Hunt begins for Southampton’s wildlife
Budding naturalists of all ages are being invited to join plant and animal experts to help identify wildlife found around the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus, during BioBlitz. The intensive wildlife survey, which takes place on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June, will see local people join wildlife groups and university scientists in a race against the clock to find as many species of plants and animals as possible in 24 hours.
The free event kicks off with a guided bat walk on Friday evening, where experts will show people how to find bats using special monitors which pick up the echoes that the creatures use to navigate.
The following day groups will depart from Highfield Campus to explore the area around the university and the adjacent common, while getting advice on how to spot and identify birds, bugs, flowers and other local wildlife.
Visitors will take part in some important citizen science and learn more about the wildlife that surrounds them. Dr Marcus Grace, Senior Lecturer in Science Education at the University of Southampton, is one of the academics leading the event. He said: “This is a rare opportunity to see and learn about the plants and animals that live in our area. It’s never been done before and we might find something new.
“Southampton is actually a very green city. As well as the Common and the parks there are streams and hedgerows which provide ‘green corridors’ for wildlife to travel between them. We also have a relatively mild climate and some unusual species come across from warmer European countries in the summer. The city is home to a wide range of mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies and bees.
“Last year over one hundred people took part and together we managed to document 227 different species.”
The data collected during BioBlitz will be added to a vast database at the Hampshire Biological Information Centre, to compare Southampton’s biodiversity with other places in the county. This information will then be used to see how wildlife populations might change in the future.
Southampton BioBlitz is a joint initiative between the University of Southampton and Southampton City Council. It is also part of a national campaign, with similar events happening up and down the country.
Actives are taking place between 10am and 3.30pm on Saturday. Visitors can register in advance for Friday evening’s bat walk and Saturday’s early morning bird walk by visiting http://www.southampton.gov.uk/people-places/parks-open-spaces/bioblitz.aspx.