Monthly Archives: April 2013

Spring is busting out all over…

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As the BioBlitz approaches the Kings Weston Estate is waking up and preparing to put on a show. Spring has come late, but nature is making up for lost time with a display of wild flowers.

Bluebells are already out in Crabtree Slip Wood close to the Avon, and cowslips are in the meadow close by. Meanwhile celandines are out in abundance across the estate.

This weekend should be a great opportunity to get out and discover more about the flora of Kings Weston with the help of knowledgeable naturalists from the Bristol Natural History Consortium.

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Bristol BioBlitz launches Bristol99 this weekend at Kings Weston. Get ready for a 30 hour wildlife extravaganza!

3 DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE BRISTOL BIOBLITZ AT KINGS WESTON – HURRAH!  This year, it marks a particularly special occasion – the launch event of Bristol99, a pilot project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bristol Festival of Nature.  For 6 weeks, starting with the Bristol BioBlitz, Bristol Natural History Consortium will be working with partners to deliver a huge variety of FREE activities (currently, about 40 and counting!) on some of Bristol’s best wildlife sites – the 99 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest.  From the 30 hour wildlife recording extravaganza that is the main Bristol BioBlitz, to a gentle cycle ride along the Malago Valley looking at wildflowers, an evening bat walk, or a glimpse into the world of the water vole, there truly is something to tickle everyone’s taste buds.

Bristol99 concludes it’s journey around Bristol at Bristol Harbourside, for the big finale – Bristol Festival of Nature, on the weekend of 15th/16th June.  Bringing together over 150 organisations for an exciting and interactive programme, it is the UK’s largest FREE natural history event and a truly great day out, whether or not you are a wildlife aficionado!

So why not make Bristol BioBlitz the start of a summer exploring the wildlife hot spots of our wonderful city? Come along to a few of the Bristol99 events in the weeks to follow, and then join us at the Festival of Nature!  I can’t think of a better, or cheaper way to have fun in the (hopefully) sun!

By Lucy Gaze

Reconnaisance mission

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We’ve been lucky enough to secure the services of Paul and Ian to undertake a bird ringing exercise to show the schools’ groups we have coming to the Friday session of the BioBlitz.

It’s such a big site, with so much varied habitat that Paul asked if he could come to the estate, have a bit of a wander around and find a good spot for the ringing session.

The ideal location, Paul told me, is somewhere with relatively low vegetation (like hedges) so that when they put up the catching nets, the birds are more likely to fly into them, rather than over them.

I was a bit worried about these nets – they’re made of black fibres so the birds can’t see them but Paul reassured me they’re soft and they don’t harm the birds at all.  Also, Paul will put them up a little off the beaten track and we’ll make sure there some volunteer marshals around so people walking in the estate don’t accidentally walk into them.

After about 20 minutes walking, we found what might well be the ideal spot.  It’s an area of shrubby and wild growth just off the downland area on Kings Weston Hill.  It’s sheltered, and quiet but it’s close to an area where Paul and Ian can do the ringing demonstration without having to take the spectators too near the nets.

The birds caught will be identified, measured and their general state of health noted and the data will be added to a bird ringing database as well as our BioBlitz database. The ringing data is very important in helping naturalists identify the state of bird populations, where birds travel and how long they live.  All of these things can help us protect species.

Whilst we were walking we heard chiff-chaffs, wrens, robins and plenty of great tits and blue tits.  Paul was also convinced he’d heard something a bit rarer and was hoping to hear it again.

Roll on 3rd May!