Sunday, 25 November 2012

Spare time?

In my "spare time" I volunteer with my local wildlife explorer group ( my wife Lisa volunteers too and both of the kids take part - it's a real family affair). Wildlife explorers are junior members of the RSPB and one or twice a month we get together for a few hours after school in our local library or we meet at a local nature reserve or public park to learn together about wildlife and wildlife conservation. We play games, carry out fundraising activities, collect data for schemes like the RSPB big garden survey and sometimes we carry out practical conservation work.

This weekend we got together on a foggy and frosty morning at Tophill Low Nature Reserve to help our friend Richard the warden to make a Grass Snake Refuge. Grass snakes are really common on the reserve and we often see them basking on the piles of twigs and straw that Richard provides for them. So to make ours we had to cut fresh willow twigs and trim them to size to make a base for the pile. And then heap straw onto it. It took the whole morning and it was great fun - as the selection of pictures at the end of the post clearly show!

It was also a valuable learning experience. Richard taught us something about grass snake ecology and we learned about practical habitat management. We talked about working safely and learned how to use tools properly. We learned a lot from one another about team work and about communication skills, and we learned that it's ok to have fun while you work! And I say we because I do mean we. The children learned a lot, but we learned with them.

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