Help count the critters in the wild

Net gains: Sweeping meadow grasses for bugs

Net gains: Sweeping meadow grasses for bugs

First published in Outdoors

Bug Safaris and Go Wild events will keep track of minibeasts and other wildlife in a fun way, writes BBOWT’s Wendy Tobitt

Getting hands on with nature in our backyards is the best way to discover why the natural world is so magical, and it’s so much fun!

Join a Bug Safari at Bure Park nature reserve in Bicester on September 13, at the bi-annual Oxfordshire Goes Wild event, and discover the mini-beasts and amazing creepy crawlies that live in the hedgerows and meadows.

Drop in to the BBOWT van and meet a gold spot or a canary- shouldered thorn, two of the 150 species of moths that we’ve found at Meadow Farm, BBOWT’s stunning new nature reserve near Bicester.

The Bug Safaris will be led Rachel Strachan, education officer at Meadow Farm, who is preparing for tree beating and meadow sweeping!

“We’ll gently knock some of the trees and shrubs to shake out the beetles and insects into a sheet so that we can examine them close-up under magnifying glasses. Sweeping nets across the tops of the grasses will reveal an amazing array of mini-beasts,” she says.

Rachel is looking forward to meeting people at Oxfordshire Goes Wild in Bicester and having a chat about how they can Go Wild at Meadow Farm next year. “The activities we’re running in Bure Park are a small taste of the wildlife discovery that people of all ages can get involved in when they visit the Meadow Farm reserve.

“Groups such as U3A, WI, art and photographic clubs will find exploring Meadow Farm captivates all the senses and inspires creativity.

“There are activities for youth groups, Nature Tots sessions for pre-schoolers, and hands-on programmes for primary age children linked to the new curriculum,” she says.

Oxfordshire Goes Wild is a bi-annual event run by Wild Oxfordshire in collaboration with local environmental and conservation groups.

Cynth Napper, community officer for Wild Oxfordshire said: “At Bure Park Primary School and nature reserve we’re bringing together a wide range of wildlife from across the county, including owls, snakes, newts and lizards, moths, crayfish, bats, snails and spiders, with their expert handlers to give children a close-up view of Oxfordshire wildlife.

“There’ll be bug and bird houses to make, seeds to sow, wildlife to draw, fossils to handle and owl pellets to dissect.

“Our thanks go to Cherwell District Council, the Ernest Cook Trust and Patsy Wood Trust for their support and funding for Oxfordshire Goes Wild.”

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