BioBlitz Event at Pentillie Castle Welcomes Over 300 Budding Naturalists

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Alison Smith with eager worm hunters from Gunnislake School

The Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in partnership with the Coryton family, hosted a BioBlitz last month (21st and 22nd September 2012) at Pentillie Castle.  It was a great success, with over 300 budding naturalists of all ages looking at the variety of wildlife found on the Estate.

A ‘BioBlitz’ is where a large number of naturalists get together and try to record as many species as possible in a set location and time period. It’s a great opportunity for people to see some spectacular creatures, guided by experts, and to try some of the field craft that you need to catch them! It’s all about understanding more about the health of our environment. The event was part of the Cordiale project, which was selected under the European Cross-border Cooperation Programme known as INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Two pupils from Gunnislake School working out which worm it is

Sammie Coryton, Pentillie Castle, said; “We were thrilled that so many people had so much fun investigating the creepy crawlies and creatures found in the gardens of the Estate. Having the naturalists and experts on hand to demystify and explain some of the creatures, their habits and habitats was extremely interesting – for adults and children alike. I believe that nearly everybody learned something new during the day, and certainly began to understand the significance of even the smallest creatures in the grand scheme of things!”

Pentillie BioBlitz Friday 21 September 2012

On Friday, 100 children from three local primary schools (Gunnislake, St. Mellion and Landulph) spent the day pond-dipping, hunting for worms amongst the Australian soil hoppers, learning to identifying nuts, lichens and flowers of ancient woods, and netting a myriad variety of bugs.  They also took part in a drawing competition, with one child from each school winning a family ticket to Pentillie’s outdoor Nativity play to be held on December 16th.

As dusk set in on Friday, 20 children and adults had an opportunity to get really close to bats and moths.  The old cellars and outbuildings of Pentillie Castle are perfect for some very special bats. The public was thrilled as they literally brushed passed them. All the children had a go at using a bat detector, which converts the calls (echolocations) of the bats into a frequency that we can hear. They also got to grips with their droppings!

Saturday was open to members of the public, and even more was learnt about the creatures living in the gardens and woodland of the Pentillie Estate. The newts, wood mice, stag beetles and slow worms, kept everyone entertained for much of the day.  It is hoped that the event could be repeated in the future.

Event organisers Simon Bates (Cordiale Project Officer) and Alison Smith (Open Air Laboratories), were delighted, saying; “It was an absolute joy to see everyone having fun in the sun! Netting newts and coming eye-to-eye with wood mice and slow worms was a thrill, but so was digging for earthworms, something everyone can do, anytime! We are so grateful to our 15 local experts, to Sarah, Ted & Sammie Coryton at Pentillie Estate, and for the teachers, parents and children that made it so successful”.

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