Author Archive

22nd April 2012, Sunday

Brook Lamprey

During a walk led by Patrick Roper through Brede High Wood we spotted a Brook Lamprey. At first we had trouble determining if there was something there in the stream or if we were just looking at an oddly shaped leaf. For some time we stared over the side of the footbridge at it debating the possibility. In the end it was decided the only way to find out was to reach in and scoop it out. Without difficulty it was scooped out by hand and sure enough it was a Brook Lamprey. It seemed oblivious to being handled and removed from the water and just lay motionless. The whole group on the walk had a chance to see the Lamprey and take photographs. It was then returned to the water unharmed.

(There was an informative R4 programme about Lampreys this week. Cliff)

28th January 2012, Saturday

Brede High Woods Adder

Today a small group of Woodland Trust volunteers headed to Brede High Wood’s Holman Meadow. The task was to clear out the invading birch scrub. It was hard work but we all felt very rewarded when we took time to stand back and admire our efforts.
As we were heading back for some warm drinks, (provided by Mike) I spotted an adder on the side of the path. Yes that’s right an adder. Yes in January. I know. Amazing. I don’t believe we had disturbed it. It was away from where we had been working and it had already been around long enough to have fed. A bump can clearly be seen in the snake, perhaps the size on a small rodent.
If you look closely at the picture you may be able to see the snakes tongue tasting the air.
It is also in a position that it takes before it strikes. A good time to use the zoom on the camera I thought. I wonder if this may be the first record for an adder in the UK this year.
If you would like to get involved please contact Mike Jackson at Read the rest of this entry »

17th May 2011, Tuesday

Checkered Beetle

Checkered Beetle
I found this 10mm. beetle while turning over pine logs. It is Checkered BeetleThanasimus formicarius. A few moments after finding it I found a second one about 20 feet away from the first. Penny Green from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre has let me see the previous records for this beetle. It turns out the last one recorded in Sussex was 13 years ago, and none of the previous finds are anywhere near Brede High Wood. So this makes for a good record for this lovely little beetle that resembles an ant (= formicarius).

16th May 2011, Monday

From Little Acorns…

Earwigs inside an acorn
I was on a walk with a small group in Brede High Wood when a young lad came over to me with an acorn. Inside were 5 bug like nymphs. He asked “what are they”. I didn’t have a clue. So I took a photo of the acorn and we continued on are way. I have since found out that they are nymphs of the Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia) A pair of forceps-like appendages protrude from the end of the earwig’s abdomen. These appendages are called cerci. The cerci aren’t used as weapons, but they may harmlessly grasp a human hand if handled aggressively. They’re also used to assist in mating, male and female grasping each other, or sometimes to grasp prey. Earwigs have a very broad, omnivorous diet, and feed at night. They eat anything from garden plants, to grass and other insects.

12th May 2011, Thursday


Sorry about the poor quality of this photo. The subject never stopped moving and I was lucky to get a picture even as good as this. It is just about good enough to get an identification from, and Patrick Roper has confirmed this ID for me. This is the cranefly Ctenophora pectinicornis and it is a Nationally Scarce species. There are half dozen or so earlier records of this in Sussex, most of them before 1960. Associated with rot-holes in large broadleaved trees, especially beech; larvae often occur in the rotten shattered ends of trunks and have been found in rotten boughs which have freshly fallen from at least 10m up.

5th May 2011, Thursday

Brede High Wood moths

Bluebell Conch
On a recent walk to Brede High Wood I took a photo of a small moth. After researching it, I found that it is a Bluebell ConchHysterophora maculosana I have talked to Patrick Roper and Colin Pratt both Sussex experts, about this moth and they have confirmed the name for me. There are only 4 records for it during the 21st century in Sussex. This picture, as pointed out by Patrick could be special due to the fact that it seems to be the only picture about that has the moth on the food plant.
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26th June 2010, Saturday

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth adult
I found a caterpillar of Elephant Hawk-mothDeilephila elpenor on a Fuchsia on 18 Aug 2009. I fed it on Fuchsia until it pupated on 30 Aug 2009. The pupa has spent the winter in the garden shed and now the moth has finally emerged. It gets its common name from the caterpillars resemblance to an elephant’s trunk.
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14th June 2010, Monday

Black-clouded Longhorn Beetle

In June last year I found while walking in Brede High Wood a White-clouded Longhorn Beetle Mesosa nebulosa Red Data Book 3. I did a post on this site when I found it. Realising it was about the same time of year I decided to walk the same path again. This year I found a Black-clouded Longhorn Beetle Leiopus nebulosus. This beetle turns out to be common. The larva lives in dead wood and they both live in the tops of trees.

12th May 2010, Wednesday

The Mullein Moth

Rearing moths takes a lot of patience, but it is fun to do, and gives the opportunity to take photos of the life stages of the moths. On the 12 Jun 2009 I collected a caterpillar from a species of mullein (Verbascum). It was the caterpillar of the Mullein MothShargacucullia verbasci. I fed it on Buddleia from the garden, and on the 26 Jun 2009 it made a pupa. Then after a long wait, it emerged on 30 Apr 2010. If you have a Buddleia in your garden you may see this caterpillar feeding on the leaves in a few weeks time.

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27th April 2010, Tuesday

Totem Pole

The most likely culprit for this handywork is the Great Spotted Woodpecker. It does look as if the woodpeckers are trying to create a totem pole. Although I can’t tell what it is yet.

This standing dead tree trunk shows why it is important not to over manage the woodland and cut down every dead tree. Dead trees like this are clearly made use of by birds and insects alike. It might not be aesthetically pleasing to us to see them as we walk by, but they are necessary evils. The Woodland Trust at Brede High Wood are aware of this and that is why they leave trees like this standing if they are not a danger. Once you come across a tree like this, it is always fun to take a look as you pass by to see if there are any woodpeckers on it. There is a sizeable mound of chippings on the ground in front of the tree. Enough for a few hamster cages perhaps.