26 June 2015

Bat surveys and Surrey heath nature

Back at Acorn Ecology in Guildford this week and next on the second part of the work placement part of my Certificate in Ecological Consultancy course.

Had three bat dusk emergence surveys in a row since Tuesday. A hunting Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus gave great views during Tuesday's survey in Caterham, but Wednesday's survey near Jacobs Well was particularly good - a Brown-long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus hovering in half-light around the willow I was surveying was a nice bonus, but after the survey Jess, Nick and I spent a magical half hour watching 1-2 Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii hunting just above the surface of the River Wey, with the Duet detector switched on the whole time so we could hear what was going on (and also recording them on the Anabat Express for sonogram analysis later) and were treated to a great view of a fly-by Barn Owl by torch light.

On the mornings of the 24th and 25th I visited Thursley Common NNR and Hankley Common to look for inverts and plants before work. Highlights were an emergence of Silver-studded Blues Plebejus argus - with a single male at Thursley Common NNR on 24th and shed-loads at Hankley yesterday - most were males but I did find a single female at Hankley. Silver-studded Blue is a heathland specialist - adults feed principally on heather Erica spp. and the main larval foodplant is Bell Heather Erica cinerea. They are a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species - they have a tiny distribution in Britain and are sedentary, rarely moving more than 20 metres in their life, and do not readily colonise new areas.

Other noteworthy inverts were a Silver Y Autographa gamma and lots of Red-banded Sand Wasps Ammophila sabulosa at Hankley Common on 25th. Found a nice colony of Oblong-leaved Sundew Drosera intermedia at Thursley on the 24th.

Best of the birds noted over the last few days were a Common Cuckoo was seen over the A3 in the centre of Guildford at 10:30 on 24th, 1m Stonechat at Thursley on 24th, and 2 Tree Pipit (singing and displaying), 2H Dartford Warbler, 1H Woodlark, 1H Skylark, 1m Stonechat and a family party of 1 ad and 4 juv Coal Tit at Hankley on 25th.

All photos in this post were taken with my Samsung Note 4 smartphone and have had minimal cropping, levels and sharpening applied. The quality and speed of the 16 MP rear camera on the Note 4 is, well, bonkers frankly!

Male Silver-studded Blue, Thursley Common NNR, 24 June 2015

Male Silver-studded Blue, Hankley Common, 25 June 2015 (taken with a Samsung Note 4)

Male Silver-studded Blue, Hankley Common, 25 June 2015 (taken with a Samsung Note 4)

Female Silver-studded Blue on Bell Heather Erica cinerea - the adult's main food plant, Hankley Common, 25 June 2015
(taken with Samsung Note 4)

Oblong-leaved Sundew Drosera intermedia, Thursley Common NNR, 24 June 2014 (taken with Samsung Note 4)


  1. The quality of the photos is excellent Lee. Technology keeps on upping the ante...

    1. Many thanks Steve. At this rate it won't take long for smartphone cameras to replace DSLRs!