I have spent a lot of time in my garden over the last few weeks, as many people across the world have done. Fortunately for me, my garden extends to a family farm in the beautiful countryside of Northern Ireland. With the good weather and lots of free time, I have been exploring the biodiversity that surrounds my home. I have wanted to improve my ID skills for plant and animal species and have made more of an effort lately. I have been carrying out my very own little BioBlitz.
Going exploring armed with binoculars, camera, trail camera and my ID guidebook is a lot of fun, especially when looking at wildflowers, birds, bees and rabbits.
It is quite surprising how many species can live in a small area, and most people wouldn’t even notice them. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for new species and have found a lot without much effort.
My bird feeders are always busy with House Sparrows, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. The trees behind my house are filled with Crows, Grey-Backs, Blackbirds, Starlings and the odd Buzzard. I also think I spotted Hen Harrier about but it flew off very quickly so it was hard to tell. The bog below my house has a Great Heron that visits quite often. I found some interesting plant species including Wild Garlic, Dog Violets, Dandelion, Blackthorn, Greater Stitchwort, Gorse, Ash, Sycamore and some that I am still trying to identify. As always there has been lots of insect life including Small Tortoiseshell and Orange-tip butterflies, St.Mark’s Flies, Flesh Flies, Hover flies, Red-tailed Bumble Bees and Buff-tailed Bumble Bees. And of course, I couldn’t forget the cutest of the lot, the rabbits. I set out my trail camera overnight hoping to catch close up photos and videos but they were unsuccessful but luckily 2 rabbits made an appearance this afternoon in the field beside my house and I was able to get out and snap a few photos before they hopped off out of sight again.
I have identified nearly 30 species in the last week and I think that is pretty amazing for always being within a mile from my house.
I use the Collins Complete Guide to British Wildlife which is an amazing book for beginners as it has photos for every common species across the British Isles. I find photos very useful to quickly identify species, especially plants which can be extremely difficult at times. Of course, once I have a species in mind I will do a quick Google search to double check and I find that the Woodland Trust website (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk) has a great database for all flora and fauna and is very easy to use. I have just downloaded their British Tree Identification app which I am very excited to start using.
If you are bored at home, this is a great way to pass your time. It is fun, educational and can be great for the mind.