Get the most out of your camping experience at our woodland campsites, part 2
In my last blog I pointed out some of the best places for spotting animals here at Beech Estate Woodland Campsite and I explained that habitat means ‘a natural home of an animal or plant’. But I didn’t tell you what we do to make sure that our forest stays as alive as it is. So here it is.
In the woodland surrounding the pitches we have installed many so called ‘habitat piles’. They are the piles of twigs and branches that are dotted all around the campsite. To some they may look untidy but they are very important for the Woodland Campsites and the ecosystem. They offer dry homes to birds, bees and wasps, mice, voles and shrews, and even snakes.
Habitat piles are very vulnerable to destruction, because some guests mistake them for free firewood. One of the Wardens more difficult tasks is to make sure that the woodland’s animals are not disturbed in their homes.
Habitat piles are among the most active areas on the campsite, day and night. Sit quietly near a habitat pile after dark to listen to nocturnal (= active during the night) animals, it’s great fun! Or watch the wrens dart in and out of one during the day. Their loud and aggressive calls make up for how tiny they are!
Most of our campsite policies are in place to ensure that animals and campers can spend some quality time together. And here is an especially important one: Stick to the paths. But why? Because off paths you are much more likely to disturb or destroy habitat. You may step on a nest or someone’s burrow or scare off a bird and make it desert its nest.
Many of our birds make their nests in cover on the ground, for example hidden under bracken or fallen leaves. These birds are especially good at blending into their surroundings, in fact they simply look like fallen leaves or tree bark. This is called camouflage and it helps them to hide from their predators.
Our personal favourite is the nightjar, the only night swallow in Northern Europe. With only about 6500 birds left in the UK, it is incredibly rare. The nightjar visits our campsite to breed here in the summer months (late April to September). Listen out for its creepy call as it circles the campsite just after dawn or its froglike croaking and wing slapping during mating season. The nightjar’s song, a moonlit night and a nice campfire, that’s all I need to keep me entertained. You might even catch a glimpse of its witchlike silhouette if conditions are right.We have never been so mesmerised by anything else. Highly recommended by the Wardens!