We’ve been overwhelmed by interest in two Nature Detectives days for schools we are holding at Kings Weston later this month. The two day event will be led by Steve England and we have been generously loaned the use of Kings Weston house as a mini-lab. We are delighted that a lot of the local schools were the first to come forward and book places for the event which is now over subscribed.
As part of our All our Stories project with the Heritage Lottery Fund we have organised a series of free natural history walks. This first of those, a Wild Food Forage with local naturalist Steve England was today. We trekked across the estate in search of all things edible and helped ourselves to a few titbits along the way. We even ATE some of the historic avenue of lime trees!
Steve was a great knowledgeable guide and everyone who came along was thoroughly engaged. Here is a gallery of a few photos recording the event.
After the frantic activity of organizing and having the Bioblitz, there’s been a short relaxtion in the proceedings whilst we all regroup a little bit.
By the end of June we should have the final species count and we can then start to pull all the information into a number of different forms so everyone visiting the park can understand a bit more about it.
So whilst we’re working towards that, we’ve been having a think about all the things we need to do for the next few months.
We’ve spoken to a lovely web developer who is going spruce up the website and help us make it the core of our online presence where people can see what’s going, how they can help and to get as much information about the park as we store here.
Other things we’re going to be doing include:
- Some nature guides and tree name tags (if possible) so that people can identify the plants and trees they see as they walk around.
- We’re going to identify some suitable native species that we like to plant in the park, and we’re planning to have a community bulb-planting day.
- We’re putting together an exhibition panels which will be designed by a local school
So…quite a lot to be going on with so don’t think that it’s all gone quiet here at KWAG-central. The busy bees are busier than ever.
Rain definitely did not stop play today. We were a little damp this morning but this seemed to encourage more invertebrates to brave the open air.
Eventually, the sun took over and we had a glorious afternoon.
We had walks…
…and some new young stars in front of the cameras
If you didn’t make it to the BioBlitz, why not try one of the “Bristol 99” events – there’s probably one near you in the next couple of weeks.
What a day! Kings Weston was teeming with enthusiastic students today as part of our schools day.
We had a variety of activities – such as bird ringing, pond-dipping, invertebrate hunts, looking for badger setts and investigating a wildflower meadow.
Everyone had a great time and by the time the students left we had identified at least 160 species of flora and fauna.
Big thanks to all school groups for really throwing themselves into the day.
This evening naturalists will be prowling around to see what else they can find – I can’t wait to find out the results of the bat and moth walks.
So today a merry band of us convened at Kings Weston House and spent tiring, but satisfying day, preparing for tomorrow’s event.
The picture above shows how one corner of the main room looked when we’d dumped all our stuff in it.
About seven hours later we were pretty much ready for our visitors.
Hard work, but a really satisfying day. Can’t wait for the main event.
We’ve been lucky enough to secure the services of Paul and Ian to undertake a bird ringing exercise to show the schools’ groups we have coming to the Friday session of the BioBlitz.
It’s such a big site, with so much varied habitat that Paul asked if he could come to the estate, have a bit of a wander around and find a good spot for the ringing session.
The ideal location, Paul told me, is somewhere with relatively low vegetation (like hedges) so that when they put up the catching nets, the birds are more likely to fly into them, rather than over them.
I was a bit worried about these nets – they’re made of black fibres so the birds can’t see them but Paul reassured me they’re soft and they don’t harm the birds at all. Also, Paul will put them up a little off the beaten track and we’ll make sure there some volunteer marshals around so people walking in the estate don’t accidentally walk into them.
After about 20 minutes walking, we found what might well be the ideal spot. It’s an area of shrubby and wild growth just off the downland area on Kings Weston Hill. It’s sheltered, and quiet but it’s close to an area where Paul and Ian can do the ringing demonstration without having to take the spectators too near the nets.
The birds caught will be identified, measured and their general state of health noted and the data will be added to a bird ringing database as well as our BioBlitz database. The ringing data is very important in helping naturalists identify the state of bird populations, where birds travel and how long they live. All of these things can help us protect species.
Whilst we were walking we heard chiff-chaffs, wrens, robins and plenty of great tits and blue tits. Paul was also convinced he’d heard something a bit rarer and was hoping to hear it again.
Roll on 3rd May!
Good news today!
We have got our permission from Bristol City Council to hold our event on the Estate.
That’s a very big step for us and we’re all delighted.
It’s really important to us that we run a high-quality event that people can enjoy safely. As the BioBlitz is taking place on land owned by Bristol City Council, we have to make sure they’re happy with our plans.
As a result, we have long application form to fill out and lots of things to think about – from toilet provision, to catering, to health and safety and first aid, we have to make sure we cover everything.
The great thing about the Council’s website is the event-planning toolkit that makes sure we have guidance for just about everything we need.
The form looks quite intimidating but, working through it methodically, it leads you through all the things you need to think about to make sure the event is well organized and safe to attend.
Even better, a member of the “Events Licensing” team made time for me today to chat through my half-completed form, point out where we needed to do a bit more work and gave me some guidance about first aid and things like that. Excellent service indeed.
We’ve got some more work to do, but I’m feeling a lot more confident about this key piece of work now.
So, these last few days and weeks have involved a lot of work on our budget. We have a finite amount of grant funding available from our award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, All Our Stories programme and we need to use it wisely.
We’ve been immensely lucky because the owner of Kings Weston House, Norman, has very generously offered us the use of some rooms in the house to be our base camp. This means we’ll have somewhere safe and weatherproof to keep ourselves and our equipment during the BioBlitz. The role of volunteers and kind people like Norman is central to all our work in the park and has been especially welcome for the BioBlitz.
We’re working with BNHC and they have some money available to contribute towards the event but there’s still a lot of juggling to do.
Here are just some of the costs that KWAG and BNHC are covering
- An accessible toilet so that anyone who has mobility difficulties has a loo to use without difficulty
- Catering for the volunteers to thank them for the time they’re so generous with
- Printing of signs, data sheets for information gathering and a booklet with information about the site and the house
- License to Bristol City Council in order to use the estate for our event
- First aid cover
- Some of the project management time
In addition we’re also getting help from University of the West of England to have a staffed and equipped field lab on site; from Wildscreen to help us document the event in film and pictures and other people and organizations too…