Widmer End Community Combined School have been doing great work for the past year on their new pond area, working with the Eco Club and with families and volunteers at weekends and during holidays. As they have such good community support, we have been helping them with planning and Saturday 8th February was out first community activity together.
On the Saturday morning I headed over to the school to help them improve habitats around the pond and the school field for birds, hedgehogs and amphibians. I had three large hedgehog boxes and eight bird boxes for the children and their families to put together, as well as a number of reptile refugia (squares of lightweight, corrugated roofing material) to place around the pond and the small woodland area. I wasn’t sure how much we’d get done but hopefully I had enough activities for everyone. It’s always risky planning activities in February and I knew storm Ciara was on her way but we struck it lucky with a slightly cloudy but mild day and no rain or wind (thank goodness we hadn’t planned the event for Sunday!)
In the end,18 children came along and brought assorted grown-ups and bags of enthusiasm with them. All of the wildlife boxes were put together, including a fabulous bug house made by one family who brought all their own materials. We also cleared the ground near the fence ready for the Eco Club to plant the hedge plants that are arriving soon.
The bird boxes have been placed around the field and pond – and it’s the perfect time for the birds who are already starting to look for nesting sites. We put two hedgehog boxes near the pond, filled with leaves and disguised with soil and grass. It’s really the wrong season for them as hedgehogs need them for winter hibernation but at least they won’t smell so new by October! As for the reptile mats, well, perhaps we’ll find some slow worms, but near the pond, they are also excellent spots (along with the rock pile) for toads to hide out under.
We had a fabulous morning with everyone helping each other and making the pond a fantastic wildlife haven. All fingers and thumbs were kept intact and unbruised and we all managed to stay out of the pond. Huge thanks to the pupils and families from the school, and Eco lead, Helen McCammond.
Written by Rough Around the Edges project officer, Katie Horgan