Insect Reports - The Work of Peter Hodge
As the Railway Land's entomologist, I have been involved with recording insects there since 1987. The original aim was to compile a general list of species found on the site. In 1990, I began monitoring aquatic beetles and bugs at a number of fixed reference points (mainly in ditches within the water meadows) twice each year, usually in April and September or October. In addition, three fixed monitoring locations within the Heart of Reeds have recently been added.
The result of 20 years of surveys and monitoring insects have been well worth the effort. However, our knowledge of the way species move around the site is still poorly understood. It is also apparent that not every species recorded is a permanent resident of the Railway Land and the presence of a large area of suitable habitat in the surrounding countryside is, therefore, thought to be very important.
Of the 1,300 species of insects recorded from the site to date, more than 100 are listed as either Nationally Scarce, Rare, Vulnerable or Endangered by the UK government conservation agencies. Several have only been recorded from the Railway Land once or twice and there are still many unanswered relating to their local status or ecology. The first British record of a tiny wetland fly, discovered in the willow woodland in June 1987, has never been repeated.
On a more positive note, a total of 90 species of water beetles have been recorded from the water meadows ditches, the Heart of Reeds and other aquatic habitats. This is a very impressive result, especially considering the ditches were virtually dry 20 years ago and the Heart of Reeds didn't even exist.