Archives for the month of: October, 2009

So what biodiversity projects are going on in Hastings at the moment?

Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Restoration Project

The largest and most significant project is the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve restoration project. We are restoring heathland and coastal grassland, improving farmland for wildlife and have a busy schedule of biodiversity monitoring underway.

Marline Valley Nature Reserve and St Helens Park Nature Reserve Invertebrate Survey

The field work for the invertebrate survey of Marline Valley Nature Reserve and St Helens Park Nature Reserve has just been completed and the project report is currently in progress. This will give us valuable information on the invertebrate fauna of some of the best grassland in Hastings and some baseline data on the gill stream in Marline Wood.

Habitat Improvements within Alexandra Park

The Rangers have been undertaking work with Ian Standivan, local ornithological consultant, and a great team of volunteers to improve the Buckshole Reservoir catchment ponds for wildlife. A bird ringing study has also been started at Shornden Meadow with some subsequent habitat management to improve the meadow and pond edge scrub for birds.

Hastings Weald Landbird Migration Study

A Hastings Weald Landbird Migration Study is being coordinated by local naturalist Andrew Grace to put together some coordinated data on the bird migration that takes place in the skies over Hastings every autumn.

Climate change is now considered a bigger threat to the loss of biodiversity than habitat loss. It is not necessarily the case that if you create or enlarge habitat species will re-colonise as larger scale climatic factors can outweigh localised ecological factors such as population size, recruitment and habitat connectivity.

New research is trying to assess the conservation status of a species by climatic factors and not just ecological factors. A species maybe widespread and common but if it’s survival is confined by narrow climatic parameters such as a very narrow thermal or humidity range then it maybe at greater risk than a species with a fragmented distribution but one that encompasses a much wider climatic range.

This is a very interesting new perspective on assessing conservation status and can be developed locally to assess what species in Hastings may become rare or eventually become locally extinct and which species may colonise the Borough. It may also help us understand why in some cases even though we have created habitat the species that we expected to colonise have not colonised or grown in population.

There has been a bit of a discussion about the Hastings town centre roost of pied wagtails on the wildhastings egroup. As my route home from the office at Aquila House takes me past the locations of our pied wagtail, turnstone and starling nocturnal roosts I have acquired quite a good understanding of the formation of these roosts over the years.

It gives quite a different perspective of the towns buildings and beach studying these birds, which have come from different areas around the globe, that have chosen Hastings to spend the winter.

The pied wagtails have probably come from breeding areas around Britain, maybe even as far north as Scotland. The pier roosting starlings probably breed on the near continent, maybe even Scandinavia, whereas the turnstones that roost on the beach near the pier or opposite Marine Court breed as far afield as Greenland.

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Check List of the Auchenorhyncha (Hemiptera, Homoptera) of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve.

The records this check list is based on come predominately from the 2006/07 Invertebrate Survey (Collins, Edwards, Hodge & Phillips) and a few ad hoc records. Species recorded during the 2006/07 Invertebrate Survey are marked with ★. Distribution tags: [GB Universal] – found from the south coast to north coast of Scotland, [GB Widespread] – found from the south coast to southern Scotland.
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Here’s the new Church Wood Nature Reserve Management Map produced with help from the Friends of Church & Robsack Woods Nature Reserve. Once finalised this will be posted on wildhastings.

Hastings is a great place for wildlife with 7 nature reserves, 3 SSSIs and a SAC and another nature reserve due to be declared soon. With all this land decorated with nature conservation designations as well as the towns wildlife rich parks and gardens and the marine wilderness of the English Channel bordering the Borough my job as the Hastings Nature Reserve Officer is very busy.

The changing climate and coastal location contribute to a very dynamic biodiversity within the Borough. New species are colonising, rare species are becoming common and common species becoming rare, the conservation of species and managing habitats is a complex and constantly changing task.

What does ‘Biodiversity’ mean?

Biodiversity literally means all life on earth but also eloquently includes in it’s meaning the complex interactions and dependancies between the planets lifeforms. Conversely to the words nature and wildlife, which make a distinction between humans and wild nature, biodiversity also includes human species in it’s meaning and therefore fully acknowledges the dependance on human survival of the other species we share our world with and the effect humans can have on the planet.