Monday, 18 March 2013

Taking stock...

The winter months are a time for taking stock, and, amongst other things, examining data gathered during the previous field season.  Surveying and monitoring is an incredibly important part of the Trust's nature conservation work.  Because you need to know what you have got, and how what you've got changes over the years, in order for you to know whether you are managing an area correctly.

At  St Abb's Head we carry out annual monitoring of various types of wildlife, but we concentrate mostly on our seabirds and our butterflies.  The data that we have gathered over the years has helped guide our management of St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve, but has also been fed into national databases to help inform wider scale conservation work.

On top of this annual monitoring, we also carry out less frequent monitoring.  Last summer our Nature Conservation Adviser, Lindsay Mackinlay undertook some monitoring of our grasslands (see blog entry for last October) and we also commissioned a survey of the entomological (insect) interests of our grasslands too.  This work all forms part of our Grassland Management Plan for St Abb's Head.

Well, I have just finished reading the report on the Diptera, or True Flies, to be found at at St Abb's Head.  The wet and windy weather that we had so much of last summer was not ideal for surveying insects, but even so, the study still turned up some interesting results.  It found one species rare in Scotland, and several that are uncommon in Scotland, including Cheilosia vernalis (pictured top), which was found by the Mire Loch.  It makes you wonder what they could have found had the weather been more conducive!

And you may be thinking, who cares about flies, they're just annoying!  But as we know, every single organism in an ecosystem has a vital role to play, and if you take out one link in the web of life, everything could come tumbling down, so its vitally important that we know as much as possible about all the different types of wildlife on the reserve.

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