6 September 2009
The first ever Bristol Bioblitz gets local people discovering the amazing plants and creatures on their doorstep.
Who needs Glastonbury? The real action on the weekend of 26 June 2009 was happening just over the Clifton Suspension Bridge at the Ashton Court Estate, where hundreds of volunteers, children and members of the public braved some damp conditions for Bristol's first ever BioBlitz.
So what is a BioBlitz? It's a race against the clock to find as many different species of plants and animals in a particular place over a defined period (in this case 30 hours). This Bioblitz was organised by the Bristol Natural History Consortium, an alliance of the city's two universities with local wildlife organisations and agencies.
The event gives children and adults the chance to become wildlife detectives and learn about the richness of the natural environment in a fun-filled family day out.
James Buckley, a PhD student in the University's School of Biological Sciences, volunteered as a guide for the event. For James, it was a great opportunity to sample the wonderful array of plants, animals, insects and birds across the estate. "There are loads of things here that people probably never even think about," he said. "Looking at the variety of stuff that's on our doorstep is amazing!"
Highlights included great crested newts in the Estate's ponds; dusk walks which revealed over 50 moth species and five species of bat; and three types of orchid. Overall, the survey found 569 different species, including 55 that had not been recorded in the Avon district before. All this information was carefully recorded by the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre and this knowledge will help conserve the region's plant and animal life in future.
The consortium members are now thinking about plans for next year: appropriately, 2010 will be International Year of Biodiversity.