How to bowl a maiden over

28 May 2021 | Posted in Jane Wilmott , Burton Pond
How to bowl a maiden over
Field Cricket © Derek Middleton

By Jane Wilmot

Reserve Manager

We are very excited to announce that following a concerted effort over a number of years to re-create suitable habitat for the Field Cricket, our Reserves Manager, Jane Willmott heard two singing males on the Warren at Burton and Chingford Ponds Local Nature Reserve. 

These remarkable creatures are among the rarest and most threatened invertebrates in the UK. They are 2cm long and chunky, black or brown in colour. They can’t fly, but can walk up to 100m a day. Their wing markings resemble intricate wrought-iron work, and the males make a loud call to attract a mate using “harps”, modified veins on their wings. The male cricket creates a burrow like an amphitheatre that it uses to sing its “lovesong” to attract a female. Once mated the female will lay her eggs in a sunny spot, usually the burrow where the nymphs will spend the winter.

The grassy heathland in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, where the crickets live and on which they depend, has been greatly depleted by forestry and other land use changes. In the 1980s, there was just one group of fewer than 100 individuals left in West Sussex. Despite successful heathland restoration and reintroduction projects, the current six populations are still very isolated and vulnerable. 

The Field Crickets were re-introduced onto neighbouring land 20 years ago as part of the Back from the Brink Project and a stable population had established on part of the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve next door on Welch’s Common. These two Field Crickets have found their way onto the Warren and we hope that they will now establish a population there where we have been carrying out heath and acid grass restoration. The more populations there are, and the more habitat links there are between populations, the safer the crickets are from extinction. Cattle grazing is due to be reintroduced at the Warren too over the next few months which will help to manage the short turf habitat in optimum condition for the crickets. The most recent works have been funded by the Heathlands Reunited National Lottery Heritage project.

Listen to a recording of the Field Cricket's song

Comments

  • Sally:

    03 Jun 2021 11:30:00

    Lovely to hear them. What a sound of summer

  • imogen makepeace:

    03 Jun 2021 12:48:00

    We spent a couple of days in May nearby and loved the heath at Burton Pond. One particular memory is a crickets and woodlark symphony at dusk.

  • Judy Short:

    03 Jun 2021 13:47:00

    I heard one in my garden last summer and the summer before. Never heard one before in England and it reminded me of being in Spain !! A lovely sound of summer !

  • Julia Dance:

    04 Jun 2021 13:10:00

    Marvellous to hear. Well done to all concerned.

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