Increasing scope, capacity and enjoyment in Biological Recording
In May 2016 I found myself wandering the Pembrokeshire Countryside with my insect net and notebook and wondering how many more people out there may be interested in wildlife but not actively recording their sightings. Pembrokeshire has a long and established tradition of natural history and wildlife recording but a regular meet up of like-minded people and perhaps the encouragement of some new faces onto the scene seemed somewhat lacking.
With this in mind, I submitted an article to West Wales Biodiversity Centre and the Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership to ask if anyone would like to join me on some recording field days in the Pembrokeshire Countryside. I received a steady trickle of responses and, with the support of WWBIC, an initial evening talk was organised to explain a bit about biological recording and gather ideas for some field exploration! Most of the people who attended had never done any formal recording but all were extremely enthusiastic with a keen interest in finding out more.
Our first field day was soon arranged with an invite from one of the group to his stunning cliff top land over looking Ceibwr Bay in North Pembrokeshire. Eight hardy souls turned up in driving rain and a near-gale on that day in June 2016 to record 113 species, particularly rich in flowers including gems such as Saw-wort, Burnet-saxifrage and Betony.
Our second trip, again through a personal invite, on private land near Merlin's Bridge in Haverfordwest, saw the attendance of some of our County recorders, including the County mammal and moth recorders, who'd heard about the group. One of the first sightings that day was a group of Greater Horseshoe bats hanging about in the garage (and one very happy County mammal recorder)!
Our final day for 2016 took place at the wonderful farm of Pembrokeshire's Fungi recording Group co-ordinator, David Harries. On a rather wet day (eased by lots of tea and cake) David shared his wealth of Knowledge about grassland fungi and we were able to record a number of these lovely species in the field. The season ended with a Christmas 'do', with 20 people attending and even a December moth landing on the door (which promptly got recorded!). We also received a rather nice Christmas present in the form of some funding from both the National Park and the Wildlife Trust to buy field kit and ID guides for the group's use.
We now have a 30 strong mailing list and each field day, organised once a month, is attended by 12-15 people comprising a wonderful mix of enthusiasm, knowledge and learning. Our 2017 season started on May 6th with a sunny visit to Hilton Court, a relatively cultivated but very varied site a few miles north west of Haverfordwest.
With the support of WWBIC, we are aiming to increase recording in squares where record numbers are low. At Hilton Court, we were able to take the number of species in that particular 1km square from only 26 to over 250. The involvement of the County recorders is greatly helping verification whilst the emphasis on the days is also sharing of knowledge and enjoyment of the Pembrokeshire Countryside. We are receiving invites from organisations such the National Trust, the wildlife trust and private owners to visit their land.
It has been an pleasure to be involved with this group. Each field day, come rain or shine, is hugely enjoyable and is helping to increase recording in the County in liaison with key individuals and organisations. I'm looking forward to next month's meet-up - we just need to decide where to go!
Freelance Educator, Naturalist and VC45 Joint County Recorder for Bees