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Coastal Bioblitz: Nature conservationists face race against time to organise Norfolk’s largest wildlife survey

PUBLISHED: 15:27 13 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 13 February 2017

Common seals and sandwich terns at Blakeney Point. Pictures: National Trust

Common seals and sandwich terns at Blakeney Point. Pictures: National Trust

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It is a haven for hundreds of different species of wildlife and attracts millions of visitors to the area; but it hasn’t endured the easiest of starts to the year.

Moth ID by RSPB reserve warden Paul Eele. Pictures: National TrustMoth ID by RSPB reserve warden Paul Eele. Pictures: National Trust

The North Norfolk coast is still recovering after taking a battering during January’s storm surge.

And now, with the threat of climate change causing rising sea levels and more frequent storms, nature conservationists face a race against time to identify and record all those creatures who call the coastline their home.

The National Trust, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Natural England and the Holkham Estate, supported by the Norfolk Coast Partnership, are organising a 24-hour BioBlitz - the largest wildlife survey ever carried out in Norfolk.

In 2015 the National Trust hosted surveys in 25 coastal locations around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Two sites at Brancaster and Blakeney came first and second respectively for the record of species found; showing just how valuable and important the Norfolk Coast is for nature conservation and richness of biodiversity.

These previous surveys also recorded a handful of wildlife firsts on the Norfolk coast. These included the first ever recorded sightings of Balearic shearwaters, Puffinus mauretanicus, at Blakeney and the Moss Carder bee, Bombus (Thoracobombus) at Brancaster.

It is hoped this much larger nature survey, from Holme-next-the-Sea to Salthouse over the weekend of July 22 and 23, will uncover many more wildlife treasures that may have been previously unknown, and ensure their long-term protection.

Norfolk Coast Partnership officer Lucy Galvin said: “The Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a mecca for wildlife. The Partnership is delighted to be part of this exciting and fascinating chance to get involved in recording the sheer bounty of nature on the coast – and ensuring its long-term protection.”

Rachael Wright, Community Education Officer at the flood-hit Norfolk Wildlife Trust at Cley, added: “We want the public to get involved and join us identifying plants and animals in fun activities along the coast. It requires absolutely no prior knowledge and we will be encouraging as many people as possible to take part.”

The sea’s unpredictable power and the damage it can cause was brought firmly to the public’s attention on the night of December 5, 2013 when a tidal surge of the magnitude not seen for 60 years caused widespread devastation along much of the east coast of England including here on the Norfolk Coast.

However, many of the coastal locations, some of which were under seawater for many weeks, soon bounced back and continue to recover.

Ajay Tegala, National Trust Coastal Ranger said: “The North Norfolk Coast is protected by many national and international nature designations with the whole stretch being a single Special Site of Scientific Interest. Even though it is owned and managed by different landowners and organisations, each shares the same aim and goal of conserving and preserving the area for the benefit of the wildlife. But wildlife has no concept of ownership boundaries so the need for everyone to work together to look after this special coastline and its rich biodiversity has never been greater.”

For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney-national-nature-reserve/lists/norfolk-coast-bioblitz-2017

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