Bioblitz 2013 results

So how many species of wildlife are there at Rutland Water Nature Reserve? Its not an easy question to answer. The range of species present at the reserve changes with every season and, in some cases, by the day. Summer is just about peak time, but trying to record everything is not a simple task. That, though, is what we attempted to do at the reserve from midday on 6th July to midday on 7th July. During our 24 hour Bioblitz we hoped to record everything that creeped, crawled and fluttered at the reserve.

So where do you start? Well, the first thing you need are some expert recorders. Whilst most of us can identify most of the common species of birds, butterflies and plants, if you are going to record everything, you need to call in some expert help. With that in mind we invited a range of different specialists to come and help out with the recording.  Next, you need some good weather; something that we know can not be guaranteed in the UK at any time, let alone in the middle of summer. Many insect species simply don’t venture out in the cold and the wet; so if we were going to record a fair representation of what is present at the reserve, we needed some sun.

As luck would have it, the sun shone and the recorders came out in force. Over the course of the 24 hours some serious recording effort took place, and the final species list reflects that. Over the past few weeks Michelle Househam has compiled the definitive list which stands at a whopping 872 species. Here is how the list is broken down into the various groups:

Plants 241
Birds 107
Lepidoptera 194
Invertebrates 143
Mammals 17
Reptiles & amphibians 5
Fish 5
Fungi 5
Lichens & Bryophytes 112
Plant Galls 43
Bioblitz Total 872

Although the total was below our initial target of 1000 species, we think that has much to do with the fact that the cold winter delayed the onset of spring. This in turn, has meant that many species of plants and invertebrates have appeared later than usual. On top of this we’ve had two successive wet and cold summers which will have badly affected survival of many species. This makes the sun we’ve enjoyed recently all the more important for our insect life in particular.

Among the highlights of the 872 species that we recorded was a species of lichen new to Rutland (thanks to the expert identification of Ivan Pedley) and an excellent night of moth trapping.If you would like to see the full species list, please email me timmackrill@rutlandwater.org.uk.

Eric Remmo spent the whole weekend with us and he has taken some great photos of the recording as it happened. Here’s a selection of some of his best images – thanks Eric!

Finally, a huge thank you to all the recorders and to Michelle Househam for compiling the species list.  It was a great 24 hours!

Sweep-netting for invertebrates in the meadows at Egleton

On the look-out for grasshoppers and crickets with Phil Rudkin

Phil Rudkin identifying a grasshopper nymph

Members of Botanical Society of the British Isles VC55 group surveying plants beside Lagoon 1

Jackie Murray – one of our botany experts – identifying a grass species

Pond-dipping in search of underwater life

Sam Gandy identifying aquatic invertebrates

Vic Arnold moth-trapping at the Lyndon Visitor Centre

Lloyd Park with some newly-ringed Sand Martin chicks at the artificial bank on Lagoon 2