Last week did not start well with storm damage from heavy rain to the paths and car park, and lightning had knocked out our phone and internet access (I am using my home connection to bring this update to you as we are still without communication at the reserve). Probably the worst week to try and organise and run a bioblitz – having never been to one before myself, and Kinnordy having never hosted one! But with the help of my trusty residential volunteers Simon and Kath we muddled through and got everything organised. Simon sadly finished his placement on Thursday so missed the event, a huge thank you for all the help and hard work over the last few months though. Simon will be missed, if not only for his abilities to attract the barn owl with his bright blonde hair! We now have a new member of the team Mike, who joined straight in with the event Friday night after arriving on a train from London that day! Great stuff!

The bioblitz started Friday night with a bat walk, moth trapping and amphibian surveying. This part of the event was led by David Lampard and Anne Reid from the Dundee Naturalist Society, both of whom had been instrumental in getting other recorders on board and gathering equipment for the day. I cannot thank them both enough! Also Pete Minting from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) travelled up from Southern England to survey reptiles and amphibians for us, again a huge thank you! We also managed to find a few early flying species of moth by netting them along the walk, mostly snouts, as the name suggests they have a long snout! We then were lucky enough to see and hear daubenton’s bats over Lilypond, and pipistrelle’s feeding along the treeline nearby. Bats like to use linear features to feed along and daubenton’s are typically seen flying low over water to catch insects. Tawny owls were added to the list on the way back, with one lucky family seeing one as well as hearing it! Anne and Richard Brinklow (from Dundee Nats also) started recording plants too so our list was up to over 100 just in the first few hours. Things were looking positive.

Saturday morning I was on site early, but Pete Minting had already been up to check the newt traps and was heading back for breakfast (well deserved I must say). We had seen frogs and toads the night before and now had palmate newt to add to our growing list! Pete had also added an aquatic mammal to our list the night before in a chance encounter. Darrell Berthon a local RSPB volunteer (and excellent birder) had also been on site early and got some more bird species to add to the list, and helped me battle the gale force wind to put up a gazebo to act as the welcome point- what a good egg he is! At which point George (a local birder and another good egg) appeared and saved Darrell and myself from taking off with the gazebo! With everything set up and tea, coffee and cake in place the laborious (but rewarding) task of identifying the mammoth catch of moths from the three light traps we put out began! The red squirrels provided extra entertainment in between the moth mayhem and another species for the list!

A green arches showing how varied their colouration can be.

At the same time Mike Davidson from the Grampian Spider Group had been busy out on the reserve with his bug vac! The windy conditions really hampered Mike’s survey as many arachnids had been blown out of the vegetation, and everything was lying very low. Mike still put in a sterling effort all day though, and has offered to resume the survey on a less blustery day to find even more species for us, what a star! Mike’s highlights were the wetland spider Allomengea vidua - which is relatively uncommon in Scotland but Angus seems to be a hot spot. And the millipede Allajulus nitidus is a subterranean woodland species which is uncommon in the north.

Next our attentions were turned to avian records, a survey ably led by Bob McCurley (RSPB volunteer and birding legend) and Darrell. The highlight was seeing a female marsh harrier – we had not seen a marsh harrier on site for over three weeks! Allan, a local Kinnordy supporter and expert birder, saw the bird the night before also. Darrell also saw a spotted flycatcher in the morning, which we do not see many of and could be moving south for migration already. All the usual suspects were accounted for also, no stone would be left unturned with these two at the helm.

Starling flock captured by Darrell Berthon

Spotted flycatcher, D. Berthon.

The morning flew by and it was soon time for pond dipping and reptile hunting round at Lilypond. The gales had taken their toll on poor Anne’s gazebo round at the pond, flipping it into the bushes in a twisted heap. After rescuing it and packing it away the recording began, straight away we had two types of water boatman, freshwater shrimp and diving beetle. Pete Minting also found an abundance of toads under the tin sheets we had put out to attract reptiles to. Common Toads are a biodiversity action plan species as they are considered at risk, so it is great to know we are giving so many a home on the reserve! They can also live up to 40 years!

Pete Minting (and David Lampard in background) surveying at Lilypond

Anne Reid in her element, net in hand at Lilypond

Pond dipping took up most of the afternoon – a popular activity with all ages! Lilypond was thoroughly surveyed so our attentions moved on to mini-beasts, this activity was led by Robert Peek (a local volunteer and biology teacher) who was a great help throughout the day also. Families were shown how to use keys to identify invertebrates, and shown how to use collecting equipment.

Bioblitz basecamp, the recorders having a brief moment of calm after moth madness!

As anyone who has been to a bioblitz event will know it takes some time after the event to accurately identify all of the species (especially plants and invertebrates), so the final grand total will not be available just yet. But I am very proud to announce our initial estimate as just over 300 species found in 24 hours!!! With only a handful of recorders and very strong gales, it really was a top effort form all involved and a credit to you all! THANK YOU!!

I would also like to thank Kath’s boyfriend James who was a great help in setting up and on the day. And a huge thank you to everyone who attended the event - apologies to anyone I have not mentioned- it really was an enjoyable day and hopefully Kinnordy has made some more lifelong friends and maybe even inspired a few members of the next generation to get into wildlife recording! And to encourage nature into their gardens at home.

Goodnight from the beautiful Kinnordy! ( photo: D.Berthon)