Recently, Britain’s coastline has played host to something of a nature first. A nature first? How intriguing! What could it be? Pigeons and sparrowhawks sharing a vegetarian meal? Otters climbing trees? Badgers building dams? Well, no. Not that exciting or indeed bizarre. In fact, it is all to do with a huge survey carried out by the National Trust at 25 of the Trusts coastal locations. Indeed, these surveys have uncovered some rather well hidden and surprising secrets. With over 3,400 species being recorded, there were bound to be some hidden gems (not that they aren’t all gems of course!) In fact, these gems include species that have been recorded in new habitats or species that have been rediscovered, after going unseen by the human eye and seemingly disappearing for many years.
So, what’s is all the fuss about? Well, those discoveries that have us wildlife buffs getting rather excited include the sighting of a Balearic shearwater off the east coast in locations such as Blakeney and Norfolk, whilst they are usually spotted off the south west coast, including Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and west Wales. Ok, so it may not sound like a big deal, but the fact is these sightings are unusual and therefore may give us more of an idea of the habits and habitat extents of such species. In addition, Pembrokeshire played host to an individual that has not been seen in the area for 50 years! What? A slow worm! Whilst in White Park Bay, Northern Ireland, a cockchafer beetle was found in the dune ecosystem. Great, big deal, yawn. Well, yes actually it is a big deal, because they haven’t been seen in Northern Ireland for over a century!
Occurring over a period of 6 months and involving over 4000 people, the survey was carried out in order to get a better understanding of the range of the species that we have in Britain. The survey has been classed as a definite success, with 53 IUCN red listed species being recorded and 95 of the UK’s most threatened species. These included those such as the Dartford warbler, water vole and red-shanked carder bee. Whilst species such as the adder and the jumping spider have been found in locations where they have never been recorded before.
Ok, so it’s interesting and it’s new, but its not like we’ve found a colony of dodo’s living in the deepest darkest forests of Britain. Well, quite. However, that doesn’t make these findings any less important or any less fascinating. Where wildlife is concerned, it is always vital that we have as much information as possible about our species. The information we have, including habitat extents, ranges, locations and life cycles, is vital to being able to protect them and their habitats. With the knowledge of our natural heritage, we are able to look toward the future and think of how to protect our ecosystems and species to the best of our ability.
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