Lee Common Squirrels get to work with Chiltern Rangers!

Lee Common Squirrels get to work with Chiltern Rangers!

by Jean Peasley

It was a drizzly Thursday morning when Ranger Steph, plus volunteers Karina and Jean headed off on a countryside adventure with the pupils and teachers at Lee Common Church of England School.

Thirty-five children from Reception, Year One and Year Two, (better known as Wrens, Robins and Swallows), appropriately suited and booted, gathered in the hall ready to be squirrels for the day. Ranger Steph talked about what we would be doing whilst we walked, keeping safe whilst we were out and the local trees and plants we would see. Gloves were issued to protect tiny hands against nature’s thorns along with bags to collect the seeds and nuts.

After leaving the school, our damp but happy band of squirrels walked along the public footpath to the field and spread out with their adult leaders and began collecting from the hedgerows.  Bags were getting wet, but our squirrels were not deterred, and we continued our walk through Old Plantation Wood, then into the paddocks, where the horses who usually reside there had been relocated for the morning. The hedgerows in the paddock gave everyone another picking opportunity and after crossing the road, we began the long steady uphill walk along the bridleway which lead to our final stopping point and lunch!

After lunch, everyone spread out into the planting field. Armed with dibbers and small trowels, we set about planting the gathered seeds and nuts.  Our cache of buried treasure included acorns, rosehips, crab apple seeds, field maple keys, bright red haws from hawthorn and juicy sloes from blackthorn.  The excellent planting by the children will give the seeds the absolute best chance of growing into strong saplings.  It is definitely an experiment but it was definitely worthwhile and a great learning opportunity for the children.

Despite the drizzle and mud our squirrels did an outstanding job of collecting and planting the seeds and are looking forward to returning in years to come to watch the plants grow and thrive – a legacy left for their own future children and grandchildren.
We are grateful to the local landowners, especially the Hart family.  Their land is part of the Chiltern Conservation Board’s ‘Chalk Cherries and Chair’s Landscape Connections’ project; a National Lottery funded landscape scale endeavour to create and/or restore large-scale habitats on farm and other private land; and helping landowners to improve their land to benefit wildlife. Our thanks also to the children of Lee Common School for their enthusiasm and energy throughout the day.


Article written by Jean Peasley

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