Our 30-hour BioBlitz marathon started on the morning of Friday 4th July with 200 schoolchildren from local primary schools (Stoke Lodge, Holy Family, Wheatfield and Holy Trinity) joining expert naturalists, scientists and volunteers in a real life scientific survey of the wildlife of the Three Brooks Nature Reserve. Most members of the conservation group were able to take a day off work so that they could take part in guiding others around the reserve, helping with the schools/children’s activities, surveying and reporting.
In the evening, there were many opportunities for the adults to join in too, with bug hunting, evening wildlife walk, bat walk (a roost of 30 – 40 noctules was found) and moth trapping (which caught over 140 different species of moth).
On the Saturday, the dawn chorus may have been cancelled (although an intrepid five people braved the damp anyway), but there was still plenty to see and do. At the lake base camp as well as a ‘mobile laboratory’ identifying specimens, there were several manned displays and, organized and run by Gill and Freya Smith, some very popular children’s craft activities, including paper swans, bug houses and tic-tac-toe game making. Throughout the day there were more walks and talks including ‘tremendous trees’, ‘spot the ladybird’, bug hunting, nature detectives, mammal tracks and signs, butterfly walks and looking for lichens.
Bradley Stoke Library, as well as setting up an amazing BioBlitz display and running a specially themed story telling session, was temporary home to a host of data recorders who were counting and logging the species records, not an easy task when the systems seemed to feel a need for frequent long pauses. All of the species found were documented as biological records and are now being entered into local databases where they will be verified and stored for posterity. This snapshot of the wildlife found will be used to influence the management and conservation work that takes place on the site.
There were a few unexpected surprises over the weekend; as well as finding a new bat roost, two new species of bat were heard and evidence of little owls was found – and how normal it became to hear: “Ooh that’s interesting poo, can I take a look?”
During the Saturday, over 300 people visited the base camp, including Martin Davis, author of The Farmer and the Goose with the Golden Eyes’ (a book that describes how the reserve was formed from his father’s farmland), and MP Jack Lopresti.
At 5pm, the Chair of South Gloucestershire Council, Cllr Howard Gawler, came along to congratulate the volunteers and announce the final species count, which was an amazing 617 species. When completed, the full list can be found at http://recording.brerc.org.uk/node/30
For all their advance hard work ensuring the weekend went without a hitch, our very sincere thanks must go to Matt Postles, Project Manager from Bristol Natural History Consortium and to our own Three Brooks secretary Emma Creasey, who somehow managed in the countdown to the event, to not join her email system in a meltdown, and to all the volunteers and naturalists who cheerfully gave up their time for this amazing event.
BioBlitz was delivered in partnership by Bristol Natural History Consortium and was supported by South Gloucestershire Council and the British Ecological Society.
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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