The North Cornwall team had a great day last weekend, hosting our first Bioblitz.
BioBlitzes are an intense, biological survey bonanza held over one day in a designated area. The North Cornwall ranger team held the final of the National Trust’s Coastal Bioblitzes at Sandymouth (3 October). We were joined by scientists, naturalists and members of the public to work together to find as many living species as possible in one day.
A good day was had by all, even the weather held out for us. In total 457 species have been recorded, a phenomenal number for the area. Events like these are important in helping know the distribution of species as well as having a fun day out and getting to know nature up close. A big thank you to the experts and volunteers who came to join us, and everyone who took part. The National Trust will be running more again next year so we hope to see you then.
Along the coastal grasslands, botanical walks were led by the BSBI County Recorder, Ian Bennallick. After a day of surveying he reported back that the event had found a whopping 370 species, adding 103 vascular plant species to the known 1999 records for this site. This included the rare Deptford pink, a wild relative of the popular carnation, which the site is partly managed for. A variety of birds including stonechats, skylarks, a kestrel and the iconic herring gull where all also spotted. It shows you that even simple looking grassland can be full of surprises.
In the tent, not cakes but butterflies were to be found, from small coppers to brimstones. Members of the public along with our expert, Alan Rowland, brought along what they had caught in the bug hunt trails where dark spiny bush crickets were joined by delicate emerald coloured lacewings. Moths that had been caught the night before included the ‘L-Album Wainscot’ a species that our expert, Mary Atkinson, had never caught in this country before. It makes the L Album one of our more unusual species, being at its northern most range.
Down on the beach, rock pooling lead in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, found a myriad of sea life from algae to mussels. Covering some rocks where honeycomb reef worms, which build a delicate pocket like structure from sand that any architect would be proud of. Even with the tide out, nine different fish species were found hiding in the rock rools. This including the familiar face of the common blenny (shanny), a small feisty fish that when the tides goes out can hide itself away in small rock crevices out of water! Next time you are rock pooling look out for them.
As dusk approached people gathered to go on a walk lead by Tony Atkinson from the Cornwall Bat Group. Bat detectors at the ready, lesser horseshoe and common pipistrelle bats were both heard and seen. The resident barn owl remained elusive, however we did find its prey species, field voles and wood mice.