We have just had a bug hunt for visitors in the castle grounds. The hunts were organised at hourly intervals and led by a team from Herefordshire Nature Trust. They provided nets and special plastic boxes with magnifying glasses incorporated in the lids, so successful hunters could more closely examine their catches. The hunts took place in a grove of redwoods and at the outflow of the lake by the weir.

Looking for bugs in the long grass involved sweeping the nets through the top of the grass. Inevitably, a lot of grass seeds were collected. But amongst this unintended haul were several bugs and the odd butterfly, which the hunt leaders were able mostly to identify from sheets illustrating various species that we were likely to come across. We also scoured the ground around the base of the trees, where there were plenty of woodlice: one father triumphantly captured a stag beetle, which we all admired. No-one was stung or bitten.

The water hunt proved slightly less rewarding. There were a few water boatmen and leaches, but no newts or frogs. But most of the fun was in the chase, and the participants got a good idea of what they could do next time they were I long grass or near a stream. Even if we did not catch much, it was amazing how much life there was in apparently uninhabited places.      JH-B     13 July 2009