Volunteers take part in 24 hour wildlife survey

The Woodland Trust held a Bioblitz on May 27th 2017 at Smithills Estate to call on volunteers to help them count as many wildlife species as possible, in just 24 hours. The counting of wildlife was led by Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and supported by the Natural Course project.

By understanding the ecology of the land The Woodland Trust can implement informed improvement measures for the benefit of wildlife in the area.

The aim of the day was to encourage staff, volunteers and members of the public to record as many species as possible over 24 hours. The evening before featured the nocturnal adventures of live moth trapping and a bat walk.

During the day, members of staff led popular wildlife walks and a team of wildlife recorders visited many parts of the site, carefully noting down every species that they were able to spot and identify. Meanwhile, a range of local conservation organisations also had stalls and ran activities.


Photo Credit © Heather B Studios

An exciting aspect of wildlife recording is that you may come across ecological mysteries!  One such discovery was made by the stream kicking volunteers from the Salford Friendly Anglers and Mersey Rivers Trust. They have surveyed many rivers in Greater Manchester over a number of years and have a detailed knowledge of which species to expect in the riverine habitats within our region.  So, were surprised to find a low number of blue-winged olives (Serratella ignita) in Dean Brook, despite there being a healthy abundance of other species with similar habitat requirements and toleration of pollution.  This is one of a range of aquatic invertebrates whose presence or absence provides very useful information about the health of a river, therefore, enquiries are being made to discover what this unusual situation might indicate for future management of this water course.


Photo credit © Heather B Studios

The bioblitz is just one part of the Woodland Trust’s plans regarding the conservation of the Smithills Estate.  To support their dedicated rangers, they have established a volunteer group and are holding series of wildlife survey training workshops.

More information about the estate and the training is available here