Preliminary Ecological Appraisal

Echoes Ecology have now completed their PEA of our proposed site in Gillies Hill Community Woodland. Their executive summary records “There was no field evidence of protected species found during the survey. There is suitable habitat for nesting birds and commuting and foraging for bats. If proposed works are to be undertaken during the breeding bird season (March to September inclusive), then any areas of the Site that need to be cleared of vegetation must be shown to be free of nesting birds prior to works commencing. There are no other recommended surveys.”

Echoes Ecology report lists several species from the Scottish Biodiversity List which may be present in the woodland – these include bats, toads, hedgehogs, red squirrels and native bluebells. We have seen lots of bluebells this spring, we regularly see toads and have once spotted a red squirrel. We need to keep our eyes peeled for the rest!

Be Tick Aware

During woodland play sessions children may be exposed to ticks as they are commonly found in woodland, moorland, grassland and parks. Ticks can sometimes pass on diseases such as Lyme disease and Tick-borne encephalitis to humans. Not all ticks are infected and, if they are removed quickly and safely, the chance of illness is greatly reduced.

We strongly recommend that children wear long sleeved tops and trousers as they not only reduce the risk of tick bite they also protect against nettle stings, scrapes and scratches.

We also recommend that parents check for ticks routinely and, if found, remove as soon as possible. The safest way to do this is to use a tick removal tool commonly available in most outdoor shops and chemists.

The following information and guidance may also be useful :

NHS Scotland : Tick Bites

Forestry and Land Scotland : Checking for ticks is easy

NHS Scotland guidelines : Current NHS Scotland Guidelines on Lyme Disease

Forestry Commission: Forestry Commission Identifying Ticks

The following YouTube video by a NHS Highland GP shows how to remove ticks safely :

Visit from Echoes Ecology

We were very pleased to welcome Kay and Heather from Echoes Ecology to our woods this morning. They have picked a beautiful, warm, sunny day to visit!

Kay and Heather are are conducting a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) of our site in the woods which will document the range of habitats present and will look for signs of any protected species. This initial appraisal will inform the requirement for any future surveys.

Kay is known to us at CVN having helped us put up squirrel and bird feeders in the woods a couple of years ago. We are hopeful that our children can again be involved so that we can learn more about the creatures that live in our woods.

April Volunteer Day @ the Walled Garden

We were pleased to join with so many people at the mid month volunteer session in the Walled Garden at Gillies Hill Community Woodland today. The garden is literally springing into life and there were many jobs on the go including digging over and planting potatoes in a new bed, fixing the door to the poly tunnel, clearing the ever present glass and rubbish, planting strawberry plants and planting a new willow dome. It’s great to see changes and improvements as a result of everyone’s hard work. Despite the long list of jobs on the go there was time for a chat while enjoying a well earned cuppa.
Our job today was building a willow dome and, if we say it ourselves, we were very pleased with the result. It has a little bit of growing to do as we were maybe a little bit over ambitious with our planning but ambition is never a bad thing 😉
We are looking forward to watching it grow!

Community Clear Up Month

Our children have been out today picking up litter in Gillies Hill Community Woodland as part of the Community Clear Up Month. We collected a lot of litter and the bag was very heavy by the time we were finished. We hope you notice that the woods are so much cleaner now as a result of our hard work!
Thank you to Cambusbarron Community Council for lending us the litter pickers.

Mini First Aid

Our children have been very interested in learning about how to keep safe and healthy like their Wellbeing Buddies Safe Stella and Healthy Henry. Children have been asking about the roles of doctors, nurses, paramedics and first aiders too as we’ve had a lot of “accidents” in nursery requiring emergency treatment!! We were delighted therefore to welcome Lynsay Allan with Mini First Aid Fife & Forth Valley and Teddy to nursery yesterday. Teddy is very accident prone and Lynsay showed the children what to do if they have an accident too. Our children learned how to clean a small cut and put a plaster on it, how to put a cool pack on for 10 minutes if they have a bump on their heads, how to help a very poorly person lie on their side and how to call 999 to get help for them.
Lynsay thought all of our children were Superstars!

Forest Kindergarten Training @ Chatelherault

It was a privilege to spend several days in Chatelherault Country Park this week with my Learning through Landscapes colleague, Gordon, delivering Forest Kindergarten training to a group of early years professionals from South Lanarkshire council. It was great to see their enthusiasm and confidence grow over the course and I look forward to hearing how their Forest Kindergarten adventures progress.

Sharing what we do at CVN with others, motivating and encouraging then to take their children outside is so rewarding. It also serves as a reflection point for me with the opportunity to explain the huge benefits to children (and adults!) of being outdoors in nature. It shows how far we have come at CVN and is a reminder that we shouldn’t take what we have here for granted. We are so lucky to have the amazing Gillies Hill Community Woodland as a resource on our doorstep and to be able to spend so much time there playing and learning.

Meeting new people, sharing practice and exploring such a beautiful location (if, like me, you’ve never been to Chatelherault before, I’d definitely recommend a visit) is reward enough, but lovely to receive positive feedback from participants too 🥰

“I have to comment on Gordon and Jane. They are so knowledgeable, friendly, welcoming, supportive and genuinely nice people. When you have people that are so passionate about what they do it ignites and fire in you and you just want to get out there and do what you have read, learned and spoke about. Thanks to them for making the three days for training memorable and fun.” South Lanarkshire FK participant.