Calling nature-lovers: the race is on to spot as many plants and animals as possible in 24 hours, with organisers of Ely Wildspace BioBlitz hoping to beat last year’s record of 600 species.
Members of the public will be joined by experts at Bioblitz 2016 from 5pm on July 1 to 5pm on July 2 as they pull out the stops to smash last year’s count.
This year’s free event for all ages offers a range of activities lead by local conservationists, who will advise on where to look for particular plants and animals and how to identify them.
Andrew Balmford, Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge said: “This is an extraordinary chance to join some great experts and discover together some of the amazing creatures that make their home in Ely.”
Event Co-ordinator Shelley Bolderson said: “As well as getting to grips with what lives on site, the BioBlitz is more about engaging local people of all ages in nature and the wonderful wild spaces we have on our doorstep, and passing on the skills to identify and encourage wildlife in their own back gardens.”
Organisers are particularly keen to locate a green-eyed dragonfly called the Norfolk Hawker, which is currently only found outside Norfolk at Paxton Pits.
“This species is under threat due to changing land use, pollution and climate change which leads to unsuitable habitats for these fantastic dragonflies. To find them in the Wildspace would mean the species is gaining new territory and that our efforts to maintain a range of habitats for different species are paying off. We’re also keen to spot the fantastically named and rare Soldierfly called the Ornate Brigadier.”
Ely Wildspace has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its unusual geology and rare species. This gives it protection from development, so that both wildlife and local residents can “enjoy this special place on the doorstep of our city.”
A key objective for safeguarding and promoting the Wildspace for the future is to compile a list of animal and plant species for the site.
Wildlife volunteers have been working hard to create the optimum wildflower habitat for a distinctively coloured butterfly called the Marbled White, which is currently found in Chettisham. They have been planting seeds from the meadow in the hope that Marbled Whites will be enticed to the Wildspace.
Bioblitz events will kick off at 5pm on Friday July 1 with bat walks and moth trapping at Ely Sailing Club.
On Saturday July 2 people are invited to Pocket Park to find dragonflies, go on minibeast hunts and learn how to identify birds by sight and sound.
There will be loads of activities to drop in to at Basecamp: join Action for Swifts and find out more about these amazing long-distance migrants, dissect some owl pellets with the Society of Biology, get your face painted and do lots of wildlife crafts.
There will also be self-led trails for people to take away with them.
People are advised to book ahead to guarantee their places on activities.
For more information or to book see http://elywildspace.org.uk