Record-smashing seaside survey reveals surprises all along UK’s coastline

The results from the biggest nature survey ever conducted along the coastline of Britain have just come in, and they contain some super surprises, with multiple species being ‘rediscovered’ or found for the first time in various regions where their presence had never been previously recorded.

The interactive survey was conducted by the National Trust during six months of 2015. In co-ordinated ‘BioBlitzes’, over 3,400 species were recorded at 25 National Trust sites scattered along the shore of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the outcome has yielded a batch of wildlife firsts, as well as unearthing invaluable evidence about the health and distribution of numerous native British species.

‘A bioblitz is one way of surveying by counting the number of species that can be found at a particular place over 12 or 24 hours,’ Ed Bartlett, the National Trust’s bioblitz co-ordinator, explained to the BBC.

Cockchafer beetles were almost wiped out, but a confirmed sighting during an NT bioblitz was the first for a century
Cockchafer beetles were almost wiped out. A confirmed sighting during an NT bioblitz was the first for a century

In all, 899 flowering plants, 1,747 invertebrates, 42 mammals and 173 birds were seen and listed during the survey, including 95 of the United Kingdom’s most threatened species. These included water voles, spotted at Dunwich Heath on the Suffolk coast for the second time in more than four decades, and otters, which were glimpsed at Murlough in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1980.

Fifty three animals that appear on the ‘Red List’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—such as the Dartford warbler, spied on Dorset’s Brownsea Island for the second time in four decades—were also glimpsed during the process, which saw large numbers of the public participate in the filing of 22,317 wildlife records.

Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler

Other exciting sightings included the first-ever recorded presence of the Balearic shearwater along the Norfolk coast at Blakeney, a buzz-by from a red-shanked carder bee at Birling Gap in East Sussex, the spotting of a jumping spider at East Head in Chichester,  and a crawl-past by a forest cockchafer beetle in the dunes of White Park Bay, Co Antrim, confirming the survival of a species that was virtually wiped out by pesticide use in the 20th century and hasn’t been positively identified in Northern Ireland for over a hundred years.