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.


  1. The best of luck, sounds like a cracking idea. But also 'rather you than me'. :p

  2. I'll have a go. I have a couple of 'pan species listing' challenges in mind for 2013 so this will just add to the fun. Not sure exactly which square yet but it will be somewhere in Hampshire.

  3. Thanks GWG, good to have you on board. I don't know who you are, but looking at your blog, you were clearly at Swanwick - glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Replies
    1. So do I now. I suspected, but he's now confirmed...

  5. I got 236 species in my (not very wild) garden in a single day for the 2012 garden bioblitz, so 1000 in a grid square should be possible!

    1. Hi Richard - if you'd like to join in and post to this blog, please send your email address to andy AT bubo DOT org