Wildlife wows hundreds of people on New Forest nature bonanza

Published Wednesday 30 May 2012

Wildlife enthusiasts of all ages joined top experts for a walk on the wild side in the New Forest with a 24-hour dash to record as many species as possible.

Organised by the New Forest National Park Authority, the nature bonanza involved over 300 people plus a host of experts from around the region with in-depth knowledge of different species.

There were over 600 finds with 426 different species surveyed. More records are still coming in from the events spread around the National Park.

The ‘Bioblitz’ was launched at Brockenhurst Primary School on Friday 25 May with children taking part in pond dipping, tree surveys and bug hunts. Leeches, frogs and shield bugs were among the finds.

Then it was a trip to the coast at Lepe Country Park for a shore search with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Over 40 people recorded 48 species including thick-lipped dog whelks, striped anemones and sand mason worms.

With no time to spare it was off to the woods around the Reptile Centre, near Lyndhurst, where 20 people armed with bat detectors and moth traps joined Hampshire Bat Group and moth expert Pete Durnell from Hampshire County Council. Two types of pipistrelle bats were recorded and the intriguingly-named Maiden’s Blush moth.

After a few hours’ sleep National Park Ranger Leanne Atkinson joined Pete Durnell to walk the wildlife-rich woods in search of early morning birds. With 38 birds recorded in just two hours, the 20 visitors spotted New Forest specialities such as the tree hole-nesting redstart and hawfinches.

The rest of the day was a hive of activity at the Reptile Centre where over 200 people and 15 naturalists from across Hampshire, experts in their fields of botany, insects, arachnids (spiders), birds, fungi, trees and ponds and stream life, helped find and identify plants and animals.

Jim Mitchell, Interpretation Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The New Forest is a world capital for wildlife thanks to our unique commoning system and diverse range of habitats.

‘Our experts opened our eyes to the wonders of the New Forest in ways that most of us couldn’t do on our own without their expert knowledge of where to find species, how to identify them and why the New Forest is so special.

‘During the 24 hours we found hundreds of species including the labyrinth spider, majestic buzzards flying above, juniper shield bugs, common lizard, slow worms, extremely rare fairy shrimps from nearby ponds, plus many more species, many so uncommon that they only have Latin names. We found over 80 plants in an hour on our heathland walk alone. It was a magical day.’

-ends-

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Media Contact:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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