Nottingham

Attenborough Nature Reserve ranger's 1,000 species challenge

Tim Sexton looking in the undergrowth
Image caption Tim Sexton said new discoveries at the Attenborough site were made all the time

A wildlife expert is attempting to identify more than 1,000 organisms at a nature reserve in Nottinghamshire over the course of a year.

Tim Sexton, from the Attenborough Nature Reserve, has recorded 203 species since January, 33 of which have never been found at the site before.

The park, established in 1966 from gravel extraction pits, has attracted rare birds including the bittern.

Mr Sexton said the challenge means looking for the least "sexy" organisms.

About 2,650 species have been recorded at the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust reserve over the past 50 years, including many waterfowl, invertebrates, mammals like badgers, bats, and foxes.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption The wildlife expert has been involved with Attenborough Nature Reserve for about 10 years

However, these surveys were performed by hundreds of experts which makes the challenge for one person, in just one year, all the more difficult.

"It felt like a good idea at the time," Mr Sexton said.

"[But] ultimately, I'm hoping to record far beyond that total [of 1,000].

"One thing that has always fascinated me is that on a site as well studied as Attenborough, you can still make new discoveries."

The wildlife expert said he has spent a lot of time surveying invertebrates under log piles and has found 11 new species of millipede and centipede for the reserve.

Image copyright Tim Sexton
Image caption The ophyiulus pilosus millipede was discovered by Mr Sexton

"They are not as sexy as butterflies and dragonflies but they have historically been overlooked," he said.

However, with creatures so small it has been a challenge to identify them.

"You need to look a little closer and you can only be 100% of the identification by looking at the genitalia, not much bigger than a speck of dust."

Mr Sexton said only one person has attempted the challenge solely before, recording 755 organisms, in 2011.

He is hoping to go much further than that number by the end of 2015.

Image copyright Tim sexton
Image caption Mr Sexton found the rare European chinchbug at the wildlife site

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