24 hours to help gather vital data to protect nature on your doorstep

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People are invited to help gather vital information on the insects, animals and flowers inhabiting a West Oxfordshire park as they can during a 24-hour period this weekend.

The very first BioBlitz event at Kilkenny Lane Country Park, Brize Norton, on Sunday aims to gather as many environmental records as possible on the flora and fauna, amphibians, birds and mammals at the public space to document the level of biodiversity.

The day will start with a morning bird identification walk with wildlife specialist Henrietta Pringle. Then there’s a bug hunt, a wildlife survey and – to round the day off – a 90-minute evening bat walk using ultrasonic bat detecting equipment to listen to how bats communicate using echolocation.

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All sessions, delivered by the council in partnership with Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC), are free.

Councillor Andrew Prosser, cabinet member for climate change at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It goes without saying that we hope the BioBlitz will provide a fun and informative day out for local residents and visitors.

“But there is a more serious point to all of this. With a rapidly changing climate, it’s without question that our natural world is facing its biggest challenge yet.

“Events such as this, will provide us with a unique snapshot of what is happening on the ground and in the sky and give us an important benchmark against which we can measure future success in terms of preserving, and building on, the rich biodiversity of the park.”

In addition to the guided sessions, there will be a family-friendly wildlife trail as well as a nature table displaying birds’ nests and other nature objects.

Rachel Crookes, biodiversity and countryside land management officer at the council, said: “At the moment, we have only a small number of wildlife records of the site, which we’re hoping to change through our BioBlitz event.”

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Henrietta Pringle, Biological Recording Co-ordinator, from TVERC, added: “We can only protect species and habitats if we know about them: where they are, where they’ve disappeared and the threats they face.

“At TVERC we collate this data and pass it on to land managers, ecologists and researchers to ensure local decisions are driven by evidence.

“By taking part in events like the Bioblitz or telling us what they’ve spotted while out and about or in their gardens, members of the public can contribute vital data to help nature conservation.”

Each expert led-session lasts at least an hour. To book these or guided walks, visit: www.westoxon.gov.uk/bioblitz (no need to book family nature trail).

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