I cant remember when I first heard about Foresters Forest but my first involvement was an advert inviting people to do bat survey training. I thought this would be a very interesting activity to get involved in but I certainly never realised at the outset how little I knew about bats, which in fact was nothing at all.
I would encounter bats fleetingly when in the garden at dusk on warm summer evenings & delighted as I was to glimpse them I just assumed they were “pipistrelles” (or even just “bats”) , that being the only species name I knew (apart from vampire bats). I also thought bats were a rarity and there weren’t that many around.
Now that I have bought myself a hand held bat detector & with the experience of the training I realise that I was actually right – they are pipistrelles. But now I know the difference between pipistrelles and lesser horseshoe, serotine and greater horseshoe and others and that these fabulous creatures are actually quite numerous and live nearby where I live, if you know where and how to look. Hitherto I had just driven past these places in my own neighbourhood without knowing of their existence.
My own main interest is birds and second to that butterflies, and walking my hobby. We moved out from London some years ago and were attracted to the Forest of Dean as a place to live partly because here you can go out for country walks from your own doorstep and get to see some of these things as you walk along. If you didn’t see anything of interest at least you had had a good walk and seen some scenery but if you did see buzzards or say a painted lady, that’s a bonus.
Over the years we have become more “ambitious” if that’s the right word, as we got to know more and try to combine walks of scenic interest with expectations of sightings of things you are likely to see depending on the season and time of year. So we get much more satisfaction from country walks than we did before, even when it is very local. A country walk is more than just a country walk.
So it’s a natural progression for me to delve deeper and want to observe more and to understand relationships between the species and their habitats, also to work to help them survive and flourish. I have already been involved with surveying hedges for bats and will also be doing some butterfly and reptile surveying in the coming season.