2020 started full of anticipation for a busy year.  Our visitor numbers have steadily risen since we first opened our doors in 2017.  It seems a long time ago now, March.  The approach of restrictions, our early responses, virtual guided walks, a chance to work on the centre’s maintenance and then suddenly nothing.  No working together, no walks, no activities, no centre. The very week we were due to open, we closed.  Our roles turned ‘virtual’, our work became focussed on a screen; the only way we could communicate nature to the outside world.  Facebook and Instagram, our virtual community, became our only community.

Our wildlife has had a wonderful year.  Freed from the pressure of human interference many species have had a very successful breeding season.  Since we reopened on July 15th our visitors have been treated to the sight of three young red squirrels coming to our feeders and even a pine marten, that has turned up on several occasions. We are also eagerly awaiting the construction of our much-delayed hide, which will give our visitors a fantastic opportunity to watch the birds and mammals that come to feed both day and night.  We have hosted a family of greater spotted woodpeckers and a wide range of woodland birds, some of which, such as great tits, have nested in the boxes placed around the centre.

As self-employed rangers, flexibility will be essential for us over the coming months.  We’ve had a glimpse of what can be possible, a glimpse of how fundamental nature is to all our lives.  Where would we be now without the daily exercise, the connection to the natural world?  Folk have had the chance to breathe clean air, hear bird song, watch spring and summer unfold.  The hope now is that we can hang on to at least some of this wonder, rather than see it buried in a mad rush back to an economy based on just buying ‘more stuff’.