On Sunday 27th May, two of us from the Woodland Trust attended Big Nature Day in the grounds of the Natural History Museum in London, supported by OPAL (the Open-Air Laboratory). We were there to promote our Nature’s Calendar recording scheme to the public.
I was astonished at the huge diversity and range of organisations present for the event: everything from the big familiar names like Friends of the Earth, RSPB and the Field Studies Council, to more niche organisations such as the Earthworm Society, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, dipterists (folk who identify diptera – true flies) and tachinid recorders (I had to look them up – a subset of diptera!).
Each stall offered exciting things to do for a family audience, from making finger puppets and insect homes to wildflower identification challenges and the chance to handle ladybirds or stick insects. Worm charming was perhaps the most exotic activity on offer, although apparently the ground was a bit too dry to tempt them to appear. A group of people on stilts, dressed as insects and playing in a band completed the lineup. There was a continual steady stream of people coming from the excitement of the museum’s dinosaurs and out into the grounds to Big Nature Day.
Every organisation basically conveyed the same message: that the richness of biodiversity is amazing and there are lots of different ways to engage with it, whatever your interest and level of experience. This is worth remembering given the recent debate on having too many natural environment NGOs.
Our challenge was for people to answer four questions (appended if you want to try) to win a prize. Some of our visitors were very knowledgeable; one family of four children, all aged under 10 and working independently got all the answers right. Their father diffidently explained ‘they do a lot of reading’. This helped to give me confidence that the next generation cares as much about the natural world as we do.
Kate Lewthwaite, Nature’s Calendar Project Manager
Why not try the questions here:
1. What proportion of the world population of bluebells is found in the UK?
c) 70 %
2. Swifts make a migratory journey of around 22,000 kilometres (14,000 miles) every year. What helps them to do this?
a) They hitch a lift on passing light aircraft
b) They have a special high-energy diet
c) They sleep with half their brain at a time
3. Oak: Why was the oak tree associated with the thunder god, Thor?
a) It is one of the commonest trees to be struck by lightning
b) Its dense canopy provides the best shelter from heavy storms
c) Because Thor was reputed to have climbed up one as a boy
4. Of the 46 species of UK ladybird, which one listed below is NOT a real species?
Click for the answers