Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

Wiltshire Recorders’ Forum 2017

RecordersForum2017 Andrew Barratt

Hosted by WSBRC and Wild Connections in Devizes, the Wiltshire Recorders’ Forum highlighted once again how the county’s naturalists and recording schemes continue to be a highly committed and valuable part of the nature conservation community, underpinning wider efforts in the county.

A hundred attendees from across the nature conservation community joined us on the 22nd February. The day began with an introduction from Stephen Davies (WWT’s Head of Conservation) setting the scene for the day’s later speakers. Gareth Harris (WSBRC, Wiltshire Mammal Group, Wiltshire Bat Group) presented the soon-to-be-published second edition of Mammals in Wiltshire, highlighting some of the headline changes in recent years and the efforts of volunteers generating these data. Keith Cohen (Wiltshire Bat Group) provided a fascinating account of the long-term studies of Bechstein’s bat in the landscape around Wiltshire, the involvement of volunteers and the ramifications of built development upon this population.

RecordersForum2017WSBRC, Andrew Barratt

The contrasting fortunes of the stone-curlew and Eurasian curlew in Wiltshire were discussed by Nick Tomalin (RSPB), a topic currently very topical following the international red listing of Eurasian curlew following recent catastrophic declines. Eurasian curlew is now a rare breeding bird in Wiltshire, rare than the stone-curlew. WWT’s Water Team leader, Martijn Antheunisse presented the final talk before lunch, highlighting the programme of Wiltshire-wide river restoration work and monitoring of species benefitting from these enhancements.

A superb lunch provided a chance to peruse the exhibits, including those of Wiltshire Ornithological Society, Wiltshire Bat Group, Butterfly Conservation Wiltshire Branch, Meadow in my Garden, Wildcare and Simon Smart’s Pewsey Downs and Chalke Valley Farmer Groups, as well to chat with the various projects, sign-up to assist new projects and meet old friends.

The afternoon provided organisations and projects with the opportunity to provide short updates or announcements on projects, new volunteering opportunities or newsworthy items. Sharon Pilkington (Wiltshire Botanical Society) provided an update on the work of the Botanical Society and their contribution to the national atlas, followed by Iain Perkins’ (Imber Conservation Group) fascinating and captivating account of his studies upon fairy shrimp and common toad in ephemeral waterbodies on Salisbury Plain training area. Simon Smart outlined the great work of the recently launched Pewsey Downs and Chalke Valley Farmer Groups, whilst Anne Carney (Cranborne Chase AONB) presented the forthcoming work of the Cranborne Chase Landscape Partnership.

ReocrdersForum2017GH, Andrew Barratt

Gareth Harris presented the soon-to-be-published Cotswold Water Park dragonfly atlas, a culmination of 5-6 years’ recording by volunteers. The WWT Reserves Team began wrapping up the afternoon, encouraging recording upon their reserves and communication with the team to ensure data is fed into management plans and delivery. Supporting these newly-engaged volunteers, Bill Blumsom of Wild Connections, promoted the training and delivery programme to support the improvement of recorder’s ID skills.

All in all, it was a superb day and a joy to feel the great buzz of excitement in the room, to hear the excited chatter and to see recorders signing up with new projects.

WSBRC offers tremendous thanks to Wild Connections for supporting this event and to the Wiltshire Local Nature Partnership small grants fund for helping to support the day. All of the amazing speakers and exhibitors are warmly thanked for all their efforts, and of course, thank you to everyone who joined us for a fascinating day. 

RecordersForum2017Speakers, Andrew Barratt


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