We're going to try and record 1,500 species in 24 hours, will you try and beat us in your area?!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday 28 March 2024 09:51

Put the weekend of the 25th and 26th May (with 15th & 16th June as a back up), in your diaries. What time? I hear you say. ALL day, I say. Midnight to midnight. Make no mistakes, this going to hurt. As Douglas Adams said about the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: It's effects are similar to having "your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick". Change the lemon to a sweep net and the gold brick to your suction-sampler, and you're starting to get the idea. We are going to try and see and identify 1,500 species (including my own secondary challenge of 1,000 invertebrates) in a single day! This is the sequel to the challenge we set up and achieved in 2017, (that's me and Dave some 12 hours in, in 2017, above) you can read about that here.

I have now set up a Just Giving page which you can access here. We are fund raising for the management of Sussex Wildlife Trust's reserves, which we will be spending most of our time on.

I've been toying with the idea for a few years of trying this again but with a higher target this time BUT I have had years of back problems until this winter that put me off it So, we've been fleshing out the rules and if you want to do it in your region too, you are more than welcome, the more the merrier. The rules are:
  1. It has to be Saturday 25th May or Sunday 26th May. Go with the best day weather-wise in your area. If the weekend is a wash out, then the 15th & 16th June have been selected as a back up but there the only dates we are doing it. This is the only deviation from the rules we set up in 2017, to allow for some regional variation in weather. The following rules are all the same.
  2. It has to be from midnight to midnight in one 24 hour period of a single day.
  3. It has to be teams of two. No more. And you must see everything together (although you both don't have to ID it). This is to stop people splitting up into groups and to encourage some aspect of learning and camaraderie.
  4. We'd much rather you find a partner to work with but if you don't have any friends, then it's going to be a major handicap to do this solo, so we'll allow it if you have no choice. Scribing alone is going to be extremely intense. I really want to encourage people to find a partner though, as we have set this up as a two person challenge and we could always do a solo one another time.
  5. If one person ducks out due to tiredness, they can no longer record as soon as they leave you or until they return. Again to stop people splitting up.
  6. One vehicle. With as much equipment as you like. You can deploy traps but they can't be activated until midnight. So you could dig a few pitfalls in but they have to have lids on until midnight, set some moth traps up but you can't start them until midnight etc. Bare in mind though that you can only have one vehicle full of equipment with only two people in it. Other people can attend but not help in anyway, including with kit.
  7. Moral support in terms of food and drink bought in by other people is OK though.
  8. You can start and finish where you like and drive as much as you like.
  9. Supporters can't go and pin things down for you in advance. By all means, use your knowledge of your sites and local area, this will be vital but no one else can help.
  10. ALL records must be submitted to your local record centre afterwards.
  11. A running total must be kept. This is vital to stop you over/under counting but also to let you know where you are and if you have made it to the total!
  12. Carefully designed recording forms will be key to this but you're on your own for how they'll look.
  13. Leave a few hours at the end for microscope work if need be. All identifications though must be completed by midnight. After that it's game over. This is going to be very difficult to gauge.
  14. I'd also encourage everyone doing it to raise money for conservation charities in your area. I'm doing it for the Sussex Wildlife Trust and as yet, one undecided charity with a significant biological recording focus. Much of our route will be on SWT sites. So I'll start fund raising closer to the time so any support there will be much appreciated. I think a penny a species might be a good way to approach it.
Now I hope people don't think that's too strict. Just want to get the rules down so that people can then decide if and how they'll play it. It will be great to get a list of who is going to take part. You can a;ways do a different challenge if you don't want to play!

We know 1000 species is achievable but that was tough but we did that last time without suction sampler and without doing any microscope work, so I think 1500 species is doable.

I'm hoping to get the press, Springwatch and maybe even the Guinness Book of Records involved (we got on local BBC radio in 2017). I really doubt anyone has ever done anything like this before anywhere in the world, the closest being a bird race/bioblitz. Birds are going to be almost incidental in this. Provisionally we've said 75 species but it will be a waste of time to go looking for them, just wait for them to flush or fly over. The big gains will be in the inverts and plants.

Have I missed anything? I'm trying to be as inclusive as I can without making the rules too easy to flaunt. So any comments are welcome. Please let me know what you think and lets start putting some names down as to who exactly is involved. 
  • Graeme Lyons & Dave Green - In Sussex raising money for Sussex Wildlife Trust + one other charity.

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