Wild Winter Day And Other Centre Happenings

Families off on a minibeast hunt

On the last Saturday in January we ran the first Friends of Juniper Hall themed family day at the centre. We called it the Wild Winter Day, and many of the Friends, as well as other local residents and wildlife enthusiasts, came and brought their families for a bracing day around the house and grounds of Juniper Hall to enjoy getting close to nature in its winter guise. We we very pleased with the turn-out, and everyone involved had a great day. The weather, while not as spectacular as it was soon to become (there was not yet a trace of February’s dramatic snowfalls that almost ground the UK to a halt), was still cold enough to lend a suitably seasonal frisson to the proceedings. On the agenda was minibeast hunting in the Templeton woods, identification of bugs and invertebrates in our minibeast laboratory, (humane) small mammal trapping, fun games such as ‘woolly worms, and lots and lots of coffee and squash and biscuits.

Checking traps for small mammals

The event was so successful that we are now planning several more days throughout the year, beginning with the Sensational Spring Family Day that will be taking place on April 14. Interested parties should contact Juniper Hall to book at 08454583507 (There will be a small fee for non-Friends).

Of course, early in February we experienced some very serious snowfalls, lending the centre grounds a beautiful wintery sheen! Some bright, cold days tramping about the white hills of Surrey was perfect for fieldwork, though on occasion extreme measures had to be taken to ensure that we had some clear areas for plant sampling. All part of life working in the outdoors, really.

The likeness to yule logs did not go unmentioned.

Of course, the most exciting thing that has happened at Juniper Hall this month was the arrival of several new staff members.

Jenny Richardson is our new tutor. An ex-footpath access officer, she comes to us with plenty of experience of teaching in the outdoors in a variety of locations, including the Malham Tarn Field Centre in North Yorkshire.  She’s also an extremely keen paddler, and believes that there is nothing–absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Georgia Spooner is one of our new Education Assistants. A local girl (she hails from Dorking), Georgia loves working outdoors, has lots of experience working with community projects and is very excited about an upcoming half-marathon that she’s preparing for in six weeks.

Jacob Hunter is our new Education Assistant, and he’s more than happy to speak for himself:

Coming straight from an internship at the brand-new RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden – almost next door to FSC Flatford Mill – it’s great to have the chance to contribute to something that’s already stood the test of time. I really enjoyed the opportunities that the RSPB gave me both to be the public face of the garden, but also to muck in and dig a few holes. I like the fact that my new role is both practical and people-oriented.

I’m keen on nature and am engaged by the relationship that humankind has with its environment. Specifically I have been most interested recently in plants (hence the garden internship) and in latterly in birds, having caught ‘the bug’ from my colleagues.

I’m already enjoying working with the excellent team at FSC Juniper Hall and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the aims of the centre.

You can check out some of Jacob’s previous work and writings here:



We extend a  big welcome to all the new recruits, and look forward to working with them!