Victory Wood really is the bees knees at annual bioblitz event!
Victory Wood, near Whitstable, Kent, has become a stronghold for a number of rare and scarce species which benefit from both its unusual location in close proximity to the coastline, and active habitat management. This week we were excited to be able to host what is becoming an annual event for our volunteer team – the Bee Bioblitz, which was also the first face-to-face event we have been able to deliver this year! Thankfully the weather improved to create the perfect opportunity to monitor populations of bumblebee species on the wing during July, including our three known rare species – shrill carder bee, red-shanked bumblebee and brown-banded carder bee.
Surveying in the form of a bioblitz allows for a greater area of the site to be covered then would be possible in a monthly transect walk. Along with recording valuable data, the aim of the event was to allow volunteers and members of staff to develop surveying skills out in the field, whilst gaining the opportunity to see bee species that are restricted in range and numbers, and inform our conservation efforts. Everyone also enjoyed the opportunity to meet face-to-face after what has been a difficult time for many during the pandemic and what better reason than to seek out some litle fuzzy-bodied friends! The event also coincided with Bees Needs Week, an initiative of Bumblebee Conservation Trust that we are proud to support.
A merry band of Woodland Trust staff and volunteers, including Site Manager for Victory Wood, Claire Inglis, were joined by members of our partner organisations, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (including Bex Cartwright: Shrill carder bee species recovery project manager), colleagues from Butterfly Conservation, and Kate Bradbury, ‘Gardener’s World’ journalist. Kate said: “I really enjoyed being out in the field looking for bees and meeting my first red-shanked carder bee! It was lovely to see what a successful partnership the Bumblebee Conservation Trust has forged with the Woodland Trust, and I loved Victory Wood – what a great site for bumbles! “.
Two groups formed to undertake the surveys, discovering between them some brown-banded carder bees and one red-shanked bumblebee amongst others.
Sadly, during the event, neither group spotted perhaps the star attraction – the shrill carder bee- though the patience of two of our volunteers paid off and after staying at the site, they found a beautiful queen! She was spotted in a similar area to where Claire found a queen last year, leading her to believe that it’s a key area for nesting or overwintering. It wasn’t very surprising that the shrill carder kept a low profile as it isn’t being very active, with peak activity likely in late August due to delayed activity this year. As time was limited on the day to survey this area, there is talk of returning to the site again before the end of summer so watch this space for details!
Thanks so much to Claire and Grace for leading the day, in association with our partners. Thanks also to all volunteers who supported the event and we really hope that you enjoyed it.
Words: Grace Davis (Engagement and Communications Officer, South East) and Anna Claxton (Volunteer Development Officer, South East)
Pictures: Grace Davis, Claire Inglis (Site Manager at Victory Wood), Nigel Jarman and Mark Chidwick (WT volunteers)