From badgers to bats to butterflies to botanical illustration; we have everything covered in our 2017 wildlife courses programme,
Our education courses typically consist of an indoor teaching session followed by a chance to get out ‘in the field’ with an expert and experience some amazing wildlife. There are courses to suit everybody from beginners to amateur naturalists. Almost all our 2016 courses sold out (some very quickly!) and hundreds of people learnt about, experienced and enjoyed the wildlife of Sussex.
For people wanting to just get closer to some of our most amazing species we offer the chance to hear nightingales singing on a summer’s evening, the song of the dawn chorus at sunrise, walk on the South Downs at night looking for the lights of the incredible glow-worm or sit in a Sussex woodland watching badgers emerge from their setts at dusk.
This year we’ve added a number of exciting new courses too. Best-selling author Tristan Gooley teaches you to guide yourself through the countryside by reading nature’s signposts in his natural navigation course (7 July). Learn how to ‘read’ spider’s webs, trees and sheep to find your way across Sussex. We also have a regular navigation course (9 September) for those looking to learn to navigate with maps and a compass.
For birdwatchers, Mike Russell leads an introduction to birdwatching visiting the top Sussex birding sites. We’ll be listening for the song of nightingales (11 May) and the ‘churring’ of nightjars (15 June). Our owls of Sussex course was extremely popular last year so we are running two courses this year on the 24 and 27 September.
Plenty of courses for insect lovers too. Roger Morris and Stuart Ball, authors of ‘Britain’s Hoverflies: A Field Guide’ will be leading a two day introduction to these fascinating insects (introduction to hoverflies 25 & 26 March). An introduction to micro-moths (6 May) is new for 2017 and the bigger moths are covered in an introduction to moths and moth trapping (23 June). Another new course aimed at how to help bees and other pollinators (May 19) will teach you about managing your garden and other wild areas for insects. And we’ll also be running our popular courses on other insects; dragonflies and damselflies (24 June), summer butterflies (8 July) and bumblebees (8 July). Graeme Lyons teaches identification and survey techniques at Iping Common one of England’s finest heathland sites on his invertebrates of a heathland course (18 August). You can learn about and encounter glow-worms on our evening course near Hove (7 July).
Those interested in wildlife conservation will want to attend our course on wildlife and the planning process (23 May). Petra Billings runs two new courses looking at woodland ecology and management (28 April) and the wildlife of chalk downland (30 June).
For aspiring botanists we have two courses looking at the wildflowers of Sussex. The first focusing on meadow and woodland flowers (20 May) and the other focusing on downland and coastal flowers (15 July). Botanists may want to improve their knowledge of grasses, sedges and rushes (30 June & 1 July). We’ll also be exploring the incredible and bizarre world of fungi (2 November).
There’s also opportunities to learn more about our elusive nocturnal mammals. There’s a course on small mammals (7 April) and others which focus specifically on the enigmatic harvest mouse (29 September) and hazel dormouse (26 May & 22 September) and we’ll be running an evening session to learn about (and listen out for) bats (19 May). Our badger courses are always popular and give people the chance to learn about and observe these elusive mammals in April and May.
Throughout the year wildlife photographer David Plummer leads a series of courses for beginners interested in nature photography or photographers looking to improve their skills.
So take the opportunity to learn more about Sussex wildlife this year or perhaps give the gift of wildlife to a naturalist friend.
short-eared owl film by Gerald & Grethe Geoghegan