Two millionth record - and still going strong

North Devon Gazette

North Devon volunteers put up a new bird box at a local wildlife site that they received as a reward for entering the two-millionth record into a well-known wildlife database website called Living Record. Â

Steve Gunn, a volunteer at the Gaia Trust’s Home Farm Marsh site near Barnstaple recorded the two-millionth record, a Common Carder bee, on the 19th May 2021 during one of his regular bumblebee transect surveys at the farm. Â

Upon reaching the milestone, Steve was rewarded with a number of bird boxes for the site from Living Record founder Adrian Bicker. The first was installed at Home Farm Marsh, one of the Gaia Trust’s five properties in the South West. Each is managed according to the charity’s mission of ‘farming for people and wildlife’. Â

To date, volunteers at the site have collected 1115 separate records and recorded 107 different insect and bird species. Steve says that one of the concerns of the volunteers, who contribute extensively to the nature conservation activities at Home Farm Marsh, was being able to determine whether their efforts, together with those of the tenant farmer, were actually enhancing the wildlife habitat. Â

Living Record has enabled the volunteers to record their sightings and surveys in a much more focused way that should enable trends over time to be distinguished. These can then be used to inform future land management improvements. Â

For example, in 2021, the nectar field within the farm was sown with a seed mix focusing on wildflowers, such as tufted vetch. Comparing the data held within Living Record for the last two years has shown that bumblebee sightings increased by 33% in 2021, thereby providing comfort that this seed mix has added value. Â

Adrian Bicker, founder of Living Record, said. “We are delighted to be working with Steve and the Gaia Trust. The Living Record system provides tools that are already used by wildlife trusts and local councils to collect records and visualise the distribution of key species across properties. With all this information to hand, there is every prospect that the Gaia Trust and their farmers will continue to achieve measurable conservation gains across their sites.” Â