Thursday 30 June 2022

Oliver Road Lagoons Bioblitz - 29th June 2022

Yesterday I was invited to help out with a community bioblitz at the old West Thurrock power station fly ash lagoons – now known as Oliver Road Lagoons.  It was hosted by the Essex Wildlife Trust and Thames Chase and gave me a second chance to have a look round after my visit last year.   Amongst those assembled were Yvonne, Phil and Mel, as was Graeme Lyons and I was fortunate to spend the day helping him in the search for the Distinguished Jumping Spider with able assistance from Tiny Recorder.

Tiny Recorder - smiling before he dipped on the Jumping Spider

We may have failed but I learnt an incredible amount in such a short time.  It was not a day for photography with poor light and frequent showers but having someone who could put a name to almost anything that moved regardless of how tiny it was, was quite humbling.  I did not even attempt to note down everything (there were at least four other Jumping Spiders I think) but gleaned a few bits that will aid me in the future.  I am hoping that Graeme can help me with my missing spider names!  There were Crab, Labyrinth, Orbs, Long-jaws, Harvestman, Wolf, Wasp and Money Spiders to sift through.

Heliophanus flavipes

Labyrinth Spider - Agelena labyrinthica

 Odiellus spinosus- Harvestman with short legs 

 Help required please! 

Tiny male Wasp SpiderArgiope bruennichi

Philodromus sp

Xerolycosa nemoralis

It was not all about Spiders and we found a Sand Runner Shieldbug and the nymph of a Blue Shieldbug which Yvonne was overjoyed about along with countless Groundhoppers, three Grasshopper and three Cricket species, four Bumblebees and just three Ladybirds.

Blue Shieldbug - Zicrona caerulea

Groundhopper nymph - not identifiable at this age although I did see an adult Common

Field Grasshopper

Immature pink Field Grasshopper

Tumbling Flower Beetle - Variimorda villosa - My first away from Ranscombe

Oedemera nobilis

Green Dock Beetle Gastrophysa viridula I think

I am trying to remember the name of the Wasps that we found ‘roosting’ under the rocks first thing – sure it will come to me and there were lots of active Anthophora bimaculata hurtling around when the sun decided to show along with a couple of Philanthus triangulum.  A superb Ammophila sabulosa was on the prowl for caterpillars with dashing runs and quivering antennae and a couple of large Ruby-tailed Wasps were noted.

Ammophila sabulosa

Anthophora bimaculata

Astata boops - what a name! Thanks Grant

A biggish Ruby Tailed Wasp possibly Hedychridium sp

A biggish Ruby Tailed Wasp possibly Hedychridium sp

There were very few Butterflies and just a couple of active moths with Burnet Companion and DowdyPlume seen along with a pretty little one called Aethes tesserana.  Graeme showed me the burrow of a Green Tiger Beetle – it has chamfered edges to the entrance but we never saw one of these actual beasts. There were a few leaf mines in the Birches and Antony helped id one as Parornix betulae and there were one or two Stigmella aurella on the Brambles.

Aethes tesserana

Burnet Companion

Parornix betulae 

Dowdy Plume Stenoptilia zophodactylus

Stigmella aurella

Green Tiger Beetle burrow

Dark and White-lipped Hedge Snails

Flies were very thin on the ground with singles of Xanthogramma pedissequum, Episyrphus balteatus and Eristalis tenax representing the Hoverflies and just a couple of RobberfliesLucilia, Pollenia and Sarcs although I think that I had a Satellite Fly - Miltogramminae sp but will wait for Phil’s input.

Haematopota pluvialis 

Kite Tailed Robberfly Machimus atricapillus 

Lucilia sp

Metopia sp - a Satellite Fly

Pollenia sp 

A couple of Emperor Dragonflies zoomed around and Azure Damselfly was the only other Odonata seen and flying things with feathers were fairly sparse but it was good to hear Cetti’s Warblers and singing Lesser Whitethroats in such an industrialised environment.

Peltigera sp of Lichen - thanks to Bob V for the help

Botanically both the Broad and Narrow-leaved Everlasting Peas were in flower, Yellow-wort, Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids and I remembered to look for the Oak-leaved Goosefoot and Sea Milkwort.

Black Nightshade Solanum nigrum

Buck's Horn Plantain - Plantago coronopus

Common Centaury - Centaurium erythraea 

Narrow-leaved Ragwort - Senecio inaequidens - I thought it was American but is in fact South African

Oak Leaf Goosefoot Chenopodium glaucum

Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea - Lathyrus latifolius

Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea -Lathyrus sylvestris

Common Spotted Orchid

very lilac Pyramidal Orchids

Yellow-wort - Blackstonia perfoliata

All too soon it was time to pack up after an intense but rewarding few hours grubbing around on my hands and knees!

Perhaps Tiny Recorder will come and visit Ranscombe at some stage for some quality botanising?

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