Tuesday, 6 May 2014


The Safari was invited to help out are the Zoo's first ever Bioblitz under the banner 'find the natives that live among the exotics'. 
The event was organised by the Zoo's education officer LS in two parts an evening of invited guests to tour the zoo at night flollowed by an early morning then opening the events up to the public when the zoo was open for business. 
We arrived at 21.00 and put up the moth trap before heading off armed with nets buckets and bat detectors. Bats, amphibians and nocturnal invertebrates were searched out. Amphibians were hard to come by apart from a small Smooth Newt, bats were a bit better with several hits on the detector from Noctules, not a species we find often in town. Pipistrelles were all over the place and Daubenton's Bats hawked insects over the moat around Gorilla Island.
A wander over to the Dinosaur safari gave us no amphibians in a likely looking pool but the ornamental rock arches gave us several species of spiders including this one no-one in the group had seen before
Apologies for the camera shake, it was dark in there!
Back at the moth trap it was pretty dire with no activity around the light at all. Weird cos it was quite mild and there wasn't a breath of wind. The others set off to place some small mammal traps down while we stayed at the motthy just in case it livened up - it didn't. A Tawny Owl (148) called from the woodland garden the wrong side of the fence so couldn't be counted.
We got back to Base Camp and dropped in to our pit at 00.15 and was rudely woken by Frank not long enough after at 05.45 = not enough sleep!
Back at the zoo the moth trap took no time at all to empty, just a dead Light Brown Apple Moth, a Hebrew Character, a Double Striped Pug and several of these unknown Caddis Flies.
The mammal traps had been unsuccessful except for sadly killing a Common Shrew, not good but at least we had the little body to show the families. A mix of real experts had joined the team for the daytime session including an entomologist, a lichenologist (is there such a word) and a botanist. with these guys on board the Bioblitz list started to shoot up as we wandered around having a look in the public and some out of bounds areas including along the narrow gauge railway track. Scarce and even rare local species were added to the list. Just shows what there is to find when you take the time to look.
In the children's wildlife area when a pair of crazy ducks ruled the roost one of tthe raised beds of herbs and bee friendly plants had a Bird's Eye Primrose...how  had that got there? A garden variety that had reverted to a more natural type, in the seed mix - unlikely??? or in the seedbank - oh yeah??? Go one what do you reckon?
Looks like there's a Buttercup Leaf Miner in the pic there too
The wildlife education area gave the children the opportunity to make bird feeders out of huge Pine cones, bee houses and all manner of other goodies, the Pine feeders were hung on the fence under a nest box housing a family of Blue Tits. An as yet unused Tawny Owl box was in a nearby tree.
The pond dipping session in the Dinosaur Safari again was good with loads of Frog tadpoles and Summer Mayfly larvae. We discovered why there might have been no newts last night, the waterfall pump was now running and a deluge fell in to the pond from on high.
AB found a huge Drinker moth caterpillar floating in the Dinosaur lake and fortunately it was close enough to be rescued and proved very popular with lots of people having a little hold of it before it was released safely well away from the water.
We had to leave for an appointment at half time but even then the species list was around the 250 - 300 mark, what a shame we didn't get a lot more moths. Through the afternoon we got a few updates from AB including news of the first (as far as we know) Larch Ladybird for the Fylde.
Not sure what the final species tally will be but probably approaching 450 maybe even 500 species!
Many thanks to LS for organising everything and helping add a considerable amount of knowledge to the local and County databases.
Can't tell you what the appointment was about but it was a great laugh and we'll be able to give you more news in due course.
Today we didn't get a chance to look at the sea which was a bit annoying as Little Terns and Pomarine Skuas are on the move locally.
Then news came in that Wheatears and yet another Whinchat were at the nature reserve but we hadd a meeting all morning. That meeting was at an office near Base Camp  meaning we had to go past the nature reserve to get there which was lucky...after the meeting it was nearly lunchtime and we had a quick sprint round the wetland and soon found the Whinchat (MMLNR #83) but not the Wheatears. On the drive there we saw our first Holly Blue of the year high over the road near the hospital.
No chance of a look at the sea during a very much time reduced lunchtime.
At Base Camp it was lovely and warm when we got back and we found a moribund Tree Bee, on closer inspection it was deceased but had no wings...fallen off or a mutant that was 'removed' from the nest by the other workers.
Still no Swifts for us!!!
Where to next? Back on the beach with our reguar gang of kids from the Midlands tomorrow - what we'll their little eyes find for us?
In the meantime let us know how much is deceased in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Brilliant shot of the Drinker moth 'pillar Dave, & I think your spider is a Woodlouse Spider - Dysdera crocata.

No Swifts for me yet either.