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'Wildlife firsts' discovered during biggest survey of Britain's coastline

Published 11/03/2016

Among the discoveries was the first recorded sighting of Balearic shearwaters at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast
Among the discoveries was the first recorded sighting of Balearic shearwaters at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast

A number of "wildlife firsts" have been discovered during the biggest survey yet of nature around parts of Britain's coastline.

Wildlife experts and nature lovers recorded more than 3,400 species at 25 of the National Trust's sites along the coasts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Among the discoveries during the "bio blitz" surveys was the first recorded sighting of the Balearic shearwater seabird, Puffinus mauretanicus, at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast.

At Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, a slow worm, Anguis fragilis, was found for the first time since 1966.

The rare Forest chafer beetle, Melolontha hippocastani, was found at White Park Bay, Co Antrim - the first recorded sighting in Northern Ireland in more than a century.

During six months last year, 4,000 people recorded as many species as possible over either 12 or 24 hours, from the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent to the dune-rich White Park Bay.

David Bullock, the trust's head of conservation, said: "The data from these bio blitzes will play an important part in giving us a greater understanding of the species that live along our coastline.

"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 wide-open expanses of Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast topped the survey with 1,018 species recorded on June 20 last year.

Blakeney Point, also in north Norfolk, came second, followed by Brownsea Island, Dorset, Dunwich Heath, Suffolk, and Cwm Ivy on Gower, South Wales.

The surveys were organised to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust's Neptune Coastline Campaign.

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