Over the weekend, staff from The Ecology Consultancy’s Norfolk office were involved in a BioBlitz event at the Hawk & Owl Trust’s Community Nature Reserve at Sculthorpe Moor. A BioBlitz is a large scale event that aims to engage people with biodiversity by inviting them to get directly involved in surveying and monitoring their local wildlife and green spaces. During a BioBlitz event experts and members of the public work together to survey an area identifying and recording as many species as possible over 24 hours.
Located in the beautiful Wensum Valley, Sculthorpe Moor Community Nature Reserve is nationally and internationally recognised for its wildlife being both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. The mixture of woodland, fen, fen meadow and reedbed habitats provided Alex, Graham and Rachel ample opportunity for botanising, fungus foraying, aphid hunting and small mammal trapping over the weekend.
The collection of field signs and stuffed animals which graced our stand generated much interest and amusement from the public. Stars of the show included Marvin the Mink and Percy Polecat but the poo collection also went down a treat, especially with the younger participants.
Graham, our entomologist got the ball rolling on Saturday with a well attended aphid walk around the reserve.
First thing on Sunday morning, mammalogist Rachel led a small mammal walk. Approximately 40 Longworth traps had been set in woodland and fen habitats around the reserve the previous evening and were baited with casters (blowfly pupae) and seed with bedding for added comfort. The traps were collected and processed within the shade of the woodland at the aptly named ‘Old Gits Corner’. We had over 50% trap success with the majority of the usual suspects being found including wood mouse, bank vole, and common and pygmy shrews. The highlight was, however, not one but two water shrews, trapped within the sedge beds. Interestingly, both individuals were found within the same trap but, thankfully, were none the worse for it! Unfortunately, one bank vole found her trap so comfortable that she decided to give birth to five little pinkies overnight. Mother and babies were quickly moved, without handling, to a tank with the bedding and a food supply, and placed in a quiet location for later release.
Later that day, our botanist Alex led two enthusiastic groups recording plants and fungi. The fungus forays recorded over 70 fungus species such as the curious dark form of milking mycena, the intensely hot tasting firey milkcap and the sexual stage of Chalara ash dieback disease, which is now ubiquitous in Norfolk but previously unrecorded on the reserve. Alex recorded 187 plant taxa, the highlights including the nationally scarce hedgehog stonewort, long-stalked yellow-sedge and marsh fern.