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Little heroes step up for nature with wild 10th birthday picnic

Last modified: 20 June 2011

Kestrel hovering

Kestrels a soaring success...

For ten years, some of north Oxfordshire’s youngest residents have been stepping up for nature – and now they are getting ready to celebrate with an outdoor party at one of Oxfordshire’s most stunning wildflower meadows.

Hook Norton Kestrels, an RSPB Wildlife Explorers group for children aged six and upwards, will be celebrating its tenth birthday on Saturday 25 June.

In the ten years since the group began, the children have helped clear a pond, done surveys of nesting swifts, removed willows and hawthorn scrub from a local nature reserve, raised money for the RSPB’s campaign to save rainforests and spent many hours discovering the wildlife of the local area.

Their regular visits to local farms have helped farmers demonstrate how their Countryside Stewardship projects are forging links with the local community.

The children and their families will gather for a 10th birthday picnic party amongst the orchids and butterflies at Cow Lane Farm, near Hook Norton.

They will picnic on a field which twenty years ago would have grown wheat but is now a flower rich meadow humming with wildlife.

This habitat restoration project was the brainchild of the owner’s late husband, Tom Powell.

Bee orchids, pyramidal orchids, marbled white butterflies and even a passing quail have all returned. The project has been helped by the government’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

Leo Groethe and Ezra Lucas have been members of Hook Norton Kestrels from the very beginning.

Now aged 18, they have stepped up to help the group as volunteer junior leaders.

Leo said: “I’ve enjoyed going out with the group since I was eight. Now I come along and help run the activities for the younger children. We’ve done some really great stuff including bug hunts and pond dipping, looking for fossils and doing bird surveys. We’ve even been out late at night looking for badgers and bats.”

Ezra is now studying Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. He said: “Being out with the group has given me some brilliant experiences with wildlife over the years. Being at university studying how the natural environment works is kind of an extension of that.”

Mary Powell, who owns and manages the wildflower meadow, said: “Hook Norton Kestrels come and visit our meadow every summer. It’s wonderful to see so many youngsters out in the open air enjoying nature and really makes the hard work of restoring the meadow feel worthwhile.”

How you can help

RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area, while learning more about birds and wildlife.

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