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17 September 2014
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Nature's Calendar

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Parkland activities

Go wild!

Owl demonstration at Thorp Perrow

Parks and country estates are great places for wildlife watching because of their wealth of different habitats.

So why not try a wide range of activities from moth trapping to falconry or deer stalking.

Owl demonstration at Thorp Perrow's Falconry Centre

Here's three activities which you can participate in either out and about or, in the case of moth trapping, at home:

* Deer stalking
* Moth trapping
* Falconry

Deer watching

Deer c/o Chris PackhamA great place to go deer stalking and featured on Nature's Calendar Summer series is Bushy Park.

There are 320 Red and Fallow Deer on this historic estate.

The deer can be told apart easily by differences in their coats and size - Fallow Deer have creamy-brown spotty coats and are slightly smaller than the russety-brown Red Deer.

Other locations for deer stalking featured in the winter and spring series of the programme include:

* Thetford Forest
* Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
* Morvern Peninsula, Scotland
* Calke Abbey

Elsewhere in the British Isles, we can also recommended:

* The New Forest
* Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
* Ashton Court, Bristol
* Isle of Rum
* Loch of Lowes, Scotland
* Ashdown Forest, Sussex
* Lyme Park, Cheshire

Here are our top tips for deer watching on country estates:

* Deer tracks are easily recognised by their prints - look for tracks in soft, muddy areas.

* It's also worth looking at trees to see if you can spot any bite marks where deer have nibbled at low-growing leaves and branches or any other marks which might have been made by antler rubbing.

* The height of this "browse line" will tell you which species has nibbled there - remember that red deer are bigger than fallow.

* We've already outlined the differences between Red and Fallow Deer but did you know you can tell them apart by their bottoms?

Red Deer have ginger hindquarters while Fallows have white rears with a black stripe.

Moth trapping

Moth c/o Natural England and Paul GlendellFor something you can do at home, why not take a tip from Nature's Calendar and try moth trapping?

Our trip to Thorp Perrow showed the wide range of moths in the British Isles, but it's easy to replicate this experience at home.

You'll be surprised at how many different moths you can find in and around the family house - and here's how:

* Moths are mainly nocturnal creatures and sometimes can be difficult to find during the day.

* On a warm summer evening, wait until it goes dark and then hang a plain white sheet up.

* Use a bright light like a torch to illuminate the sheet so the moths will be attracted to it.

* Leave the room for a few minutes and then look to see if any moths have gathered.

* Use a good identification guide to pick out which moth is which.

* You could also try sugaring - painting a sugar solution onto a wall or tree - to see if you can attract moths to your garden.

* To make the sugar solution, mix stout, molasses and brown sugar in a pan and simmer for about half an hour.

* Be careful where you paint the solution and it may stain, and don't worry if you don't find any moths straight away - leave for a couple of days and you may attract butterflies as well.

* And don't forget to give any moths you find at home a helping hand back outside - but make sure to set them down somewhere safe from predators.

Become a falconer!

FalconsIf you're planning a longer trip away from home, why not try your hand at falconry?

The Falconry Centre at Thorp Perrow in North Yorkshire offers a range of courses in falconry throughout the year.

If you fancy getting involved in falconry, it's important to attend an approved course to gain a full understanding of how to work with these stunning birds.

Thorp Perrow's birds of prey centre offers courses to suit everyone from those with a passing interest in the sport to people who are serious about becoming a falconer and buying a hawk or falcon:

The centre's one day taster course provides a basic introduction including information about the birds, their needs, equipment and training methods.

There's also a two day course designed to provide an insight into the art of falconry for those with little or no prior knowledge.

The course includes experience in flying and handling hawks.

Following on from this, a three day course gives a more detailed insight into the flying and management of birds of prey.

And for those who are really hooked, there's a five day course designed for novice falconers.



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Activities (Image: Shelduck c/o Wildlife and Wetlandd Trust)

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