Cambridge nature-lover records 573 species in 'ordinary' garden

image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionBee orchids grow in Paul Rule's lawn and he says he has recorded common garden birds, including wrens

A nature-lover has recorded 573 different species of insect, bird, plant and other animal life in his "ordinary-sized" city garden during a three-year wildlife survey.

Paul Rule took part in a study set up in 2016 by the Cambridge Natural History Society to discover the extent of the city's flora and fauna.

He favourite find was a "strange-looking bug" named Asiraca clavicornis.

The society is currently analysing the survey results from 64 gardens.

Finds include previously unknown evidence of several badger setts within a mile of the city's Market Square.

image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionThis bug, an Asiraca clavicornis, is part of a colony living in the garden next door to Mr Rule and was pictured on his garden fence
image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionMr Rule, seen setting up his nightly moth trap, attributes the fact he could record so many species to "not being a keen gardener"

Mr Rule, 66, whose garden is about 330 sq m (3,552 sq ft), said: "I wasn't expecting to find so much in this quite ordinary-sized garden but I got carried away.

"When I see anything I don't know, I want to identify it."

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During the period of the survey he recorded 548 species, but has added another 25 during lockdown.

image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionAn elephant moth is among the species caught in Mr Rule's moth trap, which has helped him increase his insect count by 50%

The retired BT engineer has always been interested in wildlife, particularly "anything with six or eight legs", and was able to record 412 insects, including 272 species of moths.

"When it came to the insects, I used the internet and local experts - and I have a shelf full of wildlife reference books," he said.

"I also had a plant survey done - and 87 plants were added the list, including 26 species of moss."

image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionOther species recorded include a recent UK arrival the ivy bee, as well as the increasingly endangered native hedgehog

Mammal visitors include a fox, hedgehogs and bats, while all the common garden bird species such as blackbirds, wrens, robins and goldfinches have been counted.

The project, which hopes to raise public awareness of the diversity of wild animals and plants in the city, closed in December.

image copyrightPaul Rule
image captionWhile he has not been able to record reptiles, he has found frogs and newts

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