There is no better way to spend a summer afternoon than by taking a stroll through a beautiful woodland, especially when you are accompanied by a dedicated naturalist who can point out the incredible diversity of species along the way!


Small mammal footprints, bird’s eggs, squirrels and caterpillars were all very spotted quickly by this afternoon’s dedicated bunch of young wildlife detectives.



While examining a fallen tree, naturalist Gill showed the students a distinctive ball-shaped fungus known as King Alfred’s cakes, named because it resembles burnt cakes (burnt, as legend has it, by King Alfred himself). Gill explained that this species is also known as ‘cramp balls’ as it was once believed that this fungus protected against cramp and men used to carry them around in their pockets for this reason!



Gill then went on to explain the important role that dead wood plays in a forest ecosystem, providing food for many of the invertebrate inhabitants. These invertebrates in turn make a tasty snack for a badger!



The lucky students from Wheatfield Primary School were taken to some brambles to collect more creepy crawlies by Tony from the Bristol Naturalist Society, a dedicated insect expert. The students were taught about what defines an insect (three body sections and six legs) and were then given pots to collect any specimens.


Tony then taught the students how to effectively use a bug-catching net (it is a very technical procedure), before giving them the opportunity to catch some themselves.


The students also caught (slightly less impressively) a dead tree bumblebee. Also added to the species list were a snout moth, an ant and a moss woodlouse.

We are pleased to be able to announce that the number of species spotted on site is on the increase! The latest tally is….117 species!


Too excited to wait for the next update? Never fear, a live tally update is here: BRERC Online Recording website.

The bug hunt has continued throughout the afternoon, with Richard from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust helping students from the Stoke Lodge Primary School to catch and identify the diverse array of invertebrates within the nature reserve.


When we caught up with the students, they had done a magnificent job at collecting numerous species that have now been added to the ever-increasing species count for Bristol BioBlitz 2014. Amongst the findings, there were more harvestmen, various Anthocorid species, scorpionflies and aphids. Richard also found a leaf that had been inhabited by mites which had created galls on the leaf’s surface (see picture below).


The students have been keeping a tally of their findings and recording any unique features or behaviours of the individual.


There has been some seriously hard work taking place today at Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve and all the students that have contributed should be very proud of themselves. It seems we may have had some burgeoning naturalists in our midst!


The dedicated team here have been logging our species sightings throughout the day and we are thrilled to bring you the first official tally – 95 species and counting!


Don’t forget, you can keep up to date with the live tally by heading over to the BRERC Online Recording website.

Sara, Lucy and Andrew from the Three Brooks Conservation Group took a group of students from the Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School to collect and identify creepy crawlies and many different species were found, including a harvestman, a ground beetle (named Brian) and a centipede.


Within the survey area, the students noticed that there were wooden boxes positioned high up in one of the trees. The boxes are used by bats for roosting and there are three different bat species found within the nature reserve, which are all legally protected.


The students from Wheatfield Primary School were asked to collect as many different leaves as possible from the ground while walking through the nature reserve to determine how many tree species exist within the area.


The students were asked to produce leaf rubbings to record their findings and ensure accurate identification.


Nicole Daw from the National Trust helped the students to identify the leaves and informed the students about the different tree species that are found in the United Kingdom.


The students from Wheatfield Primary School have been learning about the definition of a habitat, the different types of habitats and why they are important. After looking around Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, the students noticed the many different functions of the various habitat types and how important they are to the species that use them.

The students then played a game to match species with their habitats to show how animals and plants can exist within different niches while occupying the same habitat.

With the first session underway we caught up with naturalist Gill Brown and some enthusiastic young wildlife explorers as they searched for signs of mammals in the reserve.

It wasn’t long before the first clues were uncovered and Gill showed the group some tiny footprints and droppings left in homemade small mammal tunnels which had been put out overnight.


The tunnels had been baited with peanut butter and Gill explained that this meant that the footprints probably didn’t belong to shrews, which have an insectivorous diet and were unlikely to have been attracted by the nutty snack!


Although tiny footprints are tricky to identify, Gill took the clearest examples with her for closer inspection later. We’ll keep you updated!

Whilst heading out to the next stop, a known badger sett in the reserve, a keen-eyed student spotted two mole hills in the long grass, a great find and another species to add to the tally.


The students were thrilled when Gill showed them the badger sett, identified by its size and the nesting material at the entrance. They were then ‘sett’ the task of scouring the nearby area for ‘snuffle-pits’, scrapes in the ground made by foraging badgers!


Finally, Gill showed the group hazelnuts growing on the bank, and explained that finding evidence of nibbled hazelnuts on the ground is a clear sign to confirm the presence of small mammals nearby.


All in all a great start to the day, the tally is well underway!

The BioBlitz Media Team are here at the Three Brooks Nature Reserve in Bradley Stoke for the Bristol BioBlitz 2014 to report back on all the action as it happens!  We’ll be photographing plants, filming anything that flies and blogging about mini-beasts! So stay tuned as we tally the species throughout the day.


The Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve is a tranquil area in the middle of the bustling community of Bradley Stoke. The reserve has a rich mix of habitats and provides food and shelter to a wide range of animals, including reed buntings, skylarks, great crested newts and slow worms.

Schools day is underway with children from schools in the local area already out exploring the site and making the first discoveries!


Then from 4 pm today BioBlitz will be open to the public and we will have 24 hours to find and record as many different types of plants, animals and fungi as we can find. Everything we find will be logged and will contribute real scientific data to local wildlife monitoring – so every record you collect makes a real difference! So come on down to join in the fun and release your inner wildlife detective!

You can find out more, including directions on how to get here and the different activities you can take part in, by using the links below:




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