3400 species of coastal wildlife recorded in National Trust’s biggest wildlife survey

Balearic shearwaters, water-voles, poisonous adders, otters – these are just some of the 3400 species of coastal wildlife spotted in the National Trust’s largest wildlife survey across the coastlines of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Over a six month period last year, thousands of nature lovers and wildlife experts, including volunteers, took to 25 different coastal locations such as Norfolk, Sussex, Dorset, Pembrokeshire, Co. Antrim and Anglesey. They recorded their discoveries during a 12-24 hour period.

Brancaster on the North Norfolk Coast topped the survey with 1,018 species recorded on 20 June. There were even a few new wild things spotted and recorded in the survey, including the first sighting of Balearic shearwaters, Puffinus mauretanicus, at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast, a slow worm, Anguis fragilis, found for the first time since 1966 at Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire, and the rare Forest chafer beetle, Melolontha hippocastani at White Park Bay, Co. Antrim – the first recorded sighting of the beetle in Ireland in over a century.

Red-shanked carder bee, Bombus ruderarius, (c) Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Elizabeth Hatchell

Red-shanked carder bee, Bombus ruderarius. Image by Elizabeth Hatchell

The head of a male adder (vipera berus).

Male adder (vipera beers) – the only poisonous snake in the British Isles. Image by Jonathan Plant

Balearic Shearwater (c) Joe Pender, BTO (2)

Balearic Shearwater, Image by Joe Pender

The surveys were organised to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign – a people-powered movement established in 1965 that has helped the Trust to buy and care for 574 miles of coastline. The charity now owns and looks after 775 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The impact of this knowledge about the species living in our ever changing coastline is crucial, as Head of Nature Conservation Dr David Bullock noted: “The shifting nature of our shoreline means that we need to think ahead about what is happening to coastal habitats and how we might secure the future of the wildlife that lives by the sea. The National Trust is working alongside partners at coastal landscapes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to create space for nature to move on a much greater scale.”

Small Blood-vein (c) Mark Parsons,Butterfly Conservation

Small Blood-vein butterfly, image by Mark Parsons

Dartford Warbler (c) National Trust Images, Jon Evans

Dartford Warbler, image by Jon Evans

Nightjar (c) National Trust Images, Peter Brash

Nightjar, photographed by Peter Brash, National Trust

Family of three otters at the water's edge

Family of three otters at the water’s edge. Image by Jim Bebbington, National Trust

Water Vole (c) National Trust Images, Philip Braude

Water vole. Images, Philip Braude for National Trust

Find out more about how you can help to care for the coast here, including how to volunteer and / or donate funds to the conservation work of the National Trust.

And if you want to know more about what was sighted, below is a breakdown of data from the survey:

Flowering plants: 899

Lower plants: 396

Ferns: 21

Terrestrial invertebrates: 1511

Marine invertebrates: 236

Terrestrial mammals: 5

Birds: 173

Fish: 39

Amphibians: 7

Reptiles: 4

Fungi: 52

Other: 15


Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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