The big excitement around here lately has had nothing to do with birds. After a lot of discussion with Natural England and their consultant entomologists, the reserve was selected as a suitable site for an attempt to establish field crickets. This is one of the rarest insects in the UK, and one that is declining across much of it's range in Europe as well. There are old records for the general area, with a colony near Frensham Little Pond (less than a kilometre away) that was destroyed in the late 1950's, so it be good to have them back in this part of the world.
The field cricket requires a mixture of short turf, with some longer tussocks and plenty of bare ground. It needs to be on light soil, so that the insects can burrow. The males keep the vegetation in front of their burrow nice and short, to create a sort of sunny "garden. From here they rub their wingcases together to make a sort of buzzy chirping sound, which, they hope will attract females. The recreated heath and acid grassland on part of the reserve seemed perfect, so, at the very end of April, 4 male and 4 female immature crickets were released here.
All very nerve wracking - would they survive into adulthood? would they all be able to create their own burrows before getting picked off by predators?
Well, as of Monday 24th of May there were three adult males all calling very loudly from their burrows. THe females don't call so are much harder to find, but assuming a similar survival rate, we're on track for lots of little field crickets later this summer!