26 July 2012>
Next week, Aberbargoed Grasslands National Nature Reserve will play host to a fantastic free event for young people aged 11-14. The Mission:Predator event will take place on August 1st and 2nd, 10am-4pm, offering participants the opportunity to take part in a number of practical wildlife conservation activities.
The Mission:Predator scheme aims to engage with young people and teach them the importance of practical conservation in their local area. Both sessions will see participants working with hand tools to build safe havens for two different types of wildlife; reptiles and barn owls, which are both target species in Caerphilly County Borough Council's Biodiversity Action Plan.
Wednesday's session (1st August) will focus on constructing safe places for reptiles to hibernate during the winter, which will require a lot of digging and heaving of rocks and branches. Participants may also have the opportunity to build large compost piles for grass snakes to lay their eggs.
The barn owl session on Thursday 2nd August will involve young people building a barn owl nest box, looking into owl pellets and helping clear some of the bush invasion on areas of grassland where they would normally feed. Instructors will also attempt to live trap small mammals such as mice and voles for participants to see close up (releasing them back into the wild afterwards).
Both sessions will include a chance to see a real barn owl (thanks to the Owl Sanctuary at Ebbw Vale) and possibly a grass snake up close as well.
Andrew Wilkinson, Environmental Education Officer at the council said, "This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn all about conservation, whilst engaging in fun hands on sessions. Using a variety of tools over the two days, I think many will enjoy a more practical experience and at the end get a sense of achievement in completing an important project that will benefit their local wildlife.
"During the 19th Century, much of Wales comprised of ideal habitat for barn owls but clearance of woodland and hedgerows, expansion of roads and construction have led to a massive decline over the last 20 years. Similarly, reptiles have suffered a large decline in numbers, but we still have common lizards, grass snakes and the much maligned adder in the country borough; all of which hibernate to avoid the bitter cold of winter."
Places are limited therefore booking is essential. For further information or to reserve a place, please contact Andrew Wilkinson on 01443 834 317.
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