Friday, 8 July 2016

Reach 24 Bioblitz

Last Saturday evening, anyone passing Reach 24 Acres may have been slightly confused by all the activity on the site. At 8 o’clock we started to track down as many different species as possible on the site before lunch time on Sunday.

Reach 24 Acres is a parcel of land on the edge of the village of Reach. The National Trust purchased it as part of the Wicken Fen Vision Project in 2011. The front 12 acres is being leased to the Reach community, who have created a steering group to drive the village’s ideas for the site. The aim is that the area will be used by local people as an area to enjoy being outdoors. They have already established a cricket pitch which they use for matches against other local village teams, planted an orchard made up of old native apple, pear and plum breeds, and have also planted a woodland that should develop nicely over the next few years. There is also a horse ménage being planned for riders to be able to stop at on other routes towards Reach Lode.

The Bioblitz was an exciting opportunity to get some baseline species data for this site, as well as getting people out looking for wildlife on their local patch. Saturday evening started off with setting out small mammal traps in the orchard and down some of the paths ready to be checked the next morning. Then John Rawle arrived to help us track down some bats. We had to waiting a little while and wander down closer to the village to hear anything on our bat detectors, but we saw a good amount of pipistrelles and then by the time we got back to Reach 24 we managed to hear one on site so it could be recorded as our first mammal species. By this time, Bill Mansfield had set up some moth traps and they were coming in thick and fast. By the end of the night, and after a few close encounters with the macro moths, we had recorded 48 moth species, including a Reed Lepoard Moth (Phragmataecia castaneae) which are nationally scarce. 

We were then up early to check the mammal traps, and we found 3 common shrews (Sorex araneus), one of which was a very pregnant female shrew. There was no rest from then on as we hunted down birds, bugs and butterflies through the morning. We then finished with a wander around the site checking off all the plant species we could identify. By Sunday lunch time, the species count had reached 231. Some more results have come in since, as some of the experts took some insects away to have a closer look at and we are now at 291 species!

Thank you to all the experts who came and shared their knowledge, and to everyone who came along to have a good time too.

Filling up the Longworth traps with food and bedding

Setting out the mammal traps in the Orchard
Listening out for bats at sunset
Watching for moths
A Small Magpie moth (Anania hortulata)
A grumpy looking Ghost moth (Hepialus humuli)
Sometimes the wildlife was just begging to be counted, like this brown slug (Deroceras reticulatum) found on someone's boot!
One of the Shrews (Sorex araneus) caught in the Longworths
Bug hunting
How ever big or small we were counting it!
A golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle ( Agapanthia villosoviridescens)
Basecamp where all findings were recorded
Sweeping for butterflies
There were lots of Meadow Browns (Miniola jurtina)
And a Comma (Polygonum c-album)
And this fuzzy fella is a Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Scarlet Pipernel (Anagallis arvensis)
And I can't remember what plant this was but it had a nifty trick of its leaves following the sun as the day went on.
The total at the end of the day, which has now exceeded 290.