In early June a group of some fifty of us were lucky enough to take part in Surrey Hills Conservation Day at Cross Farm in Shackleford organised by Christa Emmett Surrey Hills Society Project and Volunteer Co-ordinator.
Members of the SHS along with local families and friends with ages from three years upwards found there were plenty of activities to enjoy.
It was particularly rewarding seeing how the younger visitors including those in their teens were interested in all aspects of conservation, actively participated in the various activities, and were willing to ask questions.
Angus Stovold, whose family have owned and farmed at Cross Farm for over 80 years, is passionate about conserving the Surrey Hills and a great advocate of environmental farming. On a tractor ride around the farm, he not only pointed out stunning countryside views but engaged us all by explaining the importance of the extensive planting of hedgerows and trees, avoidance of any pesticide and leaving wild-flower meadows.
We also learnt a lot about bats from the Surrey Bat Group and about hedgehogs and how to attract them safely into gardens by an ecologist from Kingston University.
Many of the younger group enjoyed making bird feeders and finding a variety of insects by sweeping the meadow with large nets. Bug Life, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, highlighted the decline in insects and what can be done to save them.
Finally on a nature walk through the fields while we spotted only a couple of butterflies because of the strong wind we saw grasshoppers and ladybirds along with a variety of birds including swallows, swifts and red kites.
On arrival we were given a “Five Senses Nature Scavenger Hunt” to tick off, but with so many other activities I am not too sure how many were completed.
It proved to be a very enjoyable and productive day; I am sure everyone of us came away having learnt something new.
We are grateful to all volunteers who gave up their time to make it such a success.