Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Join in with the Castle Hill Bioblitz!

Could you help to survey and monitor local wildlife and green spaces at Castle Hill in Lancaster?

People are invited to volunteer for a BioBlitz on Saturday 18th May at the 'Beyond the Castle' site - the green space running from the castle down to the quayside.

Early birds can join the team at 5.00am for a breeding birds identification walk. You can also study mammals, moths, reptiles etc. which have been captured as part of the study, before releasing them back into the wild.

Later in the morning, sessions will include surveying the railway line, quay meadow and the river and river environment. The afternoon focuses on exploring the woodland area and how it has changed over time and the ecology and wildlife a! round the historic buildings such as Lancaster Castle and Priory.

A Bioblitz encourages people from all walks of life to explore the nature on their doorsteps with local ecologists and naturalists. There will be something for to do for all ages and abilities.

Emma Garston from the Lancashire Wildlife Trust explained: "Members of the public can come along and work with ecologists and naturalists to survey the nature on their doorsteps. This includes looking for, identifying and recording as many plant and animal species as possible from dusk till dawn.”

The Bioblitz event is part of the wider Beyond the Castle project, which aims to improve the public space around Lancaster Castle and down to the quayside over the next five years. This will be looking at bringing to life the archaeology and history, improving access and increasing the wildlife value of the site.

The project is being led by Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council, as part of the wider Square Routes Programme that focuses on improving public spaces and connections across the city centre.

The BioBlitz is the first community event in 2013 on the City Park site, following the series of Beyond the Castle community 'co-design' events run by Lancaster University in 2012.

These events involved over 750 people, asking how they would like to see the site developed in future.

The detailed programme for this Saturday's Beyond the Castle Bioblitz includes:

Early bird dawn session (Meeting point ou tside Lancaster Priory)

5am - 6am Join us for the dawn chorus (with David Redmore)

6:30am - 7:30am Identification of common breeding birds

7:30am Mammal trapping (with Tim Graham, North Lancs Mammal Society)

Morning session (Meeting point Quay Meadow Headquarters)

9am - 10am Tinning Session - looking for invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians (with John Jones, County Ecologist)

10am - 1pm Plants and species survey in two groups - Railway line, Quay Meadow, river environment and Vicarage Fields (with local naturalists)

Followed by plant and species survey in the Storey Garden, if time allows.

Afternoon session (Meeting point Quay Meadow headquarters)

1pm - 2pm Mammal Talk and Walk (North Lancs Mammal Society)

2pm - 3:30pm Family-friendly plants and species woodland survey, exploration of the area's history and change over time (with local and visiting naturalists and County! Ecologists)

4pm - 6pm Explore the ecology around the historic buildings on site, including Lancaster Priory and Lancaster Castle (with local and visiting naturalists and County Ecologists)

Family friendly activities, 2pm - 6pm (At Quay Meadow headquarters)

2pm - 3pm How great are worms and bugs! Worm charming and worm identification, explore small invertebrates with magnifying glasses - with Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Open Air Laboratory (OPAL)

2pm - 3.30pm Family-friendly plants and species woodland survey (with local and visiting naturalists and County Ecologists)

2pm - 3pm Tree Game Session - Get to know your trees (with Hannah from Timbertale)

3pm - 4pm and 4pm - 5pm Go Wild Wildlife Challenge - instructions will also be available at the family marquee for those who want to complete the challenge independently (with Lancashire Wildlife Trust)

3pm - 4pm and 4pm - 5pm Wildcraft and nature awarene! ss session for families with children aged 5-11 (with Hannah from Timb ertale)

5pm - 6 pm Fire making (with Lancaster City Council's Sport and Play Officers)

2pm - 6pm Family Marquee and 'Field Laboratory' - Colouring and paper bugs, spotter sheets and reference material, magnifiers, trays of soil etc. (with Lancaster City Council's Sport and Play Officers and Lancashire Wildlife Trust volunteers)

Dusk session (Meeting point 8.00pm outside Lancaster Priory)

8pm - 9pm Moths and bats talk and identification (North Lancs Bat Group and Naturalists)

9pm - 10:30pm Bat survey in three groups (castle and historic buildings; river and river environment; woodland areas)

All activities are free and booking isn't required.

Visit for more information. A programme leaflet and a site map can be downloaded from

The contact number on the day will be 07791 465 587 - Lucia Marquart and Roy Halliday from Lancashire County Council's environment and community projects team.

As the Beyond the Castle project develops there will be further opportunities for the public to get involved in its design and development, hopefully leading to wider improvements in a few years time.

• Further information and the report on the Lancaster University 'Beyond the Castle' activities is available ! at

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