Bumper wildlife harvest found

WILDLIFE enthusiasts who hoped to record 500 species of plants and animals in 24 hours in Shire Brook Valley nature reserve in the south-east of Sheffield believe they may have unearthed double the number.

There was excitement at discovering species never recorded in the valley before, several of which are on Britain’s endangered list. A cuckoo had not been heard for a number of years until last year. Then at least two were heard last weekend.

“I don’t think I have ever witnessed such fantastic enthusiasm for wildlife before,” said event organiser and parks and countryside ranger Chris Smith. “It was an amazing 24 hours. An incredible 66 different species were recorded in the first hour between the visitor centre and the Stone Lane car park.

“There were groans when it was found that a species had already been recorded, great cheers when new records were added and a big celebration when the final total was reached!”

The ‘BioBlitz’ found 259 unrecorded species, and more than 100 specimens were too difficult to identify on site. Final results are expected to take the total number of plants and animals recorded in the urban nature reserve to more than 1,000.

Volunteers went bird-watching, pond dipping, tracked mammals, caught insects, detected bats and night-flying moths and identified fungi, trees and other plants. Taking part were the Sorby Society, the RSPB and the council’s ecology unit.

There were also workshops and guided walks around the 200-hectare nature reserve.