Conservation Officer's Report.
Mycology. (Mushrooms and other Fungi.)
Lepidoptera. (Butterflies and Moths.)
Herpetology. (Amphibians and Reptiles.)
This issue contains nine reports. Nine are from our recorders. Regrettably there is no dragonfly and damselfly report this year due to the sad death of our recorder, Howard Cox, who will be much missed. As last year, the lead report is from our Conservation Officer, Dr Judy John, and it is well worth your serious attention.
All our recorders are well versed in their subject areas, and welcome reports from all members, so please remember to let them know what you see and record during the year so that they can continue to collate interesting reports. You can also send me photographs of interesting observations for the OFC website. Please include a few words about them: what they are, where and when you saw them, why they're interesting.
During the year 2016, 4 indoor meetings were held at BEECHE at High Elms, with visitors giving talks on diverse subjects: grasses, Kent Trust reserves, the wildlife of Costa Rica and the Barn Owl Project. They were well attended and enjoyed by all.
There were 30 outdoor trips, including one to Oare Marshes and one trip to Dungeness for the bird life. Some of the botanical excursions were used as monad recording sessions, the results to go towards the London Flora Project.
Conservation Officer: Dr Judith John
Bromley Biodiversity Partnership (BBP)
I have continued to attend the Bromley Biodiversity Partnership meetings on behalf of OFC and recently Ishpi Blatchley, Bill Whitaker and I, together with others, have been involved in setting up a Species and Habitats sub-group within the Partnership, aiming to increase knowledge of where ‘red list’ species occur across the Borough in order to help site managers and in the long term improve numbers of priority species. It is hoped this will help new Idverde staff who do not know the borough, as well as others who can influence site management. If you know of rare species where management needs improving please let us know. Lists of some ‘Rare and Declining Species’ are available for download from the OFC website (under Articles). Protected species are listed in Section 4 of the Biodiversity Plan, downloadable from the same place.
As the Field Club’s representative in the BBP I have been involved in trying to improve hedgerow management within the London Borough of Bromley (LBB). Idverde have agreed that pesticides will no longer be used at hedge bases and grass cutting will in future be no closer to hedges than 0.5metres unless there is a specific reason: namely: along sightlines, immediately adjacent to footpaths and around flower beds in formal urban parks. Please contact me or complain directly on LBB’s website at: ‘Fix My Street’ if you are aware of hedgerows under the management of Idverde (i.e. on Bromley owned land) which are not being managed according to this regime or are being cut too severely.
I have also continued to collate results of the Owl Prowl organised by Bill Whitaker. Thanks are due to Bill Welch who designed and hosted the form for submission of records on the OFC website. During 2016 OFC members and members of the public have sent in records of 36 tawny owls from 28 areas within Bromley. Some of these were from areas where we had not had records in 2015 but there are still gaps, so if anyone knows of tawny owls calling in the Elmers End, Crystal Palace, Penge areas, Biggin Hill, Salt Box, Berry’s Green and Tatsfield, Norsted, Pratt’s Bottom, Hockenden, Kevington, St Mary or St Paul’s Cray areas, please enter the details on the website or let me know directly.
Keston Countryside Day (26th June): Our stall on the green promoting OFC and biodiversity seemed to generate a lot of interest. Once again, many thanks go to Ishpi Blatchley, Bill Whitaker, Gary Cliffe and Bill Welch for their help and support.
The Friends Forum continues to work well, giving a voice to members of the Friends Groups whose messages are then shared with London Borough of Bromley and Idverde. Through attending the Forum, it also gives the OFC opportunities for working with Friends Groups many of which are interested in improving conditions for wildlife on their sites. The Friends Forum also has a very useful website.
Local Plan: As part of the preparation for the final draft of the Local Plan, LBB was required to put forward some areas within the borough to be designated as Local Green Space. These areas had to be nominated by the local community and conform to criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) including Criterion 6: 'The space being proposed for designation is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance because of "unique and special qualities" relating to, for example, its beauty, its historic significance, its recreational value, its tranquillity, or its richness of wildlife.' As OFC representative on the Biodiversity Partnership I was involved with other members in helping some of the community groups with their wildlife records. 25 sites were added to the Local Plan, 21 of which were designated in part for their biodiversity value.
The draft Local Plan was made available for public consultation in November 2016 and final comments were sent on behalf of OFC. It is to be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination in Spring 2017 and should be adopted in the autumn. It will then guide LBB policy for the next 15 years (till 2032).
Stakeholder Panel: This provides the opportunity for community groups to talk to Bromley councillors and Idverde managers. It was useful this year for highlighting problems including poor hedgerow management and the lack of support for volunteers at High Elms. Both these issues seem now to be improving. Concerns remain regarding the lack of biodiversity knowledge within LBB. Without a qualified ecologist there is no-one to check that Idverde is delivering biodiversity duties satisfactorily and no-one to advise planners re implications of development proposals. If you are aware of biodiversity concerns that may need raising with Bromley Officers and Councillors please let me know and I can pass issues on via panel meetings.
Countryside Consultative Panel: A meeting was held in December to look at the future role of this group in view of the new the Stakeholder Panel and Biodiversity Partnership. There are overlaps between these groups but Councillors are rarely able to attend the Biodiversity Partnership meetings and Bromley’s walking and riding groups are not represented in either group.
Planning Objections/Comments: About 20 planning objections/comments were sent to the planning department in 2016. Concerns included bats, loss of green belt, loss of trees and native hedgerows, light spillage and the inclusion of mainly non-native species in landscape designs near nature conservation sites.
The development plans for Bassetts Campus detailed in the 2015 report were amended this year but although the house planned for the southern part of the Bassetts Pond Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) was removed from the application, the terrestrial habitat available for great-crested newts was reduced by proposing a wide path and barrier within the SINC. Further objections have been sent.
The proposed development at Forest Lodge, Keston, also mentioned in last year’s report was reduced in size following refusal of the initial application but there remain concerns regarding the protection of the adjacent SINC, landscaping and lighting. Comments and proposed conditions were sent. The development was again refused by LBB and has gone to appeal.
Given the enormous number of planning proposals each week I have been finding it increasingly difficult to go through them all. I therefore really need you all to be on the lookout for any proposals adjacent to nature conservation sites or that have implications for biodiversity and protected species. Please let me know if you are aware of such proposals and I can then send comments on behalf of OFC. I look forward to hearing from you in 2017.
Recorder: Sue Cambray
"Everyone" seems to have noticed the absence of fungi this year from our lawns and woodlands, whilst many mycologists have declared this to be the worst year they can remember. The pattern seems quite consistent all over Europe and is generally ascribed to the exceptionally dry weather. For the months of July through to October we in Kent have had barely half the average rainfall and December has been declared the driest since records began. Generally the numbers of species recorded on autumn forays are down by a third as compared with last year, and 2015 was not a particularly good year for the opposite reason, being wet and dull. Rainfall was nearer the norm in the first half of the year, but there was a startling spike in June when rain fell in a record 22 days of the month, and interestingly this is reflected in the increased sighting of fruitbodies in June and July.
Rainfall has been quite localised and it appears there has been more in the east of the county, leaving chalk areas in the west, like Lullingstone, quite arid and devoid of autumn fungi. Beacon Wood Country Park, which is another area rich in interesting species, was poor in 2016, producing a fraction of the fungi usually seen there. Joyce Pitt, who as ever, has provided the bulk of the records, has had to travel more often into East Kent to find fungi this year. The average proportion of West Kent recordings by members in the last 5 years is 85% of the total for the county, but this year it dropped to 62%. When species were seen, they usually appeared singly, so clumps and good flushes have been specifically noted by recorders.
January was mild and a surprisingly large number of caps were seen, from a Clitoybe to a Tricholoma, including the beautiful grey, seldom recorded, Agaricus phaeolepidotus which Joyce found locally on New Year’s Day. My database shows the usual resupinates seen in winter months, but also the occasionally seen Piloderma bicolor with bright yellow rhizomorphs low down on a pine at Toys Hill. In April, Joyce received the amazing report of 40 Gyromitra esculenta with pine on the golf course at Leeds Castle. Their English name is False Morel (they don’t look dissimilar from the real Morchella esculenta and the species name of both means good to eat. The Gyromitra is considered a delicacy in parts of Europe but only after careful boiling as in fact it is exceedingly toxic. Another of the jolly surprises of April was the arrival of Arrhenia chlorocyanea. It has been given the English name of Verdigris Navel, which says it all, and it specialises in sandy moss- covered places. Trudy came upon a host of them flourishing in the moss of an abandoned horse exercise field near Ide Hill.
I don’t normally record many fungi in June (there were 23 items for 2015, and 8 for 2014) but on account of the month’s record rainfall this year, I entered 82 sightings. These included 2 Epichloe (chokes on grass), 4 Erysiphe (powdery mildew), 4 Phragmidium (rust on roses) and 2 Ustilago (smut on grass). The rest were fungi fruiting early, with some gems: little Pluteus satur which has not been recorded in these parts for years; crowds of Peziza succusa with its yellow milk, appeared in the beech litter of Lullingstone Park and also in Denge Wood; Inocybe erubescens (formerly patouillardii) typically fruits early in the year with beech on the chalk, and Joyce found colonies of it in such a habitat at Lullingstone after an absence of years; Mycena pelianthina is another beech chalkland species not often found as early as this, but it appeared in Denge Wood. In July, Joyce spotted the re-appearance in Lullingstone of the rare Piptoporus quercinus and has written this up on our website with photos taken by Mario.
The Greensand, with acid woodlands around Ide Hill and Toys Hill, received more rain, and trips into that area in early October were quite productive, like the OFC foray where we found 6 species of Cortinarius and 13 Russulas including the seldom recorded R. melliolens. The light was too poor to distinguish it from the darker R. atropurpurea, although Mario thought he could detect the honey smell, and it was only when Trudy dried it and took it into the sunshine the following day, that the brighter colour could be seen. R. romellii, large, brittle and purple with yellow patches in the centre of the cap was also found in these woods and again this is not a species often recorded, but interestingly they both were found in Angley Wood, another acid area. The woodlands around Toys Hill also produced rarities in 2016: Rozites caperatus, a pale cortinarius more often seen on the continent; the delicately scaly golden Tricholomopsis decora on dead conifer which is sometimes seen in Scotland; and Byssocorticium efibulatum, a resupinate on an oak twig, lying in our path, looking like blue fleece.
Joyce reports that boletes generally did not fruit particularly well this year, and looking back over the annual records on Jo Weightman’s database, I can see the numbers for boletes this year are down, but rather more were seen than in 2015, including Xerocomellus engelii, a brown, red-stemmed species usually with oak. It was recorded in Farningham, Putt Wood, Angley Wood, Mereworth and Petts Wood this year. Boletus appendiculatus with its rubbery smell pops up in Kent some years, but Joyce was astonished to find 6 separate colonies of it In Angley Wood. And then, after an absence of 5 years, a large group of the rare bolete Gyrodon lividus appeared again in the alder carr of Petts Wood. It has a brown flat cap and yellow gills which blue quite readily. We have all noticed the abundance this year of Hypomyces chrysospermus, the white mould with bright yellow spores which attacks boletes. There is something new to say about Paxillus involutus, a familiar bolete: if the cap flashes green for just a few seconds with a spot of KOH, then you have the brighter-capped P. ammoniavirescens which has been found in large colonies in East Kent sites this year.
A new log pile has been attracting the attention of mycologists in Petts Wood this year, and over a dozen species were found in September including the unusual Hericium cirrhatum, a tooth fungus hanging in overlapping fronds, on a sycamore log, which also bore some splendid Pleurotus ostreatus and Stereum subtomentosum, which is becoming widespread in the south. Nearby there were nobbly white brackets of Postia stiptica on dead pine, white patches of Schizopora paradoxa and some tiny red cups of Scutellina scutellata. It was obvious that Ganoderma adspersum had got a real hold all over the pile, there were many young brackets. This will be an area to watch!
Members may have read Margaret Willis’s article on our website regarding the felling of chestnut trees in Farningham Wood in an attempt to halt the spread of the gall wasp. Margaret has also posted photos of the large groups of specialist fungi Pluteus petasatus and Gymnopilus dilepis which have appeared on the deep piles of chippings left there.
Although they have not appeared in any quantity, 44 species of Russula have been identified, but Lactarius fared worse. Hygrocybes, which had such a spectacular showing in wet 2015, had an abysmal time this year, and likewise there were few Tricholomas. There were rather fewer Cortinarius specimens this year than last, the most widely seen being the lovely C. torvus, in the Greensand. The bulk of this genus appeared in the east of the county, and some are still being identified. This has been a good year for the little Simocybe which grows on rotten broadleaf wood; S. centunculus and S. sumptuosa have been reported from several sites. Pluteus species also found on rotten wood have borne up well too, P. hispidulus was found in Petts Wood this year. I have been struck by the number of Laetiporus sulphureus which I have recorded this year (18 against just 3 last year) often seen fresh and amazingly orange in oak trees. Similarly Pleurotus, another soft bracket hanging from our trees, has done well this year. Writing this in January, I have just visited our website and seen the lovely photos Bill Welch has posted of fungi growing on trees in his link to our website.
As ever, I am grateful for the records and help of Joyce Pitt, Trudy Fleming, Mario Tortelli, Ian Johnson, Bill Welch, Anne Andrews, and to friends and mycologists who assist with identification.
Recorder: Ishpi Blatchley
Most of my lichen recording in 2016 was carried out outside my local area so this report will be rather meagre.
Late in 2015 on a glorious sunny day I visited Scrogginhall Wood - one of the woods in the complex on Bromley Common. It is a mixed broadleaved woodland with remnants of semi-natural ancient woodland with much oak (Quercus petraea). Although only 29 species were recorded there were some nice records among the more usual Parmelia sulcata, Punctelia subrudecta and P. jeckeri and the Melanelixia species. Micaria micrococca was found in a damp area where branches meet and Fellhanera viridisorediata was found on horizontal boughs. A larch tree (Larix decidua) had a surprising amount of Evernia prunastri and Usnea cornuta was also recorded here.
Two orchards have been looked at – one at Milstead in East Kent as part of the Orchards for People Project, and the local community orchard at Downe. The Milstead orchard is a commercial cherry orchard under traditional management and is situated on the chalk plateau and therefore presumably susceptible to fertiliser input and herbicides. However, some good thick hedges obviously protect the orchard from the worst excesses of the chemicals. A total of 42 lichens was recorded and the suite was very representative of the community found on orchards throughout Kent. It was good to record species like Hypogymnia physodes and H. tubulosa amongst the Flavoparmelia caperata and F. soredians. Many of the Parmelia-like foliose lichens were severely affected by oribatid mites turning the thallus reddish. This is sometimes difficult to separate from the lichenicolous fungus Marchandiomyces corallinus which also affects the same species.
The survey of Downe orchard was particularly interesting as I had surveyed it previously in 2007. This old allotment site was planted up with a mixture of traditional varieties of eaters and cookers in 1992/93 but additional plantings must have occurred in subsequent years as there are now more trees present than the original planting plan shows. In 2007, twenty-seven species were recorded and the cover of foliose species was very restricted only becoming more common on those trees at the northern south-facing edge adjacent to the overgrown hedgerow. This year (2016) the lichen count has climbed to 48 – very similar in numbers to other Kent orchards (see previous paragraph). Not only has the species count increased but the cover has too, with many trees having horizontal boughs covered in foliose species such as Parmelia sulcata, the two common Punctelia species (P. subrudecta and P. jeckeri), the two common Hypotrachina species (H. revoluta and H. afrorevoluta) and the two common Melanelixia species (M. subaurifera and M. glabratula). Both Flavoparmelia soredians and F. caperata are now present although the latter is more common than the former. The very attractive Physcia aipolia was found on both surveys but in 2016 P. stellaris was also found. This is a very similar species but the white patches on the thallus (the pseudocyphellae) are absent and the medulla does not react to K whereas P. aipolia is K+y. This is a difficult test to carry out, as the cortex in both species reacts positively with K so it is essential to be certain that only the medulla is tested in P. stellaris. Two lichens which are increasing in the area, Ramalina fastigiata (with its fruiting bodies on the ends of the lobes), and Melanohalea elegantula (medulla C- as opposed to the C+r medulla of Melanelixia subaurifera) were both found in small amounts. The lichen count of 48 included several lichenicolous fungi – Illosporiopsis christiansenii (pink fluffy balls), Manchandiobasidium aurantiacus (yellow-orange) and Marchandiomyces corallinus (red) on the thallus of Physcia and Parmelia species are quite widespread. Laetisaria lichenicola on Physcia adscendens, is a species I have only recently recognised and this is the first record for LBB. Another parasite on P. adscendens goes by the splendid name of Syzygospora physciacearum while a gall found on an Usnea species is as yet un-named.
To save the best for last – a small brown-fruited lichen has now been identified by Mark Powell as Lecidea exigua – this is new to Kent and an extension of the range of this lichen eastwards. Exciting stuff in the lichen world!!
|Illosporiopsis christiansenii||Lic||Physcia sp||x|
|Laetisaria lichenicola||Lic||Physcia sp||x|
|Lecanora conizaeoides f. conizaeoides||Cort+Lig||CMa,PGt||x||x|
|Lecanora dispersa agg||Cort||CMa,CTw||x||x|
|Lecidella elaeochroma f. elaeochroma||Cort||CMaCTr,CBr,CTw||x||x|
|Lecidella elaeochroma f. soralifera||Cort||CMa||x|
|Marchandiobasidium aurantiacus||Lic||On P sulcata||x|
|Marchandiomyces corallinus||Lic||On P sulcata||x|
|Physcia tenella subsp. tenella||Cort||CMa,CTw||x||x|
|Syzygospora physiacearum Lic||On P adscendens|
|Usnea sp with a gall||Cort||CMa,CTw||x|
Joyce Pitt and I did a survey of trees in the shaws adjacent to the arable fields at Ranscombe Farm. This Plantlife nature reserve is famous for its arable weeds and management for these rare species involves preparing more disturbed ground in which the seeds can germinate. Before further trees were felled, a lichen survey was agreed. At first sight, the shaws did not look very promising being full of young to mature ash, hawthorn, sycamore and occasional field maple with a great deal of ivy cover. The lichen species recorded were fairly mundane with species indicative of nutrient enrichment including much Diploicia canescens, Hyperphyscia adglutinata and Xanthoria parietina. Some ash in more open situations had 4 species of Opegrapha s. lat. – O. atra, O. herbarum, O. (Pseudoschismatomma) rufescens and O. vulgata. The most interesting species was found on field maple in the more sheltered valley bottom which had extensive colonies of Bacidia phacodes. This species seems to be uncommon in Kent there being only two other records – one in Paddock Wood (VC16) on an unspecified tree and one at The Roughs, Hythe (VC15) on elder.
With thanks to Joyce Pitt for accompanying me on many surveys and to Bill Welch, who is dipping his toes into lichens, for records from Hayes Common. I am extremely grateful to Mark Powell for helping me with so many of my specimens and for his continual support.
Recorder: Joyce Pitt.
The year started very mild with both male and female hazel catkins flowering in the hedgerows around our area in early January, whilst the cherry plum Prunus cerasifera at the Sevenoaks Rd /Repton Rd junction which I have been checking for years was flowering on 24th January. The earliest date ever!!
The mild and damp weather continued into the spring. A walk in lane at Cowden in February revealed plenty of last year's bitter vetch Lathyrus glabra and Betony Stachys officinalis leaves in the hedgerow. Lesser celandine and primroses were flowering on a sheltered bank at Cuxton on 15th February and golden saxifrage was blooming later in the month near Matfield.
Further spring highlights included several clumps of large bitter cress Cardamine amara along the Darent at Lullingstone. A new site for Sedum telephium was found at the southern eastern end of Farningham Wood where scrub had been cut back along track edges.
We were amazed to see that felling/coppicing was continuing apace at Farnigham Wood where large swathes of coppice had been cut across the whole of the south facing slopes and areas of the plateau. We were pleased however to see that the small leaved lime trees had been marked for retention. Although the ground was heavily disturbed, the lily of the valley patches were surviving in the ruts and several were in flower. At the base of the slopes near Button Street Solomon's seal was also flowering amongst piles of logs and disturbed ground.
A feature of the summer months this year has been rank growth of vegetation both in the grassland areas and in the woodland where the brambles reached new heights. Two successive mild winters ensured that many plants and shrubs never fully died down. Despite the rankness of vegetation in grassland, there were good moments.
Shining cranesbill Geranium lucidum was very abundant in several open places. Sheets of flowering plants were seen in Sevenoaks, Swanley, ,Keston, and Eynsford in addition to the usual sites at Keston.
Other nice finds included Groundpine Ajuga chamaepitys flowering on disturbed chalk below Churchdown Wood, Fawkham. It has been known at this spot for some years but appears only spasmodically when the ground is disturbed.
Rue-leaved saxifrage Saxifraga tridactylites in cracks in platform at Swanley Station and under a roadside railing on West Common Road, Hayes.
Greater spearwort Ranunculus lingua, fine leaved water dropwort Oenanthe aquatica and flowering rush Butomus umbellatus at Lower Higham.
Bee orchids, common spotted orchids and fly orchids in some numbers at Blackbush Shaw, Cudham; and 100+ early purple orchids with fly orchids at Homefield Spring, Cudham.
60 flowering plants of Ophrys apifera and a number of pyramidal orchids in Graham Hemington's front garden in Hillcrest Rd, Orpington.
Hundreds of man orchids at Luton Bank, Chatham.
Blinks Montia fontana in a damp path at New Years Wood.
Small teasel Dipsacus pilosus beside the Medway at Teston Country Park and on a woodland edge near Elbows Wood, Meopham.
Judy John discovered a dozen or so southern marsh orchids Dactylorhiza praetermissa in the meadow area at the Darrick Wood site.
Thanks to Ishpi Blatchley, Judith John, Mario Tortelli, Bill Welch and Graham Hemington, and members of the Botany Group for their records.
Recorder: Jan Hendey
This year we haven’t done much surveying in the Orpington area. So I am going to write about a site a bit further afield.
Dunorlan Park is at the south-east corner of the Tunbridge-Wells built-up area. The original mansion is now demolished but the landscaped garden and park have survived. The area is managed by Tunbridge-Wells Borough Council.
The park covers a valley of 31 hectares. A stream at the bottom feeds a 6-acre lake, popular for boating and for enjoying the birds. More water comes from a springline in the grassy valley sides, which get a bit squelchy after rain. In the grass are many interesting specimen trees, both native and exotic. 18 of these are mapped and described in a Tree Trail leaflet.
There are many microhabitats in such a place for bryophytes; over 40 species have been recorded by several members of the BBS south-east group.
In a swampy area in the grass around a tributary Marchantia polymorpha var. polymorpha was growing on the bank of the stream. This is the less common of the two varieties of M. polymorpha. It is a large thalloid liverwort with a distinct dark line down each frond.
Near the children’s play area is a group of poplars, always a good host for mossy epiphytes and most of the common ones are there, including Orthotrichum pulchellum which is not common. It is easy to recognise as the calyptra has a ring of dark blotches around the base and the peristome is red.
At the eastern end of the lake the overflow passes under a main path and then tumbles over a man-made cascade of large boulders (no flow in high summer). The water falls into a pond and then to a stream also lined by rocks. Some of the rocks are calcareous, some are acidic; they are wet for most of the year and support a range of bryophytes typical of wet rock in lowland places. Included are Cratoneuron filicinum and Platyhypnidium riparioides,both common species in this habitat. Also found were Fissidens pusillus, and Brachythecium rivulare, frequent species in rocky streams, and Brachythecium plumosum, a scarce species and Hygrohypnum luridum which is a new record for VC-16. To have all these in one place was an exciting experience.
Recorder: Bill Welch
In general 2016 was a poor to average year for Lepidoptera. I saw slightly fewer species of moth in my garden trap than in the previous three years. However, the year had high points. Thanks to those who sent their sightings and records: W. Whitaker, I. Blatchley, G. Hemington and J. Hendey, and others who have mentioned Lepidoptera sightings during the year.
There were some good sightings this year. Local lepidopterists were notified last year that a previously unknown site in the London Borough of Bromley had been recorded for Small Blues, Cupido minimus, around a lagoon below Biggin Hill which may be related to drainage for the airfield. They were there this year, along with a good supply of the larval food plant, Kidney Vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria. There is a breeding colony of Chalkhill Blues, Polyommatus coridon, nearby – a rare sight in LB Bromley.
Hutchinson's Bank, down the slope from New Addington, is an excellent local site (a Local Nature Reserve in LB Croydon), with Small Blues and Chalkhill Blues both quite plentiful. Immigrant Clouded Yellows, Colias croceus, were also seen there. People traveled some distance to see Glanville Fritillaries, Melitaea cinxia, in the chalk cutting. They are indeed worth seeing, but it turns out that they are reintroduced to Hutchinson's Bank every year, so this does not even qualify as an introduced colony – it's more like visiting the tropical butterflies in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley, which is not to deny that that, too, is a good day out.
White-letter Haistreaks, Satyrium w-album, were at High Elms as usual, nectaring on Canadian Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis. In Riddlesdown Quarry I was excited to watch a Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni, lay an egg on a Common Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica. The well-disguised larvae were also present. (Small Blues live here, too.)
Scadbury Park Local Nature Reserve produced several sightings of White Admirals, Limenitis camilla, for the second year running, believed to be breeding. There was also a good range of colourful, more common butterflies.
There was a promise of something exceptional in 2016, when clouds of tens of millions of Diamondback Moths, Plutella xylostella, were seen heading in our direction across the channel in early June. But although many individuals were seen flying by day, there does not appear to have been any serious impact on our garden brassicas (the larval food plant), and trap catches have not been unusually high.
The moth most often reported in recent years is the Jersey Tiger, Euplagia quadripunctaria, which, while once scarce, has become quite common locally in its flight season, mid-July through August. It is big and bright, with startling orange underwings when in flight and a triangular black-and-white shape when at rest. It often flies by day and can also be seen resting in the open in the daytime. Many moths pass by un-noticed, but not this one! In my own small garden trap I saw 35 specimens one night in August, and an even more startling 52 a couple of nights later. There is a scarcer variety with yellow underwings which was spotted a few times in 2016.
Bat surveys often produce sightings of overwintering moths. The pretty Herald, Scoliopteryx libatrix, was seen in most of the surveyed sites in 2016 but the scarcer Tissue moth, Triphosa dubiata, was seen in only one underground site, an old chalk mine.
Recorder: W. J. Whitaker
I am grateful to G Hemington, R & I Ferguson, and T Fleming for their records and valuable interesting communications on herpetology matters during the year. I have discussed these and forwarded comments, particularly about the Greensand reptile sites etc to the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group. I am glad to say that they seem to be “on the ball” with regard to these important areas.
Rosemary Ferguson reports the first frog activity of the year seen on their allotment at Eynsford Close on the 19th February. Spawn was laid on the 24th of that month. She also reports that they again had both common newts and frogs in their garden pond at Cathcart Drive. She noted that the frogs were mating on the 4th March. And again In the wild, Marcus Jordan reported frogs spawning in four of the ponds at Jubilee Park on the 1st March, three days earlier but not as early as at the allotment.
At Scadbury Park LNR, the frog “season” was rather bizarre. We conducted a fairly comprehensive amphibian survey in this year, the last one was in 2002 as part of the LB Bromley Amphibian Survey organised by Ewa Prokop.
At Scadbury there are currently 11 viable ponds/water bodies in the metapopulation complex. Frogs attempted to breed in five of them, the first amphibians were seen on the 19th February but only in one small pond No 9a, a male and a female (alive) and two other animals which were dead. Breeding activity in the Park picked up more normally around the 8th March and most spawn in the other ponds had been laid by the 25th, a month later than at the allotment!
First spawn to hatch was reported on the 2nd April but had actually started just previously, but was not witnessed.
The first toad was seen in a pond, again 9a, on the very early date of 19th Feb, not surprisingly it was dead. Toads attempted to breed in six of the ponds with the main mating activity in most of the ponds occurring around the 25th March. In one pond however, pond 6, a string of toad spawn had been seen on the 8th March (a very early date) when I was engaged in counting frog clumps.
The main interest and of great importance at Scadbury is the status and viability of the Great Crested Newt (GCN) population, purported to be the biggest isolated metapopulation in the whole Greater London Area.
To assess the population torchlight counts after dusk is the least intrusive method to use, and was employed. GCN’s were found in eight of the ponds, max counts on the best night for each pond ranged between 3 and 48, and the pond maximums when totalled up was 107. A gratifying number and the highest total ever for this site.
Additionally two of the ponds were not torched, because the water was too murky throughout the survey period due to a lack of suitable oxygenating aquatic vegetation and also a thick layer of various pollen sps . But samples of the pond water were taken and analysed for their DNA fingerprint. Both tested positive so in toto we know that 10 of the 11 ponds host these important animals. Very healthy populations of both common and palmate newts were recorded at most of the ponds as well. On several evenings for individual ponds, counts of between 40 and 100 'other' animals were recorded. We have to use the 'other' category because when there are say as many as 10 animals all illuminated by the torch beam at the same time and they are 'diving for cover', trying to sex and count whether they are males or females of whatever species is impossible.
Inter pond comparisons, do not really mean much either, because the different ponds vary enormously in area and they also contain different plant species. The amount of such species as filamentous algae for instance varies enormously from visit to visit over the six week survey visiting period.
From these results it would be tempting to think that 'everything in the garden is rosy', as far as the favourable conservation status of these animals is concerned, but the survey also revealed that several of the ponds are in “not good” ecological condition needing much remedial management and this must now be addressed by ID Verde on behalf of the LB of Bromley .
In this calendar year I had to prioritise other survey work for amphibians, butterflies and birds at Scadbury Park LNR, so I was unable to spend any meaningful time on reptile survey in the rest of the local area.
One of the most important local sites is Hayes Common. Gorse control is probably the main requirement to maintain the habitat in good condition for reptile survey.
New edicts from DEFRA banned the use of the effective herbicides that had been used for 12 years, at the end of 2015. This, coupled with the declining energies and amount of time the small band of ageing volunteers was able to put in, meant that spring reptile survey conditions were such that successful survey work had become very difficult, and consequently large areas of the site have become virtually unsurveyable. Animals were seen but comparative survey with previous years now past is not currently possible.
Hopefully the gorse management can be successfully addressed by ID Verde, the site Manager.
Recorder: Anne Peck
Contributors: I. Blatchley, W. Day, R. & I. Ferguson, G. Hemington, J. John, J. Overton-Fox, A. Peck, M. Pettet, M. Willis.
The report is somewhat thinner than previously, partly because we now have fewer contributors. Another reason is that there generally seem to be fewer birds around not only in the general area but also in our gardens. This is a worrying trend but is only a reflection of the status of birds nationally. So all I can say is keep feeding the birds in your garden and hopefully this will help.
Little Grebe - Single record from Priory Ponds in May.
Great Crested Grebe - one record from Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Cormorant - Seen regularly at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Grey Heron - Recorded as nesting at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Seen flying over Felstead Road, Hillcrest Road and Sevenoaks Road.
Mute Swan - Bred at Footscray Meadows where 2 adults and 6 cygnets seen in September. Also noted at Priory Ponds, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and Kelsey Park.
Greylag Goose - At Priory Ponds in May, 3 pairs and 20 goslings. Also regular at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Canada Goose - In May at Priory Ponds 30+ seen.Seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and Kelsey Park. .Seen flying over Cathcart Drive and Eynsford Close.
Shelduck - Only record from Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Gadwall - Only recorded at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Mallard - Noted at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Darent valley, Kelsey Park, Kingswood Glen and Library Gardens Bromley where 30+ were seen in December. Also seen flying over Cathcart Drive.
Teal - Only seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Pintail - Only seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Garganey - Only one record from Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Tufted Duck - Noted at Priory Ponds, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Library Gardens Bromley, and Kelsey Park.
Shoveler - Only seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Mandarin Duck - Only recorded at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Pochard - Just noted at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Buzzard - Occasionally seen at Eynsford Close, and 2 seen at Strawberry Bank in December
Sparrowhawk - Flying over Sevenoaks Road and noted regularly at Cathcart Drive and Eynsford Close.
Kestrel - Single record from Eynsford Close in October.
Hobby - Seen flying over Molly Ash Cottage in September.
Pheasant - Seen at Molly Ash Cottage at both ends of the year. Noted also at Eynsford Close in October and November.
Moorhen - Noted in the Darent valley, Priory Ponds, High Elms, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Kingswood Glen and Library Gardens Bromley.
Coot - In Priory Gardens in May when 30+ were noted. Also noted at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Footscray Meadows, Kelsey Park and Library Gardens Bromley.
Lapwing - Seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Snipe - Seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Little Ringed Plover - 2 seen Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Black-headed Gull - Seen at High Elms, Priory Ponds, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Also noted in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Felstead Road and Eynsford Close.
Herring Gull - Noted at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and also flyrng over Sevenoaks Road and Cathcart Drive.
Feral Pigeon - Seen all year in Eton Road and also noted in Sevenoaks Road and Hillcrest Road.
Woodpigeon - Widespread. Seen anywhere there are trees and breeding at Molly Ash Cottage.
Stock Dove - Breeding at Molly Ash Cottage.
Collared Dove - Seen at Molly Ash Cottage and Sevenoaks Road all year. Also seen at Cathcart Drive, Windsor Drive, Durham Avenue, Felstead Road and Priory Ponds.
Ring-necked Parakeet - Widespread including the Darent Valley, Priory Ponds, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Eynsford Close, Durham Avenue, Windsor Drive and Felstead Road.
Tawny Owl - Heard in Sparrows Wood in the summer, otherwise all records from the winter at Molly Ash Cottage, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue and Windsor Drive.
Swift - Seen flying over Molly Ash cottage, the Darent valley, Sevenoaks Road, Eynsford Close and Hillcrest Road.
Kingfisher - Single record from Footscray Meadows in September.
Green Woodpecker - Regular at Molly Ash Cottage, Darent Valley, Durham Avenue and Crofton Wood.
Great Spotted Woodpecker - Regular at Molly Ash Cottage. Heard drumming at South Hill Woods and Felstead Road. Also noted at Priory Ponds, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Road and Durham Avenue.
Skylark - Only recorded in the Charmwood Farm area.
Swallow - A flock of 40-50 seen in the Norman Park area in August/September. Also seen at Eynsford Close and North End Farm where they nested.
House Martin - Seen at Norsted Manor Farm.
Grey Wagtail - Singte record from the Darent Valley in June.
Pied Wagtail - Seen regularly in Orpington and Bromley High Streets. Seen also at Princess Royal University Hospital, Nugent Centre and Petts Wood.
Wren - Bred at Molly Ash cottage and Durham Avenue. Also noted at Darent Valley, Cathcart Drive, Sevenoaks Road and Felstead Road.
Dunnock -Only record of breeding from Durham Avenue. Otherwise seen in Sevenoaks Road, Felstead Road and in the Darent Valley.
Robin - Breeding in Durham Avenue, Sevenoaks Road and Molly Ash Cottage. Also noted at Cathcart Drive, Eynsford Close, Felstead Road and Hillcrest Road. Noted at Priory Ponds, High Elms, Footscray Meadows and Darent Valley.
Blackbird - Widespread, breeding in Durham Avenue and Molly Ash Cottage. Seen in all gardens and generally in the whole area.
Song Thrush - Seen in gardens in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Molly Ash Cottage and Eynsford Close. Also noted at High Elms, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and the Darent Valley.
Fieldfare - Noted at Molly Ash Cottage, Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue and Felstead Road.
Mistle Thrush - Noted in the Darent valley, Eynsford Close and Sevenoaks Road.
Lesser Whitethroat - Single record from the Mace Farm area.
Common Whitethroat - Noted at Priory Ponds and Footscray Meadows.
Blackcap - Records from Molly Ash Cottage, Darent Valley, High EIms and Keston.
Garden Warbler - Single record from the Darent Valley in June.
Chiffchaff - Noted at Molly Ash cottage, Sparrows Wood, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and South Hill Wood.
Goldcrest - Seen at Molly Ash Cottage and Sevenoaks Road.
Long-tailed Tit - Recorded in gardens in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue, Molly Ash Cottage and Felstead Road. Also seen at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.
Coal Tit - Only breeding record from Durham Avenue. Otherwise seen in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Hillcrest Road and Molly Ash Cottage.
Blue Tit - Breeding in Durham Avenue and Molly Ash Cottage. Recorded in all gardens and in the wider area.
Great Tit - Breeding in Sevenoaks Road, Durham Avenue and Molly Ash Cottage. Also recorded in Windsor Drive, cathcart Drive, Felstead Road and Eynsford Close.
Nuthatch - Recorded in South Hill Wood and Charmwood Farm.
Treecreeper - Only recorded at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve in March.
Jay - Noted in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue, Hillcrest Road, Molly Ash Cottage and Eynsford Close.
Magpie - Widespread in the whole area and in all gardens.
Jackdaw - Seen at Molly Ash Cottage and Windsor Drive all year. Otherwise seen in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Hillcrest Drive, Eynsford Close and in the Darent Valley.
Carrion Crow - Breeding in Cathcart Drive. Noted in all gardens and in the whole area.
Starling - Noted as breeding at Molly Ash cottage. Seen also in the Darent valley, Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Hillcrest Road and Felstead Road where 30-40 were counted.
House Sparrow - Only breeding record from Felstead Road. Seen also in Sevenoaks Road, Homefield Rise, Windsor Drive, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue, Priory Ponds, High Elms and Darent Valley.
Chaffinch - Recorded in Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive, Durham Avenue, Felstead Road, Molly Ash Cottage, the Darent Valley, Priory Ponds, High Elms, Mace Farm area and Charmwood Farm.
Greenfinch - Seen in Petts Wood, High Elms, Mace Farm, Charmwood Farrn, Darent Valley, Molly Ash cottage, Sevenoaks Road, Cathcart Drive and Felstead Road.
Goldfinch - Breeding in Sevenoaks Road. Seen in Cathcart Drive, Felstead Road, Hillcrest Road, Molly Ash Cottage, Darent Valley, High Elms, Footscray Meadows, Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve and Eynsford Close.
Siskin - One record from Molly Ash Cottage in January.
Bullfinch - Seen at Molly Ash Cottage from June to September and in December.
Yellowhammer - Single record from Charmwood Farm in December.
Birds in Scadbury Park 2016
Here is a supplementary report on birds in Scadbury Park in 2016 by W. Whitaker, submitted too late to be included in the main report.
Generally the list of species recorded this year in the Park was much the same as in 2015. Below I summarise species presence in three categories. Breeding species, migratory and post dispersal species and thirdly winter visitors.
In this report many of the breeding list species can be seen “all the year round” but I have only recorded them here in the first category.
Species shown with a star * are Bromley Priority BAP listed.
A - Breeding list
Tawny owl* Hobby Kestrel* Sparrowhawk Buzzard
Woodpigeon Stock dove* Feral pigeon Collared dove
Crow Magpie Jay Jackdaw
Ring necked parakeet
Dunnock* Wren Goldcrest*
Robin Blackbird Song thrush* Mistle thrush*
Coal tit Long-tailed tit Blue tit Great tit
Greenfinch Goldfinch Chaffinch House sparrow* Bullfinch*
Great spotted woodpecker Green woodpecker*
Chiffchaff Blackcap Common whitethroat* Lesser whitethroat*
Total 45 species, of which 17 are Bromley Priority BAP listed.
Comparing this list with the 2015 list, we did not record tufted ducks or willow warblers though I did pay special attention to the area where they had previously been seen and heard in 2015. On the plus side we gained hobby, house sparrows and lesser whitethroats. The latter sp was heard in several locations at the meadow end of the Park and was obviously attempting to breed as there is much suitable habitat.
It is pleasing to report that bullfinches too are breeding in several locations similar to the lesser whitethroats. Common whitethroats too are thriving. Grey wagtails successfully bred at the moat and swallows in the stable block.
B - Migratory and post breeding dispersal species
Cormorant,* House martin,* Swift,* Black headed gull,* Lesser black backed gull,* Canada goose, Greylag goose, Red kite, Common redstart (male), Sedge warbler.
Total 10 species of which 5 are on the Bromley Priority BAP list. Sadly not seen this year were kingfisher and spotted flycatcher but it was lovely to see the red kite and male common redstart and to see and hear the sedge warbler in full song in the scrub bordering the moat.
C - Winter visitors
Woodcock,* Common gull,* Pied wagtail, Fieldfare,* Redwing,* Firecrest,* Siskin
Total 7 species of which 5 are on the Bromley Priority BAP list.
Not recorded this year was teal, but firecrests were recorded in several places, mostly in the dense holly areas around the Acorn Trail. Woodcock too was seen on more than one occasion at the East (meadow) end of the Park by extremely fortunate observers.
Total number of species this year was 62. Twenty nine of these, 47% are Priority BAP listed. And in all over the two years we have been recording here 67 different species have been seen. This is obviously still an important site, hosting an impressive bird list for folk to visit and study.
Recorder: Bob Francis
Thanks to the very few members who contributed to this report namely Rosemary Ferguson (RF), Ishpi Blatchley (IB) and myself Bob Francis (BF).
Hazel Dormouse: (Muscardinus avellanarius). These data were collected as part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme and covered 4 sites in the Bromley area: Downe Bank (KWT), Jewels Wood, High Elms Cuckoo Wood and Blacklands Wood. Dormice were present on all 4 sites - evidence of breeding was recorded on 3 sites.
Cuckoo Wood continues to be disappointing with only one record over the nine months of surveying. Blacklands Wood fared better with far fewer boxes and 2 babies and a lactating female was recorded in September. The Downe Bank data was most encouraging with a minimum of 6 individuals processed, 4 of these being baby dormice. Jewels Wood is only visited twice a year and 2 juvenile dormice were recorded.
With the exception of Cuckoo Wood which, despite sympathetic woodland management, continues to show low box occupancy (and possibly a low population density) the other site records are encouraging and shows recovering populations after recent unfavourable winters. My thanks go to Judith John, Steven Lofting and Rosalind Sim who helped with these surveys.
A single dormouse was found on the ground at White Hill, Shoreham during the BBCS work party on 18th December, it was returned to nearby shrubs. Peter Kirby said that he had disturbed a dormouse in the same spot about 4 or 5 years ago.
Yellow-necked mice: (Apodemus flavicollis), 1 male and 1 female were recorded in dormouse boxes at Blacklands Wood.
Wood Mouse: (Apodemus sylvaticus) regularly seen crossing the patio of a house in Durham Avenue (IB). They were also seen on two occasions in Jewels Wood.
Hedgehogs: (Erinaceus europaeus). Two were found dead on an allotment (Eynsford Close, Petts Wood) on 30th September and 31st October. Also one was found in the road outside Crofton School and one opposite petrol station in Petts Wood (August/September). A live hedgehog was seen running in the road near the mini roundabout at Tudor Rd Queensway (RF).
Foxes: (Vulpes vulpes) are frequently seen in the Borough – a healthy male was seen boldly crossing Bromley High Street at 11.45 in the morning by Wilkinson’s in November (BF). At least one comes into a garden in Cathcart Drive regularly and breeds nearby. “Also our allotment one has a den under our large compost heap and they also breed under the communal shed on the site.” (RF). They are regularly seen in a garden in Durham Avenue where 3 cubs were raised using the garden as a playground ground in the summer (IB).
Badgers: (Meles meles) have been seen more frequently in last year or two – they are normally seen in the front of the house and in Cathcart Drive, but this year two were seen in the back garden on 27th August (RF). A badger walking down Durham Ave at 2 am in early Dec 2016 (IB).
Moles: (Talpa europaea). Molehills regularly occur on the allotment (Eynsford Close) and also 20 plus on the adjacent playing field. On the OFC visit to High Elms on 31st December we saw 40 or so mole hills on the lawn near BEECHE car park (RF).
Rabbits: (Oryctolagus cuniculus). A black one was seen at Bough Beech on 9th April along with more usual coloured ones. White Hill has lots of rabbits -there was a problem with them destroying the vegetation in the last couple of years but their numbers have been reduced and the site is recovering. It occurred when the local farmer fenced off his field and the rabbits could no longer get there to feed (RF).
Squirrels: (Sciurus carolinensis). Ubiquitous in Bromley’s parks, gardens and woodland. There has been up to 3 in the garden (Cathcart Drive) and one or two regularly raid the bird feeders. In the woods adjacent to the allotment (Eynsford Close) there has been albino squirrel, it was around from December 2015 and was last seen in mid-January 2016. Several seen at High Elms (RF).
Rats: (Rattus norvegicus). A very under-recorded species - they are present on the allotment but the foxes keep them under control. One was seen on the railway line at Bromley South station. It quietly came out on to the track and went back into a pipe when the train was arriving (RF).
Fallow Deer: (Dama dama). A frequent encounter when inspecting dormouse boxes at Downe Bank. A superb adult male with a full set of antlers traversed the bottom field of the Cudham Guides Camp on 6th June
Bats in Bromley 2016
The winter of 2015/2016 started off slowly regarding bats found in hibernation with even our ‘best site’ only harbouring 2 bats. However, with more prolonged colder weather the Jan and Feb counts were better with 9 bats found in the chalk mine at Pratts Bottom on Jan 19th. With so few bats being found and the variability in temperatures during our current winters it is difficult to find any meaningful trends in species composition or species counts from year to year.
The wet start to the summer was not good for bat reproduction and reports from Kent in general suggested many more underweight bats coming into care.
There has been no systematic survey work done over the Borough for a few years now but the serotine roost counts have continued. Slightly better news this year from the one roost counted – 4 bats were seen on the 2 survey dates in June but by late July, 8 bats were seen exiting the roost.
Bat walks at Kelsey Park, Cator Park, Chislehurst Common and High Elms all reported good numbers of the two pipistrelle sp (common [P. pipistrellus] and soprano [P. pygmaea] pipistrelle) but few large bats were heard (one Leisler [Nyctalus leisleri] at Kelsey Park in Aug).
Bat box checks were also disappointing in Bromley but better at Sydenham Hill Woods where soprano pipistrelle, Leisler and brown long-eared (Plecotus auritus) bats are regularly encountered. At Addington Hills in October a cluster of 9 brown long-eared bats (3 males and 6 females) in one box kept us busy with the scales and micrometer.
Sue Holland and I (IP) were lucky enough to be involved in some harp trapping at South Norwood Lake as part of the nationwide Nathusius pipistrelle (Plecotus auritus) project. Sonic lures are used to attract the bats and 5 Nathusius, and one each of common and soprano pipistrelle bats were trapped, sexed, weighed, measurements taken and the Nathusius bats were ringed before release. London has proved to be a very important area for Nathusius pipistrelle particularly along the Lee and Colne valleys. It is hoped that a London-wide project will be undertaken in the next few years.