Posted: Friday 31 May 2013
by Kate Bradbury
On Wednesday I conducted a BioBlitz of the garden. This is a relatively new phenomenon, which involves auditing the garden and making a note of everything that has arrived by itself.
My garden (a bit of grass surrounded by a jumble of plants grown from cuttings and seed) is just four years old. Since I removed the paving slabs in August 2009, revealing the earth below, I have marvelled at how quickly this drab paved courtyard has become a green oasis.
Over the four years, I’ve watched plants thrive and plants die, I’ve welcomed in blackbirds, blue tits and great tits, robins, and the odd wagtail. I’ve rescued dying worms from the street, frogs from a lady who filled in her pond and advertised its contents on freecycle.org, and I've watched as self-seeders like honesty and red campion have thrown themselves all over the borders.
As well as plants and animals I've brought in, many have arrived by themselves. There are those I recognise, such as the coal tit I saw here for the first time last week – but there are a few that leave me a bit stumped. I never stopped to find out what some of them are, until now.
On Wednesday I conducted a BioBlitz of the garden. This is a relatively new phenomenon, which involves auditing the garden and making a note of everything that has arrived by itself. It’s a great way for anyone to record the wildlife in their garden, and helps scientists map the population trends of various species. But it’s also a useful tool for discovering the names of things we probably wouldn’t otherwise have bothered finding out.
My garden is tiny, so I went out every hour and made a note of everything I found, over the course of the day. It only took about 10 minutes each time. I looked under stones and plant pots, peeked in my log pile, delved into the pond, looked under the shed and inspected leaves.
The weather wasn’t good, so there were no bees in the garden. But this enabled me to concentrate on flies. One species I didn’t know existed before Wednesday is Empis tessellata, a type of dance fly that one of the BioBlitz organisers was able to identify for me. I was also happy to discover that a plant that mysteriously arrived last year is a small teasel, Dipsacus pilosus. I noted the usual gamut of blue tits, great tits and goldfinches, and found that two wild grasses – annual meadow grass and wood rush – had made a home for themselves in my lawn.
Anything I didn’t recognise, I uploaded to iSpot or Twitter, where experts in various fields generously share their knowledge. All I need to do now, is record my sightings on the iRecord website.
A national garden BioBlitz is taking place this weekend. For more information on how to get involved, visit naturewatched.org.