Sessions for wildlife enthusiasts become school holiday hit

RSPB Dearne Valley’s nature reserve includes grasslands, butterflies, orchids and ducklings.

A pilot wildlife activity has been popular with young people this summer.

Conservation charity RSPB Dearne Valley has been running weekly Tuesday Tales sessions during the school summer holidays, which allows children and parents to listen to tales of wildlife at the RSPB Dearne Valley’s Old Moor reserve.

The sessions have the aim of sparking the imaginations of young wildlife enthusiasts and are currently run by volunteers.

Julia Makin, Visitor Experience Officer at RSPB Dearne Valley, said that despite a lack of promotion, each session has attracted approximately ten children and their parents.

“We are lucky enough to have a volunteer who is training to be a professional storyteller,” she added.

“Chris Fitt and her husband, Bob, volunteer in a number of capacities here on the reserve, but this special talent is one that we are fully exploiting.

“We thought that it would be a really nice way to enhance the reserve experience for our younger visitors.

“All the stories have a wildlife theme, and involve music and rhyme too.

“Chris and Bob choose which stories, songs and rhymes to sing depending on the age of the audience in front of them.”

Exploring the reserve

There are three 30-minute sessions that are held every Tuesday at 11am, 1pm and 2pm.

Children and parents, who have attended the sessions, have also had the opportunity to explore the reserve that includes grasslands, butterflies, orchids and ducklings.

They can also enjoy the Kids Go Wild adventure playground – which includes climbing frames, swings and slides – and can hire Wildlife Explorer backpacks from the reserve’s shop that provides bug jars, binoculars and guidebooks.

Although Tuesday Tales is a pilot scheme that ends on Tuesday 30 August, a further session will be held during the autumn half-term break on Tuesday 25 October.

Ms Makin said: “Participants, parents and children alike seem to really enjoy it. Chris’ style is very inclusive and most people are captivated.

“Feedback has mentioned how much it has added something to the day out and kept people on the reserve for longer.

“It encourages reading, writing, music and imaginative exploration. It puts them in a receptive and proactive mindset for self-guided activity on the reserve, such as wildlife spotting.

“It helps to attract and engage a new family audience, which is key for the RSPB and its sustainability in the future.”

Entry to each session is charged at £3 for adults and £1.50 for children, but there will be no entry fee for RSPB members and all places will need to be reserved.

For further information, contact RSPB Dearne Valley on Old.moor@rspb.org.uk or 01226 751593.

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This news story was self-published in August 2011.

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