Get close to nature at free, family-friendly BioBlitz events
West Oxfordshire residents are being invited to turn citizen scientist on Sunday 7 August as the District Council hosts its very first BioBlitz event at Kilkenny Lane Country Park, Brize Norton. The purpose, to gather as many environmental records as possible over a 24-hour period to build a picture of the lives of the different insects, animals and flowers inhabiting the park and document the level of biodiversity at this popular green, open space.
Delivered in partnership with Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC), the day will also include expert-led activities, starting with a morning bird identification walk with wildlife specialist, Henrietta Pringle. Later events include a bug hunt, a wildlife survey and - to round the day off - a 90-minute evening bat walk where visitors will be able to use ultrasonic bat detecting equipment to listen in on how these fascinating creatures communicate and use echolocation to navigate the world around them. All sessions are offered completely free of charge.
Councillor Andrew Prosser, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It goes without saying that we hope the BioBlitz will provide a fun and informative day out for local residents and visitors to the site who want to get close to nature and understand more about the different types of wildlife that can be found right on their doorstep. But there is a more serious point to all of this. With a rapidly changing climate, it’s without question that our natural world is facing its biggest challenge yet. Events such as this, will provide us with a unique snapshot of what is happening on the ground and in the sky and give us an important benchmark against which we can measure future success in terms of preserving, and building on, the rich biodiversity of the park.”
West Oxfordshire District Council has already set out its plans for managing its land areas, including Kilkenny Lane Country Park - the Council’s largest owned open space - as it looks to ‘build back greener’ following the Covid pandemic and deliver on its climate change strategy commitment to protect and restore the district’s natural eco-systems and wildlife habitats.
In addition to the guided sessions, members of the public can also take part in a family-friendly wildlife trail as well as pay a visit to the nature table displaying birds’ nests and other objects of interest synonymous with the natural world.
Rachel Crookes, Biodiversity and Countryside Land Management Officer at the Council and BioBlitz organiser, said: “Kilkenny Lane Country Park is home to so many different species of flora and fauna, with notable insects, amphibians, birds and mammals living in its mosaic of habitats. At the moment, we have only a small number of wildlife records of the site, which we’re hoping to change through our BioBlitz event and inspiring people to get outside and collect valuable data about the natural world around them.”
Henrietta Pringle, Biological Recording Co-ordinator, from TVERC, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this event to not only find out more about the wildlife at Kilkenny Lane Country Park but also to encourage people to get out in nature and to spread the word about the importance of biological recording. We can only protect species and habitats if we know about them: where they are, where they’ve disappeared and the threats they face. At TVERC we collate this data and pass it on to land managers, ecologists and researchers to ensure local decisions are driven by evidence. By taking part in events like the Bioblitz or telling us what they’ve spotted while out and about or in their gardens, members of the public can contribute vital data to help nature conservation.”
Each expert led-session lasts at least an hour. To book on to any of the free BioBlitz sessions or guided walks, visit: www.westoxon.gov.uk/bioblitz.
Activities are open to all ages and abilities and are offered on a first-come first-served basis.
Members of the public wanting to join the family nature trail do not need to book in advance.
West Oxfordshire District Council Communications Team
Notes to editors
Photo shows (l-r): Rachel Crookes, Biodiversity and Countryside Land Management Officer at West Oxfordshire District Council, Henrietta Pringle (Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre) and Cllr Andrew Prosser, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at West Oxfordshire District Council at Kilkenny Lane Country Park.