Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows have always sought to find out as much as possible about the wildlife of the Clifton Washland so that we can manage habitats to cater for a wide range of species. As well as the more obvious birds and wildflowers, we have commissioned several surveys of ‘mini-beasts’ over the years.
We are currently supporting a small survey of the beetles of some of the habitats where data is lacking. This has already produced some interesting discoveries. For example, the large predatory ground beetles belonging to the genus Carabus are important environmental indicators, with many species in steep decline (you can find out more here: at Rothamsted Research). One uncommon wetland species, Carabus granulatus, has been found in wet grassland in the flood basin [PHOTOS © MARTIN HAMMOND].
A much rarer species, the Necklace Ground-beetle (Carabus monilis), has been found in the Copse Meadow. It gets its name from the beads on its wing cases. Once widespread and locally-common, this inch-long coppery-coloured beetle is now rarely found and is listed as a Priority Species for conservation in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It seems to require landscapes with a mixture of meadows, less intensive arable land and hedgerows and has probably declined due to agricultural intensification.
It is particularly pleasing to know that this threatened species is using the wildflower-rich grassland established in the Copse Meadow, which was run-down species-poor pasture until we began an ambitious programme of ecological restoration in 2009. As the Necklace Ground-beetle cannot fly, there is probably a long-established population in nearby habitats. Sorry, but no photograph available.