Beetles, Crickets and a Snake

How can I describe the joy of working at the Barnet Countryside Centre (oops!) I mean the Barnet Environment Centre! Your management of the nature reserve has provided 957 children with a wonderful first-hand experience of nature and me with the best teaching experience I’ve had in my career. I can’t count the number of times teachers, parents and children have said to me, “I’ve learnt so much” or “This is the best school trip I’ve ever been on”. One child said “You are better than London Zoo”! Her classmates and teachers agreed. An accolade indeed. But one I could not have achieved without all your hard work, and for which I give you great thanks.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work in such a lovely location and with such a friendly committed and supportive group of people.

Over the last 5 months I have seen some spectacular wildlife. On my first day on the reserve I saw displaying bullfinches! I see or hear them most days and recently saw a pair with 2 young in the tops of the aspens. The song thrush singing every morning from the top of the white poplar brings joy every day. And the family of goldcrests in the trees around the minibeast area were fabulous. The ponds are brimming with wildlife and I’ve never seen so many dragonfly nymphs! The children loved seeing their exuviae (cases) attached to the iris stems. Today I saw a female emperor dragonfly over the ponds and nearly stood on an adult grass snake under the oak in the meadow. The meadow has been the biggest surprise. It is chock full of insects. Of note are Oedemera nobilis, a bright green beetle with swollen thighs and the Rosel’s bush cricket, a stunning creature. The children, even the very young ones, could spend their whole day just exploring the meadow. I have rarely seen children so engrossed! They love it!

Beetle on yellow flower

Cricket on cloth

Grass snake among twigs

The final count for the term is as follows: 34 visits, 17 schools, 3 brownie groups and 957 children and 3 work experience pupils.

I am delighted to let you know that today I have signed a contract to stay with you for at least another year and I am very happy to do so. I look forward to working with you all in the new centre.

Thank you
Caroline – Environmental Education Manager