Medmerry Surveys 2021

2021 - 8th Year of Surveys at Medmerry

We look forward to 2021. 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.

Medmerry Surveys 5 – Later Dragonflies   3rd September 2021

 The day turned out to be a really warm and sunny one, much to our surprise, with a temperature of about 22 C.  It was quite breezy which made photographing difficult and the dragonflies were constantly on the move so identification was, therefore, quite tricky at times.  It started promisingly with many dragonflies flying around the car park and over the track as we drove to Marsh Barn.  Also flying over the track was a large swarm of flying ants with flocks of gulls wheeling around above them, presumably enjoying a feast.

 A female Emperor was spotted ovipositing in the water, copulating pairs of Common blue damsels, Small red-eyed damsels, Migrant hawker and Common/Ruddy darter were also seen.

 While walking along several froglets were spotted leaping about and many grasshoppers.  Two Kestrels were hunting nearby and one was trying its luck hawking low over the water.  This one might have been a juvenile.  A lucky few watched a Hobby catch a dragonfly!  We think this one had already been counted!  Other birds spotted include 2 Herons flying off, about 10 Teal, a flock of Goldfinches and a Yaffle flying down to where it must have spotted an anthill.  Linnets were seen and Yellow wagtail heard but not seen.

 Butterflies seen include several Small whites, a Painted lady, Holly blue, Common blue, Brimstone and Red admiral.  Marsh frogs were also in evidence.

 A total of 8 dragonfly species was seen with many individuals which made it a very successful and entertaining day.

 We rounded off the 2021 survey season with tea and cake in the car park which was much enjoyed by everyone.

 Philippa Arnott

Ruddy Darter

The team in action...

A pair of Migrant Hawkers

Purple Loosestrife

A well-earned Celebration Tea

Medmerry Survey - Grasshoppers and Crickets - 13 August 2021

A total of 9 surveyors met having been delayed by extreme traffic conditions.  We started late but managed to complete the survey in time.  The weather was dry, warm and quite humid with a temperature of about 20 C.  Although there was a good deal of cloud we also had some sunny spells.  Unfortunately it was quite breezy which made catching grasshoppers very difficult. 

 Species caught:       Meadow grasshopper, including some long-winged (most commonly caught species)
Common green grasshopper (a few)
Less Marsh grasshopper (a few)
Roesel's bush cricket (just one male)

 When we were back in the car park a female Oak bush cricket jumped on to Christian’s arm!

The wind had prevented any butterflies from putting in an appearance but several Red-tailed bumblebees were in evidence on the Birds foot trefoil.  The area was looking very attractive with many flowers in bloom.
Philippa Arnott


Medmerry Survey - Early Dragonflies - 2 July 2021

The morning had been very cloudy and misty with drizzle in places so we were pleasantly surprised to arrive at Earnley to find it warm and sunny.  It stayed like this throughout the survey with just a light breeze and felt very humid.

We were disappointed not to find anything at the first pool, by the cars.  In previous years we had seen many Common blue damselflies here.  However, as we moved off several dragonflies were spotted flying at speed and too far away to get an identification.  Broad-bodied chasers were then spotted and subsequently Four-spotted chasers so it is likely that the distant animals were the same species.  A male patrolling Emperor was watched flying back and forth along the ditch. Then a female Emperor flew across the water towards us and immediately landed on a leaf and commenced ovipositing while we watched, enthralled, admiring her beauty. 

 Further on several Common blue damselflies were seen along with more Four-spotted chasers.  The last species to be seen was Common darter with 2 individuals flying low over the vegetation beside the road.  One exuvia was also spotted on a leaf overhanging the water.  After a slow start we were pleased to have found quite a number of animals of 5 species.

 Birds noted included a solitary Swift, Reed bunting, Dabchick which was “whinnying”, several Linnets and Skylarks as usual, Yellowhammers singing, a pair of Stonechats, Reed warbler, a Coot with young and one Swallow landed on a fence wire.  As a Heron landed another flew down beside it, putting the first one up.  Other wildlife included a few Marsh frogs, Buff-tailed bumblebees, many grasshoppers, a beautiful long horn beetle - Strangalia maculate (the commonest Longhorn beetle), a Silver Y moth, a Large skipper and a few Meadow brown butterflies. Plants included Common centaury, branched Bur-reed and Bog asphodel.
Philippa Arnott

Results                                         Number seen       Abundance Score

Broad-bodied chaser                                      6           C

Emperor                                                          6           C      including 2 ovipositing

Common blue damselfly                                 4             B

Four-spotted chaser                                       8            C

Common darter                                              2             B

Exuvia                                                              1             A

Four-spotted Chaser

Common Blue Damselfly

Getting Closer to the Action

Dragonfly Spotters

Long Horned Beetle



Branched Bur-reed

Medmerry Survey - Botany 2 - Quadrats 25 June 2021


Despite the continuous rain falling all morning, six surveyors plus two supporters/encouragers (Jim Bagley and me) met to conduct the quadrat survey.  Fortunately the rain had stopped a little before the 1pm start time and as there was a bit of a breeze the vegetation had dried out sufficiently.  The surveyors were organised into 3 pairs, each with a quadrat and survey sheet and set off across the site in an ordered line and all completed their allotted 12 quadrats. After about an hour the clouds slipped away and the sun came out, raising the temperature and causing butterflies to appear and birdsong to increase. 

 A lone Swift was seen flying over our site and birds heard singing included:  Skylark, Blackcap, Yellowhammer, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Reed bunting, Yaffle, Linnet and Sedge warbler.  A Great spotted woodpecker was also heard and a Common tern was spotted flying over.  A cacophony of Marsh frogs added to the soundscape.  We also watched a Harvard and Spitfire flying in formation and several Meadow brown butterflies were seen once the sun had come out.  Several of our old friends the Thick-legged flower beetle were seen on Ox-eye daisies and other plants.  A five spot burnet moth caterpillar, a few Red-tailed and Buff-tailed bumblebees were also seen and a solitary Emperor dragonfly made an appearance which bodes well for next week’s survey on Early Dragonflies.

 Philippa Arnott

Quadrats at the ready


The Thick legged Flower Beetle on an Ox-eye Daisy

Surveying amongst the daisies


Medmerry Survey – Botany 1 DAFOR   4 June 2021

It had been raining all morning but after a hasty consultation it was decided to carry on with the survey as the weather was forecast to improve in the afternoon. Fortunately, it stopped raining at 1pm and although remaining cloudy it was fairly warm and there was no wind. As the rain had been quite gentle the plants, particularly grasses, were still upright and not flattened. 

 A total of 7 surveyors split into 3 groups and waded through the wet vegetation trying to identify many plants that were still small and not flowering yet. Some species not recorded before were found which was particularly interesting. A Tree bumblebee was spotted on a Borage plant (one of the newly found species).

 As the team was looking at grasses prior to starting the survey a Roe deer ran along the lower path past us. Whitethroats were singing, one from a tree in the car park. Other birds seen/heard included many Skylarks, a Magpie, Woodpigeon, Sedge and Reed warblers, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Linnet, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer and a lone Swallow. Three Mallard and a Little egret also flew over. A Green woodpecker was heard yaffling on a couple of occasions. There were a great many snails along the edge of the path and amongst the vegetation, maybe appearing after the rain as we had had a long dry spell.

 Philippa Arnott

Results: We found 53 species, the highest number ever (previous best 47 in 2018).  There were six new species found: Borage, Pineappleweeed, Hard Rush, Rose, Lesser Stitchwort and Prickly Sow-thistle.  We rated Ox-Eye Daisy as Abundant rather than Dominant. Last year Tufted Vetch was abundant, this year we only found it to be Rare. (a few plants). Full results 2021 DAFOR click here

The Botany Team





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