Natural History Groups
One of the CHI project targets was to work with natural history groups to recruit new recorders, develop skills and generate data of relevance to the local Biodiversity Action Plan and Leicestershire Environmental Record Centre users.
CHI worked with local natural history groups delivering a range of projects, details of which are listed below.
CHI worked with the East Midlands Branch of Butterfly Conservation (BC) and the County Recorder to produce a community recording survey pack. This included fact sheets and an ID guide to common butterflies. A programme of events were also organised which supported the project and complemented the work of BC and the local natural history group. Topics covered included transect recording, identification, caterpillars, recording packages and general interest walks.
The project promoted access to the County's unique butterfly collections and six of the collections were used to facilitate identification and recording.
A display case containing images and items connected to butterfly study was put together. This was exhibited at five libraries which included Oakham, Blaby, Coalville, Hinckley and Melton Mowbray. Over 1,500 people saw the display including a learning disabilities group who used it for a discussion project.
What did it tell us
- The status and distribution of many butterfly species is undergoing rapid change due to climate change.
- The butterfly species essex skipper, brown argus and white admiral are expanding their range.
- The dingy skipper, grizzled skipper and the wall are all declining.
- Highlighted the importance of continuing to record to monitor changes in species status and distribution.
- To record outside our gardens, even it is only a rough piece of ground downthe road.
- Between 2004 and 2005 2,184 individual butterfly and moth sightings had been sent to CHI.
- 140 people were recruited.
- It helped to involve new recorders and resulted in records being received from previously unrecorded areas.
- Butterfly Bounty continued to be a popular survey with over 3,000 records sent in.
- Gave a focus to future recording – targeted recording of key species and habitats e.g. monitor colonies of grizzled/dingy skippers to assess any habitat management work.
Leicestershire Amphibian and Reptile Network (LARN)
Spawn Spot was launched by the Community Heritage Initiative (CHI) in 2005 at the request of the Leicestershire Amphibian and Reptile Network (LARN). Amphibians are good indicators of the health of the environment so any changes in numbers can warn us of unfavourable changes to our countryside. Spawn spotting is a good way to count the number of frogs and toads and helps conservationists assess population sizes. People were asked to count the clumps of frogspawn or strings of toad spawn laid in ponds.
What did it tell us?
- Frog populations that have been monitored are showing an increase in numbers.
- Toad populations tend to be concentrated in North West Leicestershire and Charnwood.
- Provided useful data on the earliest dates frog and toad spawn was being recorded
Biodiversity Bird Survey
Each year the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society (LROS) carries out surveys for the bird species that feature in the Leicester and Rutland Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). In 2006 CHI worked with LROS to produce a bird survey leaflet promoting the recording of the BAP species; barn owl, nightingale, redstart and sand martin. People were asked to send in all sightings of these species.
CHI also used the opportunity to promote bird recording and encourage people to record birds they saw in the gardens. A touring exhibition case was created which focused on the decline of the house sparrow, highlighting the importance of recording.
- The survey results showed that the barn owl population in the two counties was healthier than expected.
- Raised the profile of LROS to the general public.
- Contributed towards the re-establishment of a recording committee in LROS and data exchange between LROS and Leicestershire County Council’s record centre at Holly Hayes.
Leicestershire and Rutland Bat Group (LRBG)
CHI worked with the Leicestershire and Rutland Bat Group on training and group development. After support from CHI the group was awarded £4600 from Better Communities to develop a new Village Bat Project and also received £500 from the Ken Chamberlain Trust to produce display boards and purchase specialist equipment for bat surveying.
Village Bat Training
Three village bat training events were organised in Braunstone, Swithland and Market Bosworth. involving 43 people. The aim was to offer the public the opportunity to gain skills in bat ID to enable them to get involved in bat surveys in their parishes. During one of the sessions a new bat roost was discovered.
Leaflet & Website
A new website was developed by CHI for the LRBG. This included an enquiry page so members of the public could contact LRGB with any bat enquiries.
Leicestershire County Council’s design team in consultation with LRBG designed a new leaflet for the group to use for publicity and promotion.
Bats - Fact or Fiction
A travelling display was developed aimed at dispelling the myths surrounding bats. The display was the most popular one CHI has developed and toured nine venues in Leicestershire and Rutland including Oakham Castle.
- Raised the profile of the work of LRBG within local media and the general public.
- Involved communities in bat recording.
- Led to participation in national bat surveys.
- The discovery of a new bat roost during one of the village bat training sessions.
Leicestershire and Rutland Badger Group
The group wanted to involve more people in sett surveying and CHI assisted the group in preparing and running the training. A sett surveying training day was organised which was attended by 11 people. The session covered topics such as the ecology and behaviour of badgers, track signs and taking grid references for surveying. A practical outdoor session was also included. Four of those who attended went onto volunteer with the group.
Fish Finders was developed with the County Recorder for fish with support from the Environment Agency who supplied photographs for the survey. Six species were selected which were good environmental indicators and relatively easy to identify. Although recorders were invited to send in records of any other fish they saw.
What did it tell us
In spite of targeting the angling community the initial take up of the survey was slow with only a handful of forms being returned.
- The survey was developed with the County Recorder for amphibians.
- Received widespread media coverage which included additional opportunities for linking to pond surveys.
- Involved people of all ages
- Enabled CHI to target a new group – anglers.
- Led to the development of an online approach to survey/data gathering.
Produced by the Community Heritage Initiative, which was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Rutland County Council
Page Last Updated: 13 May 2013