I’ve spent the last week at Bedfont Lakes Country Park, which is a 180 acre haven situated less than 1.5km from the bustling Heathrow Airport. Despite this, it is home to a multitude of protected species and habitats, such as tufty heathland and beautiful wild flower meadows. In its small petting zoo it also cares for some rescued pets (including tarantulas and racoon dogs!).
My Charity Insights placement involves working with both the Education and the Ecology Team at the park, and so far I have waded through the River Crane, cuddled bearded dragons and answered some very strange questions from seven year old children!
The Education Team runs children’s activities which aim to both inform and provide some fun during the summer holiday, and so with this team I will be learning how to run these activities and eventually provide them independently later on in my placement. For example this week I helped with an Animal Handling session given to a group of children visiting with the 2cool4school summer play-scheme, which helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They enjoyed meeting Chunky the rabbit, two snakes, and a baby goat, which of course couldn’t help but poo on a child’s foot and trigger a conversation about whether human girls can or cannot also poo…
With the Ecology Team my project involves working towards the reintroduction of both the water shrew and the great crested newt to the park, which is endangered in the UK. This will require some habitat creation in order to make sure the park can sustain the species once they do arrive, and so I have also been doing some serious raking to get rid of some unwanted brambles and stinging nettles!
During my time here, I hope to learn as much as possible about the multidisciplinary approach needed to make a park in such an urban setting not only thrive as a nature reserve but also provide invaluable services to all members of the community.
(Fantastic invertebrate diversity…left: wasp spider – about 2 inches wide, an invasive species from Europe! right: wolf moth caterpillar, also very large)