DERC Newsletter

No. 52 Autumn 2004

In this issue:

I am delighted to be able to introduce this article with the news that DERC now holds over 1 million records on the database. In fact, with the addition of several large datasets this year for moths and butterflies, we currently have 1,011,695 records on Recorder. This is a considerable achievement and we would like to thank all our volunteers and contributors.

Wayside Veteran Trees

Wayside veteran tree

Wayside veteran tree

Photo: Bryan Edwards

DERC is currently seeking funding for a veteran tree project. If we are successful we shall be building on records collected by the Dorset Biodiversity Partnership and asking you for more information about trees in your area.

Wayside veteran trees in Dorset - click to enlarge

Wayside veteran trees in Dorset

(Click on the picture for a larger map)

At the moment we know of a number of veteran tree sites in Dorset plus c.40 other trees in hedges or standing in small groups. According to the distribution map most of these trees are found in North and West Dorset, with scattered specimens elsewhere.

The bid includes time for contacting land owners, surveying trees for their ecological interest and providing more information on the importance of wayside and veteran trees to land managers and others who may be interested.

If you know of an old tree that may qualify, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Carolyn Steele (Record Centre Manager)

Dorset Rare Plant Register

Narrow-leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia)

Narrow-leaved Lungwort (Pulmonaria longifolia)

Photo: Bryan Edwards

Earlier this year DERC, in conjunction with the Botanical Society of the British Isles, published the first Dorset Rare Plant Register. The report was written and co-ordinated by Bryan Edwards and David Pearman, but includes contributions from many local recorders – thank you all. We are now concerned with monitoring known sites for rare plants and keeping up with new finds. If you have any records please send them in.

You can order the Register by sending a cheque, payable to ‘DERC’ (price £8 + £2 p&p), or call in to the DERC office and collect a copy. A full list of DERC publications and more information on Dorset’s rare plants can be found here.

The Miniature World Around Us

Caecilius flavidus

Caecilius flavidus

Photo: John Hunnisett

When thinking of the vast array of insects in this country, Psocids belonging to the order Psocoptera, is not the first group to spring to mind. In fact these small insects, most less than 3 mm long, go unnoticed except perhaps occasionally when seen running across the surface of old books or wallpaper where they feed on fungal spores and organic debris, hence their common name ‘booklice’. Of the 90 or so species listed from this country many are rarely recorded and are casual imports occurring in stored products and shipments from abroad.

Cerobasis guestfalica

Cerobasis guestfalica

Photo: John Hunnisett

In Britain only about 50 are known to occur naturally outdoors where they are associated with either bark or foliage. Once studied some can be identified in the field from their vein patterns and colouring on the wings and body. About 20 are said to be common and during the summer many species can be beaten from trees. As with aphids some species can be found in both winged and wingless forms. Some of the rarer species have been shown to have an association with ancient woodland and as such could be included as indicator species.

To date Dorset can only boast records for 18 species, so there is plenty of opportunity to make new finds for the county. Two species which can be found by tree beating are shown here. Caecilius flavidus, a foliage-feeder of broadleaf trees, can be recognised by its bright yellow body. Cerobasis guestfalica is found on bark and fences and can be identified by the anchor shaped mark on its head.

John Hunnisett

DERC Summer Workshops

Peacock's Tail (Padina pavonica)

Peacock's Tail (Padina pavonica)

Photo: Bryan Edwards

DERC organised six workshops during the summer and we were pleased to see so many well attended. In July, Phil Sterling and John Hunnisett led a terrestrial invertebrate workshop, walking from Eype Mouth to Thorncombe Beacon. Several rarities were discovered including a rare weevil Smicronyx reichi (RDB3) and a moth, Barrett's Marbled Coronet, (Hadena luteago barrettii). The moth had been attracted to a moth trap set up on the beach at Eype's Mouth the evening before the meeting. This is only the third record of the moth in Dorset. The other two records, both fairly recent, are believed to have flown a long way to get to Dorset, but this record may indicate a resident population somewhere along the coastline from West Bay to Seatown. The larva feeds mainly on Sea Campion (Silene maritima), on sea cliffs and is found in suitable coastal locations in Devon, Cornwall and in Wales.

Marine Algae Day at Kimmeridge

Marine Algae Day at Kimmeridge

Photo: Bryan Edwards

In August, Lin Baldock ran an Introduction to Marine Algae at the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve at Kimmeridge Bay (Voluntary Marine Nature Reserve). Lin led the identification of red, brown and green seaweeds from the upper shore to the sub-littoral zones. Interesting finds included Rainbow Wrack (Cystoseira tamariscifolia), with its characteristic blue-green iridescence when submerged, and the funnel-shaped Peacock’s-tail (Padina pavonica). Such an interesting and enjoyable afternoon was spent that Lin has agreed to run another marine algal workshop for DERC in April or May next year, when algal species are at their best for identification. If you would be interested in attending please contact DERC or see our workshops page for information on future events.

Danuta Kochanowska