Volunteers record success

(C) Joanna Richards

Jim hails the success of our volunteers and what they allow us to achieve at Potteric Carr nature reserve

Spring is the time when the wildlife monitoring group at Potteric Carr think about what they want to achieve for the year. Most wildlife recording takes places from spring to autumn. This is because:

  • species are breeding
  • plants are flowering
  • invertebrates are more active

Potteric Carr is lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers. They investigate all sorts of things related to biodiversity on the nature reserve.

Birds have long been the core interest of the site. Sue Bird and Dave Carroll (amongst others) have been recording the breeding success of birds at Potteric Carr for years. In 2019 they hope to study the common tit species, and how these birds use the nature reserve.

The species of tit are:

  • blue tit
  • great tit
  • willow tit
  • coal tit
  • marsh tit

Blue tit and great tit are common, but coal tit and willow tit are much less common. We don't believe marsh tit breed at the reserve, but they are seen every year.

Sue’s husband Roger has been recording nest box use (which species, how many eggs, how many fledge) for many years, so for blue tits and great tits his work will be a great help.

Bird recording at Potteric Carr graph

This graph shows that the long term trend (with some bumps along the way) of the number of bird species seen at Potteric Carr is increasing, while the number of breeding species is fairly constant (again with ups and downs).

Although most people won’t see them very often, moths are one of the most diverse groups of animal at Potteric Carr (and worldwide), with 875 species recorded at Potteric Carr upto the end of 2018. Ian Heppenstall leads the effort to record species, looking for both common species, rarities and those species seen in the past but not recorded for many years.

He hopes to find at least 2 species not recorded for at least 10 years. This may sound like a small number, but his great effort in recent years means there are a few easy to find species that haven’t been re-recorded in recent years.

Emperor moth credit David Evans

We have two groups of bird ringers working on Potteric Carr and the adjacent Carr Lodge.

The records from this work help with national trends, but also how the birds use our sites and the local area (some of the birds are recaptured elsewhere and records shared).

It also helps us to prove breeding of some difficult species.

Have you ever seen a juvenile Cetti’s warbler? No, nor have I. But the ringers have which shows they have fledged from the site, showing the species has definitely bred successfully.

Bird ringing at Potteric Carr

There have been 656 species of plant recorded on Potteric Carr, although some not for many years. Geoff and Jo Carreck are trying to find as many of the species that are still present as possible, and have been updated a flora report on the site.

They haven’t refound all the species, but are still adding new ones to the list. They are following the footsteps of a number of volunteers in the past who have recorded on the reserve since it’s creation in 1968.

Water Violet at Rossington Carr

(c) Jim Horsfall

Assistant Reserves Officer Mark Roberts, with some volunteers, records all year round the number of wetland birds.

Monthly counts also add to national statistics (collated by the British Trust for Ornithology, BTO) and allow us to see changes over time. Potteric Carr’s duck numbers have gone down over recent years, and we can show this. There are probably a few factors, the two most important being the reedbeds expanding (so open water is reducing) and the digging of massive lakes over the M18 at iPort.

Taking the counts from Potteric and iPort together the numbers are higher than for a few years. So the duck are still around, just over the road. We hope to do some work to reduce the extent of reedbed in a couple of areas over the coming years to try and bring a few ducks back to Potteric Carr.

Assistant Reserves Officer Mark Roberts

Only through the work of a mainly volunteer led and organised band of wildlife recorders do we know what is happening at Potteric Carr, we can see change, and prove it is occurring. This allows us to show successes and failures, and to learn from what we do, so we can make things even better in future.

Visit www.ywt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer or contact volunteering@ywt.org.uk if you want to help us monitor our reserves.