Wildlife surveys reveal coastal jewels
Thousands of nature lovers and wildlife experts' 'bioblitz' surveys recorded over 3,400 species, including several rare ones, at 25 places along the 775 miles of coastline we look after.
From the white cliffs of Dover to the dune-rich White Park Bay on the North Antrim coast there was a race against the clock last year to record as many species as possible over either 12 or 24 hours.
The ‘bioblitzes’ made up our largest ever wildlife survey, recording a handful of wildlife firsts. They included the first sighting of a Balearic shearwater at Blakeney, Norfolk, a slow worm seen at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, for the first time since 1966 and the first recorded sighting of the rare Forest chafer beetle in Ireland in over a century.
Top five discoveries
• The rare Forest chafer beetlewas found at White Park Bay on the Antrim coast. This was the first recorded sighting of the beetle on the island of Ireland since 1915.
• Balearic shearwaters, on the RSPB’s red list of species under threat, were recorded at Blakeney on the north Norfolk coast for the first time.
• Murlough National Nature Reserve in Co.Down, Northern Ireland, cemented its reputation as a hotspot for moths. 174 species were found in 24 hours, including the Sand dart and Grass rivulet.
• 899 species of flowering plants were found by the bioblitzers. At St Helen’s Duver on the Isle of Wight, they found 17 different species – including the nationally scarce Least soft brome.
• Over forty mammal species were spotted during the surveys. They included the first recorded sighting of a water vole at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk, in over 40 years.
Organised to coincide with the 50th anniversary of our Neptune Coastline Campaign last year, the surveys sought to collect data and to raise awareness of coastal wildlife and the threats to its survival.
Our head of nature conservation, Dr David Bullock said: ’The data from these bioblitzes will help us gain a much greater understanding of the species that live along our coastline.
’The shifting nature of our shoreline means that we need to think ahead about what is happening to coastal habitats and how we might secure the future of the wildlife that lives by the sea.
Four thousand people took part in the surveys, looking for everything from bees and beetles to plants and seabirds. Volunteers from over twenty different organisations leant expert support to the bioblitzes; organisations involved included the Marine Conservation Society, Wildlife Trusts and British Trust for Ornithology.
Connecting people with nature
Chris Oliver, head ranger on the Stackpole Estate, Pembrokeshire, said: ‘Bioblitzes encourage people to notice what’s out there in our landscapes. The surveys are as much about collecting data as about helping people understand why wildlife matters.
‘By involving people in spotting wildlife on our coast, we’ll ensure that they want to protect our coastal species and landscapes for future generations.’