Medmerry Surveys 2019

2019 - 6th Year of Surveys at Medmerry

We look forward to 2019. ALL surveys (approx. 2 hours in length) will start at 13:00 PROMPT, meeting at the RSPB Earnley Car Park at Grid Ref SZ 816 968 and then car sharing either to 1) Easton Lane for the 2 Plant Surveys  and the Grasshopper Survey  or along the track to the pools for the Dragonfly Surveys  (Little walking required on any date.) See Main Events List for more information. Sessions are open to all, no matter what your level of expertise, as guidance will be provided. We shall use the Society’s equipment but hand magnifiers, binoculars and reference books will be useful. Any questions or if help required with transport then please contact Philippa Arnott on   or phone 01243 575345.


Friday 6 September 2019                5TH MEDMERRY SURVEY – LATER DRAGONFLIES

Unfortunately it was not a good afternoon for a dragonfly survey.  The wind was quite strong and gusty making it feel cold. There was total cloud cover which made it very dull and gloomy.  At least the rain held off and it stayed dry.  Nevertheless, 9 intrepid surveyors arrived to conduct the survey but, as we feared, no dragonflies or damselflies were sighted.  This could have been partly due to the dense vegetation and very low water as well as the weather conditions.

However, the disappointment in the lack of dragonflies was mitigated by other wildlife seen.  Notably a Water vole swimming along a ditch, unconcerned by our presence.  Notable birds seen were Sand martins, Snipe, Yellow wagtails and Linnets of course with a large flock of Starlings – winter is on its way!  With nothing to record we carried on down to the first of the Stilt Pools where we saw Common sandpiper, Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon amongst many Canada geese.  A Holly blue and a couple of bumblebees were noted amongst the vegetation on the bank on the return journey but they were keeping well down out of the wind.

The traditional tea was taken at Russells Garden Centre which was much enjoyed and we raised a cup in memory of Rosemary Marshall whose idea it was to have a celebration tea at the end of the surveys.

 Philippa Arnott


The afternoon was pleasantly warm, though not totally cloudless, with a slight breeze.  Seven members plus Adam Taylor, the RSPB Warden, met to catch and record grasshoppers and bush crickets.  They were everywhere on the site, jumping through the grasses.  However, they proved quite difficult to catch even with our two new nets.  Nevertheless, six species were caught including a new one for our surveys – the Common green grasshopper.  As usual, Meadow grasshoppers were the commonest followed by Lesser marsh, Common green and Field grasshoppers.  Long-winged conehead and Roesel’s bush cricket were also recorded

Other notable wildlife seen included a flock of gulls (mostly Black-headed), 2 Emperor dragonflies, 2 Painted ladies, 1 Meadow brown, several unidentified whites and 3 Wasp spiders.  A Green woodpecker was heard nearby.

Philippa Arnott

Meadow Grasshopper


Wasp Spider

Six spot burnet

Close Inspection!

Friday 5 July 2019                             3RD MEDMERRY SURVEY – EARLY DRAGONFLIES

The day was warm with sunny spells and a slight refreshing breeze.  The temperature dropped towards the end of the survey when thicker cloud developed.  Eleven members were joined by the new RSPB Warden of Pagham and Medmerry, Adam Taylor, who had asked if he could come with us.  He was warmly welcomed and he told us he was just getting to know his patch and was interested to meet the Chi Nats surveyors and see how the surveys worked.  It was really good to get to know Adam and a lot of questions were asked on both sides.
The first sighting was of a Four-spotted Chaser, followed by a 2nd one.  The usual Common Blue and Blue-tailed damselflies were seen.  Then something different was noticed, a reddish brown dragonfly which started chasing the Four-spotted Chasers.  It flew tirelessly so fast that it was difficult to focus binoculars on it to look for distinctive features.  Various possible species were discussed but it didn’t fit any of them but by process of elimination it came down to a possible Norfolk Hawker.  After a while most of the group continued on with the survey leaving a small number waiting for the mystery dragonfly to land.  Eventually it settled on a leaf briefly, about 10 seconds, just enough time for Christian to get a fabulous couple of photos and John to get a good clear view through binoculars – which confirmed its identity as a Norfolk Hawker.
John went back to get some fuzzy photos of it flying, by which time an Emperor had appeared and the two dragonflies started chasing each other in what looked like a game of tag.  Mostly the Emperor was dominant though as it is a slightly bigger species.
This record was later sent in to iRecord and SxBRC and, if validated, will be a first for the species in Sussex!  Adam was very pleased to be there when a new species was found on his patch.
Black-tailed Skimmers were seen, though fewer than usual, and Small Red-eyed Damselflies.  One solitary Azure Damselfly was spotted.  Then, just as we were turning back at the end of the transect, a red dragonfly landed on the path just in front of us.  Was it a Common Darter or a Ruddy Darter?  No, on closer inspection of a photograph it turned out to be a Red-veined Darter!  Another first for our list and a beautiful animal to see.  This took our total number of species to 9.
Other wildlife seen included:  Reed Bunting singing quite close to the cars, Yellowhammers and Reed Warblers also. Skylarks were singing constantly and a few Swallows were spotted.  Butterflies included the ubiquitous Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, 6-spot Burnet moth, Painted Lady and a solitary Marbled White while Cinnabar moth caterpillars were observed on Ragwort.  Water Plantain was in flower and Lesser Reedmace was growing in one patch beside Greater Reedmace.         A Red-tailed Bumblebee was busily feeding and there were many grasshoppers.
There were notably fewer individual dragonflies and damselflies.  We wondered whether this could be due to the changing vegetation, the lack of sunshine later in the afternoon or other factors.  However, as someone remarked, this survey was all about quality rather than quantity!

John and Philippa Arnott

NORFOLK HAWKER - Medmerry 5/7/2019
 The famous Norfolk Hawker

Red-Veined darter - Medmerry 5/7/2019
Red-Veined Darter
Red-eyed Damselfly - Medmerry 5/7/2019
Red-eyed Damselfly
Six-spot burnet - Medmerry  5/7/2019
Six-spot burnet
Surveyors at Work - Medmerry Dragons 5/7/2019
Surveyors at work

Medmerry Survey - Botany 2 - Quadrats          Friday 14 June 2019

Nine members undertook the survey of the frequency of the plants, using the quadrats.

In a systematic way we covered nearly the whole plot, spacing out into four groups of two, to make sure we had figures from the different parts of the bank.

The weather looked a little grey at first, and felt rather chilly, but the sun came out, we heard skylarks, and it turned out to be a pleasant afternoon. 

The copies of Collins Guide to Wild Flowers, provided by the society ,were found useful in checking on the identification of plants, especially the grasses.

Helen Dignum will be analysing the data and producing a report which we can compare with previous years.

All in all, we felt we are getting better at identifying grasses. The plot is extremely colourful in June, and although from a distance it seems to be almost completely dominated by Ox Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum  vulgare) there are large patches of bright purple Tufted Vetch, (Vicia cracca).

Stephanie Carn

Tufted vetch

ChiNats members armed with quadrats among the flowers

MEDMERRY SURVEY BOTANY 1 – DAFOR              Friday 7 June 2019                                  

The day of the start of the new season of Medmerry surveys was, unfortunately, a day of strong winds and heavy rain with a Yellow Flood Warning in place for our area.  Consequently, it was deemed prudent to cancel the survey and hope for better weather next week when we will conduct the quadrat survey.  Not a good start, and very disappointing for the surveyors,  but we hope for better days to come.

Philippa Arnott

Chichester, West Sussex

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