The visit to Potteric Wildlife park was met with lovely Indian summers day warmth and blue skies.
We had been told on arrival that it had been raining in the morning and the organisers were worried it may dampen our experience, but it had really helped the grasslands come alive with nature (and mosquitos!).
Taking us around the parklands were Jo from the National Wildlife Trust, who had set up the Netwalking Event, and Cat who was leading us around the grounds who was passionate to share her knowledge of the parks flora and fauna.
Her excitement at the amount of fungi we would be seeing was prevalent, not only from her own admission, but from her chosen t-shirt (as assortment of British countryside mushrooms) and her exposed tattoo of a mushroom on her arm.
Cat took us through the dense forest, noting points of interest such as the statues erected to mark the owls and badgers that had taken up residence in the peaceful grounds, and explained how this land was preserved against the urbanisation of the area as there are not many nature parks close to Doncaster town.
Her enthusiasm at the foliage turning brown for the Autumn and the dying wood creating homes for fungi really rubbed off on the group, as we asked many questions about the animals and birds and the mushrooms takeover in the forest.
I quipped that I had flashbacks to watching a recent hit TV show called ‘The Last Of US’, which depicts a future where the cordiceps ‘brain centres’ from fungus develop into take over humankind!
From the group I spoke mostly to Jack, a chap that works for electrical cable management across Yorkshire. He told me about his fondness for the conservation of the environment, enjoying the fresh air with his dog, and how recently being a father he was enjoying the chance to explore a future walk experience with his family.
Cat continued our journey to a show us a ‘Badgers Bathroom’ (yes really!), the bird houses erected to help swallows nest in the park, a hornets nest (not an intentional feature!) and the local sheep that were enjoying the sunshine near the grounds of the park’s entrance.
I was able to see crimson red Dragon Fly’s, smell a sample of Mugwort (a strong herb good for mixing into hot chocolate for high blood pressure) and I intently listened to Cat tell us about the woes of the endangered water vole.
She told us of the environmental impact that American Mink had had on them, a species not found in the UK but had been duly illegally released by poachers and was up-ending the ability for water voles to survive.
It was enjoyable to chat to all the volunteer walkers about nature and conservations plans each were developing and we thrilled that we were able to take part in observing the Potteric centre.
A big thank you to the organisers of the day!
Author: Will Robinson, Customer Service Advisor, Brandon Hire Station