Despite wet weather, the Festival of Wildlife attracted almost 2,000 people to Panshanger Park, near Hertford, to discover and celebrate wildlife.
The Festival of Wildlife was held on 27 – 28 July by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust in association with Hertfordshire Natural History Society and in partnership with Tarmac, owners of the park.
The free family-friendly festival offered walks and expert talks for children and adults, conservation demonstrations and children’s activities. There was also a chance to meet some of the residents of Hertfordshire’s rivers at the Chalk Stream Discovery Zone. Local craftspeople and food producers were also on hand for visitors to enjoy. The Festival also offered the opportunity to have a close look at some of the members of Panshanger longhorn herd that was recently featured on BBC Countryfile.
The Herts Invertebrate Project and the British Naturalists Association organised minibeast hunts to spot and record wildlife around the festival. Everyone was encouraged to report their wildlife sightings across the park and these were then sketched by local illustrator, Alasdair Bright, to create a large artwork. One family’s minibeast hunt resulted in the exciting discovery of a new species for Panshanger Park: the hazel leaf-rolling weevil beetle, a real Hertfordshire rarity, was found by a child using a sweep net.
Lesley Davies, Chief Executive of Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, says: “Once again, the Festival of Wildlife was a great success and we’re delighted to see that so many people are passionate about wildlife. The beautiful artwork created by Alasdair will be a fantastic reminder of the diverse wildlife that the festival celebrates.”
Panshanger Park is a former sand and gravel quarry and Tarmac, who own the park and kindly hosted the Festival, offered visitors the rare chance to discover the Lifecycle of a Quarry through a tractor tour.
The tour showed visitors how mineral extraction took place at Panshanger quarry, from the extraction process to the award-winning restoration. It also offered the possibility to have a close look at the ongoing restoration works.
Stuart Wykes, Director of Land & Natural Resources at Tarmac, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people. We were really proud to show them the wide and diverse range of fauna and flora thriving at Panshanger, a reflection of the high-quality habitats that have been created and allowed to establish through our stewardship and carefully planned, award-winning restoration.”
Agneta Burton, Chair of Hertfordshire Natural History Society, said: “Panshanger Park provides a wonderful opportunity to see how species are responding to management and so many visitors are learning about the fantastic diversity of plants and animals at the site. The Festival of Wildlife is a great event to show people the history and wildlife importance of this great site.”