Latest News from CEDaR
Monday 6 June
Macro-moth Identification Training Course
Date: Saturday 11 Jun 2016
Leader: Andrew Crory
Location: Murlough House, Keel Point, Dundrum, then visiting Murlough Nature Reserve.
This workshop will provide a general introduction to macro-moth recording including species identification and useful moth recording techniques and tips for beginners as well as moth enthusiasts. Andrew Crory, our Butterfly Conservation Macro-moth Recorder, will share his expertise and knowledge of species found in Northern Ireland.
All ages and abilities, from beginners to moth recording to the more experienced, will enjoy this course exploring this fascinating group of species.
Tickets are £25 per person. Booking in advance is essential.
Follow the link below to book your place.
Macro-moth Identification Training Course
Thursday 10 March
‘Maple Muncher’ a first for Ireland by John O'Boyle
I was just out for a quick lunchtime stroll (23rd October) to get a breath of air before returning to an afternoon’s work. The route was up Donegall Pass, down Cameron Street and back along the Lagan Embankment to the Gasworks Business Park. As I walked down Cameron Street, I noticed a Maple tree (the plant was subsequently identified as Norway Maple Acer platanoides) and, mindful of Dave Grundy’s advice to start learning about ‘leaf-mining’ moths by examining the non-native tree species – because they had fewer possibilities and thus were easier to do – I went over for a quick look.
Sure enough, I quickly spotted a leaf mine of the ‘blotch’ rather than ‘gallery’ variety, noted the creases on the underside typical of a number of Phyllonorycter species that I’d previously seen on other leaves and thought that I’d look it up on the British Leafminers website as soon as I got a chance. It rather innocuously turned out to be Phyllonorycter joannisi, and I noted that the National status was ‘common’. The moth has also formerly been referred to as P. platanoides, however, purely out of curiosity, I checked the MothsIreland website to see the moth’s Irish distribution and, guess what, it wasn’t listed! My brain immediately clicked into an excited state. Was it not listed because it had never been previously recorded in Ireland, or, as has been the case on a few occasions in the past, had there been a record which had not yet been processed or submitted. As chance would have it, I had returned to the office without even bothering to take the leaf with me. I knew that if this was to be a first for Ireland or Northern Ireland, a little more than my word would probably be required as evidence. And as dark descended, I knew that it would be the morrow before I would have a chance to relocate the leaf. Would I be able to find it again?
Luckily enough, the leaf was easily re-found and first thing, I contacted one of my ‘mothing’ mentors, Clive Mellon, and let him have a look at it. Clive concurred with my own thoughts and, on his advice, the next stage in the process was followed and a photograph of the leaf-mine was placed on the British Leafminers forum for comment. The word quickly came back that, yes, it was indeed Phyllonrycter joannisi. Hooray, my first Irish ‘first’ I thought! But, not so quick! Before confirmation that this was indeed what I believed it was, Northern Ireland’s micro-moth Recorder, John McClean, required further information. Having consulted John Langmaid, the UK’s leading micro-moth authority, it transpired that it just might be a ‘micro’ that usually feeds on Sycamore, but could have ‘jumped across’. Had I found lots of mines on Maple, or had this been a solitary maple mine? If the latter, the probability was that this was not ‘joannisi’. Enter Dave Allen.
When Dave had heard the news, he had checked a number of locally growing Norway Maple near where he lived, and told me he’d found nothing. Perhaps things weren’t looking so good. However, he kindly offered to return to Cameron Street with me to help check if this had been a ‘one-off’ or, indeed, that there was a colony of the moth on the Cameron Street Maples. The subsequent outing discovered several Phyllonorycter mines on several Maples and having examined the content of a number of the mines and conversed again with John Langmaid, Dave came back with confirmation that the moth was indeed joannisi. All that remained was to bask in the warm autumnal sunshine and enter the record on the CEDaR online website where it appeared under the name of ‘White-bodied Midget’.
So there you go, it’s as easy as that to record a ‘first’ for Ireland. A big thank you must go to Pauline Campbell of CEDaR who organized the training course with Dave Grundy to come across from England in the first place to enthusiastically raise awareness of ‘leaf-miners’, and that of course all arose as a result of Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s ‘Microlepidoptera Initiative’. Thanks also to Clive, Dave, John and John for getting this one over the line.
Well, a new season of moth recording has just started, so get out there and start recording, and whilst White-bodied Midget goes some way to describe Phyllonorycter joannisi, I much prefer to refer to it for its eating habits: the Maple Muncher!
Wednesday 13 January
CEDaR would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to let you know about some of our exciting plans for 2016.
We are currently organising our 2016 Training Course Programme. Following last year’s feedback, we have so many suggestions and ideas, and what now remains is for us to finalise the list for the coming recording season. Hopefully we will have our programme ready for you by the beginning of February.
CEDaR has also been approached by a few individuals and organisations about supporting BioBlitzes this year. The first BioBlitz date we can confirm is for Benburb Priory on Friday 13th – Saturday 14th May.
Other forthcoming work areas include the re-development of our websites, species-based recording initiatives, promoting the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, assisting NIEA with future surveillance requirements, the ‘Out and About’ nature in the community events, facilitating TCV Natural Talent Apprentices and supporting the ever expanding Environmental Recorders’ Group.
Most will now know that Dr Julia Nunn, Senior Environmental Recorder has retired following 20 years working with CEDaR. Additionally, Fiona McCrory, CEDaR Website Officer, was successful in gaining an internal promotion, now NMNI’s Digital Manager. We wish both Julia and Fiona all the best for their future and hopefully we will get the opportunity to work with them soon.
We have been fortunate to have three placement students join us. Samuel Millar spent some time with us over the summer months and he summarised the services and work of CEDaR and made valuable suggestions on how these can be enhanced and improved. Many of you who came along to our 2015 BioBlitzes will have met Andrew Lawthers, who kindly supported data entry and helped with setting up and clearing up! Andrew has decided to gain additional experience through CEDaR and is currently working on entering the Seal Monitoring data that has been collected by NIEA over the past 15+ years. These records are painstakingly being drawn from paper onto a purpose built database. Through analysis of these records, NIEA will be in a position to report on the status of the seal populations that are present along our coast.
Naomi Skilling, who along with Andrew is studying Environmental Science at University of Ulster at Coleraine, has also chosen to spend her placement year with CEDaR. Naomi has been working on a scoping exercise looking at NI Priority Species records held on the Recorder 6 database. This valuable work has highlighted species that are well recorded and under-recorded species groups. The findings from Naomi’s work will feed directly into the development of future initiatives and recording surveys.
We have also been able to secure some funding to allow Donal McCambridge to join us. Donal, who will be providing data support, has previously gained relevant experience through various other temporary positions in NIEA, Water Management Unit, etc. Donal is currently working on validating, cleaning and entering bat records. The availability of a NI-wide bat data set will facilitate the further protection of these priority species, providing all with a better understanding of current distribution and population numbers.
We thank all our placements, volunteers and recorders who have given so freely of their time and expertise over the last year. We now look forward to working with all within the recording community in the coming months.
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Read the 2015 CEDaR News here...