Wild things

Round & About


On Saturday, 14th July, enjoy an afternoon of wildlife discovery, writes Peter Anderson

Big cats? Perhaps not. But experts and enthusiasts will be on hand with a variety of bats, bugs, bees, butterflies, moths, reptiles and small mammals; animals you’d only normally see on television.

Head to a free Wildlife Discovery Day, 2-4.30pm, organised by the conservation group and Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), at Letcombe Valley Nature Reserve OX12 9JU.

The event is suitable for all ages, (under-18s must be accompanied by a responsible adult). There will also be den building, nature craft and mud kitchens along with a chance to make a bird box or even your own fossil.

Letcombe Valley is a rare habitat; the brook is one of Oxfordshire two chalk streams (there are about 150 across the country). The clear waters are home to unusual, interesting wildlife including water vole and fish such as brown trout and brook lamprey.

The nature reserve has a café and gift shop, from which you can take self-guided tours of the reserve and discover what to find where. This is your chance to watch kingfishers hunt across the valley, flashing blue as their piercing call echoes all around. Then, silent and still like statues at the streamside, herons and egrets wait for their own tasty treats. Return at dusk and the kingfishers are replaced by Daubenton’s bat skimming the water, gorging on the insects found in the surrounding lakes.

Any donations enable BBOWT to not only put on magnificent events like this, but also to aid their work as custodians of cherished parts of our countryside so generations to come will still be able to enjoy it. For further information on this event and others, visit www.bbowt.org.uk

Great expectations

Round & About


Youngsters – of all ages, from tots to teens – can enjoy a taste of wildlife and the countryside thanks to volunteers helping with events in Windsor Great Park, writes Peter Anderson

There are lots of super-natural events in Windsor Great Park’s educational centre.

Windsor Great Park Environmental Centre is an exciting five-year partnership project between the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and The Crown Estate. From the Nature Tots to the Young and Teen Ranger meetings, there are monthly sessions where children can get real hands-on experience of life in the countryside, and the flora and fauna you can find here, with guidance from skilled supervisors.

Nature Tots is a parent-and-toddler group with a difference. You can head along with your pre-school little one and introduce them to the great outdoors. The 90-minute sessions spend about the first 15 minutes outside before coming indoors and there are a wide-range of activities to spark their curiosity and have fun in natural surroundings. Each session will include seasonal nature discovery, games, crafts and lots of fun! Story-time and drinks also included. Children must be accompanied by a supervising adult, and younger brothers and sisters are welcome.

Young Rangers is a monthly wildlife group which meets in the early evening for children aged between eight and 12. Here they can become nature detectives and find all about the birds, bats, deer, mini-beasts and more, which live in the park and forest. Activities include pond-dipping, bug hunts, animal tracking, shelter building and bushcraft. Drinks will also be provided during the sessions, and they will require a signed consent form from an adult. There are two sessions per month, but the second one is a repeat to allow for any children who cannot make the first session.

Teen Rangers is a monthly group of budding naturalists aged between 12 and 16 who meet in the early evening. Here you can spend time in the forest discovering who and what lives there, but it may not be them you spot first! You may need to use your tracking skills, but you will have skilled volunteers and trainers from BBOWT to help you with that, as well as shelter-building and bushcraft, as you learn all about the flora and fauna in this marvellous location.

For further information on dates, times and suggested donations, please visit www.bbowt.org.uk. The website also has information on other events organised by the trust and how you can donate to help the valuable work BBOWT does to protect and preserve natural surroundings around the three counties.