Wildlife Activity Event - Saturday 25th September
Despite a slightly quieter footfall along the Flower Garden footpath on a dry and mild afternoon, we had plenty of activities to keep our visitors busy with all that was on offer.
A Hibernacula was on display (in the form of a lidded cardboard box). As the children carefully opened up the box, various spiders and ladybirds could be found seeking warmth and shelter amongst the nooks and crannies, huddling together, preparing for hibernation during our forthcoming winter months, or if not fully hibernating, in a state of torpor. The box had been filled with lots of fallen leaves, bark, twigs, conkers, fir cones, dried grasses, etc and hidden amongst this, were many (toy) insects – beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds, spiders galore, ants, a large mouse, a frog and even a hedgehog, plus some dragonflies – all there for the children to understand that these species like to keep warm and dry over the winter months, or within their various habitats in order to try and survive. The children were told that only three actual mammals like to fully hibernate: hedgehogs, dormice and bats.
Some bats are still flying around in the evenings and many children associate Halloween with bats, so we just had to take advantage at this time of year to making some bat hats. Strips of coloured card had been cut out for the children to decorate, bats had been crafted from recycled milk cartons and painted black with various eye colours and were attached accordingly – much to the children’s delight. And there were some beautifully designed bat masks also created to accompany their hats. We also displayed a variety of healthy alternative bird feed, with suet pellets, mixed seeds, sunflower hearts and seeds, peanuts and mealy worms – encouraging everyone to feed this type of food, rather than under-nourishing bread. The ever-popular chance to plant a small crocus, allium or snowdrop bulb was available, using the park’s peat free compost in sustainable pots.
The deer antlers were again on display, attracting much attention. The texture comparing a mature antler to a velvet antler, is so different. Whilst we were clearing everything away after the event, all the volunteers were treated to a spectacular sighting. We all just happened to be inside the actual Wildlife Centre building – which is very long and narrow. There is a window over-looking into the top end of the deer park and all the Red Deer Hinds (females) walked round the corner - followed by “Henry” – the big Red Deer Stag. (He has to be called Henry doesn’t he, with all his wives …!) We all know the rutting season is pretty much upon us at the moment and he was definitely making it known, he was the one and only important Henry around here. He couldn’t see us – 6’ away, inside the one-way window, and he walked right up to the water trough, had a drink, came around to our side, pawed at the muddy puddle and promptly sat down in this. Henry clearly wanted to look his best covered in wet mud!
We are sad to report that our Wildlife Activities are now finished for 2021. All the volunteers have much enjoyed helping out and sharing and watching all the children’s delight at what we have on offer. It is a very rewarding monthly event – from our point of view – and if any new volunteers would like to help next year, we are always looking for new help, with new ideas. This year’s visitors have all been so grateful, pleasant and polite, and watching the young children taking an interest and sharing their knowledge has been great fun. We have learnt from them too! Some of these children are just so talented with their interests and enthusiasm, ability at retaining facts, speaking so many languages and sharing their world-wide wildlife knowledge. We so hope to meet them all again next year and look forward to welcoming new faces too. Please keep an eye on The Friends’ website next Spring, when we will be posting our next Wildlife Activity dates – Covid allowing. A big thank you to all our visitors as well as of course, all the Volunteers – without whom, none of this could happen.