What’s the buzz?

Pleased to say l have only to look out my kitchen window to admire wildlife.

I am blessed with a cat that would rather sleep on a chair than chase birds – so our feathered friends have free rein at a tree hung bird feeder.

Hope lockdowns have helped give you all a new appreciation for the natural world because residents are now being urged to help the ecological emergency by recording the wildlife, plants, animals and insects they find locally as part of City Nature Challenge.

The challenge is an international event which encourages people to search for and document biodiversity in their local area. This year it takes place on the weekend of 29 April to 2 May.

The Bath and North East Somerset area is more wildlife rich than much of Britain, with rare bats in the old stone mines at Combe Down and Brown’s Folly, and wildflowers on our hillsides, but accurate information about which species are doing well and which are struggling is essential as the council responds to the ecological emergency.

Local records show that since 1900, red squirrels and pine martens, turtle doves and nightingales have all gone. Mature elm trees, Somersetshire Weed as it was popularly known, have been lost to Dutch elm disease, just as ash trees are now succumbing to ash dieback.

Councillor Jess David, cabinet assistant for Neighbourhood Services said: “Bath and North East Somerset is a beautiful place to live. However, we know that in common with the rest of the UK, nature is under threat, with a decline in wildlife numbers and diversity.

“The City Nature Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to help study and protect nature in our cities. Using the iNaturalist app you can identify plants and insects easily and help to document the nature in our area.”

To take part you will need to record what you have seen and the dates with information about where you saw it, the type of habitat and the environmental conditions: weather, aspect and ground conditions. You can also upload a picture of your sighting.

Anyone needing help with identifying what they’ve seen can use the iNaturalist app which is free to download and simple to use.  You can also use the app to record your sightings. The Natural History Consortium is running a free online training session on using the app on Thursday 28 April, 12.15pm to 13.00pm. You can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/city-nature-challenge-training-tickets-324136750747

People who are confident they can correctly identify what they’ve seen can report their sightings to Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) or the Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre (BRERC)

Local ecologist, Mike Williams, has recorded and identified over 750 species of plants, animals, beetles, birds and insects he has found on his regular visits to Bath City Farm since 2016.

As part of City Nature Challenge, Bathscape will be running a Big Nature Watch at the farm on Saturday April 30. Visitors will be able to help add to Mike’s count by joining family friendly activities including guided wildlife walks, bug hunting and pond dipping that are focused on discovering wildlife at the farm such as birds, moths, newts and butterflies.

Experts from Bath Natural History Society and Avon Wildlife Trust will join local volunteers to lead the events. The events can be booked on Eventbrite and more information can be found on the Bathscape website: https://www.bathscape.co.uk/event/bath-city-farm-big-nature-watch-various-events/

Bathscape and Avon Wildlife Trust are launching some new resources for primary schools that want to bring more nature into their school grounds and their teaching. The Wilder Schools Workshop will take place at Bath City Farm on Thursday, 28 April, from 4pm to 5.30pm. Teachers and home educators can sign up here: https://www.bathscape.co.uk/event/wilder-schools-workshop/