Monday, December 31, 2012

Two and a half hours to go!

Happy New Year and good luck everyone.

Weather forecast is looking good for west Suffolk tomorrow so hope to get off to a flying start.

Andy Goodall

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh go on then .... SP5595(ish)

I first heard about this challenge in early December when Nick Moran came to talk to the Leics. & Rutland Ornithological Society. At that point, as far as I knew, it was going to be a personal quest and I didn't really give it any thought other than thinking that 1000 species in a 1km square could be quite straightforward - given the right square!

Once Andy declared his intentions publically, set up this blog and offered an open invite for others to join the challenge, I started thinking about it a bit more. After a fair bit of cogitating, pondering, checking and generally dithering, I've decided that I will give it a go. I will however state that whilst I still think 1000 in a 1km square is perfectly do-able, I genuinely don't think I'll be doing it in my chosen square - my home square. There are several reasons why my home square is not the best for this challenge - not least that it is mainly sub-urban housing on the edge of bland farmland with the M1 splitting it. Because of the M1, and to at least try and improve the habitat diversity to include a small brook, I've shifted the square 500m east (hence SP5595 ish). I posted a bit about the challenge and my chosen square on my blog.

I've decided to have a go for a few reasons: to add some incentive to getting out locally in all seasons; to challenge myself to find and ID more 'difficult' stuff; to re-invigorate my garden mothing (2012 has been pants), and to force a bit of discipline in getting my MapMate records entered in real-time. Whilst I will be giving it a fair go, I will also state that this will not stop me visiting other sites in VC55 and around the UK as and when. Since I worked out my pan-species list in late 2011 I've developed a habit of wanting to see, ID and photograph more new things!

I'll be relying on the garden moth traps accounting for c45% of the total, hopefully including bits like this one from this year:

Allygus modestus, Whetstone 19/08/2012, taken at 125W MV light

I saur it I did

Got this beast staked out in the garden. Hope it stays until Jan 1st.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


My chosen square is SX5249 comprising the northern part of Wembury in Devon. It is really nothing special and might seem like a risky choice living so near to the sea. It lacks water (other than a tiny stream) and is mostly farmland and houses although there is a little woodland. My chances of getting to 1000 are slim I would guess but I am hoping to use this as more of a learning and motivational experience rather than a competition. I'm hoping that my moth trap and plants will give the most consistent numbers but I will need to get into some numerose invert or lower plant groups to really be getting anywhere close. I may also have to beg access to some gardens with ponds.......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

TQ2897 - Trent Park

I live in a flat in Barnet which means I have neither a garden, nor a home square that isn't almost completely urban. So I've decided to get to know the wildlife of my local park instead and picked OS square TQ2897 in Trent Park. 

It's got a couple of ponds, a stream, woodland and infrequently mown grassland. There's also fields covering about a third of the square in the north and west that may provide me with some farmland birds and arable weeds. I'm a bit of an entomology geek so I'm particularly looking forward to seeing what I can find with my sweepnet when the warmer weather starts. To 1000!

Monday, December 24, 2012


{Posting from Seth}

My chosen square is TQ1960 (much of which is built up and heavily populated) but has the very distinct advantage of having most of the remainder fall on top of my beloved Epsom Common, SSSI and recently LNR.

I’m hoping that urban leaf mining and botanising sessions will turn up a few gems on the estates, failing that I plan (hope!) to be active early enough in the mornings to avoid the bulk of the local inbred kids, the packs of slobbering Staffies and the obligatory smart-arse boy racers.

Epsom Common itself has been my playground for well over twenty years, I know it well. The Great and Stew Ponds fall outside of TQ1960 as do the chalk-influenced eastern areas and the main heathy habitats.  Despite this, I reckon the mix of deciduous woodland, relict heath patches, various small ponds, an open meadow area and large amount of dead wood will give me a really good fighting chance of hitting 1000 species in 2013. At least it will if I ever manage to get my head round some more invert orders!

I actually live just outside the square in TQ2060 which means I have automatically forfeited any species attracted to a garden-based moth trap. But it also means I don’t have to try and scrape 1000 species out the generally duff habbo that is Epsom High Street, the associated car parks, office blocks,  the railway line and all manner of naturalist-unfriendly areas!

Best of luck to all, see you on the winning podium! ;)



My home square is almost completely urban so I would be restricted to my back yard (calling it a garden would be an exaggeration). Not only would this make it impossible to reach 1000 species, more importantly it would make it impossible for me to get motivated!

I am therefore plumping for the square in which my office is located. This includes part of Queen Elizabeth Country Park run by Hampshire County Council.

To the east of the dual carriageway is mainly beech plantation but with a remnant bit of disturbed chalk grassland near the road. To the west is a fairly large amount of neglected chalk grassland, together with yew woodland (which no doubt will be really interesting!!), improved pasture, a block of clear-felled conifer plantation and a bit of arable in the south-west corner.

Looking forward to getting started.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brian's square, Elton, Cambs/Northants

My square; TL0894. My garden sits near the edge. The rest is a mix of arable, pasture and water meadow (currently a lake!), with the River Nene running down the middle. There are a few trees, including a maturing plantation of mixed natives and a poplar stand. Some good hedgerows with a fair bit of Elm. A short section of the fast-flowing Billing Brook could be useful. Much of it is publicly accessible but I'll be relying heavily on the garden as well I expect.

Hinderclay, West Suffolk

My chosen patch is Hinderclay, or a part of it, which lies within TM0276.  It is my home village and in February I will have lived there 3 years.  I have been getting to grips with the birds in the area but this challenge will allow me to find out what else is around.

The square is made up of about 40-45% homes with gardens so there are only a few of those I will have access to. The churchyard is within the boundary so I hope to spend some time there. The remainder is farmland with a few tracks and a section of stream. I do not have permission to go on this land yet but there is a small pond that might be worth a visit.

I do not moth trap but might give it a go. I am not expecting a huge score but wait with interest to see what I can tease out of the square.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

St. Etienne

Here is a map of my 1km square here in Guernsey. We do not really use the national grid-square system of the UK, so I have decided that it will be easier to use a square centred on my house, St. Etienne.

The local area is distinctly suburban, with the main habitat being gardens, in which of course I will not be able to search. The local industry is horticulture so there are many glasshouses growing tomatoes and flowers. In between these, there are many small fields of grass - some kept short by cows and others left to grow for silage. A few of these are almost 'meadows' at times. There are no areas of open water apart from an inaccessible flooded quarry which I can just peer over a wall into. There are however numerous ditches, known as douits, along which water plants do grow. There are one or two scrubby areas and abandoned fields which may be important to search. There is no woodland but along the borders of fields and in the gardens there are a lot of mature trees. The area is flat and very low-lying (even below sea-level in the far NE). Walking the lanes in Guernsey are usually very productive as they are generally bordered by quite vegetated banks. The uniformity of the area may restrict my total, but I am sure that I can get a few species that do not occur in the UK for major grippage (to use birding parlance).

Saturday, December 15, 2012


OK, here's my 1 km square, the mighty TM2499. I plan to scour every last inch during 2013 (except the bits that are private obviously...)

By the way, if you've expressed an interest in this challenge, I'll try to send you an invite to become an author too. If you'd like to take part and you don't get an invite then send me an email direct to andy AT bubo DOT org and I'll try to sort it out.

TM2499 - my 1 km square for 2013


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The rules (first draft)

OK then, following a few queries, here are some suggested rules for the 1000 for 1ksq challenge.

1. The area has to be a square, but does not have to be the precise outline of an existing Ordnance Survey grid square (i.e. you can shift a bit to avoid motorways!)

2. All species must be within the square, or deemed to be probably in the square (but birds flying miles away don't count).

3. The species must be detected between 1st Jan 2013 and 31st Dec 2013, although identifications can continue afterwards if necessary.

4. For the purposes of the species total, only species-level identifications count. Aggregates of any defined grouping at greater than species level, where no species within that grouping have been identified, should be recorded though and count in the case of a tie!

5. The participant does not have to fully identify each species themselves; help is allowed, so long as the participant is engaged in the identification process and understands why the species is what it is (i.e. no sending buckets of flies to the local museum...)

6. Evidence-only records (mole hills, galls, leaf-miners, bat detections etc) do not count unless the organism itself is seen or heard. Such records should of course still be written down.

7. Dead things count so long as they clearly died within the square (e.g. pitfall traps).

8. Garden plants are allowable if they have spread under their own steam more than 2 metres from the nearest garden boundary.

9. Trees that have clearly been planted deliberately, for whatever reason, are not countable; however, it has to be accepted that it may be impossible to tell for older native trees and in such cases the species can be included.

10. All records should be submitted to the relevant local or national recording society or local record centre, as appropriate.

What have I missed? Also, quite happy to have some of these debated...

Crocus in Shotesham, Feb 2010 - countable or not?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Seemed like a good idea...

On New Year's Eve, 1999, I made a pledge (slightly under the influence of alcohol) that I would record 2,000 species of "things" in the UK in the year 2000. And this I did, more or less, and learnt a lot of interesting things along the way. Before then, I really only knew birds, dragonflies, butterflies and macro-moths, plus the most obvious plants, mammals and the like. At the end of the year, I'd learnt a lot more plants, a reasonable number of fungi, spiders and assorted insects, and become slightly obsessed with leaf-miners.

The years have rolled by, and I now feel in need of a new challenge. Something to get me out of bed in the morning, and to stop me spending all my time working. And maybe even something mildly useful in terms of adding to the sum knowledge of biodiversity? But the reality is that I am severely time-limited, by family and work. Moreover, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with burning up petrol to add the next tick.

So, the challenge I have set for myself in 2013 is..... to record 1,000 species in my home 1 km square, which goes by the name of TM2499. I live in the village of Shotesham, a few miles south of Norwich. It's a really pleasant place to live, and TM2499 is probably a bit more diverse than the average 1 km square. I have a sizeable garden, which is "managed for wildlife" (spot the euphemism). Behind me is a boring arable field, although with quite a wide margin left in recent years. But more usefully, in front is the Shotesham Common SSSI, which is basically boggy ground with a stream running through it, on its way to join the river Tas (and thence the Yare). We also have a decent sized village pond about 100 m away. Elsewhere in the 1 km square, there are more arable fields, more gardens and a few small blocks of woodland.

Surely enough to support 1,000 species. Well yes, but...just for the record, and to get my excuses in early, I'm not really an expert in most taxonomic groups, except (I suppose I'd have to accept) birds and Lepidoptera. I'm quite good at hoverflies these days too I think, and am a slightly better botanist. However, for most insects I'm still a relative beginner. I only bought my first microscope last year, and still find it mildly scary!

Anyway, perhaps it's a pipe dream and in reality perhaps I'll find no time to tackle the myriad different organisms that live in the square. But it's exciting to think about having a go. I reckon so at least. And even if 1,000 seems way out of reach, for someone with my time and ability constraints, I'm interested to see how far I can get.

I'd also be really interested to hear if anyone else out there fancies having a go. There's nothing like a bit of friendly competition and camaraderie to spur one along.

Willow Emerald Damselfly Lestes viridis - in my garden in September 2011, one of the best finds of the year.