Throughout the last year and during multiple lockdowns, we have had to put many of our family events on hold. Now things are returning to a slightly more normal world, we are in the middle of a jam-packed summer, welcoming back all our supporters to events, with many new faces joining us too, which is brilliant to see!
A popular programme that we have had to pause during the pandemic is our Wildlife Watch groups. Wildlife Watch is leading wildlife club for families and offers opportunities for children and their families to take part in an array of different wildlife-based activities in and around their local area, with many coming back regularly to see what we will have in store next. Wildlife Watch is based at primary aged children, and during the pandemic, a lot of our members had turned 12! Therefore, we thought it was time to find some new members and get everything up and running again.
In early July I was joined by Nigel, our long-standing Watch volunteer, and Sarah, Wildlife and Communities Officer, as we welcomed back Flitvale Wildlife Watch with open arms for a fun-filled re-launch event at Cooper’s Hill nature reserve in Ampthill, to help encourage new faces to discover all about our Watch groups. We were pleased to see a great turnout, with many families coming to explore their local reserve with us, to learn a bit more about the wildlife that calls the site home.
Cooper’s Hill is a wonderful reserve, covered with areas of rare and endangered open heath, which is home to many creatures including the magnificent tiger beetle and common lizards. Our families firstly went off with Nigel, who took them on an exciting exploration of the minibeast world, to see what insects were hiding in the heath. Armed with bug pots and sweep nets, our explorers were able to find an abundance of creatures such as woodlice, centipedes, and even a stag beetle taking shelter under a log! Nigel provided us with all his fun facts about minibeasts, including that woodlice always have 14 legs- fascinating!
After the minibeasts were returned to their homes, it was time for Sarah to take our explorers on a story-telling trail around the reserve. Our families were able to hear about all the creatures that live in the heath and how our work on the reserve helps them thrive. With Sarah’s wonderful stories, I knew this was an entertaining walk as the children ran back with excitement to me to tell me all about the animals they had learned about. Taking inspiration from these new discoveries, I then helped them make some clay sculptures to remember their time with us, encouraging them to choose their favourite creature and turn it into a sculpture to take home with them. They made beautiful butterflies and lizards that entirely outshone my clay tiger beetle- I think I need to work on my clay sculpting skills!