Annual blitz to count the species at zoo

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On your marks, get ready, GO! The annual bioblitz race is now completed at Flamingo Land Zoo.

The 24-hour race to count as many native species on site as possible got off to a fantastic start with zoo staff, experts and the public all raring to go.

The two days included mini-beasting, where all sorts of grasses, trees and soil are searched for creepy crawlies; no stone is left un-turned (quite literally!).Armed with nets and pit-fall traps, the experts guided the excited public to high potential areas for creepy crawlies. This fascinating forage ended in recordings of many spiders, beetles, flies, ladybirds and centipedes. Keepers had their recording sheets poised all day ready to jot down sightings while they went about their daily checks of our zoo animals. While checking the tigers, Christina spotted a hedgehog and Ross our Zoo Manager was lucky enough to capture a stoat on camera while taking in our camels that are losing their winter coats.

Fifteen hours into the race the count was at a remarkable 215 species. The bioblitz team did not even stop when the sun went down. This was the time to begin the bat walk. Members of the holiday village, experts and zoo staff got the bat detectors out and listened for the clicks from the bat species on site. We were very lucky to monitor four different bat species, including two types of pippistrelle bats, daubenton’s bat and noctule bats. With this high number boosting us, the team dug deep and took on the 4:30am start for an early morning bird walk. And boy did it pay off – our biodiversity team caught sight of buzzards, songbirds, warblers and chaffinches. Our experts didn’t stop here! A morning flower walk added another 155 species to the list. So a final tally was in the 300 range. We are still awaiting some results from a few experts on the exact identification of some of the moths and beetles found, so fingers crossed the numbers will rise. These numbers will then be added to the national UK bioblitz recording centre. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part and worked so hard to make it successful.

The bioblitz was not just about getting people out and about looking for our native species on site, it was also about native wildlife awareness. The UK is a great place for wildlife and is something to be treasured. Frogs, toads, lizards, birds and snakes are but a few of the different animals found throughout the UK. All of which are reliant on us to keep their habitat intact. To encourage wildlife into your garden, simple things like bird boxes, letting the grass grow a bit longer at certain edges, planting flowers or creating a pond can go a long way. So while the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics continues, please take a moment to celebrate the wildlife you have on your doorstep.