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Archive for the ‘Aquatic Invertebrates’ Category

Rob and I decided to head for the pond to make a mini-film about pond dipping and all the things you can find there for the blog. You’ll be able to see that film later. With Rob carrying the video cam, I was lumbered with the tripod. However, it wasn’t long before I shoved the tripod into Rob’s capable (and already quite full!) hands so that I could get down on the floor with my macro lens. I was finding things everywhere that demanded my attention!

Green-veined white

Green-veined white butterfly

Ant on leaf

An ant on a leaf

Azure damselfly

Azure damselfly, identified using the unique markings

If you’re wondering if we ever actually made it to the pond with all these great distractions, don’t worry! Here is proof that we did – Rob conducting an interview. Keep an eye out for the video later, and find out who the little guy on the right is! (The right-hand picture, not Rob with the camera!)

Rob conducting an interview

Rob conducting an interview

Who's this little guy? Find out in our video later!

Who's this little guy? Find out in our video later!

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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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You can tell how clean the water in rivers or brooks  are by the diverse lifeforms found in them.  One of the naturalists explains what would be expected in the brook depending on how clean the water is.  Check out the video to find out more!

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One of our brave volunteers picked up a very acrobatic leech, during the Blaise Castle BioBlitz.  Leeches are an indication of mediocre water quality, but not terrible water quality.  At this point, three different species of leech had been found. Watch the video below for more information.

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“The kids couldn’t wait to get their feet wet & discover the treasures of the Blaise stream.  No-one had wellies, but that didn’t stop ’em.  In they splashed, exploring the shallow water with nets, trays & spoons.   Leeches were the number one hit.   Fascinating & foul at the same time.    Other delights were flukes, shrimps, mayfly larvae and even a fish!  On such a hot day, paddling in the stream was the best place to be” – Tania Dorritty

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Peter Martin, the Gloucestershire Bryophyte Recorder for The British Bryological Society, has got in touch with us to give an account of his search for mosses and liverworts around Blaise estate. Read his story below:

The first place I headed for were the limestone outcrops above the stream where I hoped to find some interesting plants.  On the bare rock face were sheets of the uncommon liverwort MacKay’s Pouncewort (Marchesinia mackaii).  When dry it is a black colour becoming dark green when wet.  Creeping over the dark plants were a few stems of the light green Rossetti’s Pouncewort (Cololejeunea rossettiana) – the smallest liverwort of the 300 species occuring in Britain.  This rare plant was last seen in the Bristol region on the Avon Gorge over 50 years ago and today to see this plant other than Blaise you need to travel to Cheddar Gorge or the Wye Valley at Symonds Yat.

Rossetti's Liverwort

The photograph shows Rossetti’s Pouncewort under the binocular microscope creeping over MacKay’s Pouncewort – with a household pin to give an idea of the size.

Peter Martin, 23 May 2010.

A tremendous find by Peter that was one of twenty-three species that would be recorded at the Bristol BioBlitz that were new to Blaise Castle. This shows exactly how important events such as the BioBlitz are for biodiversity! Good work everyone…

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Tension is mounting here as it inches closer 3pm, when the final species total will be revealed. Stream dippers and spider surveyors are bringing in their last finds and adding them to the species numbers. Highlights include an unidentified crab spider, a stunning jewel red weevil and a whole lot of leeches. One minute to the close of Bioblitz Bristoll 2010!

Tickling a spider at Blaise Castle

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Getting into the shady woods was a relief from the persistant sun that had been beating down since day break. Even more welcome was the feeling of cool water running over our feet as we stepped into the stream running through the Blaise Estate near Bristol.

We’re part of the first team to head out in search of species on Day 2 of BioBlitz Bristol – our task, to look for animals and plants living in the shallow freshwater of the stream. The team leader is Vanessa, who takes us head first into the micro world of leaches and larvae.

See what we found in this video.

And later on naturalists took a look at the range of creepy crawlies to be found in the stream…. How diverse was the selection?

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Conservation biologist Tom Selby talks us though sweep netting, banded snails and sawfly larvae.

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The ponds at Ashton Court aren’t exactly the stuff of legend, but there are still some interesting beasts to be found there – ones that can change from water-living gill breathers to fast-moving land predators ; ones that catch their prey with exploding jaws ; and ones that are relatives of the giant octopus…

(that’s frogs, dragonfly nymphs and water snails, to you and me…)

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