Today's Pulborough Diary comes from Paula, our Visitor Experience Officer.

During a busy morning in the office I managed grab 10 minutes to myself and went for quick walk.

I didn’t have time to get to the wetland trail to spot the water voles or to check the Little ringed plover so I thought I would enjoy a peaceful moment with the wild flowers growing in abundance on the Zig Zag path.

As I wondered past the Lesser stitchwort, Creeping thistles and the Caterpillar covered ragwort, I noticed ‘love’ was certainly in the air! Or rather, on the flowers, everywhere I looked there were Solider Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva).

The adults spend much of their short, summer lives mating, and can often be seen in pairs. It is this, short summer mass mating practice, that gives them their more descriptive colloquial name of ‘hogweed bonking beetle’.

Whilst their preferred plant is umbellifer species, on the Zig Zag path any plant will do! Even the ragwort, chock full of cinnabar moth caterpillars, is a suitable mating spot for these less than shy beetles.

Adults feed on aphids, and, also eat pollen and nectar. Larvae prey on ground-dwelling invertebrates, such as slugs and snails, and live at the base of long grasses. As the flowers of umbellifers are whitish and the beetles are red they stand out, but their ‘warning red’ colour puts birds off them. The species takes advantage of verges and banks and is a common sight in Europe and British Isles.

In other news, we were able to add White Admiral and Brown Hairstreak to our Big Butterfly Count list yesterday. Alongside the edges of what is left of the pool on the North Brooks we've had green and common sandpiper and little ringed plover. By the radio messages between our volunteers this morning it seems that the Marsh Harrier is also putting on a good display.

Anonymous