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Pyramid and nest box update

In this page I would like to show you what has been happening in Highwoods Country Park, Colchester, regarding artificial stag beetle habitats. Even though the park isn't a known stag beetle hotspot, it was there that the first pyramid was built, 1998, which was quickly followed by the installation of a couple of nest boxes.
Shown below is how the pyramid and one of the nest boxes have aged, the other has been swallowed by the wilderness. I started taking pictures 2000.


 Year 2000

 Years 2005 and 2006

Pyramid update Photo taken 2000, by Maria Fremlin.
This pyramid was built at the edge of some trees in a very prominent place, two years later some vandals had already made a fire on it, see darkened logs.
Photo taken 12 June 2005, by Maria Fremlin.
The pyramid has stood fairly well the ravages of time and vandalism, some logs are still standing in their original setting. Others have been scattered in the vicinity, mostly because they have broken off, a bit like rotten teeth.
Some broken pieces show signs of activity by wood boring insects. Stag beetle larvae? Who knows? Click on the photo to see one example, the ruler is about 8 cm long.
Nest box update
Photo taken August 2000, by Maria Fremlin.
The aim of the nest boxes was to create a good nesting habitat that could be easily monitored, which was the main draw back with the pyramids.
Photo taken 12 June 2005, by Maria Fremlin.
Notice how the filling has shrunk over the years.
This box was monitored March 2006. It took several people, mostly Sonya Lindsell and myself, about one hour to dig it out though; the box itself was in remarkably good condition, surprisingly the top layer was very pebbly soil. No Lucanidae larvae were found amongst the fauna to be expected in such place, mainly centipedes, woodlice and even an empty banded snail shell. However, most unexpectedly, we have found some root galls of Biorhizia pallida in some oak rootlets that had made their way inside the box. Note that there are a couple of young oak trees nearby. Click here to see a picture also showing some boot lace fungus, possibly Armillaria mellea.
Conclusions It seems to have been well worth while installing both habitats in the park, some lessons have been learnt. Pyramids would benefit from regular addition of woodchips, see Future for more. The nest boxes have become redundant for various reasons, including the way that the oak wood deteriorated.
Other projects:
1.   In the Netherlands a very interesting and successful method for monitoring stag beetles has been developed by Paul Hendriks since 1999. See Nesting Posts for more.
2.   In the U.K. "Bury Buckets 4 Beetles", since 2004.

Contact: Maria Fremlin
Last modified: Sun Jan 25 10:19:03 GMT 2009

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