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Report from the Isle of Wight Recorders' Conference 2018

Over 70 people packed into Arreton Community centre on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd February 2018 to listen to a range of short talks on a variety of topics.

George Greiff has taken up studying cryptograms plants such as mosses, liverworts and lichens that reproduce by spores, without flowers or seeds. These groups have not been intensively studied in recent years and George has made some remarkable re-discoveries in the last year. He talked about his finds in January 2018, illustrated by photographs of species and habitats. One notable species was the rare triangular pygmy moss (Acaulon triquetum) a schedule 8 plant list on the Wildlife and Countryside Act and a National Priority Species, which was photographed at St Catherine’s Point where it has been known for many years.

Lichens are a symbiotic alga-fungus association but we learnt that they are parasitised by other fungi – clearly visible as tiny pin-heads on the lichen in George’s photographs. They can be seen using a standard x10 hand lens and George encouraged his audience to go and have a look for themselves.

The second talk by Jim Baldwin, the county British Dragonfly Society recorder, detailed the discovery of a breeding population of the southern emerald damselfly (Lestes barbarus). The occurrence of this species on the Island was officially confirmed in May 2017 but photographs taken in previous years indicated that this species has been present since 2015. This damselfly is metallic green, becoming bronze as it ages. It has relatively broad, pale ante-humeral stripes on the thorax, and a pale back to the head. Unlike other damselfies, the Southern Emerald at rest spreads its wings at a wide angle to the body; the markings on the wings (pterostigma) are bi-coloured. Teneral (newly emerged) specimens were photographed in 2017, confirming that breeding is occurring.

Tina Whitmore, from iWatch Wildlife a project funded through the East Wight Landscapes Partnership’s Down to the Coast initiative then gave a report of the first year’s activities. A major aim is to increase species recording effort and social media platforms have proved to be a successful tool in achieving this end. A summer recorders’ event was held in July at Dinosaur Isle and i-record is being promoted as a way of digitising records.

The final talk before the break was given by Richard Grogan, Lead Officer for the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Richard presented the concept of an Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A submission for the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation is currently being prepared and conference participants were invited to add their thoughts about what is special to them about the Isle of Wight to a display during the tea interval. See http://www.unesco-mab.org.uk/ for more information about the Man and biosphere programme.

Displays by Arc Consulting/Artecology, the Isle of Wight Bat group, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Down to the Coast also provided talking points during the break.

The first of three talks in the second half of the programme was given by Jamie Marsh of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. He outlined a Nightingale survey which is being planned in conjunction with the British Trust for Ornithology for the coming season. He gave a resume of what is currently known about the bird’s distribution and invited people to volunteer to assist with the survey.

Ian Boyd from Arc Consulting/Artecology followed this with a talk on ‘Under the Pier’, an event which has been run at the end of August for the last few years, during a low spring tide. Local residents are invited to follow the tide down in the vicinity of the pier, and discover for themselves the diversity of life including sponge gardens, sea anemones of various kinds, masked crabs, pipefish and more.

In the final talk of the afternoon, Colin Pope described some interesting botanical survey work on local touring campsites undertaken by Paul Stanley, Eric Clement and himself. A number of plants, more generally found on mainland Europe have been found on touring pitches, presumably being brought in in the tyre treads of vehicles. They have included clovers such as reversed clover (Trifolium resupinatum) and woolly clover (Trifolium tormentosum), not seen on the Island since the 1930s and the curiously-named ‘Jo-Jo’ (Soliva pterosperma). The latter has a fruit with sharp spines which readily penetrate human skin, so it may not be welcomed by barefoot campers!

19 February 2018
01:36:00 pm, Categories: Events

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