A Devon wildlife charity is planning a day of discovery that’s set to open up a whole new world for local people.
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, based at Paignton Zoo, is holding a free BioBlitz – a community nature hunt – in the little-known urban oasis of Primley Park.
The Trust’s Reserves Warden Dave Ellacott, who looks after the 30 acre (11 hectare) reserve: “Primley is Paignton’s best kept secret. It’s not far from the Zoo and is surrounded by houses but it’s hidden away – lots of people drive by on their way in and out of town but relatively few people stop.
“The mix of woodland, scrub and meadow provides habitat for native plants and animals. Some of the trees here are 150 years old. There is interest all year round, with carpets of bluebells in the spring, an explosion of insects in summer and fungi in the autumn and winter.”
The nature reserve has been a public open space for nearly 20 years. It’s used by dogwalkers, families having picnics, Forest Schools using it as an outdoor classroom, schools for orienteering lessons and by geocachers.
The Trust’s UK Conservation Officer and BioBlitz organiser Tracey Hamston explained: “The land formed part of the grounds of Primley House, the home of Herbert Whitley, who founded Paignton Zoo and after whom our Trust is named.
“A BioBlitz has a purpose – to collect real scientific data – but it is also fun. We hope the information people help us to gather on the plants and creatures there will help shape the future of Primley and the way we look after it.”
Saturday’s event begins at 10.00am with activities likely to include bug house building, a great green cricket hunt and surveys of beetles, wild flowers, small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. The day is supported by Marldon Marquees and Andy Loos. Limited supplies of Suttons Seeds will be given away free on the day.
Tracey: “We are going to try to find, identify and record as many native species as possible on the day. This is a great chance to mix with scientists, experts and other wildlife enthusiasts. It’s free – we provide the equipment, you bring the energy. Come and be part of a live science project!”
People will be able to upload photos to Twitter using the hashtag #PZBioblitz. The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, as well as several nature reserves in Devon. For more information contact BioBlitz@paigntonzoo.org.uk