"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Garden Biodiversity - 365 Challenge - Part 1

Last year on Twitter there was a fun garden challenge to try and see 365 species in a year. Unfortunately I didn't find out about it until early summer and decided I didn't want to join in half way through the year but that I'd take part this year. I haven't been able to find much information about it though for 2014 and have only managed to track down two people who are participating (one trying to beat last year's record and one trying to add to last year's total). I decided I'd have a go anyway mainly to encourage myself to take more notice of groups that I currently only try and identify half-heartedly such as hoverflies, flies, beetles, woodlice etc.

I've set myself a few "rules". For example, I will only count species that occur within the actual garden and not count those just flying over or seen over the garden fence in a neighbour's garden! I've also followed in Owen Paterson's footsteps and moved the goalposts a little as I will be counting non-native species such as Grey Squirrel and Harlequin Ladybird.

However, I won't be counting species that we've planted ourselves so all those lovely wildflowers such as Primroses

and species in the wildflower meadow and native trees and shrubs in the mini wood and hedgerows are out of the equation. I will, however, count species such as Bramble and Coral Spot fungus

that have colonised naturally.

I got off to quite a good start in January - without really trying I managed 31 species.


Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Great Tit (Parus major)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Magpie (Pica pica)

Carrion Crown (Corvus corone)

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Great Spotted
Woodpecker (Dendrocopus major)

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Long-Tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Stock Dove (Columba oenas)

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret)


Human (Homo sapiens) A bit cheeky this one but I noticed someone else counted it last year!!! :)

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)


Bramble (Rubus fruticosa)

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Smooth Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)


Holly Leaf Gall Fly - leafmine (Phytomyza ilicis)

Winter Gnat (Family Trichoceridae)


Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)


Stigmella aurella - leaf mine on bramble


Coral Spot Fungus (Nectria cinnabarina)

I suspect only a few species will be added in February and March as there won't be many insects to add. If I'm honest I think I will be very fortunate to reach 365 as last year, despite moth trapping, I only identified 100 moths. I'll need to try harder on the worn noctuids this year and also start identifying micros in earnest. On a good year we get about 30/35 bird species in the garden and about 12/15 butterfly species. Mammals are few and far between - I'll be lucky to reach 5 plus about 3 amphibians. So I am going to have to concentrate a lot more on insects in general. Still it'll be fun and give me the excuse I've been waiting for to buy some more id guides :)

I'll do an update on progress about once a month.


Margaret Adamson said...


Countryside Tales said...

Now that's a really interesting post and a great idea. I'll be very interested to see what and how many different things you get. We had 311 moth species here last year (although I think some of the micros were probably not correctly id'd!). My challenge this year is to attempt more micros as I have no excuse now I've got the book. I also like the idea of seeing what you can find in a metre square in your garden. Hope you are OK in all this wet weather? CT :-)
(Ps- never thought I'd hear the day you compared yourself to OP, even in jest :-) I hear he got a grilling this week in the HoC re the Gvts response to flooding).

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks Margaret - just a fun thing I very much doubt if I'll reach the target but will hopefully learn a lot on the journey :)

Countryside Tales Thanks CT :)

I've had the moth book for ages but must try and use it this year! TBH I wish I could justify buying a MV Robinson Trap as I think it would result in much higher catches and retain more but it'll have to wait.

The idea of seeing species in a square metre is a great one. I used to sit and watch a small portion of the wildflower meadow to see what visited.

Fine here thanks - hope you are too.

Comparison with OP probably not the best of my ideas but it took me all evening to compose post and wasn't really concentrating as daughter was making cakes for a charity fundraising thing and disaster after disaster struck!! - all ended well though :)

Dean Stables said...

Pretty sure you`ll reach your goal, if not pass it. Good luck, Caroline.

SeagullSuzie said...

It's a brilliant idea and I'll look forward to reading your lists and seeing what you have spotted.

Ragged Robin said...

Dean Stables - Thanks so much Dean for your confidence and good luck :) I could do with some of your id skills :)

SeagullSuzie Thanks so much Suzie - may be a bit quiet for a few months then hopefully be more interesting as Spring arrives :)

Wendy said...

A fascinating post, Caroline. I wonder how many species you will see; I've no idea whether 365 would be achievable in my garden or not. There are so many insects and wild plants I couldn't identify. It is a fantastic way of learning about the biodiversity in your garden.
I expect the weather will have an impact, so it is probably worth comparing from year to year.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy Many thanks :) Its going to be a steep learning curve where insects are concerned! You are right yearly comparisons would be very interesting.

Chris Rohrer said...

That's a great challenge....both personally and as a group. It's one of the things I like about the challenge.....plus you have to go to different places to meet challenge....which always takes us out of our comfort zone and exposes us to some fun:) I enjoy sharing the challenge alone or with friends....:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris. Yes I enjoy challenges as you say either alone or with a group. I got so excited last night when I managed to id a slug!!! :)