Co Antrim rare beetle find among National Trust's ‘wildlife firsts'

The Forest chafer beetle, Melolontha hippocastani, was found at White Park Bay last year

THE discovery of a rare beetle in Co Antrim, not seen in Northern Ireland for more than a century, was among the wildlife firsts discovered during a major UK coastal survey last year.

The Forest chafer beetle, Melolontha hippocastani, was one of the amazing finds when it was discovered at White Park Bay. It had not been seen alive in the north since 1915.

It was one of a number of "wildlife firsts" during the biggest survey yet of nature around parts of the coastline of Britain.

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

More than 22,000 plant and animal species were recorded during the wildlife 'BioBlitzes', which saw 4,000 people record as many species as possible over either 12 or 24 hours.

Other unusual discoveries made during the survey was the first recorded sighting of the Balearic shearwater seabird, Puffinus mauretanicus, at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast.

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

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

David Bullock from the National Trust 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."

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