More than 800 species found at BioBlitz event
Landowner Clinton Devon Estates was helped by a host of local and national naturalists as it held its first BioBlitz at Stantyway Farm, just outside Otterton.
More than 250 people took part in the event which aimed to identify and record as many species of animals and plants as possible in a 24-hour period.
Activities included a bat walk, moth trapping, bird walks, small mammal and insect safaris, a hedgerow walk and tractor rides.
Stantyway Farm is currently undergoing conversion to organic status, so the results of the BioBlitz on June 24 & 25 will serve as a useful marker to see how much more attractive to wildlife it becomes over time.
Kate Ponting, Clinton Devon Estates’ Countryside Learning Officer, said: “Over the space of 24 hours we recorded more than 800 species of animals and plants. For example, we found four species of bats: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, noctule and serotine; and seven other mammals: badger, stoat, rabbit, hare, common shrew, bank vole and mole.
“Across the 100 hectares of the farm, naturalists and volunteers also identified more than 160 higher plants, 45 lichens and 50 mosses and liverworts. There were six species of butterfly, including Red Admiral and Painted Lady, as well as an amazing 80 species of moths and 400 other types of insect. As well as greatly improving our baseline knowledge of the site, the specialists have also given us advice on how we can further improve it for wildlife.
“The much-loved and nationally rare cirl bunting was among 36 species of birds spotted, which also included buzzards, skylarks, swifts and black caps.”
Among the visitors taking part was Tamsin Sutton, from Woodbury, who brought along Alanna, four, and Otto, six. She said: “We got here at 10am and it has been brilliant fun. We went on the small mammal safari and it was very informative. The people running the activities are highly knowledgeable – there have been lots of experts who were able to answer any questions we had.
“The children, particularly Otto, loved it when they were opening the traps, looking out for shrews. We also learnt about the crops here and the change to organic farming.”
Andy and Jemma Wiltshire, from Tipton St John, brought along their children Ben and Elsie and their friend Kellie.
They had been out on the Friday evening taking part in the bat walk and then saw the moth traps being set. Andy said: “We came back on Saturday for the other activities but also to see all the moths that had been caught the previous night.
“The children have had a lovely time. Ben also liked the tractor ride!”
Elsie said: “I liked the bat detectors that were used to find bats – we saw some noctules!”
Kate added: “We were so pleased that so many groups and organisations joined in the BioBlitz to make it so successful. Among the naturalists and experts joining us over the two days were representatives of the RSPB, Devon Birds, Natural Devon, Devon Wildlife Trust, the Otter Valley Association, the Devon Moth Group and the Devon Bat Group.
“We were also supported by local businesses and community groups including Otterton Community Shop, Ladram Bay, Little Otters preschool and Otterton SPACE, and donations made across the range of stalls raised £250 for local charities.
“We’d like to thank everyone who helped with the organisation of the event, and the volunteers and members of the public who took part to make it the amazing success it was.”
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