Record number of wildlife observations in the Baltic Triangle

Record number of wildlife observations in the Baltic Triangle

Bees, daisies, herring gulls and much rarer species have been recorded as part of a project to assess populations of urban wildlife in Merseyside.

Visitors and volunteers shared more than 800 observations using the iNaturalist app as part of the Baltic Triangle Project, which began this year.

Before the wildlife recording project, relatively little was known about urban wildlife in the area. Now, thanks to the efforts of local wildlife lovers, community groups and visitors to the area, more than 270 different species have been recorded in the Baltic Triangle, covering 13 different groups of plant, animal and fungi.

Species common to the area, like buddleja, daisy and herring gull, have been found in large numbers. However, several species uploaded to the iNaturalist app for identification are new to the wildlife list of the Baltic Triangle and surrounding area. These include the tree bumblebee, as well as species new to the county such as the mildew, erysiphe rayssiae, and lichen, pleurosticta acetabulum.

Close-up of the face of a herring gull. It has a yellow beak with a red patch, and a yellow ring around its eye

Herring gull by Amy Lewis

The project wants to encourage everyone to share their wildlife sightings using the free app, iNaturalist. This nature identification website allows anyone to upload pictures of animals and plants to be identified by other website users. The more people using iNaturalist; the more species could be discovered in Liverpool.

Ben Deed is the BioBank Officer for Merseyside BioBank:

“Reporting sightings of wildlife or recording wildlife are two of the most rewarding, and at the same time useful contributions anyone can make to help protect nature now and into the future. The very act of exploring the natural environment, looking for wildlife, means that you are outdoors and experiencing the kinds of things that people would normally just walk past. By stopping to look, you learn to tell those things apart in a way that genuinely opens your eyes to the incredible range of wildlife that still finds a home in even the most urban centres of our cities.

Projects like Urban GreenUP in Liverpool offer really special opportunities for people who take the time to stop and look for nature. As green interventions are put in place throughout the city, oases are being created for wildlife and no-one really knows how these places will be used or what species of plant and animal might colonise them. The route through the Baltic Triangle in particular provides a corridor through which wildlife like pollinators, bats and birds might travel, bringing in the kinds of things you might only see in the outer city parks. There is no doubt that there is still so much to discover in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle and much, much more in the coming years.”

We have led six wildlife recording walks over the past month in conjunction with the Urban GreenUP project. These events focused on a variety of the green intervention sites of the project, including the living green wall on Parr Street and floating ecosystem at Wapping Dock.

Attendees walked the Baltic Triangle’s green route, visiting the ten pollinator pillars that are being installed there, using lamp posts as a framework on which to grow plants. Each pillar features a solar-powered irrigation system that minimises water loss and a bird box to increase the nesting spaces for wildlife. Three different types of pillar have been planted in Liverpool: biodiversity, flowering and pollution. Their environmental benefits include improving biodiversity and mitigating air pollution, as well as increasing the inclusion of attractive foliage and colour in the urban landscape.

Buff-tailed BumbleBee © Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Buff-tailed BumbleBee © Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Other green interventions due to appear across the Baltic Triangle over the next 12 months include wildflower pollinator spaces for different city habitats and the replacement of concrete bollards with trees in containers. Along St James Street, work has begun to create a woodland pollinator space that will include bulbs and plants native to the area, as well as a walkway of reclaimed cobbles. The contractors have used flamethrowers to clear the grass as a trial form of clearance, as this is better for nesting bees and the ground than the use of chemicals.

Bumblebees and other insect pollinators are increasingly under threat in the UK. The European Red List for Bees reports that almost one in ten species of wild bee face extinction and the State of Nature Report indicates that half of bee, butterfly and moth species have declined over the past 50 years. It is hoped that the addition of wildflower pollinator spaces and pollinator poles will provide some additional support for pollinators in the city centre.

Dr Juliet Staples, Senior Project Manager at Urban GreenUP:

“In Liverpool, like many cities, it’s not always easy to find available horizontal space for wildflower or pollinator planting. Trialling the smart pillars (with solar powered irrigation) on street lamp posts allows us to introduce vertical spaces and ‘stepping stones’ for pollinator planting, and in doing so create insect flight paths into urban city areas. 

“The smart pillar planting can be customised to help improve local air quality, introduce nectar sources, or just provide street colour and interest. They can also host insect homes and bird boxes as well as linking up green spaces and providing colourful signposting along our emerging green city corridors.”

The Urban GreenUP project is funded by the EU 2020 Horizon Programme.