Dunes, Lincolnshire, June 2016.
There are many different kinds
of habitats that are colonised by many different types of wildlife. Insects will adapt to a
wide variety of habitats. Others how ever have very specialised needs and
require very specific plant types, growing in almost virtually unique
situations. It is impossible to conserve and protect some species, without
conserving the habitat in which they thrive.
Two of the biggest threats to
our native wildlife at this time is habitat loss, and global warming.
Habitat loss is caused by many factors, most are directly connected with
catering for the needs of humans, such as intensive farming, commerce,
industry and house building. Although in more recent years global warming is
changing habitats, and putting more, and more pressure on wildlife to
By designating an area as a
nature reserve, not only are we protecting the endangered target species,
but many other species such as birds, plants and animals residing within
that reserve. A good example of this is the Purple Emperor butterfly which
requires large woods with a good size population of mature oak tree's.
There are two main types of nature reserves, Local Nature
Reserves (LNR), and National Nature Reserves (NNR). Some of these have
achieved SSSI status, Site of Special Scientific Interest. These sites often
have many rare, or scarce species, and occasion just on Red Data Book
species (in danger of extinction.
There are hundreds of nature reserves of
varying sizes throughout Britain. Many of these reserves have free parking,
and public access to them, some are even found within city boundaries. They
are managed by local authorities and conservation groups
such as 'Butterfly Conservation', the RSPB, your local wildlife trust
and various other groups of like minded people.
The links on my home page
will put you in touch with some of these groups, and by going on to their
websites you can find out more about places to visit in your area.
There is a huge variety of
habitat types that support their own, and often unique communities of
insects, as well as supporting a wealth of tree's, shrubs, wild flowers,
birds, reptiles and mammals. Some have already attained nature reserve
status, for example, 'Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve',
Others near to you have achieved Local Nature Reserve
status. Many nature reserves have been designated S.S.S.I. status, Site of
Special Scientific Interest. At least one, and often more rare or/and
endangered species reside in these areas.
Some habitats are difficult to
classify as they may have the characteristics of two, or more habitat types.
An example of this is the local commons which around the country are so
varied. These commons can consist of wild flower meadows, light wood land,
pasture, heath land, ponds and marshes, or often a mixture of many of the
Heath land generally consists of
some of these features, Heather, Bilberry, Gorse, Hawthorn scrub and other
smaller tree's and shrubs with open area's. These heaths are good for
species like the Emperor Moth, Fox Moth, Wood Tiger, True Lovers Knot, Green
Hairstreak and many other species.
Grassy sea cliffs and coastal
sand dunes with a good selection of wild flowers are great places for
butterflies and moths. Often migrant species like Clouded Yellow, Painted
Lady, Red Admiral, Humming-bird Hawk Moth, Rush Veneer, are first spotted
each season in these coastal regions. Also many native species like these
coastal area's such as Lulworth Skipper, Chalkhill Blue, Brown Argus, Small
Heath, Brown-tail moths, the Sand Dart and many others.
Inland dunes, ancient heath and woodland provide unique
habitats for species, some of which are often only to be found in these
places. Limestone area are essential to the nationally scarce High Brown
A beautiful lightly grazed wild
meadow, lightly wooded on the edges, behind the old established sand
dunes just inshore on the Lincolnshire coast. Nearby is further grass
land, with salt marsh and pools.
This reserve is the habitat for
hundreds of insects, including many scarce species. Rimac is a National
Nature Reserve, and something of a national treasure. It's one of my two
Lincolnshire favourites, I see something different every time I visit
this wonderful place.
Here at Rimac Four-spotted
Chasers, Common and Ruddy Darters abound. Another scarce
creature to be found here is the Natterjack Toad. Many migrant
birds and insects arrive on this coastal reserve each year.
There are many butterflies and day
flying moths, Burnet Companion are quite common. Latticed Heath, Shade
Broad-bar, Barred Straw and Small Scallop are also fairly common.
Knowing what to
Spurn Point, Yorkshire, May 2009.
observing Moths and Insects
conservationist know what to protect and conserve, and just as importantly, where? There are many
thousands of people in the UK that send in records of what they see, and
where they observed their sightings of various kinds of wild life. The
majority of the people that send in these records are not employed full time
in the various conservation societies, but are just ordinary people who
take note of what they see, and report it to the appropriate county
recorders. Most of these people when they start taking records are novices,
and often over the years they become some thing of an expert in their own
many good books on the market that will assist in identifying most kinds of
wild life in the U. K. There is a contact on my homepage, for an online book
shop that supplies these specialist books. County recorders will be pleased to accept your
records, but on occasion they maybe need a photograph to confirm some
difficult to identify species. These days with mobile phones and tablets, a
photograph shouldn't be a big problem.
Admittedly some of ID manuals, and other
books can be expensive, but they are educational, and can bring many hours
of pleasure. One good book I purchased recently was entitled, 'The British
Moths and Butterflies' by Chris Manley, it cost me £115.00. Another good book is, 'Moths of the British Isles' by Bernard
Skinner, this recently cost me £75.00. Used copies in good condition can be
a lot less. There are many websites where you can
identify many different species of plants, animals, fish, insects etc, etc
camera's are relatively inexpensive these days, and a camera with a macro
facility, and a resolution of at least 12Mpx would give good clear pictures.
Camera's with interchangeable lenses of different focal lengths are heavy,
and cumbersome. Modern day bridge cameras with up to 50x zoom lenses will
give good results. Mobile phone cameras are improving all the time, and can
give a good result.
Your local county wildlife trust will put
you in touch with county recorders, or accept your records directly. The
minimum data that is usually required is the date and place, and the grid
reference or postcode, of where the specimen was seen. There are some links
on the contacts page which will help put you in touch with your county recorders. Butterfly Conservation
coordinate all the UK moth and butterfly records, you can find your local
branch using the link to Butterfly Conservation (National).
There are many hundreds of species of
moths, and other insects in the UK, a good place to start in your own back
garden. In my garden I have recorded nearly four hundred species of
butterflies, and moths, and many other insects.
Most species are harmless and don't bite,
or sting. There are a few hairy caterpillars to watch out for, the hairs of
which can really irritate the skin. You will be surprised how many moths,
and butterflies visit town and suburban gardens. Moths are attracted to
light, and will often come to doors and windows that are lit up after dark.
Often they can be seen at dusk flying around before the last day light has
faded. After dark they can be seen with the aid of a good torch, feeding on
wild and garden flowers.
be taken in catching them, they are reasonably delicate and should not be
harmed. Only release night flying insects after dark, the following night.
Unless of course you can be sure that you are releasing them into safe
place, where predators like birds and cats are unaware of the release. Fishing nets are not suitable for
catching insects, they are to rough and inflexible and will invariable
damage some of the specimens caught. Proprietary butterfly nets, designed
for this purpose can be purchased, and are reasonably inexpensive. Again
there is a contacts link on my homepage for purchasing field equipment.
traps can also be purchased, these catch moths without harming them. The
specimens caught can then be studied at leisure the next day, then released
unharmed after dark.
two basic types of trap, low voltage portable traps, and mercury vapour
traps that need a mains input, or a portable generator. I had a Heath Trap
which uses a 12 volt motorcycle battery, and an eight watt actinic tube. If
you are trapping in your own garden these low voltage traps are less
intrusive to neighbouring properties, and they have the advantage of being
portable. They are quite successful, one night
this summer I had seventy seven moths the following morning. In the past I
have had over one hundred and fifty moths on several occasions.
Scarlet Pimpernel, a member of the
chickweed family, it's not often that you see it nowadays. Yet here it
is in all its glory on Spurn Point on the Yorkshire coast. Spurn Point
is a nature reserve that I used to visit quite frequently. Since the bad
storms on the east coast in the winter of 2012/2013 it is less
accessible than what it was. Now my wife and I with our health problems
find it a bit impractical. However people in good health should find it
no problem to walk out a couple of miles from the visitor centre.
This reserve has many species including Brown-tail,
Garden Tiger which are both very common some years. In June many
Brown-tails can be seen during the day, clustered around a external
light fitting on one of the buildings related to the lifeboat station. I
must point out however that the Brown-tail nests, caterpillars and adult
moths have hairs that can be extremely irritating to human skin. They
can cause severe debilitating rashes, that can on occasion cause
hospitalisation, and in rare cases blindness.
On a more cheerful note it is a lovely place to
visit, and there's something for everyone. There are many birds, wild
flowers, butterflies and other insects to see. It also has a cafe and a
lighthouse and makes a nice day out for all of the family.
Habitat loss is a
world wide problem.
Forest Fires, Agriculture and Human Construction.
towards species extinctions, what can we do?
Contact Website Manager
Designer Dave Hatton
Hatton reserves the copyright on all images.