Despite the problems lockdown has presented, it has led to some good news, as this blog by Mike Coates, RSPB’s Farnham Heath Warden (and star of Springwatch 2019) explains:
This spring should have seen another translocation of Field Crickets to sites on two RSPB reserves, at Farnham Heath and Pulborough Brooks. Unfortunately, the Covid 19 lockdown put paid to any hopes of carrying out this work.
However, RSPB site staff were able to continue with monitoring visits. It was expected that there might be fewer crickets around on the main site at Farnham as a result of the wet winter, and, sure enough, numbers recorded in May and early June were down on 2019, but still pretty respectable, with 135 calling males at the peak.
Field Cricket Release April 2017 Farnham Heath
What was NOT expected (although it was hoped for) was to hear calling males at both the translocation sites. This is brilliant news as it suggests very strongly that the crickets released in 2019 successfully bred! If we had been able to release crickets in the spring, there would always have been a slight doubt that any we heard calling were the “new” ones, but, thanks to lockdown, we know that there are the beginnings of not one, but two, new breeding populations of this threatened insect.
Field Cricket (c) Rowan Edwards
Gilbert White, the “Founding Father” of British natural history writing, mentioned Field Crickets several times in his book “The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne”, published in 1789 and still in print. He seems to have had a soft spot for field crickets, so it’s fitting that the future of this charismatic little beastie gets such a significant boost in the year that marks the 300th anniversary of Gilbert White’s birth!
Mike Coates – Warden, RSPB Farnham Heath
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