Bird song and sign 7th. – 9th. May
If you happen to be in the right place, the evening chorus can be as exciting and varied as its dawn counterpart (without the waking up at 0400). And we were in the right place; a large wood near Midhurst in West Sussex. The chorus was spectacular.
For the last few years Bushcraft has become a growing activity within Craggers, first because the subject has become more popular and people, particularly kids, want to take part but also it is perhaps the best way to get people to reconnect with the natural environment, an environment which is rapidly diminishing and becoming more inaccessible. Bushcraft develops a respect for nature and when you have respect and love for something you are more likely to want to protect it. The key, not surprisingly, is knowledge; learn something about plants and you will know what will poison you, what will nourish and heal you and what you can use to make tools etc.
I was aware that I needed to learn more about birds. I could visually identify quite a lot but recognising them by song – well not so good really.
John Ryder and his Woodcraft School are recognised as being some of the very best providers of wilderness skills in this country and fortunately they are close. John had recruited a birdsong expert whose skills complemented perfectly John’s tracking skills.
After this introduction to the sound of woodland birds at night it was time to find our way back to our tents.
The 0400 alarm was superfluous, the dawn chorus saw to that. The next two days went by in a bit of a blur as we mixed ‘classroom’ study (bones, diagrams etc) with tracking, identification of feeding and kill sites, birdsong at different times of day and in different environments – we drove out to two very different heathland habitats.
It was an exhausting few days but we learned a lot and I hope that we will be able to enrich Craggers groups trips in the wild with what we have learned.