Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

WWT Reserve Recording: an inventory for 2006-2016

Pond Dipping at LMF, Magnificent Meadows Event Ralph Harvey, WWT

After a few recent reserve purchases, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust now owns and/or manages 52 reserves. Scattered across the county and ranging from chalk downland to ancient woodland, restored lakes to working farmland, these sites hold and preserve a diverse and rich array of habitats and species. But this diversity presents quite a task to monitor, with each reserve having its own distinct habitat and history which naturally influences the species assemblage found at each site today.

To help keep track of recording on reserves, we’ve taken a look at the records held by WSBRC for all the Trust’s reserves from the last 10 years. We’ve counted the number of records for within each species group, and totalled them up for each site. In total, the number of records submitted for these reserves is just shy of 60,000, representing a fantastic effort on the part of all individuals and groups that have contributed to this information base.


Recording Reserve leaders

Lower Moor Farm Lake View20072016, Ralph Harvey, WWT

Leading the pack for numbers of records per reserve is Lower Moor Farm, buoyed by a massive 5,750 bird records taken in the last 10 years. Many of the Trust’s other large reserves have high numbers as well, with Blakehill Farm, Blackmoor Copse, Green Lane Wood and Langford Lakes all with over 3,000 records each.

Across all reserves there’s also a good mix of recording across different species groups, with plants the most recorded group (37% of records), and, not unexpectedly, fish the least recorded (0.1% of records). Some of the more speciose groups, such as invertebrates and plants, can have very high numbers for each reserve, such as over 2,000 invertebrate records for Green Lane Wood. However, within these group records can be limited to more well-known species, like moths and butterflies for instance. The fewer records for other species groups like fish and herptiles, is in part due to the fact that these species are fewer in number and can be more cryptic to record.


Recording gaps – call for records

This stock-take of recording on reserves has highlighted a few gaps in sites and species groups which could really benefit from more recording. While long-term and standardised surveys are conducted for particular sites and species, these can’t cover everything leaving a number of gaps where additional recording can make a big difference.

St Julians Wood_16_07082016, Ralph Harvey, WWT

Many of the reserves with the lower totals are new acquisitions, such as Church Hill Pastures (with 59 records, part of Clouts Reserve Complex) and Roundway Field and Orchard (32 records). For reserves like these, records of any species group would be a valuable addition. Some of these sites are missing entire species groups, such as zero mammals recorded at St. Julian’s Community Woodland, and only a single plant species recorded so far for Widbrook Wood, another recently acquired reserve.

Gaps in recording for particular species groups also occur in the otherwise more well-recorded reserves. Middleton Down, Coombe Bissett Down and Landford Bog all have very few records for mammals and birds, while Green Lane Wood and Biss Wood both have less than 60 records a-piece for birds. Recording for these groups at these sites would help build a better-rounded picture for each reserve.

Our graph shows the number of records for each reserve, categorised by taxonomic group; take a look to see if there’s a reserve near you with a gap in its records. Helping to fill these gaps would make a big difference to help expand our knowledge base available for these sites and support WWT’s monitoring and management of these reserves.

If you’re interested in starting to record at a reserve but don’t know where to start, check the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s site for details on all reserves. You can submit any records to WSBRC through Living Record, which contains site boundaries of all reserves (log in or sign up here), or on our reserve-specific recording form.

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