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Ealing Wildlife Group Photography Competition is open!

‘Incoming’ by Paul James

Mission:

An exhibition of photography to highlight the wonderful nature and wild spaces on our doorstep, celebrating the important relationships between people and local wildlife in Ealing.

‘A Perfect Camouflage’ by Malgorzata Sikora

Judging criteria:

We want to explore what nature and wildlife means to you. Everyone sees their surroundings through a different lens, so we want to celebrate diverse personal journeys and individual relationships with nature.

This is not purely a technical photography exhibition; equally if not more important is the portrayal of images that will engage the public with the natural world at a local level in Ealing.

We will judge each photograph impartially, without bias and keeping the mission of the exhibition in mind.

The judging panel consists of a panel of wildlife and/or photography enthusiasts, including members of Ealing Wildlife Group, Ealing Council Park Rangers as well as amateur and professional photographers.

‘Life is full of winners and losers’ by Nigel Bewley

Categories:

  1. Beautiful Ealing: celebrate the wonderful natural spaces and landscapes on our doorstep
  2. Fantastic Flora: showcase the beauty and importance of our plant life (fungi count here too!)
  3. Relationships with Nature: capture the meaning of nature and wildlife to you and tell us why it makes your heart sing
  4. Up Close and Personal: this can be taken literally if you’ve captured incredible detail, it can cover macro photography or you can interpret it as imaginatively as you wish
  5. Urban Wildlife: it’s incredible what creatures and life shows up in urban environment, so show us where the man made environment meets the wild
  6. Young Wildlife Explorers: this is the under 16s category and seeks to celebrate our young wildlife enthusiasts and engage other young people with nature. 
‘Onwards and upwards’ by Julian Oliver

Submission guidelines:

  1. All submissions must be your own work and by entering you declare you have the legal rights to that image.
  2.  Each entrant can submit up to three photographic images to be judged for competition
  3. Submission of entries does not guarantee inclusion in the exhibition.
  4. Entries will be eligible for a first, second and third award in 6 categories as well as placing in the overall winner category.
  5. You should specify which category you are entering; judges will appraise each entry using the categories as judging criteria, but may award your photo in another category if deemed fit.
  6. High res original jpeg files to be submitted online at https://ealingwildlifegroup.com/2020-photo-competition/  by 8pm on Wednesday 30th September 2020. 
  7. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be eligible. Late entries cause extra admin and will NOT be accepted.
  8.  Excessive manipulation of images is highly discouraged and will not be judged favourably. Moderate processing and cropping is allowed, but should not include removal or addition of objects. Excessive vignettes, artificial borders, extreme changes to colour, saturation, light, or contrast that could be viewed as rendering the image a dishonest representation will be marked down. 
  9. Photographs must have been taken within the Borough of Ealing within the last 5 years; exact location is to be included in the submission details.
  10. Please include your camera or phone details (e.g. ‘iPhone 10’ is fine, we have winners every year using phone cameras). List the settings if you wish so others who are interested in technical details can learn.
  11. No photos of staged wildlife shots, no captive animals, no dead creatures posed as if alive are allowed.
  12. Your description of the photo is just as important as the photo itself and is part of the judging criteria so please fill it in with more than just a name of species or subject and location. We want to hear the story of the photo and perhaps what it means to you. Failure to provide a good description which will be displayed with your entry may lose you significant points in judging.
  13. By submitting your photo to the competition you agree for EWG to share the image in promotional materials in future, with credit to you, the photographer.
  14. Winners will be announced at the opening of the exhibition in Walpole Park this Autumn and a list of winners will be posted online afterwards on Facebook and our website. We cannot guarantee all winners will be informed individually afterwards, and certainly not before the opening of the exhibition. 
  15. Political agendas are not factored into any part of the judging criteria. Photos win on their own merits. 
‘Being a bee’ by Daniel Hatch (age 10)

Imperial College land & Warren Farm ‘rewilding’. A plea to Councillors to vote no & start over.

Imperial College have come out with a statement today saying they have no plans for sports grounds on their land in the controversy surrounding Ealing Council’s ambitious plans for sports and ‘rewilding’ at Warren Farm. The truth is that Imperial College land entering the scheme is currently a trashed, horse grazed paddock next door to Warren Farm. The Council can only get away with calling this entire scheme ‘rewilding’ because they are going to allow this single paddocked area to rewild. It will take 10-15 years. Many species will be lost in that time. Meanwhile Warren Farm itself has been rewilding for well over a decade and is now an incredibly precious ecosystem as a result of that time for nature to recover. Destroying half of Warren Farm for soccer pitches nobody needs and cricket pitches that could be placed elsewhere is not acceptable in a climate and biodiversity crisis.

Imperial College are being used as pawns in this flagrant ‘up yours’ to the Council’s own Biodiversity Action Plan and as tokenistic mitigation. It’s like chopping up ancient woodland with 500 year old Oak trees and saying you’ll plant the same number of Oak saplings in their place. It’s simply not equivalent and makes no sense when we have alternative sites for sports available. Biodiversity value comes with scale, intactness and age. It’s also not a good look for an organisation like Imperial hoping to boost their green credentials so I would strongly advise their legal and PR team take a closer look at how this will impact their reputation.

Council leaders are quite incredibly pushing through a plan tonight which has been vocally opposed by the majority of respondents in their public consultation, over 15,000 respondents to the Warren Farm Nature Reserve petition, our 5,500 members of Ealing Wildlife Group and most worryingly they’ve shown they don’t have a clue about very basic ecological principles. Nor it seems will they listen to experts or evidence on the matter. It begs the question why they are stubbornly proceeding with a plan that virtually everyone but them objects to? Is there an ulterior motive? How is it acceptable to ignore and silence objection on this, and then brazenly state it’s democratic. It boggles the mind.

I’m all for social justice and new sports facilities for children and communities in need, but in appropriate locations that don’t destroy incredibly complex ecosystems and rare species. Ones that cannot exist elsewhere and cannot survive on the crumbs left behind when this Council barges its plans through effectively halving the space for Skylarks, Barn Owls, rare plants, Slow Worms, Bats and all the people that want to enjoy Warren Farm as it is. The fact is they won’t survive. A vital urban oasis needs protection. Chipping away bit by bit at these last refuges are why we are one of the most nature depleted countries in the world!

There is still a chance to halt these plans and start from scratch with a solution that favours sports for children as well as saving our last Skylarks and all the other species that rely on this land. I challenge Councillors voting tonight to vote no and let’s start discussions together from scratch, respectfully and collaboratively. Let’s bring children from Southall schools to Warren Farm together and teach them about the unique wildlife that lives there. And let’s ask them if they’d like cricket and football pitches to be installed there, or at one of the 7 other sites earmarked as suitable in the Council’s sports review last July. One of the seven sites that are wholly more suitable and won’t destroy the precious little urban nature we have left.

Our Council leaders say they have to find a compromise. This is the only acceptable compromise.

Dr Sean McCormack BSc (Hons), MVB, MRCVS

Founder & Chair, Ealing Wildlife Group

An EWG statement on the proposed future of Warren Farm

Following publication of plans (https://www.aroundealing.com/news/warren-farm-nature) to reinstate sports facilities at Warren Farm by Ealing Council leader Cllr Peter Mason which claims the compensation will be Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status for the remainder and a newly acquired field alongside, we wish to put out a response ASAP:

A tweet from the Council on the topic

“I’m very disappointed that our leaders are pushing on with plans to destroy half of one our most biodiverse habitats in the borough, home to many rare species and the only site in Ealing where Skylarks can breed, a red listed bird of highest conservation concern. Having contributed to Ealing’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which vows to protect and enhance habitat for this rare bird it’s shocking to hear that it’s apparently either Skylarks or sports facilities for children. This is disingenuous and misleading. We can have both. It’s also extremely concerning to see a real misuse of the term ‘rewilding’ when the plans involve the opposite, de-wilding. Warren Farm has already rewilded. It’s ecocide to undo that process.

Warren Farm is not the place for sports facilities. And Natural England will categorically not grant this plan for Local Nature Reserve status when it will cause local extinction of this precious Skylark population if it goes ahead. There are lots of sports grounds that children can use, and far more suitable sites to make new ones that won’t obliterate nature on such a concerning scale. There’s only one place in Ealing where we can show children Skylarks, an indicator species for a really rich and valuable ecosystem. I’m sure many children would agree to save this amazing natural asset we are lucky to have on our doorstep, and if they had a vote, would ask their Council leader Peter Mason to reconsider this ill thought out plan. It’s stubborn, ignoring the overwhelming consensus of the local community and undermining democracy at worst, and ecologically illiterate at best. 

The Council needs to listen to experts on this if their Climate and Ecological Emergency policy or Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) mean anything at all. Skylarks, Barn Owls, Slow Worms, rare plants and insects, Bats and many other threatened species rely on this whole vast site to thrive, not a damaged portion of it left after new sports facilities swallow it up and leave the remainder for wildlife to share and make do with alongside a more concentrated public using the site currently for exercise, recreation and enjoying nature. The remainder will be a poor replacement and wholly unsuitable for Skylarks who need the large scale meadows currently there to avoid predators, as they are vulnerable ground nesting birds. 

Skylark at Warren Farm by Nigel Bewley

I’m urgently meeting with Cllr Deirdre Costigan and head of parks Chris Bunting next week to discuss implementation of the BAP and how we have got to this stage with Warren Farm as well as wider targets to protect and improve Biodiversity across the whole borough. Ealing Wildlife Group has been very collaborative with the Council over the years to achieve these aims together so we are extremely concerned for our collaborative future with this announcement. I would urge all Councillors to seek expert advice before believing some of the PR spin here being touted as a victory for Warren Farm and its wildlife when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dr Sean McCormack BSc (Hons), MVB, MRCVS

Founder & Chair, Ealing Wildlife Group”

More information here: https://www.warrenfarmnaturereserve.co.uk/blog/ggbikuhfj677hdrecokz4xubtiawxy

Hedgehog survey update, it’s good news!

Our Ealing hedgehog team have been swiftly setting up and collecting another 30 trail cams across Ealing allotment sites.. beavering away reviewing photos of Ealing wildlife, harvesting data to submit to our friends at ZSL London Zoo All puns intended! First site has revealed an unexpected number of visits across the site from our prickliest mammal! 6 out of 10 cameras recorded visits, nightly or much more frequently. Thanks to all EWG members for help with this phase but esp Jane Fernley Jane Hodgkin (and of course Sean McCormack, as ever!)

Focus Stacking Macro Photography

First, let me say how knocked-out and delighted I am to have my photograph of the sporangia (a posh word for fruiting bodies) of a slime mould take first place in the Up Close and Personal category of Ealing Wildlife Group’s photography 2022 competition. I’ve had a few emails/messages asking me how I achieved the photograph and I was asked about the process in person at the exhibition opening in Walpole Park, too.

Slime moulds are fascinating organisms. Their life-cycle includes a free-living single-celled stage, almost like an amoeba or a bacterium. When food is in short supply these single-celled organisms will congregate and start moving and behaving as a single body. They can detect food sources and can ‘shape shift’ and readily change the shape and function of the parts of their aggregation and can form stalks that support fruiting bodies – sporangia – that produce spores. The sporangia are usually very small, and can take some finding. I have a ‘slime mould farm’ in the garden that consists of a small pile of twigs and logs that I keep damp and in the shade, but even then ‘photogenic’ fruiting bodes seldom occur. I think this is because the single-celled organisms have plenty of food – microorganisms that live in dead and decaying plant matter so have not been triggered into aggregating. Slime moulds are not considered fungi by the way, but are classified within the group Protista.

Here comes the geeky stuff:

The sporangia in my photograph are very small and are around 1mm high, growing on a piece of decaying wood in my ‘slime mould farm’. After I found the slime mould I set up the equipment to photograph it. In order to achieve the magnification presented in the exhibition’s printed image (around 400 times life size) some specialist macro kit was required. I used a full-frame Canon R5 camera (that produces a high resolution file that can be readily enlarged) and a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens. Most macro lenses can achieve a magnification of x1 but the specialist lens I used can provide magnification of up to x5. It’s an entirely manual lens and can be very tricky to use. At x5 magnification with such a small subject the depth of focus is wafer thin, especially as I wanted to use a near wide open aperture of f/4. It’s true that I could have stopped down the lens to f/16 to increase the depth of focus to a useful amount but this would have required a long exposure time of several seconds and, more importantly, would have softened the image because of diffraction. Instead, I used a technique known as focus stacking.

In focus stacking the image is not reliant on a band of acceptable sharpness either side of the actual point of focus in a single photograph. Instead there are many individual points of focus through the depth of the subject resulting in critical sharpness throughout. A series of identical images are taken, each with a slightly different point of focus throughout the depth of the subject. The resulting images each include a ‘slice’ of sharp detail and a fair amount of unsharp, out of focus information. Software is then used to ‘stack’ all these slices of sharp detail into a single image of exceptional clarity and detail. I use Helicon Focus to achieve this. The software essentially looks for, and keeps, the sharp detail and throws away the unsharp, out of focus bits. The sharp detail is combined to form a single coherent image.

How are several identical images (apart from different points of focus) taken? The camera and lens was mounted on a Cognisys Stackshot automated macro rail and this was mounted on a rock-steady tripod. The macro rail is controlled by a small, basic micro computer that moves the camera and lens forward by a small amount during the photograph-taking process. This amount, the focus step distance, is critical to the process to guarantee a series of overlapping bands of sharpness throughout the depth of the subject. This step distance is calculated from a combination of sensor size, aperture and magnification. Look-up tables are available to avoid the maths!

Once the subject has been composed, framed (it was lit with two small LED panels) and exposure determined, the macro rail was set to the start point, via the controller. This is the focus point just before the nearest part of the subject. The end point is then set, also via the controller, to focus just beyond the furthest part of the subject. The focus step distance from the look-up table is entered into the controller and the ‘go’ button is pressed. The process starts with the controller sending the macro rail to the predetermined start point, firing the shutter and moving the camera the required focus step distance through to the end point. In this case the focus steps were 56 microns and there were around 60 separate photographs. This means a total travel of the camera and lens of around 3 millimetres.

I realise it all sounds very complicated and specialised. It took me a while to get to grips with the process but I think the results can be worthwhile. I like the slow, painstaking process that reveals subjects that are barely visible to the naked eye.

If you have read this far you are probably interested in this geeky stuff and in macro photography. If you would like a macro photography workshop/tutorial drop me a message. It will be 1:1 or 1:2 and not one of my usual much larger group sessions.

Ealing’s Hedgehog Highways project launch. Can you help?

Blog post by Natasha Gavin, EWG Hedgehog project lead

When I was growing up in Ealing, it was a rare treat to see a hedgehog. In fact I only saw one once, when I was 12 yrs old, in South Ealing. I tried to pick it up, and that REALLY hurt. I learnt a life lesson: let wildlife be wild. No iPhones back then. Just a vivid memory remained 😉

Fast forward 30 odd years, it’s even rarer to see a hedgehog in Ealing. Or anywhere. Numbers have declined roughly by 2/3 since my first and only sighting of a live hedgehog. But trail cameras now mean I know they exist, in smaller numbers, but in urban safe havens- I have watched dozens of prickly mummies feeding their baby hoglets, in compost heaps, piles of leaves and back gardens all around our borough. As nocturnal creatures, you are unlikely to spot them coming out to feed, but affordable clever technology means we can capture their movements. And then we can help them to thrive.. or at least survive.

What does EWG have planned in our hedgehog project? 

Hanwell Hedgehog by James Morton

ZSL (Zoological Society of London) have been surveying hedgehogs across London for 5 years as part of their London Hogwatch project. We have commissioned them (using grants secured by our one lady fundraising team, thank you Sandra!) to help us survey populations in three hog hotspots across Ealing: Pitshanger Park, Brent Lodge Park (aka the Bunny Park) and Elthorne Park and Extension. ZSL will install about 30 cameras in those parks next week (as hedgehogs venture out to eat as much as possible before hibernating) and review all footage for us after a two week period. We will feed back to EWG members via informative online talks during this project- so watch this space.

We’d like to thank our friends at the Charity of William Hobbayne for getting in touch with us proactively to ask if there were upcoming conservation projects they could help support us on in Hanwell, and The Freshwater Foundation for awarding us further funds to get the local community across the whole Borough of Ealing involved in helping hedgehogs and connecting our green spaces and gardens to allow wildlife like hedgehogs to get around the borough and continue to thrive.  

EWG is also partnering with ZSL to deliver a citizen science project- that’s where you can help. 

How can you as an EWG member be involved in helping hedgehogs?

Phase 1

  1. ZSL will lend us a number of extra cameras, for private residents to use in back gardens adjacent/ in close proximity to the Parks above. Cameras would be loaned for a two week period and EWG members would be asked to review all footage at the end of the period. (The cameras only record for very short bursts when triggered by motion at night so this would not be too onerous.) Get in touch ASAP with me if you are interested in hosting a camera natashagavineo@gmail.com 
  2. We are looking for a Hedgehog champion in each of the three areas. This will involve coordinating and monitoring where private cameras are at any time, and ensuring their safe return to ZSL (via me) at the end of the project. It could also involve helping with phase 2 of this project. 
  3. Report any hedgehog sightings (recent or historic) to Greenspace Information for Greater London here: https://www.gigl.org.uk/submit-records/submit-a-record/ 
  4. Talk to your neighbours now about how to help hedgehogs: create holes in fences between gardens, leave wild corners, provide fresh water, leave out cat food in Spring/Summer months, ensure ponds have escape ramps and stop using horrid pesticides like blue slug pellets.
Tash Gavin, Hedgehog project lead with her very own hedgehog highway

Phase 2

  1. Once we have a better picture (no pun intended) of where the hedgehog highways are (or should be), our dedicated team of hole makers will offer to create CD sized holes in fences, where permission by fence/ wall owner is given. The grants from Freshwater Foundation and The Hobbayne Trust will be used to purchase all necessary equipment- all we need are DIY lovers. So please come out of the woodwork..:)
  2. We will be doing some hedgehog focused habitat management and creation task days for volunteers who want to get involved in a hands-on way. With some of the funding kindly provided by The Hobbayne Trust we will be initially focusing on making the Hobbayne Half Acre site near Hanwell Viaduct a model reserve for hedgehogs to thrive. All ages and abilities welcome to come help. Volunteer dates to follow. If you’d like to keep up to date then please sign up to our volunteer mailing list here: https://ealingwildlifegroup.com/get-involved/volunteering/
  3. We will be running a public information campaign in Spring/Summer 2023- if you want to help with that do let me know. It will involve outreach work, and probably talking to families and children- every child should be able to see at least one living hedgehog during their childhood, shouldn’t they? I have seen three dead ones in the last year. 

Please help us to change that. Any Hedgehog Heros please contact me natashagavineo@gmail.com

A PDF of our Hedgehog Slide Deck

How to build a low cost moth trap

By Kish Woolmore

How to make a cheap low-cost Moth Trap:

Generally retail price for readymade moth traps relatively expensive, starting around £150 with good ones being several hundred pounds. Most commercial ones relying on mains power or heavy batteries and not always easy to transport to sites.

Being inspired by a Trap which Katie Boyles from Warren Farm Nature reserve is trying out I decided must be easy enough to make from readily available items with only a limited amount of construction required.

Most of the parts required can easily be purchased from online suppliés like Amazon or Ebay and in some cases may even be sourced from local skips or back of the shed….. Using LED lighting means the unit isn’t as bright and intrusive as the commercial units and thus makes them more suitable for use in urban gardens without causing a disturbance to the neighbours.

What is required a container to trap the moths in and a suitable light source and power supply.

For the container I used a 30litre bucket with lid (I am also going to try a smaller bucket that fat balls come in), for entry into the container I used 20cm dia funnel with the end cut off giving a 60mm hole. Then cut a hole in the bucket lid to fit the funnel snuggly (probably needs a bit of skill to get it good fit and may be easier with specialist compass cutter tool).

For the Light I got a UV LED Strip, these come in various lengths and take some searching especially if you don’t want to wait for delivery from China (where most seem to come from). This is fixed in a spiral around a piece of 32mm Dia plastic pipe. They normally come adhesive tape. You can get 12V or 5V versions, with 5v they usually come with USB plug on the end suitable for directly connecting to mobile phone power pack. The 12 volt version you will need an adapter cable (easy to get online) to step USB voltage up from 5V to 12V. The light unit has to be suspended over the Funnel, there are various different ways this could be achieved but the simplest require least amount of messing around was to get a plumbing fitting (Bulkhead connector) size to match the pipe used and fit this to the frame of a lampshade. It can then stand freely over the top of the funnel, the lamp shade used should be large enough. If you can’t find an old lampshade there are online suppliers that you can get lampshade making frame kit (some even sell just the lamp holder frame).

I already had USB Phone power pack so just needed to put the parts together and plug in. The total cost using new components (excluding the power pack) was around £35.

Note the LED strips are available with silicon covering to make the splash/water proof… But online articles suggest the silicon deteriorates and they aren’t as effective as the non waterproofed versions.

I used a 5v LED strip which I think isn’t as bright as the 12V ones Katie had, so I intend to try a 12V one later and compare for effectiveness.

Unlike many commercially available traps this one doesn’t have any light baffles (not sure if these affect the performance or just to assist in mounting the light), these would need to be custom made from plastic, so something to try at a later date depending on success I get without them.

Another possible consideration is some form of shield to protect from rain. The ones Katie is trying out have Light Switch so they automatically turn off when it gets light, but I considered this wouldn’t be necessary for where and when I am likely to use mine.

Success! The Peregrines have fledged!

It’s been two years in the making but at long last, the Ealing Hospital Peregrines have successfully fledged 3 chicks! Two females and one male as far as we can tell., and all are strong and healthy and flying around the hospital!

How it started/ How it’s going. Photos by Sean McCormack (L) and David Gordon Davy (R)

There is a photo gallery that tells their story here

And to read more about this incredible journey, take a look at this guest blog Sean wrote for Animal Journal!


We will keep you updated on our peregrine family, we can track the chicks as they are all ringed. I wonder where they will end up?

A Nature Walk around Warren Farm

I first heard of Warren Farm from the many diverse posts shared on the EWG Facebook page, seeing numerous photos of red kites, kestrels and skylarks soaring high above the 61-acre space, little owls looking out from the tree hollows of oak and a rainbow of insects and spiders.

Photo by Chantal Anita

I have only visited once before and with Spring fully upon us, a second visit was well overdue.

Over the last few years, my bird identification skills have improved, but other than bees and wasps, it is rare for me to catch a glimpse of invertebrates, let alone try to identify them.

As such, my mission was to spend more time in nature to improve my knowledge, focusing in on birds and insects. Yet, with an estimated 27,000 insects across the UK, I realised that I needed to go with people who could help me identify what I saw.

Julian, a member of EWG, an amateur entomologist and amazing macro photographer, who regularly frequents this space, had kindly offered to let me accompany him on one of his solo photography walks. Unbeknownst to him, I ended up hijacking his kind offer and using it as an opportunity to have other people come along.

Photo by Chantal Anita

The walk was to start at 10 am outside the Fox Pub in Hanwell. A popular meeting point for the Ealing Wildlife Group.

A group of 9 of us, plus Max the very well-behaved dog, headed in via the Green Lane entrance, crossing the River Brent on our way. Upon our arrival, Katie, Trustee of the Brent River & Canal Society running the campaign seeking Local Nature Reserve designation to save Warren Farm from development and frequent visitor, had arranged for some members of a local nature group to attend. Quickly our group of 9 turned into closer to 20.

The precious acid and neutral grassland meadow habitat, perfect for native wildflowers and grasses, creates a rich and diverse environment for a multitude of insects and spiders. As with any species-rich ecosystem, invertebrates are key in making it perfect for the mammals and birds which feed on them.

‘The world is full of magic things, waiting for your sense to grow sharper.’

W. B. Yeats

‘So, where do we start?’ someone asked.

Julian knelt down over some foliage and said ‘Getting low is the best way to see things.

Realising that getting low opens up a whole new world of discovery! Photo by Chantal Anita

I leant over the nettles and brambles and stopped to focus in on a few leaves for no more than a few seconds. I spotted the rich red ladybird and then immediately, I saw another, then another. It was as though the first one gave me the key to sight. I looked at them with the same wonder a small child sees the world.

My eyes moved slowly over the leaves in front of me. Within the space of a few meters, crickets and grasshoppers clustered next to one another, more ladybirds including a yellow 14 spotted, caterpillar webbing, flower beetles, wasps, butterflies, bees and spiders. 

Those knowledgeable among us happily helped to identify what we saw. At times, the owners of well-thumbed ID books were keen to show us what we were seeing. I found there to be something very special about a group of strangers coming together to both share their knowledge and learn from each other all whilst having fun. 

Learning as we go. Photo by Chantal Anita

I saw for myself the kestrel and red kites hunting high up in the sky. The numerous binoculars were shared around to help us get better views of the screaming parties of swifts and linnets, passing overhead like bullets. 

I watched nesting pairs of skylarks rise into the sky, singing as they went, before hurtling back down, disappearing into the knee-high vegetation of the field. 

The little owl was spotted in the oak, however, I missed out on a glimpse.

We spent the next 3 hours walking around this important habitat, witnessing this space which had been allowed to succumb to nature and create a much valued and needed ecosystem.

During a short break, Katie used it as yet another learning opportunity to show us feathers she had collected and test our knowledge.

Up close and personal Photo by Chantal Anita

I have no doubt I will be back, hopefully next time with even more people to show this vast and diverse space to.  I look forward to the summer months, when the grasses will be higher, bringing even more life – given we never stop learning, I hope that next time, I will be more attuned to spotting and identifying more of what I see.

There is currently a campaign to turn this space into a designated nature reserve and I can see why – it really is a treasure so make sure it’s your next destination.

I am grateful to those who helped bring such knowledge to our day:

https://www.warrenfarmnaturereserve.co.uk/

Sign the Petition

@julian_with_a_camera

@warrenfarmnr

@wanderfulldn

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