Blawhorn Moss NNR

This summer Blawhorn Moss NNR grew in size! We reached an agreement with a local landowner to manage a new part of the reserve, which expanded the NNR by 20 hectares. This new piece of land included a wetland which had been little-explored by NNR staff… until now!

It’s not often that a nature reserve acquires new land to manage so we were really looking forward to exploring the wetland and discovering the diversity of species present. And what better way to get an idea of the variety of plant life in an area than to carry out a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz is a citizen science effort to identify and record all the species that can be found in an area. It’s a fun and engaging way for participants to learn about nature whilst generating useful data that contributes to biodiversity science. We had planned to have a day of surveying the new wetland with volunteers but unfortunately due to covid 19 restrictions the event was unable to go ahead. However, luckily for us a small number of NatureScot staff were keen to get out and help us conduct a mini BioBlitz on the new area of land!

Soggy BioBlitzers

We set out to generate a list of all the plant species within the wetland area to give us an idea of the diversity present. Some plants were harder to identify than others and required closer inspection…

It was a typical Scottish summer day (dreich!) and vibrant bog flowers peppered amongst the sphagnums and rushes stood out against the darker colours.

One of my favourites was this very late flowering bog bean. They usually flower from March to June and this one was still going strong in late August. The plant gets its name from the shape of its leaves which resemble that of broad beans.

Bog bean

And it was the perfect time of year for devil’s bit scabious also commonly known as ‘bobby bright buttons’, which seems perfectly fitting for this particular plant!

Devil’s-bit scabious

We recorded a total of 45 plant species, many of which were new to the list of reserve species – not bad for a small patch of wetland!

If you’re feeling inspired by our efforts, why not conduct your own BioBlitz? And don’t just stop at plants, you can record everything you see from butterflies to snails, mosses to fungi and mammals to birds. This useful guide tells you how to organise a BioBlitz and where to record your findings. You can even carry out a mini BioBlitz in your own garden – learn how in this short video.

Black darters found in the new wetland
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