Thursday, 3 October 2013

Summer's end?

Family picnic
Today the weather is rapidly deteriorating with a rising wind and scattered showers. Further west they expect 2 inches to fall this afternoon. What a contrast with recent days when families could be seen having picnics outdoors.

On Sunday the Friends joined with Education Officer Debbie and her Wildlife Trust volunteers to run a spectacularly successful family event. This is the press release that was sent out afterwards.

"A day of family wildlife activities was enjoyed by 250 visitors to the “Wildlife – the Bigger Picture”  at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve on Sunday 29th September.  The event included an Activity Trail, fossil hunting, pond dipping, making mini-wildlife homes, playing the ‘Living Landscapes Game’, miniature gardens, composting, bird watching and a honey bee display.

The theme of the event was to encourage families to enjoy and experience wildlife and habitats in their own locality.

The event was jointly organised by the Friends of Paxton Pits and the Wildlife Trust BCN (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire), with support from Huntingdonshire District Council Countryside Services, which manages the nature reserve.

Most of the activities took place at the Wildlife Trust’s Environmental Education Centre on the Reserve.

Organisers Debbie and Kati.
The 1st St Neots Scout Group kept everyone supplied with sizzling food throughout the day.

Ray Matthews, Chairman of The Friends, said

“Once again our volunteers at Paxton Pits have produced an engaging and highly successful event for families.  Over 30 combined to give a super day out to so many parents, grandparents and their children.  This is just the way to stimulate the next generation’s interest in the natural world”.

Debbie McKenzie who runs the Environmental Education Centre for The Wildlife Trust BCN said

‘It was wonderful to see so many adults and children out in the sunshine. Everywhere you looked families were busy - making newt homes or miniature wildlife gardens, finding fossils, searching for minibeasts, or pulling amazing creatures from the depths of the ponds.’


On the same sunny day the MacAdam family held their annual gathering in Rory's Wood. Every year they come to kill off any regenerating turkey oaks and remove any old tree guards. This time the wood looked really healthy with plenty of dense understory and a mixed regeneration of trees. I photographed the family at work and quite a few species of fungi and a female stag beetle.

We had a problem getting into the wood and then in finding any turkey oaks to work on. We did take out several sycamores though. Next year we will renew some of the dead hedging around the wood.

On Monday's patrols we saw a lot of dragonflies and I found a jack snipe and two siskins at Barford Road. I started out in a jumper and ended the day in short sleeves.

Tuesday was the day of the teachers' strike and so may schools were closed. That was a lovely day too so our midweek volunteers got on with trimming paths and building new ones. They also took in some hay from near the moorings.

The lovely weather brought in a few migrant birds, but I guess all that will stop for a little while as weather from the Atlantic pounds the country and leaves turn yellow before our eyes. All the same, I think we have plenty to look forward to this month.