04 August 2011
Meet the Species is on a race to discover 2012 species in the run up to London 2012, and has just returned from its latest adventure. Last weekend, the Meet the Species team made the short trip to Wiltshire for the first music festival species hunt of the summer, taking their wonderful wildlife discovery roadshow to the world-famous WOMAD festival. WOMAD is a celebration of the diversity of music, art and dance from across the globe, but this year festival-goers were also able to experience the amazing diversity of species to be found underneath their very feet in the beautiful Charlton Park arboretum.
With expert assistance from local volunteer naturalists, and boundless enthusiasm from visitors young and old alike, the team set out to explore the arboretum, with species hunts leaving every half an hour and every one returning with new findings to be added to the list and examined under the microscope back at Meet the Species HQ. Despite the trampling feet of 30,000 music fans, and the pounding rhythms from around the globe, our hunts uncovered insects and minibeasts aplenty, from spiders to bumblebees and many more inbetween. Highlights included a purple hairstreak butterfly, a striking Dor bettle, and a beautiful leopard moth, that came to rest just metres from the Meet the Species gazebo. On Saturday evening, around twenty-five people gathered, armed with ultrasonic detectors, to follow our mammal expert Mark on a bat walk, and despite the loud music, we were able to hear and see several common and soprano pipistrelles. Our hunt for small mammals continued on Sunday morning, as Mark led a crowd to check the traps placed in the undergrowth the night before, and discovered both a wood mouse and a rather feisty yellow-necked mouse.
After three days hunting, by Sunday evening we had been able to find a grand total of 166 different species, a great total that showed just how much it is possible to find even in a site full of crowds of people. A huge thank you must go to our wonderfully knowledgeable and engaging naturalists, and to all our enthusiastic species hunters who combed the woods, fields, hedgerows and ditches of Charlton Park throughout the weekend. The next stop for Meet the Species is Lollibop festival in London’s Regent’s Park, so come and join us there as we continue the race towards 2012 species!
Post by Ben Connor from Meet the Species, a Discovering Places project.
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