Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bioblitz at St John's Princes Street

St John's Church, on the busy corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road at the West End of Edinburgh, might not be the most obvious place for a bioblitz - a survey of the diversity of wildlife at one place and time.

Yet the graveyard behind the church is a small oasis for biodiversity, with old trees and walls, varieties of shade, sun and slope.

Moreover, unlike most graveyards in Edinburgh, this one is managed by the congregation themselves. By understanding the importance of the site for wildlife, the congregation could easily take steps to enhance it.

This event was a collaboration between Wild Reekie and St John's. St John's was one of the first churches in Scotland to celebrate Creation Time in September, a month of focus on nature and the environment, which is being celebrated in more and more Christian churches around the world.

The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the moth trap, and Wild Reekie are hugely grateful to  ecologist Mike Smith who lent us the trap and gave us a tour of the moths. The star species was undoubtedly the beautiful Large yellow underwing:

With limited time and skills, the list of wildlife was just a small proportion of the biodiversity in the graveyard, and many were not identified to species level, but it is fairly impressive nonetheless:
  • Common wasp (nesting)
  • Earwig
  • Stinging nettle
  • Herb robert
  • Large yellow underwing moth
  • White clover
  • Brown slug
  • Baby millipede
  • Micromoth (there are thousands of species!)
  • Millepede
  • Common rough woodlouse
  • Black ant 
  • Robin
  • Blackbird
  • Solitary wasp
  • Tree bug
  • Daisy
  • Dandelion
  • Hunting bugs under stones
  • Creeping buttercup
  • Pellia epiphylla (liverwort)
  • Marchantia polymorpha (liverwort)
  • Common carder bee
  • Buff/ white tailed bumblebee
  • Cranefly
  • Broad-leaved willowherb
  • Groundsel
  • Ivy

  • Spearleaf willowherb
  • Grimmia pulvinata (moss)
  • Oxford ragwort
  • Greater plantain
  • Broadleaved dock
  • Bittercress
  • Red campion
  • Tortula muralis (moss)
  • Eristalis pertinax (hoverfly)
  • Syrphus ribesii (hoverfly)
  • Welsh poppy
Feverfew, and wasp nest in the hollow base of an old Rowan tree. 
  • Rowan
  • Hawthorn 
  • Feverfew
  • Self heal
  • Red campion
  • Orthotricum sp. (moss)
  • Bryum capillare (moss)
  • Ground beetle
  • Wood pigeon
  • Bracket fungus
  • Kindbergia praelonga (moss) 
  • Rhytidiadelphys squarrosus (moss) 
  • Ash 
Liverworts and mosses
  • Holly 
  • Peacock butterfly
  • Dryopteras sp. (fern)
  • Small tortoiseshell butterfly
  • Yew
  • Centipede
  • Dunnock (Hedge sparrow)
  • Human

The list of over 50 species (illustrated by the Sunday School) is being exhibited inside St John's as part of the September display. Hopefully it will give the worshippers inside a sense that the users of their premises are far more diverse than the people.

I'm just pleased the moth trap worked, after I set it up.

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There were a lot of wasps, and one of the Large yellow underwings didn't get away fast enough...