The Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has announced the next dates in its series of nature recording events, which will take place at Thornhill on 3rd June and Gatehouse of Fleet on 24th June.
The Biosphere’s Most Wanted is a project running right across southwest Scotland’s 5,200km² UNESCO-designated area, aiming to track six native species that are lacking records or in need of continual monitoring: red squirrel, wych elm, grayling butterfly, swift, adder, and Nursehound (a catshark whose egg cases can be found washed up on the coast). The Most Wanted nature recording events give an overview of these species and how citizen science can help support them, with a workshop on where to find them, identification techniques, and how to log sightings using just a mobile phone. Each workshop is followed by a wildlife walk for attendees to put into practice what they have learned.
Just north of Thornhill the GSA Biosphere team is particularly interested in the grayling butterfly, which was historically abundant in the coalfields of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire. Around Gatehouse they will be looking for swifts, which are poorly recorded in the region but now suspected to be breeding in and around local towns. Both species have declined drastically over recent decades due to habitat loss; recording sightings will provide researchers with a better understanding of where grayling and swift populations remain, and highlight locations with potential for conservation work.
Malcolm Haddow, the Biosphere’s lead in its Most Wanted initiative, says, “The climate and biodiversity crisis means many of our local species are under increasing threat from climate change and human activities. Nature recording is an essential part of conservation and we can all help collect useful data simply by getting our mobile phones out when we’re outdoors. Please do join us in Thornhill or Gatehouse of Fleet for a morning of fun wildlife facts, lively discussion, and of course some time exploring some amazing local habitats.”
The Biosphere’s Most Wanted will take place at Thornhill Golf Club on 3rd June and The Mill on the Fleet on 24th June, both sessions running between 10:30-12:00pm. These are family-friendly events and free to book on Eventbrite. Visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/galloway-amp-southern-ayrshire-unesco-biosphere-37030057543 or email [email protected] to reserve your place.
More information about southwest Scotland’s UNESCO Biosphere designation is available at www.gsabiosphere.org.uk.