The Springwatch Challenge
BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani has joined in on the Springwatch phenomenon as it returns to our TV screens for another three-week celebration of UK wildlife and wildlife people. Listen here!
On Monday 25 May 2009 Springwatch returned to BBC Two. Springwatch 2009 is live and interactive from across the country.
Join their new presenter team of Simon King, Kate Humble, Chris Packham, Gordon Buchanan and Martin Hughes-Games as they watch the daily animal family dramas unfold, as they happen.
For 2009, the team are returning to last year's new home, Pensthorpe nature reserve in north Norfolk.
To End - A Barbeque!
To celebrate the end of her two-week long Springwatch challenge, BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani decided to take her live lunchtime show to the Outwoods.
You can see all the pictures from the day and learn about the charcoal making process in the gallery...
Using the charcoal she made fresh from the kiln Rupal and a selection of the people involved in the conservation of the woods had a barbeque!
Listen to a selection of the variety of guests Rupal spoke to...
Listen: Charcoal Making
Continuing with her springwatch challenge in the Outwoods in Charnwood, BBC Radio Leicester's Rupal Rajani has been involved in process of making charcoal.
Rupal got the chance to strengthen her arm muscles - she picked up an axe and helped to chop some wood.
She really did put her back into it as the wood had to be a certain size to get the correct charcoal at the end of the process.
Fortunately, for Rupal the Woodland Ranger had a few he made earlier - just like Blue Peter...
Watch: Access Outwoods
Springwatch is all about getting out into the countryside to experience nature first hand. But if you are disabled, it's not always easy.
Now Charnwood Borough Council in Leicestershire has bought two all-terrain mobility scooters to allow everyone access to their country parks.
Watch BBC Leicester's Karen Winchester's report...
Wilson the horse
Gallery: Springwatch Challenge
So with that in mind BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani has been set her own wildlife and outdoor challenge, over a two week period.
She made her way to the Outwoods in Loughborough. Her challenge required the help of Mark Graham, who's the Wildlife Development Officer for Charnwood, and Stuart the wood ranger.
Take a look at the photos of Rupal carrying out various woodland challenges...
Listen: Horsing Around
Rupal's main challenge involves having a go at making charcoal in the Outwoods by following the whole process.
To start off this involves collecting wood from around the woods. Machinery can be very damaging to the forest floor, which is a particular problem for conservation of the site.
So instead of tractors ranger Stuart has returned to more traditional methods.
Wilson, a seven year old heavy horse, now moves timber around the woods - with the help of Stuart and various volunteers...
Check back on Wednesday 03 June to fond out how Rupal got on with making the charcoal.
Part three of Rupal's Springwatch challenge also takes place at the ancient woodland site - the Outwoods near Woodhouse Eaves in Leicestershire.
The site is of special scientific interest, which means it's of national importance for it's ecology and geology.
Mark Graham told BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani more about the ecology of the site in preparation of her challenge to make charcoal...
Listen: Dry Stone Walling
For the second of her challenges, Mark took Rupal to the bottom of the site where they found an old dry stone wall, which was in need of repair...
"This is something we do a lot of," said Mark. "These walls are all over Charnwood and were built as a result of the Enclosure Acts.
"They were built by people who were awarded parcels of land under the Act. They just picked stones out of the field and built the walls. It's volcanic rock."
Rupal was initiated into the strenuous process of building a wall without cement to hold it together as Mark explained that the walls were useful animal habitats.
They are used by small hibernating animals and birds nest in them. They are also home to a number of lichens and mosses.
Mark said that working on these walls has become a popular task. "It's like a jigsaw puzzle. We get a lot of people coming out to repair walls.
"And if you can build walls with Charnwood stone which is very irregular you can do it anywhere!"
Be that as it may, after only a short time of hefting rock Rupal was in sore need of a reviving cuppa!
Mark Graham told Rupal about Outwoods, the popular public woodland near Loughborough, during the first part of her challenge...
It has recently been awarded a Green Flag – which is the park and open spaces equivalent of the Blue Flag that is handed to clean beaches across the country.
The Outwoods where gifted to the people of Loughborough in 1946 by two local benefactors, Allan Moss and George Harry Bowler. They have remained a much-loved beauty spot attracting thousands of visitors every year.
Mark said: "The management of the woods involves removing invasive trees like sycamore that threaten to take over at the expense of the oak and birch we want here."
The felled sycamore wood is made into charcoal and then sold. So a product is made, a profit is produced and recycling happens. The charcoal is sold locally so it hasn't travelled round the world.
It's truly a green product.
"That's what we want you to do," said Mark to Rupal. "Help make charcoal."
Who's a Fuel Now
He explained that a horse drags the timber down to where the charcoal is made and that at the end of the process Rupal could expect a barbeque cooked with the fuel she had helped make.
The charcoal is made by a process hallowed by time. "Once the kiln is has been filled and lit it has to 'cook' for a while. Basically, what you are doing is baking the wood in an environment where you are restricting the oxygen.
"The wood bakes, the moisture is driven off and you are left with carbon."
The process takes four to five days.
Rupal will also be helping with dry stone walling and learning about forestry management.
Chris Packham, new Springwatch presenter
Fancy a Dirty Weekend?
Outwoods is also participating in the BBC Springwatch Dirty Weekend on June 6.
Charcoal will be made and you can help and watch the process.
Who knows, you might even want to devote a little more time to improving this delightful spot.
Mark says: "Most of the work done here is by volunteers. We couldn't do this work without them."
last updated: 11/06/2009 at 10:09