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19 April 2014
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Nature's Calendar

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Grassland activities

Something for everyone...

Orchids c/o West Kent Downs Countryside Trust.

Grasslands are excellent places for wildlife watching especially for wild flowers and mammal spotting.

Why not try your hand at some nature spotting in the glorious summer meadows of the British Isles?

Orchid orgy - gorge yourself on a feast of these beautiful blooms.


Here are two great nature activities which you can take part in grassland areas:

* Badger watching.
* Orchid safari.

Badger spotting

BadgerThe Badger is the largest land carnivore in the British Isles, with an estimated national population of around 250,000.

Across Europe, Badger numbers have been declining, although the British Isles remains one of the species’ strongholds.

Badgers are rarely seen, largely because they are secretive and predominantly nocturnal.

However, you can improve your chances of spotting this wonderful mammal by following our top tips:

Check out these Nature Calendar Badger watching locations before planning your trip out:

* Gilfach Nature Reserve
* Slad Valley

On previous series of Nature's Calendar we also visited the following Badger locations:

* Heligan, Cornwall
* Caerlaverock Reserve, Solway Firth
* Falls of Clyde, Scotland
* Kingcombe Meadows, Dorset

Many wildlife groups run Badger watching sessions so why not book on one of their trips and get some top advice from the experts?

Find your local Badger group

Badger tips

Young BadgerOnce in Badger territory, here's a few helpful tips to ensure that you're close to the Badger action.

But remember there's no substitute for patience, and being in the right place at the right time!

* Keep quiet, don't move too much or make any noise.

* Watch out for Badger prints - they have five toes with big front claws. Good places to look are along streams where you may find a crossing place with softer mud.

* Look out for the Badgers' home - the unmistakable sett with its huge entrance - they are much bigger than rabbit holes.

* Check for signs that the sett is still active including leaves strewn outside the entrance.

* Also look to see if the grass is worn away just outside the sett - that may indicate where the young cubs come out to play near the sett.

* Having found the sett, plan where you are going to sit to observe - if you're slightly raised up, the Badgers are less likely to pick up your scent.

* Check the prevailing wind as these creatures have a superb sense - sit where they won't catch your scent.

* Wear neutral clothes and be very quiet. Don't rustle your clothing or move around. Sit still, perhaps next to a tree so you blend into the landscape.

* Choose your time - Badgers tend to come out in the evening.

Orchard safari

Orchids c/o West Kent Downs Countryside Trust.There is little doubt that the Orchid is one of the superstars of Britain's flora.

The group has been top of the plant pops ever since the Victorian naturalists obsessed over them and made huge collections of both our native and many exotic species.

The South of England is one of the richest part of the British Isles for Orchids due to its midl climate and chalk grasslands.

A great place to go Orchid spotting featured on Nature's Calendar is Kent Downs.

Other great Orchid locations in Kent include:

* Yockletts Bank - renowned for its Lady Orchids.
* Wye and Crundale Downs.
* Sandwich Golf Course.
* Chappetts Copse near East Meon.
* Noar Hill near Selborne.

Orchid c/o West Kent Downs Countryside Trust.Top tips:

Here are some top tips from the Nature's Calendar team to make the most of your Orchid spotting experiences:

* Early June is a great time to see the Orchids when they are in bloom.

* Take a good flower identification guide with you. A magnifying glass can be helpful if you want to see the flowers close up.

* Look for a profusion of colour and use your sense of smell - a strong perfumed odour is a good clue!

* Be careful where you're walking - keep to paths and tracks to avoid trampling on the flowers.

* And remember that old moniker…. take only photographs, leave only footprints.

Orchid c/o West Kent Downs Countryside Trust.There are many great places to go Orchid spotting in the British Isles but the south of England does tend to be something of a stronghold.

Other good locations include the following:

* Murlough, Northern Ireland
* Kingcombe Meadows, Dorset
* Martin Down National Nature Reserve, near Salisbury
* Fontmell Down, Dorset
* Whitenothe Undercliffe, Wiltshire.
* Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex.
* Ditchling Beacon, Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Photo credits

Orchid photographs courtesy and copyright of West Kent Downs Countryside Trust.

 

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Seal safari

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

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