Many Society members took part in the BioBlitz hosted by The Parks Trust at Linford Lakes Nature Reserve on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June.With its diversity of habitats – meadows, wet woodland, ponds, lakes, hedgerows etc. – LLNR is known as one of the most species rich sites in Milton Keynes and worthy of a group recording effort. The BioBlitz kicked off at noon on Friday 24th and among the first groups to get involved were a class from St.Bernadette’s Catholic School who busied themselves dipping the raised pond by the car park. A special mention must go to Martin Rushton, tenant of The Flat, who deserves a medal for his patience in coordinating their enthusiastic efforts!
Over thirty members of MKNHS turned out over the two days and they were joined by other local naturalists, Parks Trust staff and youth groups. Frances Higgs and Ann Strutton clocked up an impressive 51 species of bryophyte and the total of 18 mammal species in 24 hours was very impressive. Particularly pleasing were first records for LLNR for hedgehog and roe deer – the latter identified from tracks by Ella Cooke. Gordon Redford, Andy Harding and co ran a number of moth traps through the night and despite the cold, damp conditions managed a total of 52 species. These were enjoyed by a good sized crowd at the ‘Moth Breakfast’ event on Saturday morning before the specimens were released.
Roy Maycock and Andy McVeigh covered a huge amount of ground recording the flora and produced a list of 208 species. Like many others, they were caught out by the weather! Although the sun shone warmly at times, when the heavens opened they really opened. Roy and Andy were not alone in getting soaked – but probably had the furthest distance to splosh back to the centre! Find of the weekend was an as yet unidentified species of Bladderwort, close to one of the pond dipping boards. We will need to wait for the plants to flower before they can be identified to species, but a great discovery nonetheless.
Linford Lakes is best known for its birdlife and the hides were manned by members of Friends of Linford Lakes around the clock so that nothing was missed! The grand total was 73 bird species, including a female common redstart which was ringed by Kenny Cramer and a passing osprey. The barn owls have been wowing evening visitors in recent weeks and happily three healthy chicks were ringed on the Friday morning.
A few of us stayed overnight in the study centre but found it very difficult to sleep (Andy Harding preferred the comfort of his car!) However, walking around the reserve at daybreak was a delight. The dawn chorus was fantastic and I was able to add several species, such as tawny owl, pygmy shrew (which proved a big hit with the children) and Daubenton’s bat to the list.
On the Saturday morning, many more children got involved as RSPB Phoenix, led by Alan Nelson turned up along with The Parks Trust’s Youth Rangers. The Phoenix group set about checking the many tins and refugia around the site, finding grass snake, newts and mammals including common and water shrews. My attempts to get the Youth Rangers interested in earthworms were less successful(!) – but we did manage to identify 5 species in the wildlife garden.
The Society display boards, maintained by Tony Wood, were on display in the study centre over the weekend and there was also a WaderQuest stand run by Rick and Elis Simpson. These attractions were popular during the many ‘rain delays’ over the weekend and Rick wowed us all by his amazing artwork on the blackboard, providing detailed illustrations of waders on request!
As I write this, I am still awaiting more records. Some of the trickier groups such as fungi, beetles and other insects will take a little longer to identify. But to date over 500 species have been named, which a terrific effort. The final list will be sent to the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Environmental Records Centre and we will also share it with members on this website.
Many thanks to all of those who came along and made the BioBlitz as a success – too many to name.
Text by Martin Kincaid
Photos by David Easton – click on any of the pictures for a larger image.