Stuart Searl, the new ranger for Shaw Forest Park, is keen to attract assistance to carry out surveys of the area.
Redevelopment work on Phase 1 and 2 of the park which started in 1994 to turn the former landfill site into a large open space next to West Swindon will be completed at the end of March, when responsibility for the area is taken over by Swindon Council’s parks maintenance department.
Because there has been so much earth shifted and shaped and thousands of trees planted on what was once Swindon’s domestic and industrial tip, there is only surface level knowledge of the environment at Shaw Forest. Deer sightings are common but Stuart wants to get a clearer and more scientific idea of the range of mammals, birds and insects that have colonised the park.
“Shaw Forest has a wide range of habitats which encourage a variety of species to set up home,” said Stuart. “There have been a few studies done previously that have identified species that were present at the time but there have been changes during different phases of work and I would like to involve volunteers in regular visits that would gather more complete records.
“For example, the open grassy areas are likely to be home to several species of butterflies such as the spectacular Orange Tip or the iridescent Small Copper, while the woods may be home to birds such as the cheerful Long Tailed Tit and the unmistakable Bull Finch.
“Starting in March I would like to begin butterfly and bird surveys around the park. Training will be given and no previous experience is necessary, just keenness to find out what’s there. However if you have experience identifying moths, dragonflies, plants or reptiles I would love to hear from you to share your knowledge. Everything we find helps build up a better picture of what wildlife can be found at Shaw Forest.”
To volunteer for one of these surveys, call Stuart on 490150 or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org