Worcestershire Record No. 4 May 1998 p.3

Pooling Our Knowledge For The Common Good

By Alan Shepherd

Everybody who reads this will obviously be an expert in one sphere or another when it comes to what we used to call Natural History but we now refer to under fancy titles like Biodiversity Monitoring (believe me, I have seen that term in use!) and we all submit records within the realms of our knowledge or more particularly of our specialised interests. Fine, it all helps to build up the greater picture but there is often a tendency to ignore anything else we may find on a site. This is due to the fact that many of us (if we are honest) tend to be "Anoraks" over our particular Loves. I will freely admit to this tendency and I hope some of you are honest enough in your self appraisals to do likewise. However, this can result in (dare I suggest it?) a more important species going unrecorded because we either don't know what it is or worse still dismiss it as unworthy of our focused/blinkered attention.

On a day such as the proposed blitz in Grafton Wood there will be experts aplenty to snap up the unconsidered trifles that others miss (or dismiss) but when you are out in the field, especially on a site where access is limited do you ever consider telling somebody else that there is scope for surveying their particular speciality? Or even note it yourself? I hope you do but if not, examine your conscience and consider doing just that.

At the Herpetofauna Conference in Cardiff this year we heard a plea from the Mammal Society for records of Water Shrews - which have a liking for hiding under tin sheets used as refugia for Grass Snakes - and WRAG regularly carry a Bat detector when out at night around water bodies torching for amphibians. In exchange we have asked the Bat Group to shine their torches in the water and tell us if they see any Newts. You don't even need to know what species it is, you merely have to mention it to the relevant volunteer surveyor and let them do the work. Better still, instead of going out alone take along a colleague who can look for something that you don't want to/don't know about/don't even like.

At the recent meeting it was suggested that people who were willing to share recording duties could put their names forward on some form of central register and hopefully the Grafton day will demonstrate just how effective any form of blanket coverage can be.

Throw off your anorak and find a friend!

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