Wildlife Trust events in Northamptonshire

Wildlife Trust events in Northamptonshire - Wildlife and photography articles
You just can’t beat getting outside to experience what the natural world has to offer. And if you’re not sure where to go, or what to look for, the Wildlife Trust is planning a series of introductory workshops starting in early March. Dan Waters, a local wildlife photographer, finds out more...

The more you understand something the more you enjoy and appreciate it. Whether it’s photography, cricket or astrophysics; the more you learn, the more fascinated you will become. Wildlife is no different and even in our local neighbourhood and even at this time of year there are some fantastic spectacles to be seen. With a little knowledge these experiences really come alive.

Throughout the spring the Wildlife Trust is organising a whole series of ‘Beginning with Wildlife’ events, starting with ‘Beginning with Northamptonshire Wildlife’ on 7th March. The workshops are aimed at people who are new to a particular area, new to the Wildlife Trust, or people who just want to know more about their local wildlife. These workshops will include information about some of the top wildlife hotspots in a particular area, and in addition to presentations, will include a short, guided walk around a reserve.

To get you in the mood and give you a head start before the first workshop here are three of the finest locations in North Northamptonshire where you can spot the most impressive wildlife events this month.

This is one of the Wildlife Trust’s oldest nature reserves and it supports large numbers of wintering birds and the largest heron colony in the county. The reserve is a patchwork of lakes, ponds, woodland and grassland providing a great range of habitats and therefore a wide range of plants and animals. Around 50 pairs of herons begin nesting during February and there is plenty of posturing and squabbling as birds establish mates and bicker over the best nests. The sheer size and noise of the heronry is impressive and has even prompted young bird watchers to exclaim “pterodactyls!”

Otters, kingfishers, badgers and a wide selection of wildfowl and waders can all be spotted from a choice of hides. At this Time of year the most entertaining of all water birds must be the great crested grebe. February is when they perform their elaborate and bewildering courtship display. It includes a choreographed ritual called the ‘penguin dance‘ where the male and female rise out of the water facing each other, paddling furiously while shaking their heads and offering a symbolic beak full of pond weed. A truly odd but pleasing sight!

This handsome wood is part of Rockingham Forest that covers 200 square miles from Stamford down to Kettering. As you enter the Fineshade wood car park, just off the A43 near Duddington, a sign proudly announces “This is red kite country”. Red kites are elegant birds of prey and rather striking because of their chestnut red plumage with white spots under their wings and a forked tail. They gather in the
afternoons before roosting in large numbers, reminiscent of vultures soaring over the Serengeti.

There’s a wildlife hide that looks out over bird feeders and a small lake giving you great views of a constant stream of birds from woodpeckers, tits and siskins to the exotic crossbill, the parrot of the pine forest. Squirrels constantly poach food from the birds, even chasing off pheasants on occasion.

Perhaps the least known of all the reserves, just off the A1 between Wansford and Yarwell, is Old Sulehay Forest, part of another of the Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves. What this small forest lacks in size (it covers just 90 acres), it makes
up for in its diversity of wildlife. February is a fantastic time to go for a number of reasons. The dawn chorus is at its tumultuous best as amorous male birds are staking out their territories and singing their hearts out to impress potential mates.

February is also the mating season of the local badgers, heralding much quarrelling, snarling and purring. Plant enthusiasts can have their senses aroused by the smell of wild garlic coming into leaf and the sight of a white carpet of snowdrops starting to bloom.

Go out and see for yourself how captivating British wildlife can be, at any time of the year.

This article has outlined just a handful of the experiences you can enjoy; the Wildlife Trust can introduce you to many more. In the words of Sir David Attenborough, Vice President of the Wildlife Trusts, “The Wildlife Trusts play a very important part in our natural heritage. I would encourage anyone who cares about wildlife to join them.”

The upcoming events are as follows:
• Beginning with Northamptonshire Wildlife, Saturday March 7th, 10am – 4pm, Ring Haw Field Station, Old Sulehay Nature Reserve, Yarwell. Funded by Natural England.

• Beginning with Cambridgeshire Wildlife, Saturday 28 March, 10am – 4pm, Cambourne Manor, Great Cambourne.

• Beginning with Bedfordshire Wildlife, Sunday 05 April, 10am – 4pm, Nottingham Rooms, Ampthill.

• In addition to the ‘Beginning with Wildlife’ series there are also workshops on digital photography, wildflowers, insects, bats, birdsong and amphibians.

All courses are £15 and tend to sell out, so book your place now by contacting Juliette Butler, Wildlife Training Workshops Officer, Tel: 01604 405285 (Tue, Wed or Fri) or email: trainingworkhops@wildlifebcnp.org. The full programme can also be found on the Wildlife Trust website: www.wildlifebcnp.org
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