Monday, 27 October 2014

Bioblitz at Chester Zoo

I had the good fortune to attend the Bioblitz at Chester Zoo this year on Saturday 6th September.

The idea of a Bioblitz is to involve as many people as possible in recording native species with the help of experts in their field. The first task, a botanical recording session, was led by our own expert Dr. Hilary Ash and I then opted for the fresh water invertebrate recording. The staff of the zoo had collected water samples from different water habitats around the area and we keyed out the different aquatic life from these samples, finding dragonfly nymphs, water boatmen, water slaters, daphnia, freshwater shrimps, great diving beetles and mayfly nymphs. Interesting to compare the samples and identify which samples had the greater diversity and species richness.

A look at terrestrial invertebrates saw us heading to the elephant compost pit. Lots of beetles and other insects exploit this habitat of dung. Surrounded by the zoo life this bioblitz seemed rather demure concentrating on our small indigenous species compared to the lions, pumas, jaguars, giraffes, flamingos etc in their respective enclosures.

Later in the evening we were out again in the zoo grounds on a bat walk with detectors. It seemed rather incongruous passing the lions enclosure with their roaring, feeling more like being in Africa than Cheshire. We picked up Noctule, Common and Soprano Pipistrelle and then Daubenton’s over the ponds. It was a very enjoyable time experiencing the zoo in a different way and meeting many other like-minded people.

Paul Greenslade

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