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Pan-species listing at Knepp

The Knepp Estate in Sussex is my new favourite place in England. This is a landscape of woodlands, copses, rambling hedgerows, veteran trees, streams, ponds and lakes with herds of Longhorn Cattle and Exmoor Ponies wandering throughout. A place without fences, where a naturalist can wander through beautiful habitat to the accompaniment of Nightingales, where a picnic may be interrupted by a hungry Tamworth Pig coming grunting out of the undergrowth, where you can dream of what England would have been like in centuries past.

I was there on 1st and 2nd June, for a recording weekend organised by Penny Green of the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, and to which the pan-species listers were invited. Inspiring company in an inspiring place and superbly hosted by Charlie Burrell, whose vision it was to “re-wild” Knepp.

Pan-species listers are, by definition, interested in all wildlife. But somehow on this occasion it all gravitated towards invertebrates on dung and carrion – luckily somebody brought some latex surgical gloves! Respite was provided by some lovely beetles on log-stacks and veteran trees, as well as some rare fungi.

With the field season in full flow, I’ve not had time to identify everything yet but this post is just to show a few photos. The rest may have to wait until calmer times!

Hedobia imperialis (formerly Ptinomorphus imperialis), a distinctive and very memorable beetle from the woodworm family. Nationally Scarce (Nb).

Coleophora on Blackthorn. The possibilities seem to be coracipennella, prunifoliae and spinella: hopefully it will rear through to adult.

Lateral view of the same Coleophora.

Putoniella pruni galls on Blackthorn Prunus spinosa. A gall that's not in the first edition of the FSC galls book but was identified for me via the pan-species listers' facebook group.

Korynetes caeruleus. Always good to see a clerid. This one was beaten from a flowering Field Maple near a red-rotten oak; a Nationally Scarce (Nb) saproxylic. We also saw a few of the similar Necrobia violacea on carcasses (and Sarah and Jon had also found N. violacea on a dead Fox at Denbies Hillside the day before).

Calambus bipustulatus, another saproxylic beetle beaten from flowering Field Maple. This is also Nationally Scarce (Nb) and I'd only seen it once before - at last year's PSL meeting at Parham Park.

Peter Hodge discovered several Pyrrhidium sanguineum on a stack of oak logs in the car park. It’s a red longhorn beetle newly arrived in Sussex from its historic range on the Welsh borders and was one of the highlights of the weekend. Torchlight searching of the log-stacks and surrounding tree trunks was productive with several Dromius agilis (an uncommon carabid), a single Corticeus unicolor (Tenebrionidae) and a single specimen of “Xyleborus species A”, a recently arrived bark-beetle (from the Orient?) discovered in Richmond Park by Peter Hammond and also known from Cowdray Park (discovered by Graeme Lyons and myself).

Corticeus unicolor. The second Sussex record of this Rare (RDB3) beetle after it was discovered at Cowdray Park by Graeme Lyons and myself in 2011.

Dromius agilis, a tree-climbing "ground" beetle associated with ancient parkland and wood-pasture. This one was found by Neil Fletcher.

After a disappointing catch of moths on Sunday morning, most of the pan-species listers took the opportunity to join a fungal tour with Ted Green and Jill Butler. I think Ted quickly got the measure of his audience and showed us some extremely rare species.

Ye Olde Greene Man, a.k.a. Phellinus robustus. On oak. One of about 20 trees known to support this fungus in Britain.

Phellinus populicola on poplar. Another rarity with an important population at Knepp. Especially happy to see this as it was one Jo gripped me off on in Buckinghamshire a couple of years ago.

Ted Green and Phellinus populicola

Agathidium nigripenne: one of the delectable leiodids. This was one of three tapped from dead poplar branches. It has no conservation status but I'd only seen 5 singletons prior to this.

Really enjoyed a weekend binging on biodiversity in fab weather and great company. I could do it every weekend, if only I could spend all week identifying specimens and photos and making sense of my notes! I learned so much from other people. My main regret is of having taken hardly any photos of people and landscapes … but it’s nice to have a reason to return.