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A number of The Open University’s Biodiversity Mentors around the country are having a go at the ‘1000 in 1km’ square challenge (see www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/general-wildlife/108512-1000-1-km-squa...). The idea is to try and record a thousand species within a single 1km grid square over the course of the year. Along with others I, the Biodiversity Mentor for the North of England, am giving it a go’. It will be really interesting to see what comes of this, my chosen 1km square (the one in which I live) is NZ1759.
I started my count rather late, in mid-April, but I did do a bit of judicious ‘back-dating’ to include species that I knew had been recorded since the start of the year (such as fieldfare munching on the apples in my garden during the March snow). My first series attempt to add some species came in the last week or so of April, when I managed to have ‘a bit of a wander’ - on 23rd - and I finished the day on 200 for the year; a nicely round figure. This figure came courtesy of identifying the basal rosettes of emerging plants and my being lucky enough to ‘chance in’ on a few summer migrants, including my first willow warbler of the year (things were late in the north east!) and my first grasshopper warbler of the year. Nonetheless, there were a few nice species on the list by this time, including red kite and buzzard.
Around late May, I tried on three nights to get one or two bats over my garden to swell the list, and failed miserably. On one evening (Friday 24th) I lasted 30 seconds before I retreated - it was that cold - the bats didn’t bother at all.
By 29th May, a slow process of adding a species here and there, rather that any concerted survey effort, had led to my ‘1000 in 1km’ growing to a rather paltry 248 with the most exciting new addition probably being great crested newt. It was clear by this stage of the season that I was going to have to get down to some serious invertebrate work, as my list already included in the 248 species recorded most of the big walking and flappy things and a lot of the easily identifiable green things - though the plants were so late coming up in the north east of England this year, I felt at that stage that there were still ‘lots’ to come.
I resolved to start some garden moth trapping on the weekend of the national garden bioblitz (1st & 2nd June), though this far north (on Tyneside) it had been a pointless exercise up until then. The result, seven moths (individuals not species) trapped over two nights! I thought I would, cunningly, use the garden bioblitz to try and add some species to my list courtesy of some supported efforts by my neighbours, but relatively few new species came in that way and whilst a few were racked up, not that many. By the end of the first week in June my list had risen to 278 species and at present, after a dearth of local recording effort in NZ1759 during recent weeks, my list stands at 286.
From now on, I intend to post periodic progress updates on the development (or lack of development) of my '1000 in 1' list on to the iSpot the regional forum pages (unless, of course, I am failing miserably in my quest, when I shall quietly forget about it all!).
So half way through June, I am proceeding at the proverbial snail's pace (Cepea hortensis?) and it is looking increasingly clear that '1000 to 1' appear to be the odds of me actually achieving this figure by the end of the year. Enough for now, I need to get in the garden and start identifying those wood lice.
Keith Bowey (Biodiversity Mentor for the North of England)