Last Sunday, June 16th, I hosted a wildlife event with the local Wildlife Watch Group. The aim of the event was to show people just how much wildlife was in the area, and to convince the local children that there's amazing flora and fauna right on their doorstep! We did it on a green area between The Groves and Santolina Way, an area officially called 'Summergroves Open Space' but we call the 'Breathing Space'. It was originally a brownfield site, but a few years ago it was turned into a sort of wildlife-friendly park. A small water area was created, with viewing platforms. Benches and litter bins were added, and meadows and trees planted.
However, in recent years, it has seriously lacked in management. Wildlife can be incredibly independent, but quite often it needs management. The ponds have become overgrown with reeds, with no open water. Also, quite recently, local people have started complaining that it is 'untidy', 'messy', and 'scruffy', and telling the Council to come and cut down meadows! It amazes me that people can think that wild flowers are untidy!
The event started at 2 pm, and we got a few more people than I had expected! We started out by showing them small mammal traps that I had set up, in which we had caught a pair of Wood Mice. These seemed to interest most of the people, except the ones that ran away screaming ;-)!
Looking at a Wood Mouse, while being recorded by Chloe Davies from the BBC.
The night before, I had set up several pitfall traps, and after releasing the Wood Mice, I led the group round to examine the contents of these traps. Most of the species we found I had expected to get, and these included: Ground Beetles, Ants, and Woodlice. However, in one pitfall trap there was a female Wolf Spider with an egg sack! I have never seen this particular species with an egg sack before, so this was great for me!
Next, we looked at various insects that Barry had brought us, including a Gold Spot Moth, Poplar Hawkmoth, and a huge Ground Beetle!
We were going to show people what lived in the water area, but due to recent weather, it was more of a mud bath than anything else. So instead, we showed them some creatures that we had collected from our own pond in a bucket. The species included: Water Hoglice, Leeches, Common Frog tadpoles, and Damselfly larvae!
Watching pond life!
I then gave everybody some tubs and sweep nets, and they went off to see what they could find! We discovered a beautiful Cucumber Spider, a few Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers, and loads of Kentish Snails!
Showing the group how to use a sweep net.
The event was supposed to finish at 3 pm, but we ran over by . . . well, just an hour!
I really enjoyed hosting the event, and it seemed that everybody had a great time! I think that most of the local children have gone away knowing more about the nature on their doorstep. I heard one girl saying, "It's amazing that there's all these bugs right under our feet, and we never knew they were there, Mum!", so I think the event made a big impression on her . . .
Barry made a tally of all the species that we discovered, and it turns out that we found a total of 104 species!
I am hoping to be able to host more events like this one, and if I do, I'll make sure that I write a post about them . . .
I would like to thank John and Ann Rayner, Emma, Vicky, Barry Warrington, and especially my Mum and Dad for helping me - without their help, the event would never have existed! Finally, I would like to make a huge thank you to everybody that attended the event!