More flapwort than nettles

Blog post by Jenny Jones (guest author) on 28 Feb, 2019

Mobilising Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s historical biological records

I like to be busy. Summer isn’t a problem  there’s plenty of surveying work to be done for NWT. After all of the survey records have been written up and submitted there’s still time to do something else, which is how I ended up volunteering to help Emily Dimsey in her new role at NWT as Reserves Monitoring Officer.

This is why in November, Emily and I spent a morning going through the filing cabinets in the office at NWT Foxley Wood. We were looking for historical biological records for the Woods and Heaths sites. NWT Reserves Manager Steve Collin jokingly expressed fears that he might never see his files again but was reassured that he would get them back once their contents had been digitised.

Since then I have been transferring the biological records kept in filing cabinets in a remote corner of Norfolk onto a spreadsheet. So far I have entered over 2,000 records for six sites. Of these records the highest number has been for plants  (735) and fungi (308). Surprisingly there have only been 110 for birds and just seven for reptiles and two for amphibians. Of the 60 butterfly records the majority have been for the silver-studded blue.
Silver-studded blue, by Peter Vousden

Silver-studded blue, by Peter Vousden

One of the most interesting things about this task is been the people who made the recordings. Some, like the botanist and author Francis Rose and the fungi experts Reg and Lil Evans, are no longer with us but thankfully their records live on and are now accessible.

Some of the common names given to species is quite fascinating; who would have thought there was a mollusc called the 'two-toothed door snail'. As for some of the mosses, I’d love to see the descriptive 'crimson-tuber thread-moss' or the 'fine-leaved marsh feather-moss'! Detailed surveys and fungus forays have made for good records, as they tend to record all of the species seen. What is apparent though is that more people record the rarer species such as the Norfolk flapwort rather than the common nettle.

Now that I have completed records for six sites, NWT is able to quickly see what species are recorded on these sites, when they were last seen and where there were recorded in abundance. This helps NWT to monitor the condition of sites and feeds into their ongoing management.

If you would like to carry out recording on an NWT site or get involved in more formal monitoring, please get in touch with Emily Dimsey (NWT Reserves Monitoring Officer). Your records help the Trust to further understand what is happening on their reserves.

Jenny Jones is the Volunteer Assistant Monitoring Officer for NWT.
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