The Humberhead Levels has some great sites in terms of natural history interest. The two principle lowland raised mires are gems, but much altered by industry and more recently through the implementation of Water Level Management Plans and the LIFE+ Project.
There still remain some pocket handkerchief size sites, some managed by county Wildlife Trusts and local authorities and these are coming under increased pressure as open access areas and playgrounds for people. There are two sides to any coin and if we don’t explain to the casual visitor why they are nature reserves or protected areas then we risk their future because these days we are told everything has to have a monetary value, eco-system services have to be evaluated in order to be able to present a case for fresh air and clean water and such.
Some sites remain in private ownership, as was the case with Inkle Moor on the western periphery of Thorne Moors. If it had not been so then the chances are it would have been ‘improved’ or managed and consequently probably lost much of its special biodiversity interest. There are others and we have been looking recently at one such site, another SSSI which has historic data indicating quality. Surveying has not been helped by the amount of precipitation standing on the site. Bare peat has been waterlogged which may not help rare species such as Curimopsis nigrita which has a very specific micro-habitat requirement.
Undeterred, intrepid naturalists donned wellington boots after applying a liberal lathering of insect repellent as a precaution as it was very warm in the open, reaching 29 degrees at one point in the early afternoon.
Despite the lateness of the season, Diptera were targeted alongside coleoptera that it had not been possible to search for when particular areas were waterlogged.
The sunshine certainly fueled invertebrate passions, count the pairs of wings in this Helophilus pendulus …. something of a natural ‘menage a trois’ perhaps? H pendulus is separated from H hybridus by the black band preventing the yellow merging on segments T2 and T3 (as seen in the above image). Other features to check include the amount of frons dusting the colour of the hind tibia (H pendulus has apical third black as opposed to half in H hybridus) and these features are best checked with the benefit of a hand lens. A common and widespread species and these were observed after their very vocal buzzing drew attention to their presence.
Also present in good numbers were a number of species of Araneidae, including the HHL special Araneus marmoreus var. pyramidatus. See
Of good HHL records it is also worth mentioning that a new micro moth has been added to the Thorne Moors list, regular visitor and able photographer Martin Warne noticed this specimen of Apodia bifractella on a Fleabane flower-head.
This dainty moth was first recorded in Yorkshire in 1994, so a relative newcomer. Previously known from 13 sites, with the new Thorne Moors record a fourteenth site for the county and a sixth site for Vice County 63.
‘Ideal’ moth nights in terms of weather have been few but perseverance can pay dividends, as was the case when I added Black Arches to a site list. Patient observation and a knowledge of the more common can also reap reward as can quick reaction and a steady hand to capture images of sufficient quality to provide evidence to validate the identification. So, two examples of what can be achieved with effort?
A pleasant six hours or so in the field, countless ahead in determining the material …. watch this space for updates.