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Posted: Friday 12th October 2018 by WildBlog

By Julie Doherty, People and Wildlife Programme Manager, Avon Wildlife Trust

Bristol is an attractive and nature-rich city. A place where otters can be spotted in urban parks, peregrine falcons hunt across the city skyline and foxes roam at night. But what about the streets and neighbourhoods of the city? What kind of wildlife is living in our gardens, allotments, school grounds and community green spaces? We asked Ben Barker of the My Wild Bedminster project to tell us about the wildlife local people been discovering south of the river.

“Early in 2017, a few members of the BS3 Wildlife Group asked themselves 'how many butterfly species can we find in BS3 during the year?' The answer turned out to be 16, or rather, 15 and a mystery! The mystery was a blurry photo of a Small Blue (cupido minimus) taken in Victoria Park. It wasn't supposed to be there. A mistaken identification? A hitherto unknown colony? An adult blown off course? An egg brought in on a plant? These were among our theories. Results from our 2018 wildlife survey will soon be coming in and we will see if the Small Blue has been confirmed along with local wildlife sightings of other butterfly species, moths, hedgehogs and dragonflies, all submitted by local people.

Seventeen people took part in garden bird spotting over winter, noting common birds like blue tits and blackbirds, but also urban rarities such as fieldfare (sightings from five gardens in March and probably driven into the city by the Beast from the East), siskin (three different months in the same garden) and jay (seen in two gardens only which suggests a lesser presence than in previous years). BS3 is reckoned to be one of Bristol's least biodiverse neighbourhoods, but altogether 37 garden bird species were reported. Last winter was our seventh garden bird survey. We are beginning to build up a picture of longer-term trends, so goldfinches remain fairly common, but there has been a decline in both chaffinches and greenfinches. Information is written up and circulated locally, as well as given to Avon Wildlife Trust and national data organisations. We are working with local park and allotment groups, schools, Windmill Hill City Farm and gardeners to make our area more wildlife friendly; offering advice on planting, avoiding harmful chemicals, making safe places for wildlife to hide and identification. “

Ben is one of many wildlife champions around the city, working with his local community to encourage people to take notice of the nature in their local patch and take action to improve it. If you’re interested in finding out more then you can email Ben at or contact me – Avon Wildlife Trust’s People and Wildlife programme manager, Julie Doherty at

Hedgehog (c) Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography.

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