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Whiteknights BioBlitz 2013: The Movie!

Back in June Dr M posted about the University of Reading Whiteknights BioBitz,  a large scale biodiversity event which ran between 7th-8th June 2013. During this 24 hour period a wide range of people got together to identify as many plant and animal species as they could on the prize-winning University of Reading Whiteknights campus.

The event was organised by Dr Becky Thomas from University of Reading, School of Biological Sciences and BioBlitz: The Movie shows Becky and a wide range of local environmental groups in action at the BioBlitz.  At the end of the video Dr M also presents some of the results of the plants and animals recorded during the BioBliz together with some lovely images taken on the day.

BREAKING NEWS! It  has just been announced (2nd August)  that the University of Reading campus has once again won the prestigious Green Flag Award, marking it out as one of the best open places in the country, the BioBlitz results confirm just how green and biodiverse it is!  Further details of the BioBlitz event can be found at the BioBlitz website.

Plant diversity in the BioBlitz

As far as plant diversity goes on the Whiteknights campus, Dr M can report that the 24 hour period resulted in records for 20 lichen species, 35 Mosses, 8 Liverworts and an amazing 295 vascular plants (ferns, conifers and flowering plants), not bad going by any standards!

And was there a botanical highlight of the day?  Well, probably the most exciting new campus botanical record  was Fay Newbery’s discovery of  a dozen plants of the beautiful White Helleborine orchid (Cephalanthera damasonium) growing under a Lime tree near the University library! This lovely plant is on the Berkshire Rare Plant Register (2005) and described as ‘decreasing’ so it is a delightful addition to our list and to campus biodiversity.

Dr M’s Poaceous BioBlitz ecapades

There were lots of excellent events on the day and including two grass ID sessions lead by Dr M.  One of these took place during the main BitBlitz day, maybe you were on it, but if not you can get a flavour of how Poaceously exciting it was here!  The other one took place the previous evening, at 11.30 pm to be precise!  This night-time Poaceae event actually started out as a bat watching session.  Dr M joined a small group of bat enthusiasts to watch the results of mist netting in the Wilderness woodland on campus. We were educated about bats and shown a very cute pipistrelle by bat expert Jan Collins (her lovely blue bat gloves and the lovely bat itself are featured in BioBlitz: The Movie!).

Dr M was impressed with the bat, but after a few minutes he felt a twinge of Poaceae coming on and so under Dr M’s influence the bat watch slid inexorably into a night time Poaceae session. You might be forgiven for asking how in the name of bat-fink Dr M managed to run a grass ID session at 11.30 at night in the pitch dark! But you would be forgetting that the area was teeming with bat ecologists at the time, and the skilled bat ecologist’s field kit includes a head torch, this helps them in their work and probably helps stop them banging into things in the dark too! So during this night time Poaceae sesion Dr M assisted his attentive group of bat (now Poaceae) enthusiasts in the observation of ligules, auricles, spikelets and so-on, and all by the generous provision of light from ecologist and arboriculturalist Rob’ Frear’s head torch.  Oh how we laughed! And Dr M hardly needs to tell you this is yet another example of eXtreme Poaceae!



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