The Field Cricket project has had a good year with a record number of 337 Field Crickets recorded at Farnham Heath, making it the largest population England! This is just 9 years after they were first introduced to the site.
The year started with our volunteer teams busy removing birch and bramble to keep the heathland at Pulborough Brooks and Farnham Heath in suitable condition. They clearly did a good job as both reserves were given the thumbs up during site condition assessments by experts in March.
It was ‘all hands on deck’ for the translocations in April with 21 trained volunteers and 7 RSPB staff helping catch the crickets under licence and move them to their new homes. We were accompanied by the BBC who filmed the project for Spring Watch.
Our warden, Mike Coates, gave an excellent interview clearly demonstrating his passion for these fascinating creatures, which attracted a lot of extra interest in the project.
BBC Spring Watch staff filming field crickets at RSPB’s Farnham Heath reserve
We always welcome new volunteers and have several new trainees, so in June we ran another training course on Field Cricket ecology, habitat needs and monitoring methods, at Lords Piece, with kind permission from the owner, Sebastian Anstruther (see Sebastian’s blog).
Graeme Lyons shared his knowledge of Field Crickets and other heathland invertebrates and Ned Mersey informed us how he had restored the heath on his adjacent estate (see Ned’s blog).
During monitoring walks in May and June small numbers of male Field Crickets were heard calling at both release sites. Those heard at Pulborough Brooks had dispersed away from where they were released last year and had headed for some more sheltered areas which are likely to be warmer. Next year we are planning to release more crickets in these areas to join them.
My outstanding memory of 2019 is the ‘Dream of a Field Cricket’ music and words event we held in June at Farnham Heath (see Emma’s blog). It was a lovely warm day and a group of us enjoyed an afternoon walk on the heath gaining inspiration for our literary masterpieces, prompted by experienced author Laurence Rose and informed by Mike Coates.
This was followed by an evening concert in a barn at the Rural Life Centre, surrounded by threshing machines and horse-drawn harrows; a unique and perfect venue for the Field Cricket themed readings and compositions. We are very grateful to the violinists Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Mihailo Trandafilovski for all the time they gave to make this possible and to all those who attended, which included an Italian couple who had come by train from London, just on a whim!
And onto next year….we are looking forward to hosting a Field Cricket art event in March being organised by Outdoor Studios (more details to follow), followed by our final releases of Field Crickets in April. Let’s hope the weather is kind to us!
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.
- Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
- Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.