Saturday, 23 October 2010

Wildlife Watch group visit the meadow

The Isle of Wight and Hampshire Wildlife Trust are responsible for the conservation of much of the Wildlife found in the South East. Therefore raising awareness of conservation issues and educating the public is essential in order for the Wildlife Trust to continue their valuable work.

Kathy Grogan, Education Officer for the Island’s Wildlife Trust has introduced a fun and interactive ‘Wildlife Watch Group’ for youngsters and their parents to explore some of natures hidden wonders on the Island.

As recent investors to the Wildlife Trust, Seaview Wildlife offered to host a Watch Group at no better location than in the ‘Meadow’ located on the grounds of the park. Education Officer, Tara, also joined Kathy and her keen Wildlife enthusiasts to explore just some of Wildlife that exists in this hidden wildlife haven.

Well the exploration began with a good start, spotting a Red Squirrel collecting acorns before we even stepped foot on the meadow, unfortunately he was a little too quick to capture a photo!


However I did manage to capture this Red Admiral, very well spotted by one of our young watch members, camouflaged against the autumn leaves.

In order to spot some of the more elusive creatures that may inhabit the meadow, Kathy and a colleague placed 10 humane mammal traps the evening before in various locations of the meadow, as we all know some creatures prefer to come out at night…


The traps are filled with straw and food to entice the little critters in. Although it looked like our Red Squirrel got there first and cunningly ate the food, luckily without getting caught itself! However we had better luck the next time and as Kathy carefully emptied the contents of the trap into a clear bag out popped a Wood Mouse….



And this wasn’t he only one, we found two more of these little fury creatures in two more locations of the meadow. After everyone had had a closer look, he was carefully released.


The last trap was placed on the banks of the salty lagoon located at the lower end of the meadow and this time it wasn’t a Wood Mouse that had found a cosy bed for the night , but a Bank Vole!


Now that all the traps had been checked it was time to try a different method for Wildlife spotting….tree bashing! This is a very simple method great for discovering all those creepy crawlies that may live in the trees in your garden, all you need is a white sheet!

Whilst Kathy shook the branches of the Oak tree, our Tyler and Martha used a white net to capture anything that fell….

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Just from one tree we identified lots of interesting creepy crawlies, including a Garden Spider, Hover fly, Seven Spotted Lady bird, a Shielded Bug and even a Millipede!

Another survey method commonly used is net sweeping. Just as the name suggests, Tyler ‘sweeps’ the net over the tall grass of the meadow. Lots more insects were discovered including beetles, spiders and a small caterpillar!

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Due to the time of year however, the vegetation dies down and is not so attractive to insects such as Crickets, which would most certainly be abundant here in the summer when the grass is tall and the Daisies are blooming…

A little birdy also told me that Grass Snakes have also been spotted here in the past, although I didn’t tell Tyler, Martha and Kieran that!!!


So now that we had collected and identified lots of different wildlife species it was time to release them back to where they belong! The methods used today to survey the wildlife in the meadow couldn’t be easier and you really don’t need lots of equipment ….

So why don’t you give it a try and see what you can find in your own back garden, you may be surprised! Alternatively if you would like to get involved with the ‘Watch Group’ then please visit the Isle of Wight and Hampshire Wildlife Trust website .

Until then we look forward to surveying the meadow in all it’s glory next spring to see what other mysterious creatures we can find!

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