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September began on a positive, when I was given permission to restart Newcastleton Wildlife Club. Like many other outdoor groups and sports our Wildlife Club came to an abrupt halt with the Covid lockdown. I assured the youngsters at the time that we would definitely be back – and I think all of us have been counting the days. I had many rules and regulations to follow to allow us to get up and running again, but after a lot of phone calls and emails back and forth, the Scottish Wildlife Trust gave us the go-ahead. I wondered how we would manage with all the changes, but youngsters are so adaptable, and they coped incredibly well. We began just as we left off in March, full of enthusiasm and ready to head back out to the woods. Now approaching week four, they are definitely back on track, gaining confidence again and working well as a group. We always have a wee review at the end of every club session, giving everyone the chance to voice opinions and resolve issues. Sometimes it could be the kids suggesting how to run a woodland game to suit everyone, or thinking about how an activity could be easier for the younger ones.

As an example, we ran a bug survey the other week. Usually that’s a straightforward activity, with adults helping youngsters and all hands on deck. To make sure my bug equipment was covid free, I took it up to the woodland and left it there one week beforehand. On the day of the bug hunt, the kids helped themselves to the equipment, then afterwards returned and counted it all. Then I left it all in the woods for another week before touching it.

During the review at the end of the session, one member said the worst bit had been that the bug pot lid was stiff and she couldn’t open it fast enough. Someone else said they didn't get as many bugs as usual because adults couldn’t help. My heart sank as I wondered how we could make this work given the current conditions. As we usually do, we discussed this, and the kids came up with the answer, deciding that instead of pairing up with their best friend for an activity, they should maybe choose a younger member who might need help. These kids are so great, supporting each other, to help everyone succeed.

Last week was a different kind of session. We have been nominated for an award in the very prestigious RSPB Nature Awards and are in the short list in the Youth and Education category. The winners will be announced at the end of November but in the meantime we’ve been asked to send a short film to support our nomination. It was incredibly difficult to cram what we all do into a one minute film - especially as the adults had to stay two metres away from the members.

Liddesdale red squirrel group are working hard receiving reports of grey squirrels in the area. So thank you to everyone who has been in touch, your help is much appreciated. You can go online and look up Savings Scotland's Red squirrels, click on 'report a sighting' and follow instructions. Whether you've seen a red or grey, dead or alive, it’s all valuable information and they really want to know, so THANK YOU to everyone for helping. If we get the numbers of reds up again, what a treat for not only locals to see but also to attract keen wildlife watchers to the area. Our swallows have finally gone, I always feel things change when they leave us. Autumn is here, leaves are fallen from the trees, some are changing covering the landscape in autumnal tones with yellows, browns, reds and oranges. Mornings are cooler and nights are darker.

Autumn is my favourite time of year, I LOVE to go exploring finding treasures that nature provides, Things to look out for *Hazelnuts *Brambles *Sloe berries

*Autumnal colours *Keep an eye on the squirrels too

Till next month

- Happy WILDLIFE watching


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