The Growing Confidence (GC) Project got off to a good start at FSC Preston Montford on Sunday 23 October when we spent the day working with experts seeing how much wildlife we could spot on the estate. We were lucky to have experts Ian Cheeseborough and John Handley with us to help us understand more about the plants, insects and habitats on the Preston Montford estate. Rich Burkmar joined us in the afternoon bringing his knowledge about Spiders and Harvestmen.
How much wildlife can you spot was our first event as part of the five year project that which aims to give young people the opportunity to discover more about wildlife and wild places and learn skills in their local environment. During the day a number of experts shared their knowledge with us helping us to understand - more about plants and habitats, the difference between social bees and solitary bees and how use a toothbrush to entice a Laceweaver – Amaurobius sp. out of its web.
The vibration of a battery operated toothbrush on the lacy lines of the web fools the spider and it dashes out to catch its prey.
Despite the distinctly autumnal weather we were surprised at how many invertebrates we found when ‘beating the bushes’. Looking under the amphibian mats we spotted two Smooth Newts Lissortriton vulgaris, and the Devils Coach Horse Beetle Ocypus olens which adopts a scorpion like pose. A sleepy Tree bumblebee Bombus hypnorum was found on the side of a log. We now know which grass has purple striped pyjama bottoms – Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus.
The day gave us all a chance to take time to stop and observe – making us aware how much wildlife surrounds us and just how much there is to discover and find out about.
FSC Preston Montford is working in partnership with the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Fordhall Community Land Initiative and the Plunkett Foundation. Here at FSC Preston Montford we will be running day and residential courses so that 15-24 year olds will be able to work with experts to learn more about the wildlife of Shropshire and develop specialist skills and knowledge.
Find out more about GC and our future evetns at www.field-studies-council.org/gc