Wild Week & Autumnwatch

Posted on: 31 October 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Do one thing for nature this autumn and welcome wildlife to your garden or community.

Whether foraging for fungi, welcoming wildlife to your garden or building boxes for birds or bats, Wild Week provides the perfect opportunity to get involved with wildlife.

In fact there's a fortnight of wildness as the event takes place from 25th October to 9th November 2008. Co-organisers The Wildlife Trusts, BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) and BBC Breathing Places are encouraging everyone to 'do one thing' for nature.

The focus of this year's Wild Week is gardening - encouraging everyone to create a wildlife-friendly habitat in their garden at home, at school or in a communal green space.

Hundreds of events will be held across the UK for the whole family to enjoy, from tree identification courses to fun days on nature reserves. The week also takes in Halloween, with plenty of bat walks and mini-beast hunts, and coincides with the ever-popular programme, Autumnwatch, which will be packed full of inspiring ideas to get you started.

Autumn is one of nature's busiest periods, as trees turn rusty red and gold, berries ripen and animals start to stock up for winter, and wetlands and rivers come alive with thousands of migrant birds. Before the onset of winter, autumn is the ideal time to try some practical conservation work, from creating a pond to laying a hedge, and Wild Week provides the perfect opportunity.

“There is no better time to get out and help do one thing for nature," says Julie Fulton, The Wildlife Trusts' head of people and wildlife.

"There is a wealth of wildlife on your doorstep, and Wild Week is a great opportunity to learn more about the species we share our environment with."

"Groups who want to get involved can really help to improve their local community, learn more about local wildlife and help to protect it, and, with the return of the hugely popular BBC show Autumnwatch, there's plenty to inspire ideas for successful events."

To help make the most of Wild Week, BBC Breathing Places has produced a number of free resources available at events, and some can be downloaded from the Breathing Places website too.

These include an audio guide to sounds of the night, narrated by Chris Packham, 'Discover the dark side', 'Have fun with fungi' and 'Get wild about your garden' pocket guides, advice on wildlife to look out for, and guides to building bat and bird boxes. For the children there's stickers and a 'Creepy Crawl' picture hunt game.

The Wildlife Trusts and BTCV have joined forces to work in partnership with the BBC to develop the Communities campaign for Breathing Places.

Neil Aldridge, Breathing Places communications manager for BTCV, says, "Wild Week gives everyone the chance to transform a local patch with other people from their community, learn how to make their own garden wildlife-friendly with the wealth of resources available and get up close with nature at any one of the hundreds of events happening this autumn. Wild Week really is the time to get reconnected with the nature on your doorstep."

Autumnwatch is on BBC Two between 8pm and 9pm, Monday to Thursday, from Monday 27th October to Thursday 6th November. This year, Bill Oddie and Kate Humble are based on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Owned by the National Trust and managed in part by Dorset Wildlife Trust, Brownsea is home to a nationally important population of the iconic red squirrel and a host of seabirds.

The programme will be finding out what happened to some of the animals we met on Springwatch 2008 - and the now-famous rutting Red Deer on Rum - as well as bringing you up to date on some the big themes, issues and talking points raised in the spring. It'll also be looking at autumn 2008, comparing it to previous years and looking at what effect this may have on our wildlife.

Continuing with a well-loved strand of quirky yet insightful short films narrated by Bill Oddie, Autumnwatch presents yet more larger-than-life tales of passion, lust, violence, horror, love and parental devotion that occur in mini-worlds right under our noses, in even the most 'ordinary' of gardens. This year it brings you the sex life of a flower border, the extraordinary tale of an ant princess, the curious life of the misunderstood 'daddy-long-legs' and a vote for that much-maligned master-builder - the wasp.

Autumn is the best time to consider what to feed your garden birds and animals to help them through the winter. Yet there's so much more to it than just putting out food. As well as reviewing the current thinking on feed and feeders, Autumnwatch will show you how this can also give you an up-close and in-depth view into animal intelligence, survival strategies and even social structures. With some easy-to-do 'citizen science' experiments, some amazing 'pub facts' and a healthy dose of myth-busting, it'll allow you see your garden feeding station in a wholly new light.

Web Links

As well as The Wildlife Trusts and BTCV, lots of nature and wildlife groups will be hosting organised events. To find a Wild Week event near you, log onto the BBC's Breathing Places website at bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces.

Autumnwatch: bbc.co.uk/autumnwatch

Wildlife Trusts: www.wildlifetrusts.org

BTCV: www.btcv.org.uk

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