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First BioBlitz is launched at L’Ancresse

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GUERNSEY’S first ever BioBlitz was off to a flying start as recorders young and old gathered at L’Ancresse East to find as many species of living thing as possible.

It was hosted by the Biodiversity Partnership, Guernsey Biological Records Centre and La Societe Guernesiaise.

The event ran all day yesterday from midnight to midnight with naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham giving a halfway round-up of the species found at noon.

Rock pooling. (24661565)

The midday total saw 62 species had been recorded in the area – not including the number of plants which often takes up a large percentage of total biodiversity and which was yet to be logged.

‘It’s going really well, we’ve got a lot of species,’ said Biological Records Centre manager Elizabeth Sweet.

‘We haven’t had the rockpooling in yet but there’s quite a lot of pollinators and we’ve found two juvenile slow worms.

‘Seasearch have just come back from a dive and found eel grass, which is a protected habitat.’

Among the finds of the first half were two unexpected creatures: the Atlantic beech cricket, perhaps better known as the scaly cricket, and the Guernsey vole.

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Neither have been found in the area before and were a welcome surprise.

‘It’s very exciting,’ said Ms Sweet.

Amateur entomologist Andy Marquis said five of the elusive shingle-loving crickets had been found.

Chris Packham with Julia Henney from La Societe. (24661569)

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‘I was coming up the beach with them when I got mobbed by a bus-load of schoolchildren who had just arrived and all wanted to see the scaly crickets,’ he said.

Mr Packham was also keen to see the surprising find. ‘I’ll go home in a huff if someone doesn’t show me a scaly cricket,’ he joked during his round-up.

He was also treated to an audience with a Guernsey vole, recorded by founders of the Small Mammal Group, and who have studied the small rodent on island, Eleanor Scopes and Alex Hayward.

‘We had five woodmice, two voles and two shrews this morning,’ said Miss Scopes.

Students from La Houguette were excited to be taking part with youngsters proud to have shaken Mr Packham’s hand and many autographed identification sheets attached to salty clipboards after the group went rockpooling.

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‘We were looking for crabs and anything we could find under rocks or in rockpools,’ said Sophie Elliott, 10.

We found crabs, seaweeds and limpets. We put everything back where we found it,’ said Ella Mcdermott, 10, who had enjoyed her hunt along the shore.

The event was open to the public all day and included bird ringing, small mammal trapping, bug hunting, wildflower spotting, bird watching and a bat walk.

Biodiversity Education officer Julia Henney hoped that the event would encourage the public to get behind Guernsey’s natural world.

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‘Maybe not from the species count but through the event and through the message from Chris Packham, this might be a catalyst for change – we need to do more. We have nature reserves but as Chris Packham said of the 2018 UK BioBlitz, “nature reserves are not enough”.

‘Every time we pick up a strimmer or reach for herbicide we are having an effect on our nature. We need to encourage people to get more involved with charities like La Societe, the National Trust, the RSPB, they all do great things over here and we need to carry on their work.’

Ms Henney said if everyone just picked one species and sent a record of it to the Biological Records Centre it would be a real start in learning more about the natural world of Guernsey.

Records can be submitted by going to www.biologicalrecordscentre.gov.gg or by emailing gsybiorec@cwgsy.net.

Charlotte Le Marquand

By Charlotte Le Marquand
News reporter

Charlie Le Marquand

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