Chesters Wild Life Camp. Friday 29th April – Sunday 1st May
Written by Cain Scrimgeour
On the 29th of April a small group of Explorer Scouts headed into the Cheviots to discover the wild wonders that surround Chesters. The aim of the weekend was to ‘bioblitz’ the forests, streams and hills around Chesters, recording all the species present, in order to produce a nature map of the area. Hopefully once produced, the map will inspire others to visit and discover the vast array of wildlife to be found at Chesters.
Heather from Wild Intrigue joined us to share her expertise. The Explorer Scouts arrived late Friday evening, and as Paul and Clive cooked tea we jumped straight into the ‘naturalist training’, all of the Explorers got their own field notebook and we began filling them straight away. Firstly discovering what species we thought would be present, and learning about the families they belong too.
Saturday morning began with camera trapping; Heather showed the Explorers how to track, looking for diggings, signs of feeding, trails, tracks and poo! The Explorers picked two locations that they thought would capture some of the wild animals near to Chesters and set the camera traps, leaving them to be picked up on Sunday.
Next was birdwatching, the weather was beautiful, hot and sunny with the odd white cloud in the sky; The Cheviots snow capped in the distance. We picked a spot behind Chesters where we could scan horizon, and were soon rewarded with our patience. The Explorers learnt quickly how to use their binoculars and were soon spotting and identifying species such as Chaffinches, Woodpigeons, Mistle Thrushes, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Willow Warblers, Common Buzzards, Lapwing, and even a Peregrine Falcon put in an appearance!
Walking round to the River Breamish, new habitats were discovered, with a whole range of new species. Oystercatchers sat on the bank, a Grey Heron slowly headed up stream, Mallards fed in the water and a Dipper did its characteristic ‘dipping’ on a nearby rock. Throughout our walk we were continuously surrounded by Meadow Pipits, it was definitely the most numerous bird in the area!
As the sun set we stayed up late to experience what dusk and the night brought. Snipe put on a show ‘drumming’ all across the fell, producing that alien like sound. Tawny Owls hooted from the wood as the stars shine overhead. We didn’t see any Bats this time though!
Over the weekend we saw over 40 species of birds, with highlights being the Peregrine Falcon, a migrating pair of Whooper Swans, and the alien like sound of drumming Snipe.
The camera traps managed to capture images of Wood Mice in the wood shed. We managed to find signs or see over 10 species of Mammal, 1 species of Amphibian (Frog) and 1 species of Reptile (a stunning Common Lizard)
Over the next few weeks we’ll be putting together a map of our encounters, which will be featured in the cottage at Chesters.