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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Thursday, August 30, 2012



Fox 2
We get a lot of poo at FSC Preston Montford and here are some images of some of our recent animal offerings.

In early August we began to find some different droppings and so far we are having much debate about whether this is fruit filled fox faeces or the droppings of young badgers who haven't yet become toilet trained to adult badger standard. Any definite ideas about this would be gladly received
The image above shows what we are dealing with....

Adrian Pickles

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slime moulds

There are more things on heaven and earth etc etc and Slime Moulds are some of those things that many people don't know about. We only see the fruiting bodies of these organisms but don't see the mass of material inside the host. They occur for a few days and then disappear.

Bruce Ing formerly of the University of Chester ran a course on micro fungi in spring 2012 and hopefully will run another in 2014. His visit sparked my interest in slime moulds and I have been spotting some around the FSC Preston Montford estate this year.

Here are some photographs of slime moulds fruiting bodies developing and decaying at PM this year

Slime moulds often develop on decaying wood or trees and the one below grew on a pile of wood chippings produced when the willows around the Centre waste water treatment system was pollarded earlier in the year. It is a species called Fuligo septica and this is only the third time it has been recorded in Shropshire and will be added to our Wildlife Report for 2012

Fuligo septica is similar to a famous slime mould known for obvious reasons as Dog's Vomit Slime mould

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Leaf Hoppers in the field

Alan Stewart lead a course on Leaf Hoppers at FSC Preston Montford over the weekend of July 20-22. Course members  identified 23 species on the Preston Montford site and a further 06 species on a visit to Llanymynech Rocks. 10 of the species had not been identified at Preston Montford before so these will be a welcome addition to our Wildlife Report for 2012

Over 400 species of Leaf Hopper have been identified in the UK so we have 5% of these on site.

We intend to run a similar course next year so watch out for details on the FSC website or contact the Centre directly.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shropshire Wildlife Safari

Shropshire Wildlife Safari

3 families had great success last week as they went on Safari here to find the BIG 5 in Shropshire.

Tasked with spotting the Emperor Dragonfly, Poplar Hawk Moth, Yellow Neck Mouse, Badger and Peregrine Falcon over the week, the nature loving group aged 7 – 70ish, set forth and explored the meadows of Colemere, the Nature Reserve of the disused quarry of Llanymynech, the hedges, woods, meadows and ponds of Preston Montford and the whirling underwater currents of Cardingmill Valley stream. 

The eagle eyed safari group spotted 4 of the big five within the first day, with stunning views of the Emperor Dragonfly ranging his way over the Darwin pond, 2 yellow neck mice in our Longworth Traps and a Poplar Hawk Moth nestled in the moth trap, amongst a plethora of smaller moths. 

Then the safari bus took the group to Llanymynech Rocks where the Peregrine Falcon gave us a splendid display: screeching; posing on the edge of the cliffs and wheeling in flight over the quarry. 

 Three days to go and we had only a badger left to spot. Tantalisingly, the group found 2 scats within the grounds of Preston Montford. The Education team, delighted with this new discovery, set forth to find more evidence and filmed the scat site overnight. It was a long shot, operating without BBC Springwatch camera technology, and sadly, our lack of night vision cameras meant we couldn’t see a thing. 

The only thing left to do was to observe a nearby site with extensive freshly dug excavations. The group arrived before dusk, settled down and made a sterling effort to sit as still and silently as possible. The effort paid off. An hour later, 3 badgers came out and scuttled off on badger business. It was just a glimpse, but enough for us to silently cheer our BIG 5 well and truly spotted! 

Other safari highlights included:

Field voles found living in the tree nursery on the drive; pipistrelle bats heard chattering in Head Office; springtails discovered jumping in our pitfall traps; leeches squirming and suckering under the microscope; blackfly larvae dancing in the current at Cardingmill Stream; finding our inner dentist as teeth were extracted from skulls in barn owl pellets and hiding buff tip moths on birch trees. 

Sarah Anstis-Smith & Angela Munn