Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Monday, 14 January 2013

New year, new challenges

A new year is time to set some challenges to provide motivation for the year ahead. So what to do this year? I wanted to choose something that was going to be difficult but which improves my natural history knowledge. A couple of years ago a friend tried to see 1000 new species across all taxanomic groups within one year. He was doing pretty well until natural history burn-out occurred in late summer and he ended up falling short. So I'm going to have a crack at that but to make sure that I don't just fall into a year long twitch I'm setting a second challenge of 3000 species in total for the year.

That seemed like enough to keep me out of trouble but just before christmas Andy Musgrove announced the '1000 for 1km' challenge. Basically this is a challenge to see 1000 species across all taxanomic groups within a 1km square. Well it would be rude not to join in so that is challenge number 3 for the year. I'll report most of the 1000for1km results on that blog as that's where all the other participants will be reporting their results.

In order to stand any chance of completing these challenges, I need to tackle groups that I've neglected up till now so I joined the West Weald Fungus Group at their meeting at Witley Common in Surrey on Saturday. We didn't see a vast number of species but most of them were new to me including these large aggregations of Stereum hirsutum on felled Turkey Oaks.

It's good to see the National Trust making an effort to remove this invasive alien species and interesting to see that it is actually useful for something. Another, more interesting, alien on Witley Common is the Pirri-pirri-bur. I've never seen this on the Hampshire heaths but apparently it is quite invasive in Surrey and is becoming a problem on some heaths.

So far this year I've seen 16 new species, mostly fungi but also a couple of plants and a pond skater.

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