21st June 2014 - Patchurst with Graeme

After a quick burst of FB messaging with Graeme I found myself invited down to Patchurst Marsh near Wartling in Sussex. It took me a couple of hours to get there, by which time Graeme was already halfway through his surveywork. In true Graeme-style he wasted absolutely no time and asked if I needed this, needed that, had I seen the other before? So within moments I had Sea Club-rush and Hairy Buttercup pointed out (both lifers, although I thought I'd seen the buttercup already) followed by Tubular Water-dropwort and Meadow Barley a little while later.

Graeme was suffering from a severe bout of hayfever (I just find this SO funny - a professional ecologist that lives in morbid fear of Yorkshire Fog!) who, despite hacking up gobbets of lung and bile and snot, was determined to finish his survey of this lovely spot. The wildlife-friendly farmer who's land we were on has created several shallow pools and Sussex WT are monitoring the progression from raw scrapes into beautifully diverse ponds. Graeme was giving 30 mins effort to each pond's margin and then several minutes pond dipping on each. I pointed out a couple of bits and bobs but basically just tried not to get in the way too much! I pretended I'd found the very rare Pondweed Leafhopper which had him going since he couldn't see any - until I owned up I was just winding him up. Haha I'm such a jester.... *sigh*

Obviously I was shown a whole barrage of new inverts from Graeme's sweep net. Scirtes hemisphaericus was commonly swept, a very distinvtive looking beetle with aquatic larvae. The scarce Cantharid Silis ruficollis was swept on numerous occasions, it really is doing well here. My first long-overdue Larinoides cornutus (a very smart orb weaver) and Bulrush Veneer Calamotropha paludella were nice non-beetle additions. I even managed a new vertebrate tick - Nine-spined Stickleback. Lots of 'em in fact! A couple were hauled out in the pond dipping net but I noticed a large school of them in one of the ponds. Nice, I've wanted to see this diminutive fish for some years now. Bitterling next!

All too soon the surveywork was finished and I quit the site. Graeme had potted up a 13-spot Ladybird before my arrival, a fantastic looking beastie and currently only a very transient resident/migrant to Britain. I didn't add it to my haul of ticks as I hadn't been there or helped catch it when Graeme swept it. One for another day!