Medmerry Surveys 2020

2020 - 7th Year of Surveys at Medmerry

We look forward to 2020. 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.


September 9th 2020                          Later Dragonflies Part 2                               

A warm and sunny afternoon provided the perfect end to the surveys of this strange year.  Only four members were able to attend which was a pity as there were a great many dragonflies about.  The count started with a copulating pair of Common darters at the pool by the junction.  One or two Migrant hawkers were also seen here.  As we walked on more Migrant hawkers and Common darters were recorded, including another copulating pair and some single individuals.  Then two Common blue damselflies were seen.  Loud whirring of wings signalled the arrival of an Emperor dragonfly which flew past my ear and over my head!  The power of this animal could be felt.
While waiting at the pool by the junction one surveyor was lucky to see a young Chiffchaff which flew down to the vegetation at the water’s edge.  Some Swallows and a single Sand martin were seen as well as the usual Linnets.  A Yellow wagtail flew over, calling.  Five Teal were noted on the mud and a Grey heron flapped slowly out of the ditch.  A Cattle egret was spotted flying over and a Silver Y moth was seen flitting over the grass by the fence at the end of the survey area. One or two Small whites were the only butterflies noted.
After such a lovely afternoon it was a shame that we could not finish with our traditional tea.  Maybe next year.

Philippa Arnott

Common Blue damselfly - Medmerry July 2020
Common Blue Damselfly

Team 2


September 4th 2020                   Later Dragonflies Part 1                          

The afternoon turned out to be warm and mostly sunny with a light breeze, much better than had been forecast.  Six members arrived to see whether we could beat last year’s record of 0 dragonflies!  We immediately spotted 1 or 2 over the pool by the Marsh Barn junction.  As they flew fast back and forth often behind the reeds it was very difficult to get a clear view.  Was one an Emperor or not?  A great deal of discussion and checking the books and it was eventually identified as a Migrant hawker. One or two further Migrant hawkers were spotted. A little further on and some darters appeared.  Again, was that one a Ruddy or a Common?  Very difficult to see them as the reeds in front of us were high and they were hidden by other vegetation across the ditch.  In the end it was decided that they were Common and not one was a Ruddy darter. As we walked along the ditch became drier and the vegetation more encroaching so nothing was seen for a while.  Another Migrant hawker was seen inside the meander, through the gate. A Blue-tailed damselfly was added to the tally having been spotted by our Chair at the edge of a photo!  Nobody had actually noticed the animal as it was perched among the reeds
As we walked we spotted several Marsh froglets in the grass with many grasshoppers.  A Convolvulus Hawk moth was on the ground and, sadly, pronounced to be dead. Such a large, beautiful moth. Butterflies were represented by a sole Small white.  Birds seen included Linnet, a Sparrowhawk, Little egret, a few Swallows and 2 Spoonbills in the Stilt Pools which was a treat.

Philippa Arnott

Migrant Hawker

Common Darter
Convolvulus Hawk moth (deceased)

Marsh frog


Team 1

Friday 14th August   -      Grasshoppers and Crickets Survey Part 2

Team 2, consisting of another four Members, met at 1pm for instruction from Philippa. It had rained earlier in the day and conditions were still cloudy and quite humid. With the vegetation wet and knocked down, would we be lucky? Well, Yes!
The surveyors continued, using the three sweep nets, from where Team 1 had finished the previous week and quickly found several Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers, with specimens of Common Green Grasshopper and Meadow Grasshopper soon following. The creatures were being very ‘co-operative’ with being temporarily captured in the petri dishes and tubes, even ‘allowing’ photos to be taken with the lids taken off. Usually, in the drier, sunnier conditions, they are much more active. It was a treat to be able to study their intricate anatomy in detail and close up.
The rest of the new survey area was covered (pacing out approximately 50 metres between sweeps) and towards the ‘barn end’ we were excited to record two Crickets – Rosel’s Bush-cricket with its distinctive patterning and Long-winged Cone-head.
Other wildlife noted were Gatekeeper, Small White, Blue-tailed damselfly and several moths (unidentified, as eyes were down looking for grasshoppers and Crickets!)
Congratulations and thanks to all those who have made the Medmerry surveys possible this year.
Gill Hance

Common Green Grasshopper - Medmerry hoppers 14/8/20
Common Green Grasshopper
Long Winged Conehead Medmerry hoppers 14/8/20
Long Winged Conehead
Roesel's Bush Cricket - Medmerry hoppers 14/8/20
Roesel's Bush Cricket
Team 2 Medmerry hoppers 14/8/20
Team 2

7 August Grasshoppers 1

Philippa Arnott divided us up into two Survey Teams in order to have the correct number of members surveying according to Coronavirus Rules. The first team consisted of Helen Dignum, Sylvia Gill, Mary Iden, Daphne Flach and our President Jim Bagley who joined us on site.

The weather was hot, hot, hot getting up to nearly 30 degrees Centigrade. Although in mitigation we did have a gentle breeze.

We were surveying a new area for Grasshoppers and Bush Crickets. We walked from RSPB car park Earnley across the road, through the pedestrian side gate and a little way along the track which we normally drive along before going up the bank on the right-hand side. This bank which runs parallel to the track had been sown with wildflowers.

Philippa explained we were going to survey an area with our sweep nets, examine and identify our specimens, then release them before moving on fifty yards and repeating the process along the bank as far as we could get in the allocated two hours, surveying four sites in all.

The others did very well wielding their sweep nets, collecting and identifying species. (Daphne did manage to get some specimens in her sweep net but they invariably jumped out before they could be put in the specimen pot. It was 1 to Daphne and 9 to the grasshoppers.)

 The Team identified Lesser Marsh Grasshopper and Meadow Grasshopper at each of the four sites.

 Our President, Jim Bagley came up trumps and caught a Long-winged Cone-head Bush Cricket at the first site, and two more were found in the fourth site.

Now it will be up to Team Two to see what they find starting from the far end of the wildflower bank and working towards the end where our Team One had started.

 Daphne Flach

 A female Long-winged Conehead

The new Grasshopper survey site.

Surveying in action.

July 10 and 17  Dragonflies

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions of only 6 people allowed together at any one time, the dragonfly survey was split into two.  On the original date of July 3rd the wind was so strong and the weather so poor that the survey was abandoned.  Four surveyors attended the rearranged date of July 10th and another 4 on July 17th.  This worked well though Team 2 on 17th had very strong winds again!

On July 10th  there was a 14mph NW wind, dry with some sun.  The total count was
Blue-tailed damselfly                                                                             8  (C)
Small red-eyed damselfly                                                                      9  (C)   (4 prs Ov + 1 Ad)
Ruddy darter                                                                                         8  (C)   (6 Ad + 1 Co)
Emperor                                                                                                5  (B)    (3 Ad + 2 Ov)
Common blue damselfly                                                                       4  (B)    (2 Ad + 2 Ov)
Emperor exuvia                                                                                     1 Ex
                                                                        Total = 34 animals + 1 exuvia
Other wildlife seen included Skylarks, Whitethroat with 2 young, Lapwing, Sand martin, Yellowhammer, Reed bunting, Kestrel, Buzzard, Reed warbler, Moorhen, Marsh frogs, Swallow, Gatekeepers and a Roe deer.

On July 17th  it was sunny and very windy.  The total count was
Emperor                                                                                               5 (B)     4 Ad 1 Ov
Common blue damselfly                                                                      3 (B)    3 Ad
Blue-tailed damselfly                                                                            1 (A)    1 Ad
Ruddy darter                                                                                         1 (A)    1 Ad
Exuvia sp                                                                                               1 Ex     same one as found on 10th?
                                                                          Total = 10 animals + 1 exuvia
Other wildlife seen included a dark coloured Buzzard, Skylarks overhead, Coot in the reeds, funnel spiders in gorse.  Amongst various butterflies 2 Gatekeepers were noted
Philippa Arnott

Emperor - comes from the below

Emperor exuvia

Common blue damselfly

Blue tailed damselfly

Ruddy darter

Emperor ovipositting

Friday 19th June Second Medmerry Botany Survey

So glad we had set a reserve date for this quantitative Survey after the first attempt was rained off on the 12th June. It was a little breezy and some of the grasses had ‘gone over’, making identification a bit tricky, but after discussing how to ‘fairly’ conduct a quadrat survey (in order to cover the plot and accurately record presence of a species ) , six members lined up, socially distanced  and worked their way along the bank.
The results from 40 plus quadrats were recorded, and as expected, ox-eye daisy was the most common species. The temptation to ‘capture’ some of the ‘rare’ species noted in the first survey were resisted and it will be interesting to see the analysis so as to compare the results with previous years.
Looking forward to the dragonfly survey in July.

Gill Hance

A representative quadrat

Surveyors at work

Common blue damselfly - ready for next survey!

A regular attendee - thick legged flower beetle

Friday 5th June – First Medmerry Survey - First Event since "Lockdown"

We’re allowed ‘out’! How exciting, an outing to Medmerry, equipped with social distancing instructions from the government and with further instructions and permission from the RSPB to go ahead with the Society’s first survey of 2020. Four members were greeted by a sea of oxeye daisies swaying in the breeze, no doubt what would be recorded as Dominant, according to the DAFOR scale. (These scores range from Dominant, Abundant, Frequent, Occasional to Rare.)
An interesting hour was spent scouring the entire survey area for species of wildflowers and grasses, books and keys to hand and plastic bags/boxes for specimens to be discussed at the end. Members regrouped (at appropriate spacing), held the contents of their bags up to be identified and then voted on the DAFOR score for each species. It was noted that there is still a change in species occurrence along the length of the survey area and that some species had reduced in abundance compared with previous years. Finally, we discussed how to conduct our more detailed quadrat survey on the 12th June with the current government guidance ……we think it can be done!

Gill Hance

Medmerry May 5 2020
Abundant Ox-eyes

Medmarry May 5 2020
And some Vetch
Medmerry May 5 2020
Down among the daisies
Medmerry May 5 2020
Identifing at a social distance - then the hat blows off!
medmerry beetle May 5 2020
A freiendly beetle

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