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News


BioBlitz season - the race is on!


Enthusing the next generation of recorders at Wilton Lodge Park BioBlitz, Hawick. Photograph courtesy of Susan Kevan.


BioBlitz events have become increasingly popular in recent times, but what are they?

A BioBlitz is an event where experts and members of the public work together to identify and record as many species as possible at a particular site over a 24 hour period, or shorter. The ‘blitz’ of BioBlitz therefore refers to an intensive survey, while ‘bio’ relates to the wildlife that is identified as part of the survey. BioBlitz events are an excellent way to engage new audiences in biological recording, particularly young people. BioBlitz events should be fun to participate in, but are also a means of generating useful biological data.

This year, TWIC organised two BioBlitz events in collaboration with Scottish Borders Council. The first, and the smaller of the two events, was held at Harestanes Visitor Centre near Ancrum on June 1st. A respectable tally of 115 different species was recorded as part of the event, mostly by a small band of botanists led by Luke Gaskell (Peeblesshire Plant Recorder). Other activities included small mammal trapping and pond dipping in the wildlife pond. Unfortunately, the bumblebee survey that was scheduled to take place had to be cancelled due a scarcity of bumblebees on the day.

The second event took place in the grounds of Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick on the weekend of June 15th - 16th. On the Saturday evening, Borders Bat Group members led a short twilight bat walk in the grounds of the park to see and hear bats (using bat detectors). This was followed by a late night moth trapping session overseen by Teyl de Bordes, an East Scotland Branch member of Butterfly Conservation. Early on Sunday morning, the moth trap was opened to reveal the catch from the previous night. The catch consisted of Beautiful Golden Y, Common Marbled Carpet, Brimstone and Triple-barred Argent moths.

Throughout Sunday, there were guided walks and drop-in sessions in the park. A particular highlight was the electro-fishing demonstration given by Tweed Foundation biologists, Kenny Galt and Ronald Campbell, which seemed to capture the imagination of the adults and children alike. The electro-fishing sessions also contributed 6 fish species towards the total of 267 species that were recorded on site.

The number of species for each taxonomic group recorded were: 30 Birds; 17 Conifers; 6 Fish; 22 Invertebrates; 54 Mosses and Liverworts; 134 Vascular plants (including 37 trees planted in the park); 4 Mammals. Of the 54 bryophyte species identified by David Long, the best finds were Anomodon viticulosus, Didymodon sinuosus, Leucodon sciuroides, Orthotrichum stramineum, O. tenellum and Syntrichia latifolia. An interesting find in the lawn outside Hawick Museum was the vascular plant Lawn Lobelia (Pratia angulata), which has tiny white flowers and originates from New Zealand. The species was first recorded in Wilton Lodge Park in 1972 (Rod Corner pers. comm.). Could plants of Lawn Lobelia have been included in former rockery plantings in the park and have subsequently escaped and become naturalised in the lawns?

Often the highlights of public events are the reactions of individuals when they see something for the first time or when they get a particularly good view of a species. On this occasion, the memorable moments included the excitement of the group seeing fish being ‘zapped’ and netted by the Tweed Foundation biologists, the delight of a child when Botanist Douglas McKean produced some enormous pine cones from a Weymouth Pine (Pinus strobus) and the satisfaction gained from some close and prolonged views of the Spotted Flycatcher near to the museum building.

Shona Sinclair, Curator of Hawick Museum, commented:

“This was the first BioBlitz event that the museum has been involved with and I must admit that we were slightly anxious due in the main to our ignorance of the subject matter! However, the event went really well, the TWIC team's organisation was first class, the weather was fair, the public were enthusiastic and the volunteer leaders were keen to share their knowledge. From a personal point of view I enjoyed seeing the mix of visitors enjoying their day out in the park but looking at it in a whole new way – not just as a place for them but a place that is shared with wildlife.”

All the records generated from the event will be added to TWIC’s database of species records and will feed into other local and national datasets.

TWIC would like to thank Scottish Borders Council staff for their assistance in organising the two events and to the following organisations and individuals who contributed time and expertise:

Borders Bat Group, Botanical Society of the British Isles, British Arachnological Society, Butterfly Conservation – East Scotland Branch, Mike Beard, Sarah Eno, Douglas McKean, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Tweed Foundation.

Natalie Harmsworth

Posted: August 1st 2013


TWIC ‘Spots and Stripes’ Survey exceeds 300 records mark!


Photograph courtesy of Mike Beard.

Thanks to records submitted online and via a dedicated postcard survey, TWIC have now received over 300 records of Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) and Badger (Meles meles) for the Lothian and Scottish Borders. As a result, we now have a better indication of the current distribution of the species in the region. Thanks to everyone who has submitted records to us to date – please keep them coming.

Sara-Jane Ponting (pictured) was one of many individuals who have submitted Leopard Slug sightings to us this year. The photograph shows her triumphantly holding up her find on a TWIC outing earlier in the season. Leopard Slugs prefer damp, shaded places, such as beneath rocks or vegetation and can be found in a range of modified habitats, including gardens. They are not uncommon – simply under-recorded. They are also a gardener’s friend, helping to recycle nutrients in the garden by consuming decaying plant material and not feeding on living plants.

There are still gaps in our distribution maps for these species, so please keep sending in your Lothian or Borders Leopard Slug or Badger sightings. And remember, for Badgers we are interested in hearing about road kill records as well as live sightings.

Posted: August 1st 2013


Large Red-belted Clearwing in Berwickshire

On 4 June 2013 I found two freshly-hatched pupae of the Large Red-belted Clearwing moth in my woodland at Spottiswoode (NT 6050 5016). The pupae were on two stumps of Downy Birch trees cut 18 months ago during birch thinning work by the Lothians Conservation Volunteers. The pupae are left behind as the adult emerges at the mouth of a hole between the bark and wood on the cut surface of the stump. There are no previous confirmed records for Berwickshire or the Scottish Borders. Barry Prater confirmed the identification of the pupae and came up on 7 June with a vial of pheromone but no males were attracted. In November 2012 LCV thinned more birches in the same woodland so hopefully we may get a new brood of clearwings next year. In my garden at Spottiswoode a Greater Spotted Woodpecker has been attacking the base of a large Willow tree - could it be be feeding on larvae of the Lunar Hornet Clearwing? Mysterious insects!



By David Long

Posted: June 26th 2013


TWIC Spring Conference March 2013

Last month 40 people attended the TWIC Spring Conference at Newtown St Boswells in the Scottish Borders. Delegates enjoyed a series of talks on the topic of upland recording and conservation, a free lunch and the chance to browse displays by various organisations. You can read the full conference report here.

Posted: April 5th 2013


TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM, Saturday 17th November 2012

The TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM took place in the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday 17th November and was attended by 50 people. The day provided an opportunity for recorders to get-together at the end of the recording season and for TWIC to publicly thank the recording community for their continued support. A variety of talks were delivered on the theme of grassland recording and conservation, from the challenges and opportunities associated with recording bees, ants and wasps to the lessons learned from a grassland management project in East Lothian. Speakers included Ali Murfitt, Duncan Davidson (Butterfly Conservation), Andrew Jarman (Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society), Stuart MacPherson (East Lothian Council) and Heather McHaffie (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh). The conference also hosted the first TWIC AGM since there had been a concerted effort to increase the number of TWIC members in the spring of 2012. The day proved to be very enjoyable. Many thanks to all the speakers for their stimulating talks. The full conference report can be downloaded here.


During the open mike session Natalie Harmsworth, TWIC Ecologist, plugged the new public survey, which is aiming to gather information on the distinctively marked Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) and Badger (Meles meles). For information on the survey visit the survey page of the TWIC website http://www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/spots_stripes.php.

Updated: June 26th 2013


A second sighting for Scotland – courtesy of iSpot

The conservation charity that I work for had been creating a ‘window list’ of the species that we observed at our offices at Sighthill, Edinburgh. So, in November 2010, when I saw a weevil at the bottom of our stairwell I decided to try to find out what it was. I took a few photos and asked around our countryside and gardening staff to see if anyone had any clues to the weevil’s identity. None were entomologists, but they thought that it was most likely a Vine Weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus). Little did we suspect that it would prove to be much more interesting.

Wanting to explore iSpot (www.ispot.org.uk) I decided to post my observation and see how it could help me to confirm the ID. Pretty soon an invertebrate expert called Mark Telfer posted on my photo record page (http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/97731) that it actually looked like one of two species of foreign weevil recently arrived in England, and that it might be the first time that either had been seen in Scotland! His opinion was seconded on iSpot by an ecologist from the National Biodiversity Network, so clearly this was worth taking further. Mark said that a specimen would be required to confirm the ID, but unfortunately I had released it after taking my photographs. Anyway, he advised me to keep looking in the same area because I was pretty sure to find another one. He also told me that I could send a live specimen to be confirmed and how best to keep it alive.

I spread the word around the office that I wanted any weevils that people saw; surprisingly it took over a year for one to appear on my desk enclosed within two sellotaped plastic cups; it had been captured that morning by our facilities officers. I decided that I should liaise with our local expert, and referring to the TWIC website found that it was Richard Lyszkowski, who is Assistant Curator of Entomology at the National Museums Collection Centre. Once I had contacted him to confirm that he was interested and available to receive my weevil, it was carefully packaged up as advised and sent in the post.


Otiorhynchus armadillo (c) Mike Beard


Richard replied that it was indeed Otiorhynchus armadillo as suspected, but it was not the first record for Scotland because the late Bob Saville had found one in Dalry, Edinburgh in July 2000. Nevertheless it was an interesting and important record because it helped confirm that the species was probably widespread throughout the UK, but under-recorded due to its similarity with our native vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus. Richard also very kindly forwarded me an article that discussed this species, so that my colleagues and I could find out much more about our unexpected foreign guests.

Mike Beard

Posted: July 18th 2012


Most southerly record for the Longhorn beetle Judolia sexmaculata

Last month, Chris Sullivan found the Longhorn beetle Judolia sexmaculata in a cleared area within a conifer plantation at a site in West Lothian. This beetle is Nationally Notable A, which means it has been found in fewer than 30 10km squares in Great Britain. This is the first time the species has been confirmed in the Lothians and it is also the most southerly record for the species.

To keep up-to-date with Chris’ recording activities, visit his blog http://christopher-sullivan.blogspot.co.uk/.

Posted: July 18th 2012


Are British Slugs under Threat?

An interesting article by the BBC on an invasive slug species from Spain possibly threatening native species. Has anyone seen this invader in their gardens? If so, please send your records in!

Posted: July 4th 2012


New Beetle Species for the Lothians

Chris Sullivan recently identified Oedemera (Oncomera) femoralis in West Lothian. This is the first record of the species in the Lothians, and is the first time it has been sighted in Scotland in nearly 80 years. For further information, visit Chris’ blog http://christopher-sullivan.blogspot.co.uk/.

Posted: July 3rd 2012


Beetle Identification Workshop, Thursday 19th July

TWIC are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a joint TWIC/Buglife workshop on Beetle Identification on Thursday 19th July, 10am-4pm at Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian, EH23 4NU.

This workshop is an introduction to the identification of different beetle families that are found in Britain. There will be a short presentation introducing beetles and their different families and this will be followed by an outdoor session where you will learn were and how to survey for beetles. The workshop will be led by Suzanne Bairner, Project Officer at Buglife.

No prior experience is necessary; however booking is essential as places are strictly limited. Please return the booking form to natalie@wildlifeinformation.co.uk to book your place on the workshop or call 01875 825968.

This event has been generously supported by a European Year of Volunteering 2011 grant funded by the Scottish Government.

Posted: June 25th 2012

Green tiger beetle, Cicindela campestris, by Greg Hitchcock

Bloody nosed beetle, Timarcha tenebricosa, by Suzanne Bairner


Mammals Workshop, Saturday 16th June 2012

TWIC will be hosting a Mammals workshop on Saturday 16th June, 9am – 12pm and 5pm – 11pm, at Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian. The workshop will be jointly led by Graeme Wilson and David Dodds. The day will consist of two sessions covering a variety of mammal subjects including Longworth trapping of small mammals as well as badger and bat survey skills. No prior experience is necessary, but booking is essential as places are strictly limited. Please return the booking form to natalie@wildlifeinformation.co.uk to book your place on the workshop or phone 01875 825968.

This event has been generously supported by a European Year of Volunteering 2011 grant funded by the Scottish Government.

Posted: June 11th 2012


Ground beetle Bembidion bipunctatum found in West Lothian

Chris Sullivan recently found the Nationally Scarce ground beetle Bembidion bipunctatum at Harperrig Reservoir, West Lothian. This is the first record of this species for the Lothians.

Bembidion bipunctatum is a small (3.5-4.5mm) ground beetle found on sandy mull river banks and lake shores among sparse vegetation. Chris recorded his beetle on the shoreline of the reservoir under stones.

Posted: June 7th 2012


Rare snail found in the Scottish Borders

Adrian Sumner found the rare Three-toothed Moss Snail, Azeca goodalli (pictured, courtesy of Adrian Sumner) on a recent TWIC excursion to Denholm Dean. This is only the second modern site for the species in Scotland; the other site being Kippenrait Glen near Bridge of Allan, Stirling. Due to its rarity, the species is listed on the Scottish Biodiversity List of species of principal importance for biodiversity conservation.

The shells of Azeca goodalli are small, ranging in height from 5.5-7.0 mm when adult. The species occurs locally, amongst moss, herbage and ground litter in woodlands, hedgerows and scrub, usually though not always on calcareous soils. It prefers light shade (Ellis, 1969; Kerney, 1999).

TWIC are always keen to receive your wildlife sightings – both rare and common species – please do not assume we already know.

Posted: June 4th 2012


Recorder's Conference, Saturday 24 March 2012

The Wildlife Information Centre’s (TWIC) Spring Recorders’ Conference took place in the Scottish Borders Council Chambers in Newtown St Boswells on Saturday 24th March. The day provided an opportunity to hear a range of talks on the theme of recording in woodlands. Presentations were given by individuals representing Borders Forest Trust, Fungi Group of South East Scotland, Lothian & Borders Badger Group, the British Bryological Society and Red Squirrels in South Scotland.

Anna Craigen, Borders Forest Trust (BFT), spoke first. Anna started working for BFT in 2002. Much of her work is focussed on working with young people and local communities – sparking their interest in the natural world as she shares her enthusiasm for wildlife and the environment. Her presentation focused on some of the projects that BFT are currently involved in, including woodland habitat projects like Carrifran Wildwood. Anna highlighted the value of volunteers and the need for long-term monitoring on sites undergoing habitat restoration. Recording on such sites is vital if we are to understand how specific management actions affect biodiversity. To find out about ways to volunteer with BFT visit their website www.bordersforesttrust.org. Anna would be interested in receiving photographs that people have taken on BFT sites for use in publications etc. Email anna@bordersforesttrust.org.

Neville Kilkenny of the Fungus Group of South East Scotland (FGSES) described some of the challenges involved in recording fungi and outlined the support available for anyone thinking about becoming involved in recording this group. Some of these challenges would have been familiar to people recording other groups. A live demonstration of the Scottish Fungi website followed, with particular reference to the online data entry feature that feeds into the British Mycological Society (BMS) database. This is one of two UK databases for fungi. The other database is hosted by the Association of British Fungus Groups. In the fast moving world of taxonomy, it is vital when recording fungi to state the literature used for identification purposes. The BMS database is therefore preferred as it retains the original name that the recorder gave the fungus with its literature reference. This allows the record to be interpreted correctly in the future if taxonomic changes occur. Download the PowerPoint presentation here. To find out about recording fungi and other useful resources visit the Scottish Fungi website http://sites.google.com/site/scottishfungi/. The site also contains a link to FGSES.

The presentation of the Bob Saville award followed. This award is presented each year to someone who has made an extra-ordinary contribution to recording in our area. It is awarded in memory of the late Bob Saville, someone who did so much for TWIC as well as recording. Douglas McKean made the presentation and the recipient was Jackie Muscott. Jackie is a respected botanist and botanical recorder for West Lothian. She has been involved in the Wildlife Sites system since the 1980s and does a lot of voluntary work with local groups. Records submitted to TWIC date back to the late 1970s. To date she has submitted around 70,000 records covering 20 species groups, a truly phenomenal effort!

Before lunch, there was an ‘Open Mike’ session, which allowed participants to advertise their projects and events. Chris Sydes from the Lothian and Borders Mammal Group (LaBMaG) talked about the 2012 Mammal Society Hedgehog Monitoring project, which has been greatly ‘slimmed down’ this year. Please email chris.sydes@tiscali.co.uk for details and to sign up.

Natalie Harmsworth, Ecologist at TWIC promoted the 2012 recording excursion programme and encouraged as many people to attend as possible. These events are aimed at existing and budding recorders and cover sites across the Lothians and Borders. Excursions this year will focus on Local Biodiversity Sites. Before a site can be assessed as LBS an up-too-date plant list and other species records are needed. A full list of excursions can be downloaded from the Recording Events page of the TWIC website http://www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/recording_events/.

Finally, Graeme Wilson, TWIC Centre Manager, announced that TWIC are seeking a wider membership and outlined the various benefits associated with becoming a member of TWIC. Individuals and organisations can become members and the membership fee is currently set at £5. For further information, including a membership form, please visit the Get Involved section of the TWIC website http://www.wildlifeinformation.co.uk/involved/.

Over lunch delegates were able to view the various displays and posters, and have a go at the woodland themed quiz. The Borders Recorder Group also met during the interval.

After lunch, Chris Sydes from the Lothian & Borders Badger Group (LBBG) spoke on the topic of badger recording. Sadly, illegal badger-baiting activity remains a threat to badgers in the Lothians and Borders, as in other parts of the UK. Legal protection is therefore aimed at safeguarding badger welfare rather than species conservation. Chris indicated that badger recording varies markedly between Local Authority areas; the coverage is fairly complete for Midlothian and Edinburgh, while recording in the Borders is still in its infancy. Through a series of photographs, Chris outlined the badger signs and tracks that indicate that badgers have been in the area. His presentation also included a captivating video of a family of badgers, which he had recorded himself. Chris’ badger videos are available to view on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/csydes, while his photographs of badger tracks and signs can be viewed on his aptly named website ‘How to Read Badger’ https://sites.google.com/site/howtoreadbadger1/.

David Long, British Bryological Society (BBS), spoke on the topic of woodland bryophytes. The bryophytes comprise the liverworts, hornworts and mosses. With over 1000 species, Britain is rich in bryophytes. David gave an overview of the life cycle of bryophytes, using specific species as illustration; described the reasons why bryophytes are important in the context of woodlands (for example for nutrient cycling and as indicators of air quality); and highlighted some of the most bryophyte-rich habitats present in Scotland and the Scottish Borders. The Oceanic Woodlands on the west coast of the Highlands have been dubbed “Atlantic rainforests” due to their terrific diversity. Bryophytes are an important and conspicuous component of such woodlands. David finished his presentation by describing the essentials of bryophyte recording, emphasising the need to record location information accurately using a GPS. He also called for further action for bryophyte conservation.

The British Bryological Society website, http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/bbs/bbs.htm, contains useful information on recording bryophytes, including an online Field Guide and details of forthcoming field meetings. Details of how to become a member of BBS are also available on the website. There is also an active Bryophyte Group in Edinburgh, which covers the SE Scotland region. Please contact David Chamberlain, d.chamberlain@rbge.org.uk, or Liz Kungu, e.kungu@rbge.org.uk for further information on the local group.

Karen Ramoo, Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS), provided an interesting talk on the RSSS project and the Importance of Data Collation. The Grey Squirrel was introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century and has since displaced the native Red Squirrel by disease and competition for food in much of the country. Grey Squirrels carry the parapox disease, which is deadly to the native Red Squirrel (the Greys show no ill effects of the virus). Karen described the main incursion routes used by Grey Squirrels to move into South Scotland, and through a series of maps indicated the instances of seropositive Grey Squirrels and pox outbreaks in Red Squirrels. Karen went on to talk about the measures being implemented to try to prevent further northwards expansion of the greys, including the trap loan scheme, and touched on new novel approaches to controlling the spread that may be used in the future. The RSSS and Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) projects will soon merge, providing a more coordinated approach to Grey Squirrel control. Please visit the RSSS website for further information http://www.red-squirrels.org.uk/.

Graeme Wilson, TWIC Manager, announced the winners of the quiz (Neville Kilkenny and Reuben Singleton) and summed up the day. Graeme touched on facts from the talks that were particularly interesting or memorable, for example the badgers that ‘remembered’ where the edge of the woodland used to be and the fact that mowing your lawn will encourage moss growth by generating new propagules (the perfect excuse for not mowing your lawn as frequently!).

All in all, the Conference was an enjoyable and interesting event. The next Conference will be in the autumn of 2012 at a venue in the Lothians and the plan is to host TWIC’s AGM at that meeting.

Posted: April 20th 2012


Scottish Invertebrate News Volume 3 Issue 1 available now

The Scottish Invertebrate News Volume 3 Issue 1 is now available to download at: http://www.buglife.org.uk/resources/Buglife/Documents/ScottishInvertebrateNews_3_1.pdf.

This issue is packed with articles covering a wide range of topics, including a report on Scottish dragonflies during 2011 and a report by Adrian Sumner on the rediscovery of the Small Amber Snail in East Lothian. There is also a feature on Buglife’s Action for Scottish Invertebrates project, and progress update on delivering the Strategy for Scottish Invertebrate Conservation.

The need for invertebrate records is highlighted throughout. Please send your invertebrate records for the Lothians and Borders to TWIC or to the appropriate recording scheme.

Posted: March 28th 2012


Plants of Peebleshire - the first checklist for the county

BSBI David McCosh has recently published an annotated checklist of plants for Peeblesshire. This attractively produced book is available for £6. Full details are currently prominently displayed at www.bsbi.org.uk.

Posted: March 2nd 2012


Bee Orchids found in East Lothian

A fantastic colony of Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera has been discovered by Ian Andrews in East Lothian, the first time this beautiful plant has been seen in the Lothians. In fact this species is not normally found in Scotland with only a couple of recent records from Dumfries and Galloway and from Ayrshire. These very unusual looking plants, about 15 to 40 centimetres high, have spectacular flowers whose swollen petals mimic the colours and textures of the body of a bee. It is now known that the flowers also smell like a female bee and the male bees, attracted by the scent, attempt to mate with the flower and get pollinia (sacs full of pollen) stuck to their heads as a result which they inevitably take with them to the next plant. However, this highly specialised mechanism doesn’t work in the UK as the particular species of bee which does the pollination doesn’t occur here and the orchid have to rely on self pollination! As with other orchids the plants produce millions of dust like seeds which can be blown large distances.

This particular species is a specialist in disturbed ground, such as quarries and roadside verges, especially where the soil is lime rich and where the necessary soil fungi (i.e. mycorrhizal fungi) occur which can interact with the roots of the orchid to make available the appropriate nutrients. Bee Orchids are perennial plants but can suddenly appear at a site, flower for a few years and then disappear again when that particular plant dies. The fantastic photographs of these East Lothian plants were taken by Peter Macdonald.

Posted: June 24th 2011

Photo courtesy of Peter MacDonald.

Photo courtesy of Peter MacDonald.


Hedgehog Sighting in West Lothian

TWIC Chair Alastair Sommerville poses with a hedgehog found in his garden.

TWIC Chair Alastair Sommerville was delighted to find this hedgehog in his garden at Woodbank near Armadale. “I have been dedicatedly looking out for hedgehogs all year but the only records I have managed to submit to the TWIC Hedgehog Survey this year have been road casualties” said Alastair. “We have seen hedgehogs locally, know they have been in neighbour’s gardens and have found hedgehog dropping in the front garden in previous years but this is the first time I have actually seen one in the garden.” The hedgehog was found exploring the garden at dusk and after pausing for a photo opportunity the hog headed off into an overgrown hedge.

Posted: June 14th 2011


Lothians Local Biodiversity Sites Network Strategic Habitat Survey: 145 sites surveyed!!

During the period November 2010 to April 2011 TWIC carried out a habitat survey of 145 proposed Local Biodiversity Sites (LBS) throughout the Lothians. The surveys included gathering habitat data and also reviewing and updating boundaries for these sites. Target notes identifying key features of the site were also recorded and photos taken to help interpretation of the sites.

The four LBS systems in the Lothians are organised by local authority area and are currently in different stages of development. All of the LBS systems follow national guidance and are co-ordinated by TWIC. To enable sites to be assessed both species and habitat data are required. Habitat data for the proposed sites are needed, as the large scale Phase 1 surveys for the region are not sufficiently accurate and now out of date.

All the data collected in the survey have been computerised and provide an excellent baseline for further more specialised survey – e.g. botanical surveys.

As part of the survey process TWIC has identified and contacted landowners of the sites, seeking permission to carry out survey, but also advising them of the work and sending them copies of habitat maps for site(s) in their ownership.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Central Scotland Green Network Development Fund.

Posted: May 24th 2011

A scene of the lower reaches of the River Esk near Musselburgh taken by one of our surveyors.

Has anyone seen the Rhinoceros Beetle?

The Rhinoceros Beetle (Sinodendron cylindricum) is the only member of the Stag Beetles (Lucanidae) found in Scotland. All Stag Beetle grubs specialise in feeding in very rotten wood and the large, soft, greyish-white larvae have curled-up soft bodies with a hard brown head capsule and three pairs of legs at the front end. This species can be found mainly in the very soft and crumbly wood that develops in the rotten trunks or stumps of large trees particularly beech but also in ash, elm and alder. The adult beetle in about 2 cms long, glossy black but with a knobbly surface to its body. The male has a single, short horn on its head which is only a bump in the female. The beetles can be found for much of the year including during the winter when they hibernate in the deadwood in which they developed.

TWIC only has 18 records for this species, three from the Lothians (Polkemmet County Park, River Avon Gorge, Vogrie Country Park and the rest from the Borders including Glenkinnon Burn SSSI, Mossburnford Wood, Cragbank - Wolfehopelee NNR, Avenel Hill and Gorge SSSI, Wolf Glen Wood and Tweedwood - Gateheugh SSSI). There are few other records for Scotland but the beetle is found as far north as Inverness.

I suspect that as with so many deadwood beetles, they are under recorded simply because they live deep in the rotting wood of very large and inaccessible trees. The adults do emerge and fly around in summer and can be found crawling about on large tree trunks where they mate.

This very interesting and beautiful beetle might well be more widespread than we think as there are a great number of over-mature beech trees in the TWIC area. If you would like to see if they occur near you why not go out now and look for a large, very rotten tree stump and search for the adult beetles. If the wood is not soft and crumbly enough for you to pull it apart with your own fingers then it is not suitable for the Rhinoceros beetle! Once found you will be able to identify it with certainty but obviously a photo of your find, and of the tree where you found it, would be valuable.

Remember rotten wood is a rare and valuable habitat and home to many species of specialised beetles and flies, many of them rare. Do not destroy large amounts of this material but just look in the most likely places and return all of the rotten wood, with any beetles you do find, to where it came from.

Send your records including any previous sightings to me at TWIC (alastair@wildlifeinformation.co.uk) giving the place, date, grid reference and any comments on the find with photographs whenever possible.

Alastair Sommerville

Posted: April 13th 2011


Bob Saville Award is presented to Dr Adrian T Sumner

A brand new annual award has been created by The Wildlife Information Centre to recognise special, individual contributions to the recording of wildlife in the Scottish Borders and the Lothians.

This year the award has gone to Dr Adrian T Sumner who has, virtually single-handedly, managed to put the slugs and snails of Scotland on the map. This has been achieved by an astonishing amount of recording looking for shelled and un-shelled creatures which can be as small as 1 millimetre across. Adrian has also spread his enthusiasm for this group of molluscs by teaching others about them through formal and informal courses and by organising and leading trips out into the field.

The perpetual award, a silver quaich, is in memory of Bob Saville who was the key staff member of The Wildlife Information Centre since its foundation in 2002 until his untimely death in 2010. Without doubt Bob Saville was one of the best known faces in biological recording in Scotland over the last 25 years. His enthusiasm and determination on behalf of biological recording was a lesson to us all and his own contribution of records, either directly or by encouraging and organising others, was outstanding. This award will encourage others like him to find out more about the fascinating wildlife of south-east Scotland and to pass that knowledge onto others.

On receiving the award, Adrian said “It is a great honour to be given this recognition and the award itself is a very fitting memorial to Bob. I really hope that it will be a stimulus to biological recording in the future.”

Dr Adrian T Sumner was a founding Director of The Wildlife Information Centre for nine years and worked very closely with Bob Saville as the Centre developed. He is also a leading contributor to the Conchological Society as their Scottish Recorder for all of the 41 Vice Counties in Scotland!

Posted: April 1st 2011


Dr Adrian T Sumner (left) receives the Bob Saville Award from The Wildlife Information Centre chair Dr Alastair Sommerville.


Changes to TWIC data supply, including availability of Midlothian LBS data

Midlothian Council have now completed the first phase of assessment of their Local Biodiversity Sites and data are now available. While there are still a number of proposed sites (pLBS) in the process of having survey work done and data collated to allow assessment, data on assessed sites are available as are the boundaries of pLBS.

This means that Local Biodiversity Sites are now available for both City of Edinburgh and Midlothian. LBS Systems are still being developed in East Lothian, West Lothian and Scottish Borders but the current SWT Wildlife Sites are still available in these areas. There is an updated data request form available to reflect these changes.

As from 1st April 2011 TWIC will be registered for VAT. This will affect all TWIC users as we will now have to add VAT to all our charges, the current rate of VAT is 20%. At the same time we have reviewed all our charges and produced a new table of charges. Our minimum charge for a standard data request is now £110 (ex VAT).

The updated data request form and associated guidelines, along with our current table of charges, are available here.

Posted: March 29th 2011


Phase 1 Habitat Workshop 8th May

The Scottish Borders Habitat Dataset (SBHD), derived from recently flown aerial photographs, is now complete but is in need of further ground-truthing to check, and possibly improve, the quality of the data. TWIC is looking for volunteers to help with this process by comparing the SBHD habitats allocated to their local patch with what is on the ground, or by checking other sites elsewhere on behalf of TWIC. This workshop is designed to give you an understanding of what is needed and to provide you with the basic skills to interpret Phase 1 habitat survey data and use aerial photographs and maps to review the habitats on a site.

The one day course is an excellent refresher for those of you who already have had experience of carrying out Phase 1 habitat surveys, but will also suit anyone who has no previous experience of habitat surveying and would like to learn the basics.

The course will involve both indoor and outdoor work, using Harestanes as an example to look at the Phase 1 habitat data. The trainers for this day are Dr Alastair Sommerville and Imogen German.

Please bring: outdoor shoes or wellies, waterproofs (just in case!) and a packed lunch.

To book a place, please download the booking form and return to workshop@wildlifeinformation.co.uk

Posted: March 29h 2011


Dragonfly Workshop Saturday 7th May

TWIC are holding a free training course on Dragonfly and Damselfly identification at Vogrie Country Park in May, to encourage recording of dragonflies in the Lothians and Borders. The course will be led by Jonathan Willet of the Highland Biological Recording Group and British Dragonfly Society. This course is now fully booked.

Updated: April 15th 2011


Sculpture for new primary school in Dunbar

In December 2010 TWIC were contacted by Mary Bourne, an artist working on a project for East Lothian Council, who are building a new primary school in Dunbar. As part of the project, East Lothian Council’s “Percent for Art” policy has enabled the inclusion of artists in the overall design of specific areas of the new building, one of whom was Mary Bourne. As the celebrated conservationist and environmentalist, John Muir, was born in Dunbar, East Lothian Council was keen that the artists include themes from John Muir’s legacy within their designs. Mary Bourne’s stone carvings reflect John Muir’s love of the wild and his desire to conserve the natural environment. Mary contacted TWIC in December 2010 to ask for advice on which plant species to include in the carving that would be found in the Dunbar area. She then produced the fantastic sculpture, pictured below, out of Locharbriggs sandstone from Dumfriesshire.

Posted: March 15th 2011



Lothians and Borders Mammal Group meeting with talk about Wildcats, Beavers and Water Voles

The first meeting of the Lothians and Borders Mammal Group will be on Thursday 24 March at 7-9pm, in the Committee Room of Midlothian House, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith. The meeting will consist of an introduction to the committee of the group and other formalities including draft survey and events programme for 2011, before we get onto the talk from our guest speaker. The talk will be by Rob Thomas, Conservation and Research Manager at Edinburgh Zoo, on Wildcats, Beavers and Water Voles, so there should be something to interest everyone. Following the talk there will be the opportunity to ask questions and afterwards there will be coffee, tea and biscuits.

Posted: March 4th 2011

Photo of a beaver.  Image Beaver pho34 by Per Harald Olsen.  Image reused under Creative Commons Share Alike Licence found here http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en.

Wanted: New Directors!

TWIC is looking to recruit three new Directors to join its Board. As a Director, you will be fundamental in shaping TWIC’s future and contribute to the strategic direction of TWIC. As a member of the Board you will a Director of the Company and a Trustee of the charity. Responsibilities include ensuring that appropriate policies and programmes are developed and implemented, meeting the Centre’s legal obligations and ensuring financial and personnel policies are implemented. There are exciting prospects to contribute to the further expansion of customers and our services as well as supporting staff and volunteers in developing projects to improve our knowledge of the biodiversity of Lothians and Scottish Borders. For further information and a job description please click here

Posted: March 1st 2011

The Wildlife Information Centre Spring Recorders’ Forum 2011

TWIC's Spring Recorders' Forum will take place on Saturday 26th March 2011 at the Scottish Borders' Council Headquarters in Newtown St Boswells. There will be talks by representatives from various organisations, a free lunch, posters and displays to look at over lunch, and a chance to get up on the stage to promote your own surveys/events if you are planning any this year. Please see here for the full programme and link to booking form. Space is limited so booking is essential! Hope to see you there.

Updated: February 16th 2011

Black Grouse in the Southern Uplands.

by Chris Land, Upland Habitat Enhancement Officer

I have been in post since October 2009 and during my first 3-4 months in post i visited numerous landowners and tenants to talk about Black Grouse and to get an idea on how many birds each location had. From these visits i had built up an idea of how many birds were to be found and where. However during the severe winter of 2009/10 the news that Red grouse were being forced off their moors in search of food became a recurrent nightmare for me. The pictures of birds sat in trees away from their moorland habitat brought home how difficult successful conservation work can become in the face of unfavourable weather. I was concerned that the vast majority of Black Grouse were likely to die in the bitter weather and that the upcoming Southern Uplands Black Grouse Survey would prove to be an anti-climax with few birds surviving through to Spring.

The Southern Uplands Black Grouse Survey started in mid March with snow still visible on many hills and my apprehension still present. A team consisting of 5 volunteers 1 contract surveyor and myself spent many early mornings listening for the distinctive sounds of lekking Black Grouse and tracking them down across some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. My doubts on the ability of the birds to survive the severe winter were unfounded as we increasingly found occupied lek sites, although the distribution of them centred on the larger estates focussed on traditional upland management of grouse/sheep, birds were still to be found in low numbers elsewhere.

The final total of 230 lekking males was much better than I had come to expect after such a harsh winter and gave the project a real lift. The overall figure masked the concentration of the population on 3 core sites/areas which had a total of 150 birds between them. However this has now become the focus on a developing strategy for The Borders Black Grouse population.

Habitat management and predator control work carried out within the species dispersal range of the core sites will hopefully lead to range expansion and to the creation of a meta-population. With the interest shown in Black Grouse it is a real opportunity to see a renaissance for the species especially given the funding from the SRDP. Competing land use is an issue in the Borders but I’m certain progress has been made and numbers and range of the species will increase. If anyone has any sightings of Black Grouse to report could they please contact Chris Land on 01750 725157 or email chris@sup.org.uk

Posted: January 26th 2011

A message to all customers

TWIC are pleased to announce that we now offer Phase 1 Habitat data for all of Scottish Borders. We would like to thank Scottish Borders Council for supplying us with this data and we hope that it is beneficial to all our customers in their work.

Our data request form now reflects this change in services.

Posted: January 13th 2011

TWIC Christmas and New Year Competition Winner

The TWIC Christmas competition is now closed. The winner of the BWPi interactive version of Birds of the Western Palearctic from Birdguides was Dr McGuigan from Montrose. See the correct answers by clicking here, and the original questions by clicking here. Many thanks to those of you who entered!

Posted: January 11th 2011

Happy New Year!

TWIC would like to wish all its customers and recorders a Happy New Year.

Thank you for your continued custom and support and we look forward to serving you this year.

With best wishes for the upcoming year to all,

the TWIC team.

Updated: January 5th 2011

Earthworm Survey

What's wriggling around in your bin? Take part in the UK wide Compost Earthworm Project today!

The Earthworm Society of Britain needs your help: are there earthworms in every compost bin in Britain?

More and more people now have compost bins or heaps in their gardens as they are an excellent way of recycling garden and household green waste. The resulting compost is excellent for potting and a good fertiliser for use in the rest of the garden.

In many of these bins you can find earthworms. But, have you ever wondered how they get there? Some people buy earthworms to put in their bins, others get them from their neighbours and, in some bins the earthworms just appear by themselves. As part of our dedication to carrying out research about earthworms and their environments across the UK we want to know where all these earthworms come from.

You can help! All you have to do is have a look in your compost bin or heap and see if you can find any earthworms enjoying your tea bags and vegetable scraps, then fill in our short survey telling us about what you found. It's that simple.

It's the perfect excuse for getting a little bit dirty this autumn and finding out more about what is wriggling around in your compost!

Find out more about the survey here: www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/projects/compost-earthworms-project

Posted: December 17th 2010


Winter ID and Data Mobilisation Workshops - January and February 2011

The Wildlife Information Centre has teamed up with four other Local Records Centres/Centres for Biological Recording in Scotland and the NBN Trust to provide 1-day identification and data mobilisation workshops. The aim of these workshops is to train Recorders in taxonomic groups that are unfamiliar to them and target regions where there is a lack of expert recorders in a particular taxon, thereby encouraging more recording.

Date Course Leader Location
15th January Bryophytes Liz Kungu Dumfries and Galloway
22nd January Dragonflies Jonathan Willet Edinburgh
5th February Lichens Katie Grundy Aberdeen
19th February Molluscs Adrian Sumner Glasgow
26th February Harvestmen Mike Davidson Inverness

Each workshop will cover:

  • Introduction to the taxon group including its ecology and niches

  • Identification techniques

  • Recording techniques

  • Identification of common and key species

  • Recording schemes relevant to the taxon group

  • Data and recording techniques

  • Submitting data to records centres, recording schemes and the NBN

ALL COURSES ARE NOW FULLY BOOKED.

Updated: January 5th 2010


TWIC Update!

**** PRESS RELEASE ****

It is with great excitement that I can share TWIC’s latest news with you. Thanks to Local Authority support and a generous grant from the Central Scotland Green Network Development Fund, TWIC successfully recruited three staff for our pioneering winter Phase 1 habitat surveys of all 145 proposed Local Biodiversity Sites across the Lothians. In addition TWIC has employed a new Data Assistant too. We had around 300 applicants for the posts, amazingly! All four staff are now in post and settling in well to our expanded office space at Vogrie.

We have been joined by Natalie Harmsworth from Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) as the Data Coordinator for the CSGN LBS survey project, who will be directing and coordinating the work of the two very experienced Field Surveyors, Innes Muir and Gill Christie.

Rebecca Brassey (previously Forest Research) joins us as Data Assistant to assist us with data entry for the BSBI project, the RED Squirrels Southern Scotland data project and other priority data, greatly adding to TWIC’s resources.

Claire L. Pannell, Centre Manager

Posted: December 10th 2010


Otter sighting at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre

We recently received a DVD which was sent to us by staff at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre in Edinburgh. Security staff monitoring CCTV cameras in the early hours of the morning spotted an otter rolling around in the grass and water. They couldn’t believe their eyes and sent it to us for a second opinion and we confirmed that it was indeed an otter!

Otters are by their nature an unusual sighting so to see them in the centre of Edinburgh is very rare. There have been a few sightings in recent years in more populated areas and this could be an indication that the environment is improving and is providing a habitat they can survive in.

You can watch the news report about the otter that was on STV by clicking here.

We are keen to hear from anyone about other otter sightings and sightings of any other rare animals so that we can keep track of their populations and movements.

Posted: November 15th 2010


Death's Head Hawkmoth found in the Lothians

Two records of the huge Death’s Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos) with a wingspan of up to 13 cms have been found in the Lothians recently. One in Roslin by David Burns on the 28th August (pictured) and another seen by June McDonald at South Queensferry on the 11th September.

These huge moths are immigrants from the continent and their caterpillars feed on potato leaves but normally appear here in the autumn when their numbers are at their greatest and the weather conditions suitable. The name comes from the very realistic pattern on the thorax – once seen never forgotten! Are there any more about?

Posted: November 12th 2010

Death's Head Hawkmoth.  Photo David Burns

Obituary for Bob Saville (1952 – 2010)

Bob Saville, 2nd from right, with other wildlife enthusiasts on a recording excursion.

Bob Saville, 2nd from right, with other wildlife enthusiasts on a recording excursion.

With the death of Bob Saville The Wildlife Information Centre has lost one of its key inspirers. He was the person who created the record centre and through his personal enthusiasm and good ideas, brought it to its current position of being one of the leading LRCs in the UK. Without doubt Bob Saville was one of the best known faces in biological recording in Scotland over the last 25 years. His enthusiasm and determination was a lesson to us all on how to understand what was happening in the very complex community of natural historians.

Bob will be most fondly remembered by all that met him and were inspired by him; doing what he loved, observing nature.

For the full obituary please click here

Dr Alastair Sommerville, TWIC Chair, October 2010

Posted: October 29th 2010


New website launched by Edinburgh Sparrowhawk Monitoring Project

Edinburgh Hawkwatch http://www.edinburghhawkwatch.org.uk/ is a new website launched by the Edinburgh Sparrowhawk Monitoring Project. The website has been designed as a place where information is available for someone who has seen a sparrowhawk for the first time. The aim of the website is to increase awareness and support for the the sparrowhawk and other birds of prey. In addition to this the project hopes to gather intensive data on sparrowhawks in the urban environment. Visitors to the website can view videos recorded at sparrowhawk nests in Edinburgh and of sparrowhawk chicks being ringed.

If you see a sparrowhawk in Edinburgh please email the project at edinburghsparrowhawk@gmail.com and if possible include the date, location, grid reference (i.e. NT267706), Sex, Age, Flight Direction, Behaviour and any other details you can. Then tell us all about it on the Forum page.



Darter Story

New centre manager - Claire Pannell

Claire Pannell

Claire snail hunting in the Anaga peninsular, Tenerife; a region of cloud forest with unique fauna (especially gastropods) and flora (photo by Dr Alan Gray, CEH, Edinburgh).

The Centre has appointed Claire Pannell to be the new Centre manager.

Dr Claire L. Pannell comes to TWIC from the National Museums Scotland Natural Sciences department and is experienced in the issues around data quality, verification and validation. Her interests involve freshwater and terrestrial molluscs, and palaeontology. She brings enthusiasm, drive and commitment to continue TWIC’s expansion of services to other Councils and consultants; for project development and increased volunteer engagement and training initiatives.


Scottish Invertebrate News - A new newsletter launched

Scottish Invertebrate News logo

Scottish Invertebrate News is a biannual newsletter which aims to update everyone who is interested in invertebrate conservation in Scotland – from the interested amateur to the experienced expert. It includes articles on new initiatives, the latest discoveries, and opportunities to get involved. It also provides updates on the progress of the Strategy, and a calendar of events – from introductory bugwalks to talks to under-recorded species ID workshops, there is something for everybody.

The articles have been written by a range of contributors from different organizations and with different specialisms, providing wide taxonomic coverage. Contributions for future issues are very welcome - this is your newsletter!


Rare alien snail at university

Between 2007 and 2008, Queen Margaret University moved to a new campus at Craighall, Musselburgh. One feature of the campus is a SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) pond, which collects rainwater from the roofs of the University buildings and from paved areas. This pond, which is surrounded by well developed reed beds (Figure 1), has quickly attracted wildlife, including dragonflies, and breeding swans and coot. Investigation of the freshwater molluscs in the pond in 2009 showed that it supported a large population of snails, as well as some freshwater bivalves.


Physella acuta from QMU SUDS pond
SUDS pond at Queen Margaret University

The commonest snail, which has been identified as Physella acuta (Figure 2) by Adrian Norris (Non-marine Recorder of the Conchological Society), was a surprise, as it is a species that has only been found twice before in Scotland. Presumably it was introduced with the marginal plants that surround the pond. P. acuta is an alien species, probably introduced to Britain from southern Europe in the early 19th century, although it may originally have been introduced to Europe from America.

At present it is doing well at Queen Margaret University, and also occurs in an artificial pond next to the university’s academic building. It will be interesting to see how the population develops in future years as the site matures, and whether P. acuta turns up elsewhere in the Lothians.


A name change and a new remit

We are very pleased to announce that the Centre now has the responsibility for providing its services across the Scottish Borders area as well as the Lothians. We have taken on the role previously held by the Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre (SBBRC) and now extend our services to the Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Natural Heritage in the Borders.

As a result of our new coverage we have changed our name to more accurately reflect what we now do.

It is particularly exciting that we are working with the naturalists in the Borders and have had talks with the existing SBBRC Recorders Group (chaired by Sarah Eno) about meeting their members and holding a Recorders’ Forum in the Borders. We will, of course, be carrying news about the developments as they happen.


Welcome to the Borders!

There are a great many keen naturalists in the Borders who have contributed in allsorts of ways to the development of the previous record centre and we hope that you will welcome the change to The Wildlife Information Centre. To start to get to know you and what you are doing we have started a Yahoo discussion group specifically for the Borders, paralleling the one we already have in the Lothians.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/borderswildlife

We would encourage all of you in the Borders to also join

http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/lothianwildlife/


Blaeberry Bee in East Lothian


As a result of the article on Bryan Hickman’s dragonfly sighting, we’ve had an email from Abbie Marland. Abbie spotted a blueberry/mountain bumblebee (Bombus monticola), in her garden in East Lothian. Although the species has been recorded in Edinburgh and West Lothian over the past ten years, there are no previous records of it in East Lothian.

Abbie spotted the bee on 23rd March, where it fed on Sallow for a week. It’s nice to see that despite the recent decline of bumblebee numbers, we are seeing species in new places.

Interestingly, one of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust featured surveys this year is for B. monticola. Links to this, and other surveys, can be found on their website http://www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk/


Red-veined Darter at Bindwells

Bryan Hickman spotted a male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) at Blindwells (near Tranent in East Lothian) this month. This species is a regular migrant to the British Isles, mainly in SW England. Although there are scattered records for elsewhere in the UK it has not been recorded in the Lothians since 1911! Back then it was recorded at Aberlady Bay, Edinburgh and the Isle of May.

Bryan posted his find, with photographs, on the Lothian Wildlife Yahoo group. The group provides a great platform to discuss news, events and views relating to Lothian's wildlife. As well as posting your own photos of unusual sightings, you can find out about up-and-coming excursions or ask for advice on where to see the species or groups you are interested in.

To join the Yahoo group go to http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/lothianwildlife/ and click on “Join This Group!”

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) at Bindwells.  Photo Bryan Hickman

TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. TWIC acknowledges financial support from SNH.