Saturday, 13 September 2014

Weekly transect walks at Castle Hill LNR, Newhaven

7-spot Ladybird seen during the week 24 transect walk on 12th September.

A friend of mine has suggested that I include an explanation of what a transect walk is, alongside the latest list of recordings.

Here goes - and this is a personal and non-exhaustive list of what a transect walk is. It is:
  1. a weekly survey of certain wildlife recorded along a set route performed in a robust scientific way;
  2. a means of creating a database over space and time which aids the understanding of the species which are present at a given location;
  3. a means of understanding how to manage an area of land in order to protect and enhance the flora and fauna within it;
  4. a very useful contributory factor when developing a management plan for a given site;
  5. a way of measuring the fluctuations in numbers and locations of species across the reserve over time (e.g. 5 years, 30 years, etc.); and 
  6. a half-day of priceless escapism once every fortnight (or once each week if you don't share the transect walk with a good friend).
People will think of other things to add to the list, but I hope the above will provide an insight into why Dave and I do the walk. One could be forgiven for thinking it is strange for a grown man to wander along the clifftop muttering Latin into a voice recorder, but I promise it is for a worthy cause.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) describes its dataset as being "one of the most important resources for understanding changes in insect populations". See for further information.

Castle Hill LNR has been the subject of a weekly butterfly and moth transect walk for four years, so it is still in its infancy. During that time we have demonstrated that there are a lot of Common Blue butterflies, but no Adonis or Chalkhill Blues; very high numbers of Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Marbled White, yet rarely any Ringlets; very good numbers of Brown-tail Moth caterpillars, yet only rarely any Common Heath - which are locally common a little to the west near Peacehaven; and a pretty good site for some of the rarer maritime species as well as immigrants from continental Europe. It is hoped the data we collect from the fifteen sections which form the walk will become a valuable resource in the years ahead, particularly so for resident species reproducing on the reserve. I hope to remain fit enough to continue the walk for many years to come.

Part of section 8 of the CHLNR transect walk.

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