March update from Tim Castle, Heritage Trainee at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

March update from Tim Castle, Heritage Trainee at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Thursday, 31st March 2022

March update from Tim Castle, Heritage Trainee at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Making pewter © Lucy Bowyer

By Tim Castle

Heritage Trainee at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

What a brilliant month it has been, packed full of training and wildlife experiences. 

I have been lucky enough to have attended a chainsaw course, skilling me in the maintenance and use of the chainsaw and felling trees and cross cutting. Following on from this I have been away on a Forest School leader’s course with Sussex Wildlife Trust Communities and Wildlife staff Renzo Spano and Mike Murphy, learning how to implement and lead a Forest School to allow the participants to explore and engage with nature and the woodland in a fun and purposeful way. This is ongoing training that I will be doing throughout the next few months - so watch this space.

Back at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve I have worked with our young Wildlife Rangers - we spent time on the beach looking at the different wildlife found there as well as collecting cuttlefish bones needed for some staff training (more on this in a moment). These are found all over our beaches along the coast. The cuttlefish is a wondrous creature, related to squids and octopuses. The Common Cuttlefish, with its eight arms equipped with suckers and two tentacles around the mouth, make for a fearsome predator who will quickly polish off smaller cuttlefish, crabs and fish. They live at around 200 metres deep in the sea, but come to the shallow waters for breeding in the spring. Amazingly they can change their colour and texture very quickly to hide from other predators or to wait for their next meal to pass by. During the mating season they will pulse magnificent colours to attract a mate.

We used the Cuttlefish bones we collected to use in some training last week. We had Anna from 'Anna Outdoors' come along and taught us how to create casts using the cuttlefish bones as well as clay. We then melted pewter on an open fire, and used the melted pewter to make wonderful necklaces, brooches and other trinkets.

I also helped deliver a Wild Beach session (Forest School at the seaside) for one of our local primary schools. We had great fun looking at survival skills which included building beach shelters, looking at animal tracking and using plaster to cast their prints, and using Kelly kettles to make hot chocolate.

And finally, I spent a morning with Natasha one of our Communities and Wildlife Officers, pond dipping around Castle Water with the Wildlife Watch group – our monthly nature club for 5-11 year olds. We found lots of interesting wildlife, from minnows to flatworms and leeches. We were also lucky enough to spot a Weasel, Marsh Harrier, lots of geese and even a Mole! A great day out for everyone.

We will be holding a Wild Beach Alchemy event at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve on the 12th April which is an opportunity to experience the mysteries of pewter casting over a campfire, using cuttlefish bone and natural clay casts to make a beautiful keepsake inspired by nature.

See our What’s On pages for more details of all our events.

This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

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