Ticking

By Gary Farmer

Short-winged Coneheads (Conocephalus dorsalis) were found again at Ipsley Alders Marsh this year. This is still the only known location in the county for this species.

Last year I found only a single female nymph on one occasion and an adult female later in the year. This did concern me that I may have somehow transported an individual from Dorset (an area I visit each year) or may be one had arrived on the leg of a Grey Heron. I was relieved then, when this year I found a single female nymph again. Quite a coincidence but at least this confirmed that a breeding colony is present. I still felt that I needed to find out how large the colony is so I invested in a modified bat-detector and returned to the marsh later in the year with the device. After searching in the area where I had found the nymph without success I turned on the detector and it immediately picked up the song of a Short-winged Conehead.

The song is a rapid ticking, lasting for several seconds before slowing down (sounding like a helicopter on the bat-detector at this point), pausing and then repeating. I headed towards the source of the song when I heard another calling, then another and another......

I soon realised that I was surrounded by at least 20 stridulating males. This display continued into October. Even with the detector I found it really quite difficult to find them so they may have been at the site for some years. In which case, where else are they in the county ?


Short-winged Conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis) at Ipsley Alders
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