EARLY AUTUMN ON THE WETLANDS
Join Simon on the Somerset Levels to explore the wild riches this season brings to the County.
Your day will start at sunrise (a comfortable 07.00 at this time of year!) on the border between two major wetland reserves. You will then take a gentle walk into the reserves in search of the birds, mammals, dragonflies (if it’s a warm day) and other wild inhabitants of the area. Throughout your day, Simon will point out the bird song and other natural sounds that help him identify the species you are hearing (and seeing) and will be highlighting any tracks or other signs left by some of the more elusive creatures in the neighbourhood.
There is a strong chance of encountering passage migrants during the day – wildfowl, wading birds and others, as well as resident species such as all three species of egret, bitterns, marsh harriers, kingfishers and more. There is always the chance of an encounter with an otter too!
The day will include a fair bit of walking, all of it on reasonably even and level ground, with visits to public hides from time to time.
Simon will be guiding you until about 15.00, after which you are free to explore the area on your own. There may well be the early stages of the famous winter starling roosting murmurations at this time, which arrive on the reserves shortly after sunset (from 19.00). Simon can give you information on where best to wait for this spectacle should you choose to do so. Indeed, if the conditions are good, he’ll probably be there himself!
You will need to bring appropriate clothing and footwear for a full day outside in all that the British weather can throw at you (if ‘s been wet, then wellies are a good call for some of the muddier pathways – walking boots are fine if it’s been dryer). You will also need to bring sufficient food and drink for the day.
Binoculars are a must (Simon can provide you with a pair if you don’t own any – just let us know when you book) and you may wish to bring a spotting scope if you own one, though Simon will bring his own for all to use if you want to travel lighter.
Whilst there may be great photographic opportunities we will not specifically target wildlife with photography in mind. That said, by all means bring your camera kit – Simon is happy to offer any advice in this field that you may wish to quiz him about, and many of his guests from previous Wild Days Out have come away with some cherished images they have captured on the day.
Group size is limited to a maximum of 5 guests on a first come, first served basis.
The cost is £198 (+VAT) per person per day. If you are interested please contact [email protected] or call: +44 (0)788 4060722.
DEER TRACKING AND OBSERVATION WORKSHOPS
WEST SUSSEX, ENGLAND
Where, in the bustling South East of England, can you discover a Wild Oasis?
On the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, that’s where!
Simon King will be your guide, introducing you to one of the most ambitious Re-Wilding projects in the UK, exploring the meadows, scrub, woods and wetlands during the start of the Red Deer rut.
For many years, Knepp was run as a large scale dairy farm. But in 2001, an innovative and ambitious project to Re-Wild the 1,400 hectare estate was begun and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
By introducing key grazing and browsing animals, including Red and Fallow Deer, Longhorn Cattle, Exmoor Ponies and Tamworth Pigs, the once mono-cultural grassland has been transformed into a mosaic of habitat types, rich in wildlife. In the spring and summer this has led to a phenomenal increase in species such as nightingale, turtle dove and purple emperor butterfly.
At this time of year, it is the deer that take centre stage. With the onset of autumn, the annual rut begins to stir the red and fallow deer into action and these will be the focus of our fieldcraft workshops.
Simon will show you the subtle (and not so subtle) tracks and signs that lead you to great sightings of the deer. He will also point out the sign of other wildlife that you encounter, including the chance of a brush with various raptors, reptiles and nationally threatened birds such as Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker. Simon’s comprehensive knowledge of bird song and other natural sounds will ensure nothing escapes your attention.
The day will start at dawn – the best time for encounters with the deer – and Simon will be with you throughout, guiding you through to the mid afternoon.
You will need to bring sufficient food and drink for the day, warm clothing, including waterproofs, in muted colours and stout footwear. Bring binoculars if you own them (these can be provided so long as you let us know).
By all means bring a camera, though it should be pointed out that these trips concentrate on fieldcraft skills and observation of wildlife and, whilst there may well be chances to get great photographs, we are not trying to maximise photographic opportunities. If you do bring your camera then Simon will be happy to help you with any of your photographic queries.
Luxury Glamping accommodation is available on Knepp should you wish to stay on site to make the early start that little bit less of a shock to the system!
Group size is limited to a maximum of 6 guests on a first come, first served basis.
The cost is £198 (+VAT) per person per day. If you are interested please contact [email protected]
or call: +44 (0)788 4060722.
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