If you asked most people in Bristol what kind of birds, animals and insects can be found in their garden or surrounding green spaces, chances are they wouldn’t be able to tell you.
But a group of enthusiastic locals in South Bristol are hoping to inspire people to take a closer look at their own green spaces.
The BS3 Wildlife Group aims to raise public awareness about local wildlife and encourage people and organisations to improve local habitats for not only wildlife, but also for the community.
The initiative, founded in 2017 and supported by the Avon Wildlife Trust, started off in BS3 (My Wild Bedminster) and has expanded to My Wild South Bristol which includes BS4, BS13 and BS14 and is working with UWE students to expand into North Bristol. Using Facebook, local community newsletters and forums (e.g. Totterdown Residents Environmental & Social Action), Instagram and through its own BS3 Wildlife newsletter, the project has reached more than 800 people.
Jennifer Bhambri-Lyte is a member of the BS3 Wildlife Group and said:
"I get so much from this group, not least enjoying sharing evidence of wildlife in our local area. It's not just the job to be had from looking at pictures and reading anecdotes shared by members; it's the thrill of knowing there is still wildlife out there to save.
"When someone shares evidence of a peregrine nesting nearby, it makes you feel that it is all worth it; you find renewed motivation for doing your bit."
Becky Smith, who joined the BS3 Wildlife Facebook Group a year ago said:
"I've always been really interested and passionate about wildlife but the newsletter that Ben produces has helped me to understand how I can help encourage more wildlife, record sightings and get involved in helping my local community engage with wildlife.
"Through this, opportunities have arisen including joining and helping to set up the new Friends of Ashton Court Estate (FACE), a team looking to use the records on the Facebook Group to log wildlife sightings in the BREC records and also setting up a new BS3 hedgehog task force. All of these ideas have originally been proposed by the My Wild Bedminster (BS3 Wildlife) newsletter.
"Ben has also supported me to become the secretary to FACE and has helped me to understand some of the local issues effecting nature, including the one ecological emergency strategy and the functions of the different council teams.
"Thanks to him I'm now aware and have been able to get involved in a lot more opportunities to help support nature and biodiversity in my local area. This is something I've always been interested in but never knew how I could get involved."
Ben Barker, Secretary of the BS3 Wildlife Group said:
"Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in the natural environment and more people are thinking about what they can do to preserve green spaces for future generations.
"Due to COVID-19, some of the community events we planned for this year weren't able to go ahead but we've seen great success with our wildlife monitoring project, including ones on butterflies, starlings, dragonflies and the birds of Ashton Court. We are currently working on building an equipment library (e.g. moth traps, bat detectors, butterfly nets) for people to use so they can identify the wildlife in their area. Our membership is constantly growing and we're hoping that this initiative will spread to other parts of Bristol."
Ben is also a member of the Action Greater Bedminster and the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team (SHINE HIT).
Image credit: Small Blue Cupido minimus (c) Iain H Leach - which was found in BS3