As part of our Ecotherapy programme, the Discover Nature group offers a safe and nurturing environment in which you can learn more about the natural world from Phil Taylor of Green Underwing Wildlife Education. Sessions are seasonally themed and each one provides the opportunity to participate in wildlife-based activities, including nature walks, animal surveys, and wildlife identification workshops. Each session is designed to be self-contained, so if you are joining us partway through our run, don’t worry, no catch-up will be required!
A typical session starts with the group gathering in the hall at St Nicks (with a hot drink and biscuits!) and catching up with the wildlife we have seen since the last session. We also pass around our ‘Find of the Week’ folder, highlighting an exceptional sighting from the previous session. We’ve spotted amazing wildlife at St Nicks including acrobatic squirrels, a flock of punk-like waxwing, and giant bumblebee queens. There might also be a screening of a wildlife-related video that fits in with our particular theme of the week.
We then head out onto the reserve, regardless of the weather, for a themed nature walk and activity. So far we have run a huge variety of sessions, including a tree identification walk, meeting weird creatures that live in the St Nicks pond, and building a hedgehog home to encourage these charismatic mammals onto the reserve.
After our walk, we head back to the centre for another hot drink (plus more biscuits!) and a quick recap of what we’ve seen. We will often set a miniature challenge to be completed by the following week, such as counting how many different types of bird you see, noticing signs of spring, or finding out the favourite nature reserve of a friend or family member.
For more recent pictures from Discover Nature sessions, visit the group’s Flickr page and also check out an article on our Christmas craft session from the Ecophiles team. Below you’ll find a lovely poem written by one of the participants, Brinley Price.
A Poem by Brinley Price about Discover Nature, St Nicks
We saw a sparrowhawk, its flap and glide,
Its circling and its disappearing trick,
And certainly that was a stroke of luck
But not for any bird on which it preyed.
We saw a great tit in the hazel twigs,
And heard its song; two oscillating notes
Metallic-sounding like a saw that cuts
Through air, a clown that humorously nags.
We heard the fearful clicking of a wren,
Saw goldfinch pecking teasels for seeds’ prize
And blackthorn flowers shelter last year’s shoes,
Before our sharp-eared watchful walk was done.
We saw and heard, we did not think a lot
Not brood at all, our heads with nature filled,
Our senses wakened and worry foiled,
Our mental darkness washed away by light.