ANNUAL MEETING 2024 on Saturday 16th March 2024

Non members welcome £10 (members £8) 

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Worcestershire Recorders Annual Meeting 2023 – Andy Young

The Worcestershire Recorders first Annual Meeting for 3 years was held at Lower Smite Farm on 11th March 2023. It was good to see so many members and there was a positive buzz of conversation between all those present sharing views and opinions of wildlife recording since before our enforced isolation brought about by the Covid pandemic.

A welcome and report was given by the Chairman, highlighting the many changes in the organisation, including a fond farewell and notes of thanks to our previous Chairman Geoff Trevis, and two other members of the committee, Martin Skirrow and Mick Blythe. Four new members were welcomed to the committee, Bob Gillmor, Carol & John Taylor and Diana Westmoreland. Among other items presented were new recording day plans and news of a new website. The formal business of the Worcestershire Recorders then took place followed by a report from Simon Wood of the WBRC and then Harry Green told the audience of plans for the next issues of Worcestershire Record, including a plea for more articles, whether they be a short observation, photograph or longer articles about members’ observations and sightings.

The key presentation of the day was given by Martin Harvey. This was on the subject of “Making the most of Wildlife Records”, and included a focus on Worcestershire records as well as the national situation on changes due to climate, habitat and human effects. The iRecord system has over half a million Worcestershire records of some 9000 species and Martin demonstrated how many of the recording systems worked with each other via the Indicia data handling system.

After a break for lunch, we had four further presentations, the first from Richard Dawson about the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme. He described the Flower Insect Timed (FIT) method used to engage in a citizen science way to get more records about plant pollination, and indicated that there are still many 1km squares that need to be monitored. It’s a simple system that can be run from 1st April onwards each year and gives a good indication of insect abundance. This scheme has seen the appearance of rare species and an increase in some new species that are moving across the country due to climate change.

Our second afternoon presentation was given by Diana Westmoreland reporting on the development and success of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Sightings project. From a start during Covid lockdown this project has been developing rapidly from 2020 with Diana joining in 2021 to provide feedback and to handle records coming in, liaising with Worcestershire Recorders members over some of the more difficult IDs generated by some of the sightings. Over 800 records have been submitted by the end of 2022 and with more new target species being added for 2023, this project is set to increase the number of active recorders in the county.

Mike Averill gave a presentation of dragonflies, giving a series of examples to show that they are early indicators of climate change. An example given was the Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator which had 5 Worcestershire records up until 1981 and this had increased to 2578 by 2020. Club-tailed dragonflies (Gomphus vulgatissimus) have more recently disappeared from the Avon, but are still seen on the Severn, whilst Willow Emerald Damselflies (Chalcolestes viridis) are now starting to be seen so there is a lot of change to be keeping up with.

The final presentation of the day was from Tony Simpson and he told us about the changing moth fauna across the county with new species seen and others disappearing. Overall the moth populations, like many other insects are rapidly declining, but the number of species are telling a story of climate and habitat change. Partly this may be due to more moth recorders, there has been an increase in recorders using light traps but even with more recording effort, new species are arriving, many of which moving here from the south and south east of the country.

The day also gave members the opportunity to browse stands with previous editions of Worcestershire Record, previous editions of WFSG Review and also a stand of secondhand wildlife books donated to the Wildlife Trust. Richard Dawson had a stand with his ArthoPods products designed for entomological use. We all now look forward to the field recording days for 2023.