The traditional bird nesting season started ominously in my locality as the Forestry Commission decided to harvest their timber at this time!! I made my objections and felt that I was backed up by the laws concerning coppicing, but, alas, it seems that the Forestry Commission are above this law!! For the first time in 12 years we have no nightingales in the forest – coincidence? I think not…
However, it has been a fine year so far – no problems with wet and cold conditions which suppress invertebrate numbers and this, in turn, hampers bird and bat survival rates. On several of my walks we have noted huge insect hatches, especially over water, and this is a good sign of a healthy ecosystem. The NT Dawn Birdsong Walk at Winkworth Arboretum was both well attended and produced a stunning sunrise! Another brilliant result occurred whilst guiding a lovely group around the heathland at Frensham: we had beautiful weather, but the sunshine put flying birds into silhouette which made identification of one raptor difficult – we changed position and it became clear that we were watching a Hobby, a beautiful migratory falcon. On it’s own was cool but others joined it over the next hour or so until we finally had SIX hunting around us: an unbelievable thing to witness!
My walks from the Wildheart Festival were well received by several families who wanted to learn a bit more about using Birdsong to help them connect to nature. It was great fun and I felt really encouraged by the feedback: nature is so very inspiring and being “grounded” so good for our psychological well-being. Through this walk I’m looking into providing a service to a local charity which might prove very interesting!
A couple who live and work in the city really got close to nature when they attended my Bushcraft Basics weekend in a local private woodland. As well as sleeping under the stars, they learnt plenty of firecraft, foraged widely and dined sumptuously on crayfish, rainbow trout and Canada goose! My Wildfood project is coming together nicely and will soon be available to anybody interested – make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter! I have a Crayfish Day planned for August 6th via my friends at Explorers Connect – please see below if you’d like to join us!
Although I really enjoy travelling, my real love is exploring my locality and so it proved again when exploring the area around Shere, Shamley Green and Wonersh: extraordinarily beautiful, easy to access and able to throw up suprises such as the incredibly mature Sweet Chestnut trees towards Hambledon. Do get in touch if you’d like to share such local treasures!
So, what’s coming up at Jonnie Taylor Walks?
June 24th and July 8th “A Stroll with Nightjars” 9pm till late! Take a leisurely stroll to hear this magnificent and mystical migrant, it’s call is called “Churring” and is perhaps the most unusual birdcall in the UK. Venues to be confirmed in order to make sure we hit the spot on the night!! Just £10 per person
July 23rd EVENT HIKE Take the train as our meeting place will be Haslemere Rail Station at 10.20am – we will then takes a stunning hime around Blackdown Hills and enjoy great scenery and a running commentary on the natural history of the area. We will drop down to join my local National Trust friends who are running a fabulous free event, The Countryside Crafts Day – “a fun day for all the family with traditional woodworking and countryside crafts including pole lathing, timber hewing and carving. Meet members of the Black Down estate team demonstrating their own country skills. Have a go making roof shingles, willow weaving, pencils and fencing products. Learn a new craft and chat to the team about life on the farm and work on the estate. Falconry displays, bats, reptiles and amphibians, refreshments and a bouncy castle, so come along and join in.” They also serve some cracking locally sourced food so you have the option of buying lunch here or bringing a packed lunch. Once we have enjoyed the event, I will escort you back to the train station for 4pm. A beautiful day out and just £20 per person so please click here asap if you are interested!!
August 6th – CRAYFISH EVENT In liaison with Explorers Connect:
EC CLUB Wild Walks – Crayfish Foraging 6th August
Spend your Saturday doing something different and join EC CLUB for a day in the South Downs countryside learning how to forage and prepare crayfish.
Easily accessible from London, we will meet at the train station and from there walk straight into the countryside to our foraging site. We’ll take the scenic route on the way and will pass through rolling countryside and woodland. Our guide Jonnie, a wild food and countryside specialist will give us an insight into the local area along the way, talking about everything from local points of interest (including one of Ben Law’s famous eco houses of Grand Designs fame, which is on nearby National Trust land) to wild food in the hedgerows and wildlife identification.
Our foraging site is one of the most beautiful farms in the area and we’ll spend the day around a campfire by a woodland lake. We’ll learn about the impacts of the invasive American Signal crayfish and how to forage for them. Jonnie is a wild food specialist and can provide some insight into why he believes that wild food is the most environmentally acceptable way to go with our diets! Then we’ll empty the traps, light the campfire and cook and eat our crayfish (please bring a packed lunch too).
There’ll be time to relax around the fire before walking back to the train station a different way through the countryside.
You can get involved with as much of as little of the crayfish session as you want, do not feel obliged to take an active part in the processing or eating of the crayfish if you’d prefer to just come along for interest.
There will be ~ 2 ½ hours of walking.
Where are when? Meet at Haslemere Train Station at 10 am. There are direct trains to Haslemere from London Waterloo for those coming from London. We’ll be finished in time to catch trains home from 4 pm. Those that want to can stop for refreshments before getting the train home.
IMPORTANT: Please bring a packed lunch and a drink with you. The crayfish we catch will be used to supplement your packed lunch – using them as an addition to a salad or sandwich works well.
September plans include Wildlife Photography days and the launch of my Charcoal camp experiences so keep an eye for details which will follow soon!!
So, plenty to choose from there!! If anything appeals do please book up asap! If not, you may have ideas for something a little more bespoke or something just for you and your companions, either way, just drop me a line and I’ll try my best to put something together that suits your wishes!
Enjoy your summer!