Bioblitz in Whitworth Park

School children starting out as mini Bioblitzers
Steve Welsh, Andrea Winn and other museum staff on the Bioblitz stand

Museum staff joined with representatives of other local organisations concerned with biodiversity for an excellent if occasionally wet day in Whitworth park. The park is adjacent to the Whitworth Art Gallery and is extensively used by local people. School children got involved collecting different insects from the trunks of trees. Sawfly larvae (see earlier blog) were common on the low branches of ash trees and were probably the commonest thing they found. Surveys revealed considerable variety of birds, insects and plants including many interesting species. Greater spotted woodpeckers were probably the star of the bird world. Snails were surprisingly absent despite a thorough search by Laurence Cook. Among the insects it was very good to see small tortoiseshell caterpillars on the nettles. These beautiful butterflies are now in some decline.

Good to see small tortoiseshell caterpillars on nettles behind the Whitworth Art Gallery
A shield bug, one of my favourite insects. I let him go after the event.
Ladybird larva. We found several different species of these tiny predatory insects.

I spent most of my time looking at the plants in the park. There are a remarkable number of different trees, from apple and cherry to sycamore, beech, London plane, lime, and many different species of oak and whitebeam. Among the herbaceous plants we noted a few stands of Japanese knotweed, which may be cause for concern if allowed to spread. There were literally dozens of different species around the margins of the park and it was clear that margins and edges were the most valuable areas as far as biodiversity is concerned.

Herb Robert, a common plant of urban wasteland
Japanese knotweed, this could be bad news for some of the other plants
Hedge cranesbill, this is quite uncommon ... a good find

Either black medick or lesser trefoil. Last year I had a long discussion with Leander about these species, I really wish he was here.
Oxford ragwort. Found this right at the last minute walking out of the park.

As well as the wildlife in the park, there are exhibitions in the Art Gallery. I met Bryony Bond, a former member of the Museum team and she showed me the wallpaper exhibition. It’s worth a visit, many of the designs such as this one by Damien Hirst, are inspired by nature.

An almost Islamic topology based on butterflies and transformed into wallpaper by Damien Hirst

7 thoughts on “Bioblitz in Whitworth Park

  1. This looks like a great project, but we would recommend treating the Japanese Knotweed as it could potentially spread around around the park. From the pictures it looks healthy and vibrant, so should be easy to treat, but needs specialist care in such a sensitive amenity area.

    If you need any further help or advise, let me know.

  2. Anyone wishing to get involved in the Lancashire BioBlitz can contact me at

    The event is at Cuerden Valley Park in Bamber Bridge and runs from 10am on August 7 to 10am on August 8.

    Volunteers are welcomed or just turn up and get involved in the educational and fun event

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