Bristol Bioblitz

On Friday I took part in the Bristol Bioblitz, a 30-hour race against the clock to find as many species as possible. This year it was held at the Tyntesfield Estate, just outside Bristol. Despite some ominous clouds and the heavens opening at the start of the day, the weather soon turned warm and sunny and it was a great day of wildlife-spotting!

Damselfly

Before the official counting had even begun, it had been a good morning for birds – the trees were full of singing goldcrests, robins, wrens, blackcaps, chaffinches and blackbirds, while in the car park dozens of swallows were wheeling about and a song thrush was singing nearby. There were also a couple of buzzards about and a raven flying over.

During the morning, I joined a school group out looking for insects and other small creatures – there were plenty about, although identifying them was a bit more of a challenge! It was great to see the kids so enthusiastic about what they found, and not afraid to pick up anything from worms to beetles and from centipedes to snails.

Seven-spot ladybird
Seven-spot ladybird

Towards the end of the morning, we were also able to watch my friend Ed doing some bird ringing – in this case, a beautiful male robin.

Ringing a robin
Ed ringing a male robin
Male palmate newt
Male palmate newt – note the dark webbing on the hind feet and the thin point to the tail.

With the species count gradually climbing, a few of my colleagues and I set out in the afternoon to see what else we could find – a small pond provided some azure damselflies, lots of snails and some palmate newts, while a stroll through the woods became half an hour sitting in a sunny glade trying to photograph butterflies and bumblebees!

Green-veined white butterfly on bugle
Green-veined white feeding on bugle

Later on, a ramble around some buildings turned up dozens of these intriguing thick-kneed flower beetles… and while we were busy watching them, a large rat also appeared out of the bushes!

I finished the day off watching a family of mistle thrushes, the parents busy collecting food for the fledglings in a nearby field. All in all, a lovely, sunny day with plenty of wildlife – you can see all the details of what was found and the final species tally at http://bioblitzbristol.wordpress.com/.

Thick-kneed flower beetle
Male thick-kneed flower beetle. Can you guess how it got its name?!
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