Youngsters gain nature knowledge at Norfolk Countrysiders' Conservation Campout
Young people from across Norfolk gained valuable knowledge of the natural world during their annual conservation campout at an estate near Thetford, writes MOIRA HARRISON, Countrysiders development officer for Norfolk Young Farmers.
What a great weekend for the Countrysiders’ annual Conservation Campout – the sun shone as tents were erected in the old deer park on the Euston Estate, by kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Grafton.
Overlooking the Black Bourne river, the setting was truly idyllic as the Countrysiders fetched wood and prepared the site for the camp fire.
Bug pit fall traps were set to discover the diverse range of bugs in various locations such as woodland and field margins. A lively game of rounders concluded the Friday evening and after hot jacket potatoes cooked over the camp fire.
On Saturday, seven groups set off in various directions to start the conservation tasks. These included kingfisher nest-building, coppicing and pollarding mature willow, natural habitat nest boxes made from logs of oak, maternity bat roosts, an otter holt, non-native crayfish trapping and a fabulous bridge across to an island on the Black Bourne.
Later we had an incredible talk by the resident deer stalker Chris Rogers, who spoke about the maintenance of a healthy herd of wild deer. He skinned and butchered a deer and then barbecued some venison steaks which were delicious and a new taste experience for many.
Sunday saw the Annual Countrysiders Forum where 11 of the 15 Countrysider clubs around Norfolk were represented.
We then had a talk about Euston from estate director Andrew Blenkiron, and we learned that the Dukes of Grafton had lived on the estate, near Thetford, continuously for 350 years – along with many other historical facts through the years.
A barbecue lunch on Sunday heralded the end of yet another amazing camp and grateful thanks must go to the hard-working Countrysiders and the army of volunteers who gave up their weekend to enable the Campout to take place.
• For more information on Norfolk Young Farmers and Countrysiders, the club’s junior branch, contact the county office on 01603 731307.