20 Aug 2015

20 Aug 15 - Not All Cockroaches Are Bad

Ask the vast majority of people in the UK about Cockroaches, then they are likely to tell stories about an unpleasant incident in a hotel abroad or a third hand story about why they will never visit a particular restaurant or food establishment in the UK. However, few people probably know the UK has three native Cockroaches: Tawny Cockroach, Lesser Cockroach & Dusky Cockroach. All three species are small and easily overlooked. Unlike the introduced Cockroaches in the UK, the native Cockroaches prefer to live outside & are not pest species. Having said they live outside, the only species I've seen, up to today, was a single Tawny Cockroach which was walking around on the counter at the local Durlston Country Park visitors centre back in Aug 1996. Today I visited South Haven for an early morning visit. Having checked the the Waders on the beach (seven Ringed Plovers & a Greenshank), I decided to have a look at the sea. After all there was a ten knot Southerly wind at 05:00 this morning. The highest viewpoint is a sand dune behind Pilots Point, on the seaward side of South Haven.
Pilots Point & Shell Bay: Pilots Point is the far point & the high dune is at far right hand side (6 Oct 14)
Just as I saw down on the sand, I noticed what I initially thought was a small Beetle. As I was about to move it out of the way, I thought I had better have a second look. This confirmed it was one of the native Cockroaches. Checking the excellent Grasshoppers, Bush-crickets & Allies of Dorset book, I believe it is a Tawny Cockroach.
Tawny Cockroach: The only time it stopped running around was when it was sitting on my hand or fleece. As soon as I put it back on the sand, it was off (hence the unattractive background to the photo). It was probably about 7 or 8 mm long so it is easily overlooked
The Grasshoppers, Bush-crickets & Allies of Dorset book describes it as a golden-brown Cockroach making it relatively easy to identify, being intermediate in size between larger Dusky Cockroach and the smaller Lesser Cockroach. They are found on dry heathland or calcareous grassland. The heaths around South Haven are a known area for Tawny Cockroach. The heaths start right behind the high dune. I should add, the obvious question is why the interest in Cockroaches. Well they are part of the Order Orthoptera which also includes Grasshoppers, Bush-crickets, Crickets, Stick Insects & Earwigs. They just happen to be at the less glamorous end of the Order.

Earlier, as I was walking down the beach toward Pilots Point, I noticed HMS Protector, the Royal Navy Ice Patrol ship steaming into the bay. I wasn't surprised given the Bournemouth Air Show starts today & clearly it is one of the guard ships for the air show.
HMS Protector (A173): Steaming into the bay with Hengistbury Head to the left of the photo
HMS Protector (A173): Close up of the ship which is likely to enjoy the calmest few days of this year's deployment
Tenacious: Also offshore was the Jubilee Sailing Trust ship, Tenacious. She is one of the JST ships used to promote the integration of peoples of all physical abilities at sea in sailing ships
Having put the scope up, I tried a quick scan of the bay when I picked up a Balearic Shearwater flying away from me. I had thought I might be lucky to see one on the horizon. But this was just beyond the end of the the rocky breakwater which extends out from Pilots Point (so less than a quarter of a mile out). No chance to grab the camera for a photo, but plenty of time to enjoy watching it flying out towards Old Harry.