We can do more for nature when we work together! We've pulled together some great examples of how businesses, partners, supporters and individuals have helped us achieve even more for nature in 2018.
Bringing field crickets Back from the Brink
Earlier this year, a team of volunteers, led by species expert and license holder Mike Edwards, set out to find field crickets at a secret location, and then relocate them to new specially-made sites at RSPB Pulborough Brooks as part of the Back from the Brink project. Mike explained the donor site’s importance and why its precise location should stay secret.
The soothing ‘harp’ of field crickets has always been a noise familiar to many areas in rural England. It was almost lost forever in the 1980s however, when there were less than 100 field crickets to be found in the whole country.
Today, its high-pitched and rare chirrup is a sound heard only at a few locations, making it one of the UK’s rarest invertebrates. Without intervention, the likelihood of this species going extinct is extremely high which is why we, along with our partner Back from the Brink, are working hard to increase their numbers.
Back from the Brink is a Heritage Lottery Funded project run in collaboration with Natural England and Rethink Nature. The aim is to bring some of nature’s most at risk species back from the brink of extinction. Together, we hope to make field cricket populations more robust by extending and joining patches of habitat, and starting new populations by releasing crickets on restored heathland – known as translocation.
Translocation is the most promising way to protect field crickets against extinction - as they can’t fly, they don’t travel far from their burrows. To make sure the species could survive environmental or climatic disaster like a heathland wildfire, it’s important they form more colonies.
We walked to the colony, and were instructed on cricket-catching. This involves ‘tickling’ the crickets - inserting a blade of grass down a potential burrow and waiting for the tug of a cricket climbing up it! Volunteers successfully found six pairs of field crickets. Then they moved them carefully to an area of suitable habitat, and watched with trepidation as the field crickets chose their preferred location to dig their burrows, amid high hopes that the new population would thrive.
The ‘harping’ of several males at RSPB Pulborough Brooks was heard not long after their move. A previous translocation of 12 crickets to RSPB Farnham Heath yielded an increase to 300 individuals in five years!
By the end of the project, we hope there will be more field cricket populations in England, and that there will be more habitat for them too. Existing habitat will be in good condition, with small patches joined to create larger areas so they can reach new areas.
Without the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund we would not have been able to create the habitat necessary for the introduction field crickets at RSPB Pulborough Brooks.
By creating the perfect habitat for field crickets, we’re also helping species such as the woodlark, common lizard, slowworm, grayling and the silver studded blue butterfly too! You can find out more in our short film, below.
If you've been inspired by this story, and are looking to make an individual difference, why not volunteer or join as an RSPB member?
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