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Posts Tagged ‘Insects’

At dusk this evening a keen group of bat detectives set off on dark and eerie mystery trail around Kings Weston Estate with the hope of tracking down some of the UK’s 12 native bat species.

Led by David Brown with the assistance of fellow bat detector Claire Shellis, the group set off and within about 400 yards of the house we spotted our first flying mammal! Our hand-held bat detectors started to buzz and we turned our heads to the skies where, right above us, a common pipistrelle bat was darting around hunting for insects.

Thrilled by our our first sighting, we carried on walking to find just around the corner a myotis species flying overhead. Our bat detectors were making very different sounds compared to a few moments ago. Bats use high frequency calls, most beyond the range of our human ears, in order to build up a picture of their surroundings, allowing them to hunt for their insect prey at night. Claire explained that the reason why we were hearing different noises from our bat detectors was due to the different frequencies of call used by the two bat species – whereas the common pipistrelle makes a slapping wet sound, myotis species produce a much more dry sound.

As the darkness really started to settle in and the woodlands became eerier, our bat detectors suddenly started producing a much more irregular sound. David soon revealed that what we were hearing was the calls of a serotine bat, which are easily recognisable as they never seem to get into a rhythm! A low flier, the serotine certainly kept the group on their toes!

And if you thought that bats only came out when birds went to bed, you are mistaken!The woodpigeons were particularly active on our brisk walk back to the headquarters at Kings Weston House…!

That’s all from day 1 of the Bristol BioBlitz 2013. We are off to recharge our camera batteries so we can keep you posted on all the activities planned for tomorrow as well as keeping our eye on that all important species total!

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Wildscreen Media Team member Kathryn joins Tony the naturalist as he takes a group of budding entomologists on an invertebrate discovery mission.

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The Media Team are in BioBlitz headquarters editing their footage from their foray into the world of invertebrates. Video coming soon!

Media Team in action

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In winter our six legged friends tend to go quiet – but where do all of the insects go in winter?

The smaller you are, the faster you lose heat and insects can’t use their food to heat their bodies like us mammals so they are stuck with the temperature of their surroundings. So when it gets cold there isn’t enough energy around for insects to keep active. So how do they survive?

Some, like grasshoppers and many flies, simply die off and rely on the eggs and larvae that they laid during the summer to survive and hatch out as adults in spring! Thats why the grasshopper can afford to sing all summer in Aesops fable

Image (thanks to Bird and Moon for this comic)

Lots of insects, like queen bumblebees, hibernate by going underground to shelter from the worst winter frosts, emerging in early March to start a new colony and collect pollen from the spring flowers.

Ladybirds sometimes cluster in swarms in good hibernation spots and can even survive frosting over! Thats why they occassionaly find their way  the spaces around your sash windows!

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Thanks to Ladybird expert Richard Comont of Oxford University for some cracking photos!

Follow the link below to invertebrate charity Buglife to learn how to make a bug hotel – a winter home for minibeasts of all kinds!

Build a Bug Hotel

This is a great activity for all the family and uses those dead leaves littering the lawn. Children should be supervised making the hotel for their own safety, but will enjoy joining in!

To build your own Bug Hotel, click here for all of the instructions you will need from the BugLife website.

If you know a keen bug hunter or want to get your kids out enjoying the great outdoors next spring – why not get them a bug hunting kit for christmas to see what moves in to your bug hotel

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Its a fresh and frosty afternoon in Bristol and a mad summer of BioBlitzes seems like an age away. As Bristol gears up to Christmas we’ve joined the Bristol Green Capital Blogfest to join the city’s finest environmentally minded organisations to help you have green, wildlife friendly festivities this year!

First out of the blocks was Wildscreen with a blog on Green Christmas Trees!

ImageWatch this space for some tips for sustaining your garden wildlife this winter and we’ll be dispelling some wintery wildlife myths! But first, who can identify this berry munching winter visitor?

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Matthew Oates

Matthew Oates

Who are you?

I’m Matthew and I’m the National Trust’s specialist on invertebrates.

You’re leading the ‘bug walk’ at the moment. How’s it going?

We’re doing really well. We’ve only walked a hundred metres, but we’ve already found examples of pretty much everything in the insect world, including a fascinating nomad bee. Most of the things we find are new to the visitors here, and some are even new to me.

What do you like most about being here at the BioBlitz?

Helping people to learn how many species there are out there. We usually just walk straight past things like this, but today we’re stopping to have a look. We’re all having a fantastic time.

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