This year, Mark Telfer, one of the UK’s leading coleopterists, has been surveying Howe Park, Kingsmead and Shenley Woods on behalf of The Parks Trust. Mark has been looking for invertebrates associated with dead and decaying wood. A similar survey, focusing on beetles, was carried out by Colin Plant in 1996 so this is the first survey of its kind in MK for twenty years.
Although the survey is ongoing, Mark says that he is “staggered” by the diversity of saproxylic beetles he has found, and in particular a number of Red Data Book and nationally rare species. One of the most impressive of these if the false click beetle Eucnemis capucina (pictured) which he found in Kingsmead Wood. This incredibly rare beetle is considered a flagship species of ancient woodland. It is known only from the New Forest, Windsor Great Park and Bredon Hill in Worcestershire, so its discovery in Milton Keynes is little short of miraculous.
In Shenley Wood, Mark has discovered several beetles new to him – itself very unusual. One of these is a tiny beetle called Atomaria pulchra . Mark shared this information with fellow coleopterist Tony Allen who has the largest beetle list in the UK. Tony has since made two visits to Shenley Wood from Dorset, as he had never before recorded this species. Tony Allen not only saw A.pulchra but also found another Atomaria beetle which may be new to the UK! This specimen has been taken to the Natural History Museum in London to be identified later this summer.
Parks Trust Biodiversity Officer Martin Kincaid said, “The early findings of this survey far exceed our expectations and it’s exciting that Mark has already found so many rare and scarce species. This really highlights the importance of standing dead wood as a habitat and shows that even where there is relatively little dead wood, important populations of invertebrates can survive. The creation of more standing dead wood in our woodlands will help these and other species to expand”.
The full results of this survey will be available in late 2017 and we will provide a further update then.
Author: Martin Kincaid