Onwards and upwards

At the time of writing this blog post we are rapidly approaching the end of 2013. This year has flown by and has brought a whirlwind of wildlife discoveries onto my doorstep (in the case of a elephant hawk moth, quite literally). As some of you may know I’m an avid supporter of discovering wildlife in residential gardens and I help organise the wonderful Garden Bioblitz. Gardens take up more land area than nature reserves in the UK and can support some rather rare species, even in the most urban of areas. In 2013 atleast 495 participated in the Garden Bioblitz generating over 20,000 biological records which are vitally important to aid conservation and research into ecology. I would wholeheartedly recommend that anyone with even a passing interest in wildlife in their gardens takes part in 2014 (Between 31st May – 1st June). You don’t even need to know how to identify the wildlife you find as there will be many experts on hand to help identification and record submission.

Anyway this year I decided to take on a challenge started by Jane Adams (@wildlifestuff) in which the aim was to record 365 species in our gardens in a year. I was very pesimistic and thought it would be an impossible challenged however I have achieved this challenge now and it opened up my eyes to a number of species and taxonomic groups that I would usually have sadly overlooked. I also found some species that are particularly under recorded in the area. For example I posted a photo of a moth that I couldn’t identify onto ispot and was astounted to find out that it is an Obscure Wainscot, a species that had only ever been in recorded in Buckinghamshire five times before! Richard Comont  (One of the best wildlife gurus in the UK) had also showed me the ladybird Rhyzobius lophanthae in Oxfordshire which I subsequently managed to find in a hedge in our garden! This has now become the only known record of this species in Buckinghamshire.

Overall this year up to the 1st of December I have recorded 391 species in my garden, unfortunately this is unlikely to go up this year as I’m very busy until Christmas now. I’m very pleased with this total and hope that next year I can beat it. Here you can see a breakdown of which taxa I found in our small urban garden.

Here is a breakdown of the insect species

This year I want to try a new challenge entitled 1000 for 1 km square. As the title suggests this challenge involves finding 1000 species in a year in one km square on a ordinance survey map. To make it easy I have chosen SP8112, the square where I live in Buckinghamshire. The problem with this square is that it is mostly residential so the area where I can actually go and find species is rather limited but that will add to the challenge. I also aim to blog with my progress more often and hopefully inspire a few people to get addicted to identifying wildlife. Behind all the fun of finding and identifying wildlife (and I warn you it is fun and addictive) there is important reasons for building such lists. The records for wildlife that I find go onto irecord where they can be seen by various recording schemes and records centres. This informs decisions for protecting wildlife and also for mapping species distributions. Here is a map of my grid square for those interested (the area encompassed by the blue square on the right hand map).

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