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Jonathan Cox, Isle of Wight Recorders Conference 2017


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A presentation given by Jonathan Cox on biological recording at Briddlesford .

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Jonathan Cox, Isle of Wight Recorders Conference 2017

  1. 1. Biological Recording and its influence on wildlife conservation at Briddlesford Jonathan Cox
  2. 2. Briddlesford Location 158 ha (390 acres) 117 ha Woodland (incl. 15 ha of Jigsaw) 41 ha of Grassland & saltmarsh 95.56 ha SSSI/SAC (of total 167.5 ha)
  3. 3. A History of Biological Recording and Conservation Management  Vegetation & habitat survey and SSSI notification (the 1980s)  PTES purchase (the 1990s)  Woodland Management  Red squirrel and early dormouse research  Jigsaw woodlands (the 2000s)  Discovering bats – 2002 survey and effects on management  Botanical surveys and management  Bird surveys and management  Dormouse survey and the national network  How are the squirrels doing?  Invertebrate surveys and management
  4. 4. Vegetation survey and SSSI notification SSSI Notified 1986 PTES purchase 1992, 1996, 2002 SAC designated 2003
  5. 5. Ancient Woodlands? 1866 Map of Briddlesford:.1793 Map of Briddlesford from survey of Captain William Mudge:
  6. 6. Vegetation and flora survey: Neil Sanderson (2007) The Sanderson survey identified a total of 19 Peterken stand types from the Briddlesford Copses within the ownership of the PTES – more than any other on the Island. ‘The woodland complex has a superb representation of the range of communities making up the lowland mixed Atlantic Bluebell Woods (Endymio – Carinetum in the Carpinion).’ ‘Floristically this survey demonstrated the woodland flora is among the richest in England for woodland vascular plants’. ‘A total of 65 (AWVP) have been recorded from the Briddlesford Copses owned by the PTES. This is one of the highest number of AWVP for any woodland in Britain. For example, of the 53 richest woods in south east England listed by Rose (1999) only six woods have more AWVP than the Briddlesford Copses. ‘ ‘Acid Sessile Oak woodland is rare on the Island and in Hampshire. Stands with ancient woodland mosses are even rarer.‘ ‘The ancient riverine woodland in Great Wood developing into old growth woodland is a very rare feature anywhere in the lowlands of western Europe.’
  7. 7. Vegetation and flora survey: Neil Sanderson (2007)
  8. 8. Lichens The epiphytic lichen flora is probably the richest overall known on the Island. Enterographa sorediata
  9. 9. How do we manage the woodland? Coppicing: 25 ha since 1993
  10. 10. Why coppice?
  11. 11. High Forest Management 56 ha of native broadleaved woodland high forest 9 ha thinned by 2014 Programme of increased rate of thinning planned
  12. 12. Non-intervention 4 hectares along the river cliff fronting the Mill Pond known as Skites Copse 4.5 hectares comprising the riverine woodland
  13. 13. The Big Three!
  14. 14. The ‘Eco-Commune’  Jessica Holm PhD - early 1980s  “The Case of the Vanishing Squirrel” 1987  Pat Morris and the RHLU Students
  15. 15. Red Squirrel Ecology – Key Points Squirrel density Walters Copes (WC) 0.3-0.7/ha Briddlesford Copse (BC) 1 – 1.6/ha. (mean = 0.85/ha or about 100 red squirrels in PTES woodland at Briddlesford) Fattingpark Copse (FC) 0.6-1.1/ha Food Hazel is by far the most important food source for squirrels in deciduous woodland. Determines the pattern of behaviour throughout the year. Squirrels were able to survive (at lower densities) in deciduous woodland where hazel was patchy. Oak provides a critical food source in mid winter when the fungi (Vuillemenia sp) is stripped from beneath the bark on the underside of dead and dying branches. Periods of activity In winter activity is limited to a relatively short period of the morning with peak just before noon. In summer bi-modal activity was recorded with peaks in morning and afternoon and a rest period in middle of the day. Range size Mean total adult male range = 5.7 ha (3.5 ha FC, 5.3 ha BC, 6.4 ha WC) Mean total adult female range = 3.6 ha (2.8 ha FC, 3.0 ha BC, 4.1 ha WC) Mean core adult male range = 1.1 ha (1.0 ha FC & BC, 1.5 ha WC) Mean core adult female range = 1.0 ha (0.8 ha FC, 1.0 ha BC, 1.1 ha WC)
  16. 16. Red Squirrel Monitoring 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 Spring Winter 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Numbers of red squirrels observed on 1,200m transect (2002-2012)
  17. 17. Dormouse monitoring  Dormice have been surveyed since at least 1996.  Two dormouse survey areas established to contribute data to the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP)  Briddlesford Copse (Site No 85) approximately 250 dormouse boxes  Smaller Copses (Site No. 7) approximately 280 boxes.
  18. 18. Dormouse monitoring
  19. 19. Dormouse monitoring
  20. 20. The Bat Story
  21. 21. The Bat Story Juvenile Non breeding adult femaleBreeding adult female Bat radio tracking: 4th, 5th and 6th of August 2013
  22. 22. The Bat Story  Survey in June 2002 has revealed one of the most important bat populations in the UK.  The colony of 57 Bechstein’s bats was one of only three confirmed maternity colonies in the UK.  Two Bechstein’s bat roosts were located during the survey and both in ash trees with woodpecker holes.  In the stocker’s hole roost site, the Bechstein’s maternity colony shared the same limb with a small colony of Noctule bats.  The roost sites were also surrounded by cluttered vegetation (hazel coppice).  Radio tagged Bechstein bats spent the majority of their foraging time within the canopy of trees within smaller woodlands around the main wooded area of Briddlesford Copse and over the Wootton Mill Pond.  Briddlesford designated SAC in 2003 because of its Bechstein’s bat population.
  23. 23. Invertebrate Surveys  Adam Wright Survey: 2002  Identified a particularly rich hoverfly fauna with 94 species being recorded including several old woodland indicator species some of which had not been previously recorded from the Island.  A total of 16 species of soldier beetle were recorded from Briddlesford in 2002 (almost 40% of the British list) many of these are restricted to woodland habitats.  Ten species of longhorn beetle were recorded. All these species are strongly associated with woodland with their larvae developing in rotting twigs, branches and stumps of trees. Didea fasciata Criorhina ranunculi Xylota abiens
  24. 24. Invertebrate Surveys Keith Alexander: 2012 Briddlesford was proven to be of special nature conservation interest for the following assemblage types:  Wood-decay (saproxylic) invertebrates – 150 species identified so far, and of SSSI quality in its own right; site condition appears favourable at present; And also of significance are:  Epiphyte invertebrates;  Ancient woodland molluscs;  Fungus associates, especially fungus gnats. And to a lesser extent:  Wetland vegetation along Wootton Creek and the stream valleys;  Bare ground and open grassland species associated mainly with the farmland track network;  Tree and shrub canopy fauna;  Woodland interior species of dappled-shade conditions;  Woodland seepages. Overall, a total of 395 invertebrate species were identified in Briddlesford Copses during 2012, bringing the grand total for known invertebrate species to 650.
  25. 25. Invertebrate Surveys Fungus weevil Pseudeuparius sepicola The Nationally Scarce (NS) false darkling beetle Abdera biflexuosa Inverts from the Park
  26. 26. Invertebrate Surveys Other surveys and research  Niels Brouwers PhD Thesis on Wood Cricket Nemobius sylvestris at Briddlesford (2008)  Dave Dana – ongoing survey and monitoring dragonflies and damselflies found in the 13 ponds with useful notes on many other species  Butterfly Transects (we need help!)
  27. 27. Invertebrate Surveys Moths at Briddlesford  In his 2012 survey report Keith Alexander stated; ‘It would seem likely that the reserve will be found to be of significant interest for lichen-feeding moths (macros and micros) in due course.’  Isle of Wight moth group survey in August and September 2013.  Discovered a remarkably rich moth fauna consisting of 16 Notable, Local and RDB species including Red Data Book listed Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa. Retain large tracts of mature and veteran oaks in open woodland situations. •Mature oak stands should be retained wherever possible as this habitat is of high conservation value and home to many important species. •Aim to provide a continuity of supply of mature oak trees, including mature oak in open conditions. •The adult moth is readily recorded at artificial bait and at sap runs, suggesting that sap runs may be important for this species in its natural habitat.
  28. 28. Birds Birds at Briddlesford  Point count surveys of farmland and woodland edge – 2002, 2007 & 2016  Barn owl box checks and ringing  Woodland transect survey 2013 & 2017 (Woodcock?)  New woodlands have increased population of scrub & wood edge nesting birds such as Song thrush, Chiffchaff & Whitethroat  Barn owls remain widespread  Woodpeckers remain abundant but no Lesser spotted woodpeckers  Marsh tits are no longer present  Woodland birds generally rather poor – e.g. no Nuthatch, Tawny owl  Farmland birds limited – no Skylark, Linnet, Meadow pipit, Yellow-hammer
  29. 29. Birds Point count survey 2016 28 points distributed across farmland area Baseline in 2002, repeated in 2007 and 2016 Results show increases in scrub and woodland edge species such as Song thrush, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Green woodpecker Absence of other farmland birds including Linnet, Yellow hammer Nightingale – present in 2002 but not now despite improved habitat
  30. 30. Briddlesford Farmland
  31. 31. New Woodlands: The Jigsaw Challenge 15ha of new woodlands established in 2004 & 2005
  32. 32. Grasslands and Meadows
  33. 33. The Park
  34. 34. The Ponds
  35. 35. The Future Survey and monitoring :  Squirrels,  Bats,  Dormouse data analysis,  Butterfly transect,  Moths,  Botany especially Lichens,  Reptiles, Management:  Grazed woodland,  High forest management,  Ride management,  Re-introductions,  Links with wider landscape,  Disease & Climate change, Laura Bower | Conservation Officer | 0207 498 4533 People’s Trust for Endangered Species | 3 Cloisters House | 8 Battersea Park Road | London | SW8 4BG Jonathan Cox: