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The BBC crew at Tyntesfield

The BBC Points West crew filming at Tyntesfield

BioBlitz has hit the headlines once again! Check us out on BBC  Points West news from yesterday evening. Just scroll down to ‘available now on BBC iPlayer’  – we’re on at 21 minutes and 20 seconds.

You can access the site here.

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Good morning

Well, good morning. I hope you slept well. It’s 8 o’clock and I’ve just dragged myself out of bed to open up the media centre here at the Bristol BioBlitz 2011 at Tyntesfield. And I’ll tell you, it’s very, very quiet. But I can hear voices in the distance. Ah, and here they are coming in through the door. So let’s get started!

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We’ve been counting like crazy and the tally has shot up to 296 with 44 of them being ‘notable’ species! And the day’s not finished yet…!

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Team of volunteers

Team of volunteers

The Wildscreen office will be pretty quiet today, with half the team swapping the confines of the office to help out with BioBlitz as volunteers. Exchanging computers for cameras and clipboards, the Wildscreen team are ready and raring to get involved!

Being biologists themselves, the Wildscreen team couldn’t wait to get stuck in and start digging around for species to add to the tally. With a gap in the schools schedule mid-afternoon, half of the team made their way to the wettest, dirtiest place they could find – the pond!

Putting her field work skills to good use, guide Becky delved straight in and impressed us all with her knowledge of freshwater invertebrates…..Lymnaea stagnalis, the azure damselfly and the palmate newt were all quickly identified with expert conviction.

Becky identifying freshwater invertebrates

Becky identifying freshwater invertebrates

Bonnie, Becky and Lauren identifying damselfly larvae

Bonnie, Becky and Lauren identifying damselfly larvae

Male Azure damselfly, Lymnaea stagnalis

Male Azure damselfly, Lymnaea stagnalis

While the Wildscreen guides continued their foraging for new and exciting species, Laura bullied some of Wildscreen’s media team contingent into divulging their most exciting finds of the day. We’ll have a video of their thoughts on the day so far for you soon!

Laura interviewing Wildscreen volunteers Becky, Ben and George

Laura interviewing Wildscreen volunteers Becky, Ben and George

We at the Wildscreen team have been having great fun down at BioBlitz so far – we’re looking forward to hearing the latest tally and getting back out there later this afternoon. Come down and join us and the other volunteers and get involved!

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We’ve got a load of exciting events coming up this afternoon. Here are just a few to whet your appetite.

1.30pm – Tess’s random safari. (Bring your own pith helment.)

All afternoon – Guided walks with some of our naturalists, looking for mammals, plants, beetles and much more.

8.30pm – The famous bat walk, with our very own David the Batman.

9.30pm – A chance to see some of the moths here at Tyntesfield as dusk sets in.

And for the earlybirds amongst us, there’s the dawn chorus walk tomorrow morning at 4.30am. (Yes, a.m. We’re about to draw straws to see who covers that one…)

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The BioBlitz welcome team

Our welcome team: Becca, Becky, Tom, Claire and Bonnie

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The first footage is in and the team is currently digitising in preparation for the on-site edit.

Editing team

We’ll be back later with the finished film!

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The Bristol BioBlitz is a great day out, but it’s also a real scientific biodiversity survey. We caught up with the boffins from BRERC, who are coordinating the count, to find out how it works.

BRERC is the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre. They have twenty staff and volunteers at the event over the next day and a half, whose job is to make sure that the species data is collected accurately, to enter the data onto the master computer and to keep count of the species that we’ve identified.

The BRERC environmental records team in action

Our records team working tirelessly to keep the tally going

We have specially-designed survey forms for the BioBlitz, with maps of the Tyntesfield estate so that people can record not only what they have found, but where it is. This allows us to build up a picture of the species living and growing here, and to make the records available to everyone who is interested in the local flora, fauna and funghi.

So our work here today is not just great educational fun for all the family; it’s also helping scientists to learn more about the wildlife in Bristol and to make this data available to researchers from around the world.

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A small class has just returned to HQ with a collection of fungi. Waiting nearby, the media team managed to snap a few shots of the impressive collection. Take a look at this puffball, which releases a cloud of spores when touched.

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Look closely and you can see the spores!

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With the results slowly coming in, we’re hoping to have the first tally update in the next few minutes. But for the time being, we asked some of the team how high they think the final tally will be.

We had a count from last year’s BioBlitz of 536 species at Blaise Castle, but we’re confident that this year’s tally will put that well and truly in the shade. Savita from the Bristol Natural History Consortium says that we’re aiming for at least a thousand species, while Emma, one of our guides and a former wildlife producer, reckons we’ll be “well into four figures”.

Helen and Jolanta from the media team, locked up here in the Sawmill, are playing it safe – with a guess of a measly 559. What do you think? What will the final tally be? Let us know via a comment on this post.

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