24 May 2010, by Adele Rackley
Hundreds of people joined scientists over 21-22 May to tickle, tease and net a wapping 536 species at Bristol BioBlitz.
A bioblitz is a special type of field survey where scientists and the public race against the clock to identify as many species as possible in a certain area. Events run for a continuous period of at least 24 hours, often longer, so nocturnal species don't miss out.
Anyone can take part, it's great fun, and it produces a valuable scientific snapshot of the species living in an area.
Organised by the Bristol Natural History Consortium (BNHC), this year's event at Blaise Castle Estate was particularly special because 2010 is the Year of Biodiversity and there's never been a better time to find out what wildlife you have in your back yard and learn how to look after it.
The 30-hour survey saw expert-led groups seeking out everything from lichens and fungi to spiders and ladybirds. Stream-dipping, moth-trapping at dusk, and the dawn chorus walk provided cooler diversions during the sun-drenched weekend.
Once back at the HQ tent, banks of microscopes gave everyone an opportunity to look closer at the specimens they'd found, and plenty of books, charts and live scientists were on hand to identify their finds.
This year the Natural Environment Research Council is teaming up with BioBlitz to help provide scientists, naturalists and taxonomists at events around the UK. So if you didn't make it to Bristol there are more BioBlitz events happening round the country until August – follow the external links to find one near you.
If you were at Blaise Castle Estate you might find yourself on one of our Audioboos - like Twitter but you listen – and visit the Bristol blog which was updated throughout the event and has videos of some of the day's highlights.
But if you can't get to any of the big events this year don't worry, with bioblitzing it's definitely a case of 'do try this at home' – even a suburban garden can yield hundreds of species. BNHC and the Open Air Laboratory (OPAL) websites have lots of useful information to help you make sure your blitz counts.