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The Great Yorkshire Creature Count

  • Thu 25th Jun, 2020

At the start of June, the Wildlife Trusts across the country launched their 30 Days Wild challenge which has been engaging and inspiring people to get out and experience nature in all sorts of ways for several years. A great chance to get your camera or phone charged up and capture those special moments that we experience daily, and then share them across social media.

Blue-tailed Damselfly © Margaret BoydBlue-tailed Damselfly © Margaret Boyd

With my family I have been getting involved and every year I seem to find something different that catches my eye, something new perhaps or a new way of seeing the familiar. Since the beginning of lockdown, back in early March, I, like many of us have been getting more familiar with the fauna and flora in our local area and in particular, the wildlife in our garden so I was ready to get involved again.

Bullfinch (male) © Margaret BoydBullfinch (male) © Margaret Boyd

Add to this the launch by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust of the great Yorkshire creature count that took place over the weekend of 20th June and it was all hands-on deck to search and record the wildlife in the garden. Again, using a camera to document your findings, people were encouraged to make a record of all the creatures that they could find over a 24-hour period within their garden spaces. We have quite a large garden, hence the involvement of family members. I put my son on the task of finding any invertebrates in amongst the log piles, under the rocks and within the bug hotel; pill and common woodlice, millipedes, centipedes, several spider species, harvestmen, beetles, earthworms, beetle larvae and a seven-spot ladybird. Luckily the challenge did not require full identification of all the creatures found; once photographed the images were uploaded onto an app – iNaturalist, on which a forum of experts have added their identification suggestions over the last few days.

Meadow Brown © Richard BainesMeadow Brown © Richard Baines

I went on the hunt for bees and managed to pick up 5 different types, my husband searched out hoverflies, tracking down 4 species and several species of fly. Butterflies were easily identified but less easily photographed; small tortoiseshell, red admiral, large and small white and a single meadow brown. The records could also be put as notes rather than photographs, which allowed me to record the 27 bird species, including a very smart male bullfinch which is a recent arrival in our garden and our nesting house martins.

Hedgehog © Richard BainesHedgehog © Richard Baines

Overnight we caught two hedgehogs coming to the food on our trail camera, heard a tawny owl and spotted several pipistrelle bats. The moth trap didn’t catch anything in large numbers yet my son and I always enjoy the anticipation of opening it up in the morning; ghost moth, blood vein, large yellow underwing, common swift, small square spot and a species of pug which I’ve left for the experts to identify!

Ghost © Richard BainesGhost © Richard Baines

Early Sunday morning we went back outside to look more closely at the pond; pond and ramshorn snails, pond skater, daphnia, lesser waterboatman, midge larvae and plenty of common frog tadpoles, all at varying stages of development. Around the edges, still in the dew, two types of snail and one species of slug and what has been a regular sighting over the last week, male blue tailed damselflies.

Common Frog © Margaret BoydCommon Frog © Margaret Boyd

At the time of writing there has been over 10,000 observations of more than 1200 species by around 700 people. With the finding of 76 creature species in our count and without too much effort in the 24 hours, I feel we contributed to a great citizen science project that will, no doubt improve year on year.

Margaret Boyd

YCN Wildlife Guide