By Matt Doogue
With lockdown coming to an end, Spring on the horizon, and summer just around the corner, you might be looking for some ideas to entertain the kids and get out and enjoy the great outdoors. If so, why not try a BioBlitz?
Now, some of you may be thinking 'What's a BioBlitz?'
BioBlitz was first developed in the USA in 1996, but are now held regularly in many countries and have been taking place in the UK since 2006.
It is defined by Wikipedia as an intense period of biological surveying, to try to record all the living species within a designated area. Bioblitz participants can help science by looking out for local plants, birds, insects and mammals, while having plenty of fun outdoors and learning more about the environment around them.
My top tips are:
- You can choose the length of time that’s right for you and your participants. If it’s just a bit of fun for the kids, I find 1-2 hours is about the limit.
- The location can also be anywhere, from the back garden to a patch of woodland. I recommend finding a plot that has something to engage the age group and be as hands on as possible.
- Take some kit to help you get closer to the nature around. This can include sweep nets, pots, trays, binoculars and a spotting scope.
- Create some check lists for the kids to use to seek out nature that you hope to find, with a few interesting facts about the subject.
- Ideally have someone who knows about the local wildlife and can answer questions about what you’ve found in an engaging way, or at least a guidebook that may help you identify your mysterious bug or plant.
- Take a phone or a camera to photograph your more interesting finds, or to use to find out more about the find when you get home. Using an app like iRecord to record your findings and get more information can help.
- The weather can change in minutes so dress appropriately. If you’re not ready for it, a shower of rain can take all the fun out of the day.
- Especially with children, always put their health and safety at the front of any planning.
It’s not too much effort and you will be amazed at just what can be discovered. A treasure trove of nature’s beauty awaits, and it gets everyone away from their screens!
Matt is a Vanguard Ambassador who specializes in macro photography, getting a close up and detailed perspective of nature’s smaller creatures, and his work has been published in most of the UK’s leading photographic titles, including regular appearances on BBC’s Springwatch shows. In his spare time he visits schools to educate children of all ages on the importance of our natural world.
If you don’t want to run your own BioBlitz and are based in Scotland, Matt is running a free tour in August/September 2021, hopefully accompanied on some of the visits by Ashleigh Whiffin, Assistant Curator of Entomology at National Museums Scotland. He has many years of touring schools, sharing his love of nature and sharing his life lessons along the way, as well as being fully CRB checked and he has all the kit. If you’re interested in learning more, please e-mail him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org