Species Data Highlight - Autumn 2020

article written by Ellen Lee, Data Manager

Autumn 2020 (September – November) has been a very busy time for me, with lots of data sets arriving in my inbox! Over this 2 ½  month period a total of 121 have been received and logged. 94 of these have been reports and licence returns from ecological consultancies. Some of these (15) were provided directly by the consultancies themselves, some (37) from local authority ecologists and the remainder (42) by one of TVERC’s data management volunteers (Tina Claridge) from searching planning portals. The remaining data sets have come from various individual recorders, local recording/wildlife groups and others. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed records, without you we wouldn’t be able to maintain such a high quality and relevant database of species records for the two counties.

What are my personal highlights?. Something that stands out for me is a couple of white stork records. Both records were spotted from the train on the Reading to Newbury line. White storks are large birds! I understand that the Knepp estate (in Sussex) birds have bred successfully this year and I’m wondering whether our sightings are in any way linked with this colony. I have a soft spot for White storks because, long ago, I spent a year living in the Netherlands and saw them during bicycle trips around the north of the country. I would often see them wandering around following a tractor during the hay cut, looking like serious old men walking with their hands behind their back! Local villages would build artificial nest platforms on the ends of long poles and vie with each other to attract a breeding pair. I discovered that when there were chicks in the nest, you could “talk to them” by clicking your bicycle breaks to make a clattering noise.

Another wonderful record received recently was the first sighting of a native crayfish in Berkshire for about 20 years. Again, I’m a big fan of these alien looking creatures, having carried out surveys for them in Oxfordshire for a number of years. It's wonderful and also humbling that a colony has been discovered after such a long time, proof that we don’t know nearly as much about wildlife as we like to think.

Finally, I’d like to thank my colleague Caitlin Coombs who has done an amazing job of talking to local angling groups and getting hold of fish records. This is a taxon group for which we really lack records. Thanks also to the angling groups that responded to her enquiries so positively. Although we regularly download electrofishing records from the National Fish Population Database, we do still really need more records, especially from small tributaries and streams that are not covered by the national survey.

Posted: November 26, 2020