Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Rare wildlife discovered in biggest nature survey along Britain's coast

 Wildlife ‘firsts’ include Norfolk’s only sighting of a Balearic shearwater and a beetle not seen in Northern Ireland for more than 100 years

Friday 11 March 2016 06.01 GMTLast modified on Friday 11 March 201606.05 GMT

The biggest survey to date of nature along Britain’s coastline has uncovered a host of “wildlife firsts”.

More than 3,400 species were recorded at 25 National Trust locations along the coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the charity’s largest ever wildlife survey. A handful have either been seen in a new habitat for the first time or “rediscovered” after going unseen for many years. 

Results included the first ever recorded sighting of the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast. This bird is normally seen far out to sea off the coast of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and west Wales, but a sighting off the east coast is more unusual, rangers said.

At Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, a slow worm (Anguis fragilis), was found for the first time since 1966 and a rare forest cockchafer beetle (Melolontha hippocastani), was found in the dunes of White Park Bay, Co Antrim for the first time in Northern Ireland in more than a century.

Four thousand nature lovers and expert volunteers helped survey 25 National Trust coastal properties. Photograph: Zoe Frank/National Trust

Over six months last year, 4,000 people took part in “bio blitz” surveys, with the aim of recording as many species as possible over either 12 or 24 hours. 

Some 53 species “red listed” by the IUCNwere recorded, including the Dartford warbler, spotted on Brownsea Island in Dorset for only the second time since the 1980s. The surveys also recorded 95 of the UK’s most threatened species – among them water vole, found at Dunwich Heath on the Suffolk coast for only the second time in more than 40 years, and the red-shanked carder bee (Bombus ruderarius), seen at Birling Gap in East Sussex for the first time.

Dr David Bullock, the trust’s head of conservation, said the results would help provide the trust with a greater understanding of the species that live along Britain’s coastline.

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