30 Days Wild - volunteers at Cornwall Wildlife Trust warming by a bonfire.

30 Days Wild – Celebrating Nature

30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge, is in full swing around the country. This means lots of people are getting outside to enjoy a bit of wildness throughout June. You can join in anytime during the month, just follow the link above to download a digital 30 Days Wild pack. Then start recording your wild adventures.

Small copper butterfly, mostly black with orange fore wings and an orange band along the edge of the hind wings.

Small copper butterfly spotted at Crift Reserve

Wildlife spotting is one of the reasons I love hiking so much. It fills me with joy to see stonechats on the cliffs or butterflies in a hedgerow. And I’m like an over excited toddler when I see something for the first time, whether it’s choughs or a cushion star fish. I’ve always been like this, but these last few years I’ve learnt so much more as a volunteer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and here’s why.

30 Days Wild: A brittle star fish in the palm of my hand.

A brittle star – another first for me! I discovered it when I was out for a walk with a friend from CWT

Not Quite 30 Days Wild

Volunteering With Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Once a week I join a group of like-minded people to help manage the habitat on local Cornish nature reserves. The reserves vary from meadows to dunes and support a range of wildlife and plants. I wrote an article for a regular feature in Wild Cornwall, the Trust’s magazine, about my volunteer role last year and I want to share it with you. The reason for this is because I think it captures the joy I spoke about earlier. And, I hope my enthusiasm might inspire you to take part in 30 Days Wild, if you’re not already on board. Or at least look out for wildlife when you’re next out walking.

A day In The Life…

Wildlife Wednesdays

Cornwall Wildlife Trust Magazine, Winter 2018 edition with article by Stephanie Boon.

The magazine cover and article, winter 2018 edition

Stephanie Boon (known as Stephie has been a Wild Allet Volunteer for over a year [over 2 years now!]. The group takes part in a range of conservation tasks at Five Acres Nature Reserve, Allet, and beyond.

Wednesdays. A little over a year ago they were just your average middle-of-the-week days, nothing to write home about. But that soon changed when I started volunteering with the Wild Allet team at Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s headquarters near Truro.

When I first turned up it didn’t look like I imagined a nature reserve to be; not wild, more an overgrown garden with conifer trees, a neglected veg patch and a couple of man-made ponds. I soon learnt that it used to be a garden nursery and the team of volunteers I’d joined were helping to encourage a deciduous woodland, planted with native trees. A meadow was being nurtured and the ponds eradicated of the rampantly invasive New Zealand Pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii).

I was excited to get stuck in to help this site in transition – and was immediately handed a scythe! Learning to use hand tools means we keep old skills alive. These are much friendlier to wildlife, but more importantly it means we get to talk to each other as we work.

We’re a close knit group with a thread of stalwarts who turn up in all weathers, and we have our ‘characters’ too. I’m known as the volunteer with a penchant for dead things (hence the gift of a dead pipistrelle, now safe in my freezer). And skulls. My excitement was palpable when Miguel (who’s off to uni to study Marine Biology this autumn) pulled a deer’s skull out from the undergrowth near the headquarters building. I’m an artist and studying dead animals and bones is a significant way for me to understand the world around me: it’s absolutely fascinating to see what goes on under the skin, or the incredible texture of a bat’s wing.

I’ve learnt so much at Cornwall Wildlife Trust that feeds into my walking (I’m a qualified walking leader) – as well as from other volunteers, from Dave (David May, Practical Projects coordinator) and the many reserve managers we get to meet, because although we’re based at Allet we regularly go to other reserves to lend a hand. We’ve been as far afield as Churchtown Farm Community Nature Reserve near Saltash to cut a hay meadow and as close to home as Chyverton Nature Reserve just down the road, to control growth of willow scrub. We’ve been ragwort pulling on Helman Tor, wildflower sowing at The Eden Project (did you see them this summer? That was us!) and Penhale Sands in between. But home is Allet, where I chase butterflies with Kiki and learn the call of chiffchaffs from Sue and it’s the place I hope to see wildlife thrive, because of the things we do.

Wildlife Wednesday – absolutely the best day of the week!

30 Days Wild: 2 volunteers in the distance in front of billowing smoke, with heather in the foreground.

Our group out helping to preserve a rare heathland habitat not open to the public

30 Days Wild Isn’t Over Yet!

What inspires you when you’re out walking? Perhaps it’s a spectacular view or the sound of a skylark, but what was the last thing to stop you in your tracks? 30 Days Wild encourages us to take notice of our surroundings, rather than just racking up miles. And it’s an enriching experience: a walk becomes more than just a walk. So why not join in for the rest of the month and make a note of what you see when you’re out? Maybe you could keep a nature diary, or even join a conservation group to help protect the areas we love.

Before you head off though, let us know the last thing that stopped you in your tracks in the comments below.  For me it was seeing a stoat cross the path in front of me…with a fish in it’s mouth!

Happy hiking!

Stephie x

 

 

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