Having heard from Sir Sebastian Anstruther about the conservation of the UK’s only indigenous population of Field Crickets at Coates Common and Lord’s Piece on the Barlavington Estate in West Sussex, here is a blog from his neighbour, Ned Mersey, who manages the adjacent piece of land - Bignor Park.
Through Back from the Brink we hope to repeat Ned’s success by restoring more heathland in an area of RSPB’s reserve at Pulborough Brooks in the hope that the introduced population will one day join up with the nearby population of Field Crickets at Hurst Warren.
Here's his tale...
About twelve years ago I met up with Sebastian Anstruther and he told me all about Lord’s Piece and the success that Barlavington Estate was having with its heathland restoration and habitat creation for the conservation of the Field Cricket. I then attended a Field Cricket meeting at London Zoo and spoke with the entomologist behind it all, Mike Edwards, and to experts from the zoo’s entomology department and Natural England.
They were convinced that there was plenty of potential to widen the area of suitable habitat for the cricket, through further reversion of farmed arable land into heathland and acid grassland. Site visits to our estate confirmed this and, with the help of our Natural England adviser, Nigel Hiscoke, we have now converted over one hundred acres to a heathland/grassland matrix suitable for the Field Cricket.
I am delighted to say that the Field Crickets have populated this area sooner than expected, having walked over a small road from the adjacent Lord’s Piece. We now host over a quarter of the UK population. It has also provided a great habitat for birds such as Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Woodlark, Stock Dove, Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers.
This project provides an example of how different conservation organisations and experts can collaborate to preserve endangered species: Natural England, Mike and Rowan Edwards, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Sussex Ornithological Society.
I do hope that Natural England is able to continue to support landowners and conservationists to continue this project in the long run.
Bignor Park Estate:
Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:
- Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
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- Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.