With the leaves beginning to fall, September to October saw the SHEROES return to Rainton Meadows, County Durham to work with Durham Wildlife Trust again. Around a series of themes and topics, the group of girls, usually 12 in total, once again took over the enclosed landscape in order to explore and grow in confidence with being out there.

We started off with pond dipping in September when we still had some summer sun and the water was teaming with life.

Sticklebacks, beetles, dragonflies, spiders, lesser water boatmen, leeches and eels. All where found and examined closely by the girls, without many squeals of horror more like delight.

The following weeks saw the group bird watching, with the late departure of swallows this year but plenty of mallards and herons to spy upon. Then tree identification either through their leaves or fruit and nuts and eco-printing with our collected spoils.

We ended the four week session with a hunt for mini beasts. At first the girls were apprehensive and more or less afraid of the unknown. But once they were equipped with their identification charts, magnifying cups and trays, they really took to the task and enjoyed lifting up the rocks or fallen tree branches, roots and logs to look with wonder as the hidden wild life underneath. Taking care to replace any lifted homes to their original placings.

Each session started with an introduction to the focus of the day, with what to look out for, followed by the walk out with clipboard in hand. To return to the study room to partake in a craft activity. Eco-printing was one, already mentioned but there was also clay work and painting and willowing bending.

Mandy, one of the rangers we worked with at Rainton Meadows, remarked at the end of the autumn session on how far the girls have come from when they first visited at the beginning of summer. “The growth in their confidence and their willingness to try anything and everything,” Mandy said was something she felt had been an honour and joy to witness.

2020 has a lot in store for the SHEROES group as they continue to enjoy and extend their knowledge as well as enjoyment of the Great Outdoors.