February in Ayrshire

It was such a cold, snowy start to February, visiting the reserves and carrying out patrol reports in such wintry conditions is just as enjoyable as other times of the year though. It’s a good way of finding out which types of wildlife are active within the reserves. Tell-tale tracks are all around the place, including deer, rabbits, and swans.

Flocks of birds can be heard flitting around the trees; ice crystals can be seen attached to grass, leaves and branches; evidence of rabbits running on top of the snow browsing small trees and shrubs as they are denied access to food on the ground.

© C McGovern

The snow soon got a fright though and it was clear to see signs of spring stirring. Green shoots beginning to show among the trees on the woodland floor, snowdrops, daffodils, roaming roe deer, catkins, frog spawn, bumblebees, butterflies emerging from hibernation, and birds preparing to nest.

© C McGovern

My time ‘Connecting Communities to Nature’ this month included wild cherry tree planting for Friends of Fullarton community group with our Wednesday Weekday Volunteers and school children from five local primary schools; bird nest box monitoring at Ayr Gorge Woodlands reserve with Scotland’s Rural College students and visiting Ayr Action for Mental Health (a local activity hub/cafe for adults who experience poor mental health).

We put forward a proposal to offer members a weekly guided walk around our wildlife reserves. The aim of this is for members to engage in outdoor activity, which in turn will hopefully help them regain self-confidence and aspire to a better quality of life.

We also re-visited Three Towns Men’s Shed based in Saltcoats to collect the bird boxes they had built for us. I’m pleased to say they did an excellent job! With the help of our Wednesday Weekday Volunteers and a few local people who also share a keen passion for wildlife, we have put the boxes up in Kerelaw Glen, helping to offer extra nesting opportunities for the birds that inhabit this special place.

It’s been so rewarding being involved with the Kerelaw Glen/Burn clean-up project and the difference is clear to see. This is a little hidden gem which I’ll visit again for sure in the future.

© C McGovern

This month I also organised and led a volunteer day, and a public event. This was certainly an eye-opener as I hadn’t realised how much planning goes on behind the scenes. From co-ordination of volunteers, site ‘recces’, completing health & safety/risk assessments, research into given tasks, preparation of tools, etc. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed such hands-on involvement and I’m very fortunate to have good support from Harry and our fantastic team of volunteers.

So much more I could say, but so much to be getting on with! Let’s see what March brings….

Christine McGovern
Ayrshire Community Engagement Assistant

The Connecting Communities to Nature project is kindly supported by funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland.

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It was such a cold, snowy start to February, visiting the reserves and carrying out patrol reports in such wintry conditions is just as enjoyable as other times of the …

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