Last Wednesday MWHG staff and volunteers gathered at Manor Green Park, adjacent to the Selsey Centre, to discover and record the wildlife on this popular community site. A grand total of 109 species were recorded! A lot of work went in beforehand to plan the species recording, including setting moth traps in local gardens and positioning reptile tins and live mammal traps. Despite it being a weekday, we hoped that there would be interest from the public and visiting volunteers to come along a see what was happening, and we set up information displays outside the centre and a discovery trail around the site. A key draw for the day was the involvement of the Sussex Biological Records Centre (SBRC), who sent a representative down to help train volunteers and visitors on iRecord. Using iRecord is an important way to submit your records to a central database where they can be verified by experts. It’s a great way to track changes species distribution, record rarities and ensure that there is a bank of biological information available for sites to highlight their value.
RSPB volunteers browse the displays about MWHG’s work on the peninsula. ©R. O’Dowd
The day dawned still and sunny, perfect for species monitoring, and we kicked off the event by checking the moth traps with the help of RSPB Warden and moth expert Ivan Lang. In total, 22 moth species were recorded. Shortly afterwards, we had an influx of RSPB volunteers who took time out of their Wednesday work party to attend the event, and most of this group walked around the site with MWHG Field Office Chris Drake to check the reptile tins. Although only 1 reptile species was recorded- the slow worm- there were a good number of individuals found under the tins. Shortly after Chris checked the reptile tins, FLOW Project Manager Jane Reeve walked around the site with a small group to check to Longworth mammals traps, and those with her were lucky enough to see a wood mouse and short tailed field vole. Back at the centre, several of the RSPB volunteers also attended iRecord training and thanks are also due to RSPB warden Barry O’Dowd for bringing them along.
Jane releases a short tailed field vole from a Longworth trap. ©R. O’Dowd
FLOW Leader Jane identifies a short tailed field vole ©N.Timney
Lois from SBRC trains RSPB staff and volunteers on how to use iRecord. ©R.O’Dowd
As the day started to heat up, it was time to head into the patches of meadow and scour the hedgerows for invertebrates and we were lucky to have the expertise and enthusiasm of entomologist Dr Alison Barker. Thanks to Alison’s efforts, with help from Sarah Hughes, Chris Drake and Felicity McStea, 8 butterfly species were recorded, 9 species of hymenoptera (bees) and a further 13 species of invertebrate, including various true-bugs, crustaceans, molluscs, orthopterans (crickets and grasshoppers), a beetle and a dragonfly. The invertebrate highlight was an Essex Skipper (Butterfly) which has no previous Selsey record! In the meadows, Felicity and Sarah in particular, did a brilliant job in identifying 74 species of plant.
Small Magpie Moth from a live trap ©N.Timney
Although the midweek footfall was quiet in the park, we met some very enthusiastic locals and several parents stopped to take part in activities with their children, including barn owl pellet dissecting. Towards the end of the day, the adjacent nursery brought over three groups of children to look at the moths collected in our live traps. Overall it was a successful bioblitz, blessed by beautiful weather, during which we collected many valuable records to highlight the wildlife using the site, much of which is often hidden, but is all around us! Many thanks to MWHG staff and volunteers for all their efforts on the day.
We’ll be holding mini bioblitzes on 2nd and 3rd of July at two sites in Sidlesham and would welcome your help and enthusiasm. It’s a great opportunity to help us discover and appreciate our local wildlife and also brush up on your ID skills. If you’d like more information on joining either of these events please contact FLOW Project Leader Jane for more information at email@example.com.
Post by Rebecca O’Dowd