Friday, 24 August 2018

Post 489 - Nosterfield Bioblitz 2018

Hey everyone,

Chris telling me what my job for the day was
(thanks for the photo Lucy White
I have had some really great wildlife experiences and some great filming opportunities but this summer I had the best one yet. It was totally unexpected too.

I knew about Chris Packham's Bioblitz and that it was coming to my local reserve, Nosterfield, so of course I'd made plans to be going along. I was thinking it would be difficult to get along for much of it though as it was on a school day. I can't describe how excited I was when I got a message that the Bioblitz team was trying to find young presenters to introduce the reserves and would I be interested in helping out. Of course I said yes, and then had my fingers crossed school would let me have the day off so I could do it. They did thankfully, they are very good at supporting my wildlife activities, and a chance to work with someone who's inspired me so much wasn't denied. Nosterfield is an incredible place and I've been lucky to be able to go there so often. A lot of the people involved in running the place have been amazingly supportive and encouraging to me so this was a big honour.

Opening up the moth traps!
So Mum, Dad and I were up early to get to the reserve for a 7am start. The Bioblitz had started at 5pm the night before and the place was already a hive of activity. If you don't know what a Bioblitz is it's basically about recording all of the wildlife, every species that you can find in an area on one day. Doing this across 50 sites will give us a really good baseline of data to see how things fare in future. The main area of interest when I got to the Nosterfield Bioblitz hub was around the moth traps being emptied. It had been an incredible night for moths and every tray from every trap that I saw emptied were laden with a massive array of species.

Shortly after I'd got there Chris and the Bioblitz team came along. I'd got it in my mind that I was just going to be doing a film about a species I liked on the reserve but then Chris came over and gave me my job for the morning. He said I was going to be him for the morning! What do you say to that?! After a couple of deep breaths and listening to the things the team wanted to film I set off with  the crew to do the first bit of film. I was still a little awestruck but the crew were so friendly and helpful that I soon got into it. It helped that another conservationist that I admire and inspires me was behind one of the cameras, Ruth Pearcy, so nerves were soon settled.
Interviewing Darren in the hide

The first bit of filming I did was with Darren Rees, he was part of the team that Chris was bringing round with him. Darren is an amazing artist, and was tasked with doing an A5 piece based on every single reserve they went to; that's 5 a day! The filming we did together was as simple as he was talking me through his artwork and I was telling him about the reserve and what we could see out of the hide windows. This was definitely the most relaxed shoot we did because we were sat down in the hide and just talking about our passions.

After that shoot it was straight on to another which would be used as the introduction to the film. We walked across the car park to a place overlooking the first lake so there was a good background and got straight to it. Personally, I love doing this sort of shoot. It gives me a chance to talk about whatever the subject is, and to show my passion as much as I can. I loved doing this one and it only took me 2 takes!

Filming with Lawrie and Pam
As I said Nosterfield is amazing. It's got lots of great habitats and has some surprising species for an inland site. It's been working for 21 years to transform a former quarry into a wildlife haven, and it's working so well. But not content with that they are expanding the reserve into a new bit of the quarry that the quarry company have now finished working on. This time Nosterfield is taking up the opportunity to do something a little different and trying to re-establish a bit of the habitat that would have been around at the time that the Thornbrough Henges were created - this is a series of three big neolithic henges that are next door to the reserve (told you it was a special place!). Simon Warwick explains it really well in the film, and I then had the job of interviewing Simon and volunteers Lawrie and Pam who are working on this really exciting and novel project.

That pretty much wrapped up the filming, or so I thought. As they were about to leave Chris remembered that he wanted a short film on his phone to put on twitter so in a corner of the car park I did a little film that you probably saw posted on twitter on the day. This was just a little snippet about the reserve and two of my favourite species (you might know by now I love Bloody Nosed Beetles!)

A Southern Hawker I found.
Through the day we bumped into another person we knew, Joanita Musisi from Radio York! We talked for a little bit and then she asked me if I wanted to do an interview. Radio York have been very supportive of me so obviously I said yes and we set off over to the main reserve from the working quarry. We looked out over the main lake at the reserve and talked about the types of birds and other wildlife you can see there as well as covering what the Bioblitz was all about. It all came out well and it was nice to listen to it on the iplayer later on.

So that took up a lot of the morning, and it was great fun, but I still had some actual bioblitzing to do! Dad and I had a good walk around the reserve and we found quite a few nice species. Brimstone butterflies, A Southern Hawker dragonfly and a few birds that hadn't been found yet. Sadly I didn't find any Bloody Nosed beetles that day!

Catching up with Darren at Birdfair
The artwork from Nosterfield
It was an amazing day, but the story doesn't quite end there. Unexpectedly I caught up with Darren at Birdfair last weekend and got to see the artwork that he'd being doing on the bioblitz, including the bit he was working on when I was interviewing him in the hide. It's a lovely painting showing a variety of waders that were on the lake that morning. It was really nice to see the finished work, Darren is very talented.

Great to meet up with Megan too!
Birdfair was great and only a day or so before I got to see the finished piece of filming that had been posted on Chris's youtube channel. I think it came out really well, Ruth and the team did a great job. Chris got to see it too and I got a few hints and tips about presenting so hopefully anything I do in future will be even better. And the last thing that was great about the day was I got to meet Megan McCubbin which was great. It was Megan who first got in touch and asked about me getting involved and doing some presenting for the Bioblitz. On the day the team were at Nosterfield Megan was at her graduation so we didn't meet on the day, so it was really nice to meet up.

What an amazing experience! I want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone on the team for making it such a wonderful day, I really enjoyed meeting you all and working with you.

Here's the film for you to see all about Nosterfield and some of the amazing things that are going on.

The last thing to say is that the Bioblitz was an amazing day. As you heard in the video the reserve was only started 21 years ago before that it was a quarry. So the final total of species was utterly amazing and it really demonstrates that we can make such a positive difference for wildlife if we manage places well.

Hope you enjoyed,