Friday, 14 June 2013

Bush Beating On Brownfields . . .

Yesterday (June 13, 2013), Barry and I visited a local Brownfield site. It is next to an indoor playground, 'Kinderland Playzone', and we've named it Kinder (how original!). It is split into 3 areas: 'East' or 'Small' Kinder, 'South' Kinder, and 'West' or 'Big' Kinder. Even though it is a Brownfield site, it is brimming with life of all kinds.
Some of my favourite species are: Kestrel
                                                            Common Toad
                                                            Ox Eye Daisies
                                                            Fat-legged Flower Beetle
                                                            Lesser Marsh Grasshopper
                                                            Sawfly (various species present on this site)
Sadly, Barry has recently been informed that South Kinder is going to be turned into a car park. Several rare species are present there, to lose them would be such a shame! We were already sad about about that - but then we found out that Big Kinder was going to be built up as well! Big and South Kinder are the most productive of the 3 areas, and what's so frustrating is that there is nothing we can do to stop its demise! I have contacted several important people to see if they can postpone the build, but I've heard nothing back from them. At least if the build could be postponed, then we could try to re-locate some species. I'll keep you updated on this!
But on this particular day, we were just seeing what we could find. We were armed with sweep nets, tubs, and cameras, and together we set out to find some bugs! Barry showed me how to bush beat with a sweep net: 
Step 1 - Find a suitable shrub or bush and plunge the net into the centre as hard as you can.
Step 2 - Push the net upwards, then flick it back so that the bottom flips over the rim of the net, stopping any insects escaping.
Step 3: Examine contents of net.
Though it may look violent, it is often very productive. I found several species: Weevils, Flee Beetles, Sawflies, True Flies, and a few unidentified insects. We put any particularly interesting specimens into tubs, for closer examination.
A bemused dog walker watched us apparently murdering tree saplings, then walked of. If there's one thing I've learnt in the 8 years I've been interested in Nature, it's this: being a Naturalist makes you look like a nutcase at times.
We moved on to Small Kinder, and while Barry chased moths, I examined the life under a piece of wood. Amongst groups of Woodlice, Snails, and Worms was what at first sight seemed to be a lumpy rock. On closer examination I found that it was a female Common Toad (females are larger than males). A few days before, we found a Toad in exactly the same place, and had taken it home and introduced it into our garden. We haven't seen it in there since. Maybe this Toad had crawled back to Kinder and gone back under its wood ;-) We decided to take it home, to see if it went back to Kinder again! I'll keep you informed on the fortunes of this Toad . . .
I enjoyed my time on Kinder, but at the back of my mind I knew that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the site for much longer.

Keep an eye out for more posts about Kinder and our female Toad! 


  1. your blog is excellent — looking forward to recommending it to some other naturalists!

  2. how did you transport the toad? I home educate my son Theo and his wildlife photos are here

  3. Great start for a blog Jacob! you made me laugh when you said being a naturalist makes you look like a nutcase. I wat watching some House Martins the other day with a smile on my face when a concerned passer by asked me if I was OK!
    I look forward to visiting your patch on Sunday. Pity is going to be build up. Good luck with the relocation project.