Nature Conservation Lewisham

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Nice weather for water beetles — not (with thanks to R.Jones)

Reposted here, with kind permission from Bugman Jones

One of the delights of entomology is that you can always find insects — any place, any time of day, any time of year. They are so many and so diverse that you can find them everywhere. On Monday 20 June 2016 my thesis, however, was about to be sorely tested. At the height of the British summer (quite literally, since this was the day of the summer solstice this year), it was tanking down. And insects really don’t like the rain.

When I started the ‘Curious Entomologist‘ workshops my title was partly inspired by Simon Barnes’s book How to be a bad birdwatcher. His credo was similarly based on the notion that if you look out of the kitchen window on a winter’s day you will see no mammals, reptiles or amphibians — but you will see birds. You can always find birds; and you can always find pleasure in them. This is even more true of insects. You might have to look a bit harder, a little closer perhaps, but they are always there, and they can always be found.

This, then, was to be my pompously grand claim when offering a two-day class to some London Wildlife trainees; “Let’s go and find some insects” I said, as we peered through the rain splattered classroom windows, off into the sodden undergrowth of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. No-one seemed very enthusiastic. Nevertheless, we trudged off into the deluge.

I hate to tell you, but you're holding that beating tray upside down.

I hate to tell you, but you’re holding that beating tray upside down.

The plan behind the workshop was to introduce the environmental management trainees to some of the basics of entomology — how to use nets, beating trays, collecting tubes, hand lenses and microscope. How to find insects, if necessary how to deal with sample specimens collected for identification, and how to mount, label and store them for later examination, or for forwarding to someone else to look at. We were struggling at the ‘find’ stage, though.

We caught one butterfly; sort of.

We caught one butterfly; sort of.

Previous LWT events at the reserve were alive with insects — butterflies and bees flying past our ears, and the sweep nets thronging with small fry to look at back in the make-shift laboratory. Today I was going to be happy finding a few watery woodlice and some damp springtails. If this were an environmental survey, I’d have taken one look out of the kitchen window and immediately rescheduled. Insects really, really, do not like rain — even water beetles. Entomologists aren’t that fond of it either really.

Despite our meagre findings, microscope work is still very rewarding — everything, but everything is revealed as a miniature marvel of colour or form.

Despite our meagre findings, microscope work is still very rewarding — everything, but everything is revealed as a miniature marvel of colour or form.

We’d found a few waterlogged grass bugs, a couple of speckled bush-cricket nymphs, bedraggled dung flies, some centipedes, and those woodlice. OK that was enough to be getting on with I suppose, and there was a fair bit of interest as we examined them under the stereoscopes. Then there was this.

Gymnosoma rotundatum, nationally rare (red data book) shield-bug parasitoid.

Gymnosoma rotundatum, nationally rare (red data book) shield-bug parasitoid

This scarce southern fly had occurred on the site before (2007), but to have one turn up in the net of the proverbial tyro was a gift. It proved there was an ongoing colony here, in what is one of its most northerly and most urban localities. This is exactly the thing to demonstrate how beginners can find unusual and scarce things, but that they are usually small, need to be collected and need to be preserved so that an expert can spot them. A very positive end to the day.

Thankfully day two was brighter and, more importantly, drier. Now we could get stuck in.

Two more unusual finds confirmed that you do not need the accustomed eye of the hardened bugman to find scarce insects:

Female of Eucera longicornis. A more obviously long-horned male turned up further down the railway line, at Hither Green, in 2008. Good to know there are established colonies in this area.

Female of Eucera longicornis. A more obviously long-horned male turned up further down the railway line, at Hither Green, in 2008. Good to know there are established colonies in this area.

 

A tiny weevil, Acalles misellus; not necessarily scarce, but secretive, and new to me. A 'dead hedge' species, declining in an age when dead hedges are

A tiny weevil, Acalles misellus; not necessarily scarce, but secretive, and new to me. A ‘dead hedge’ species, declining in an era when dead hedges are no longer a common boundary construction.


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Butterfly walk at Sydenham Hill Wood – Sunday 24 July, 2pm-4pm

Comma © Daniel Greenwood

Comma © Daniel Greenwood

A guided butterfly walk in Sydenham Hill Wood

Please note booking is essential for this event

Join London Wildlife Trust’s Sydenham Hill Wood volunteer Emma Pooley for a guided walk looking at the range of butterflies that can be found in an urban woodland.

Sydenham Hill Wood is a mixture of ancient and secondary woodland with large, sunny glades where butterflies bask, feed and breed in the spring and summer months. We are likely to encounter speckled wood, comma, peacock, red admiral, skippers and whites. This walk is also an opportunity to raise awareness of bees, moths, dragonflies and all the other invertebrates which play such a vital role in the ecosystems we depend on for a healthy environment.

The weather is key in the success of this walk. If there is prolonged rain, thunderstorms or high winds the walk will be postponed to a later date.

Please bring clothing suitable for the conditions (sun hat, sun cream and water if needed) as well as footwear suitable for uneven paths and gentle inclines.

This is a free walk, donations to London Wildlife Trust are welcome.

Event Location

Inside the Crescent Wood Road gate by the London Wildlife Trust noticeboard
Sydenham Hill Wood and Cox’s Walk,
Southwark,
SE26 6LS

Booking Essential


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Bug day at Sydenham Hill Wood – Thursday 21 July, 11am-3pm

Large Red Damselfly © Daniel Greenwood

Large Red Damselfly © Daniel Greenwood

A family-friendly day to celebrate the amazing invertebrates that are so vital to our world

Join the London Wildlife Trust to celebrate the weird and wonderful insects that are so important to Sydenham Hill Wood and the ecosystems we depend on for survival.

They’ll be leading pond dipping sessions to discover the wild world underneath the surface of the Dewy Pond, searching for beetles and creepy crawlies under logs, and identifying butterflies and bees in the Wood’s sunny glades.

Event Location

Sydenham Hill Wood and Cox’s Walk,
Southwark,
SE26 6LS


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Lewisham 3 Peaks challenge

Lewisham 3 Peaks Challenge

The people behind ‘Lewisham’s 3 Peaks Challenge’ write:

The Brockley Three Peaks walk was an idea which sprung out of a co-design workshop last summer, as part of the neighbourhood planning work. A year later, local residents, with thanks to grant funding from the Ladywell ward assembly, have made it happen! Realising what a great asset their hilly open spaces are, the project set out to map and link the parks and open spaces around the greater Brockley area to highlight their very own five mile ‘green-chain’ walking route. The route also connects the area’s fantastic local independent shopping parades where there are plenty of opportunities to stop for drinks, coffee, food or some shopping.

Historic information, photography and illustrations of key landmarks have all been created by local residents. These were then fed to the map designer (www.fullcircle-design.co.uk) and compiled into a souvenir walking map of the area.  The Guardian cartoonist and Lewisham local, Martin Rowson also kindly designed the Three Peaks illustrative logo.

3 Peaks Map (www.fullcircle-design.co.uk)

3 Peaks Map (www.fullcircle-design.co.uk)

If you are up for walking Lewisham’s very own Three Peaks Challenge, then join the charity launch event on Saturday 16th July from Hilly Fields Park (meeting point at stone circle), SE4 – at 11.00am. The event will support two local charities: For Jimmy and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust are joining with local residents to promote the fun hike of the route. Our message is that our streets and parks are for everyone to enjoy, and we all benefit from making our neighbourhood a safe place for children to grow up in.

There are many ways to get involved:

1. Create a fundraising page for this event and get sponsored to conquer Lewisham’s Three Peaks! It will be fun and any money raised will go to the two partner charities. Or sponsor someone who has already created a page. Visit the link for more info: bit.ly/1OBS7rN

2. You can also support the charities by buying a limited edition souvenir t-shirt, designed by Martin Rowson. These will be on sale on the day. The team will also be at Blythe Hill Fields Summer festival on teh 2nd of July 2016.

3. Donate a pound and pick up a souvenir map

4. Join the walkers on the 16th July, make new friends, and enjoy our lovely neighoburhood. To pick up your ‘3 Peaks Challenge’ badge join us for the after party in Ladywell Fields at For Jimmy’s Sparkle festival which takes place on the same day.

For updates and more information, follow the team on:

Twitter: @Brockley3Peaks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lewisham-3-Peaks-Challenge-1034541099971217/
Email: brockley3peaks@gmail.com


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July-September 2016 Nature’s Gym programme

Summer is here - time for a bit of Nature's Gym

Summer is here – time for a bit of Nature’s Gym

Please see attached the new Nature’s Gym programme. There are a couple of sites on there that we’ve not been to for a while alongside some old favourites.  Please note that Nature’s Gym is not running on 7th or 14th July. Our first session of the new programme will be on 21st July.  The following week we will be at Pepys Park for a wildflower/butterfly survey.  At this event you will also have the chance to meet with Nick Pond from London Borough lf Lewisham and hopefully a representative of Glendale.  This will be your chance to give feedback on any issues/concerns that you may have.  We will be emailing you a summary of the Feedback Forms you filled out a couple of weeks beforehand so that you will have chance to see what has already been said and our answers to your comments.  Please note that all comments have remained confidential.

 


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Wildflower walk at Sydenham Hill Wood – Saturday 26 June, 2pm-3.30pm

Guided walk looking at the diverse plant communities in this urban secondary/ancient woodland.

Red Campion ©Daniel Greenwood

Red Campion ©Daniel Greenwood

Please note booking is essential for this event

Join the Sydenham Hill Wood Conservation Officer and London Wildlife Trust volunteers for a guided wildflower walk. Please note this is not a foraging event. The Wood is a remnant of the once vast Great North Wood which stretched from Deptford to Selhurst, a wildwood that colonised the landscape after the end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago.

The Wood has undergone much change and disturbance in the past 150 years meaning that the plant communities have changed and adapted to the conditions enforced upon them by man. Many of the Wood’s most common plants are colonisers of disturbed ground. The now closed Crystal Palace High Level railway allowed for the arrival of spectacular plants like rosebay willowherb, which is a mainstay of the Wood’s main glade in summer.

Attendees require no knowledge prior to the walk but an appreciation of conservation and the pressures on urban wildlife are important to bear in mind. Wildflowers are threatened at the Wood by trampling in sensitive areas, nutrification from dog fouling and the impacts of thoughtless foraging. These are all topics which will be discussed during the walk.

For your own safety please wear clothing suitable for the conditions, including sturdy footwear.

If there is inclement weather the walk will be postponed to a later date.

This is a free walk, donations to London Wildlife Trust are welcome.

Event Location

Inside the Crescent Wood Road entrance by the London Wildlife Trust noticeboard,
Sydenham Hill Wood,
Dulwich,
London,
SE26 6LS

Booking Essential

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