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