On the twelfth day of South Downs Christmas…

On the twelfth and final day of our South Downs Christmas, look who’s drumming for us. The wart-biter cricket!

The wart-biter cricket gets its name from the 18th century Swedish practice of using them to gnaw off warts. It was able to do this thanks to its strong mouth parts – yuck!

The cricket ‘sings’ by rubbing its wings together to produce a loud and distinctive song, our Assistant Ranger Matt took this film of one in the South Downs earlier this year.

The wart-biter is one of the most endangered insect species in Britain and has declined drastically in recent years. Of the five remaining UK populations three are on chalk grassland sites in the South Downs National Park – two of these are natural and one reintroduced.

Right. Deep breath!

On the eleventh day of South Downs Christmas – Folk singers piping

On the tenth day of South Downs Christmas – What’s leaping at Lord’s Piece?

On the ninth day of South Downs Christmas – Something to dance about

On the eighth day of South Downs Christmas – Delicious dairy products

On the seventh day of South Downs Christmas – Swanbourne Lake

On the sixth day of South Downs Christmas – Locally produced geese

On the fifth day of South Downs Christmas – Iron Age hill fort ‘rings’

On the fourth day of South Downs Christmas – Barn owls on silent wings

On the third day of South Downs Christmas – Hen harriers

On the second day of South Downs Christmas – Rare turtle doves

On the first day of South Downs Christmas – A grey partridge nestling on the ground