THE Chevin offers local people and visitors a range of activities all year round, but there was even more to do last Sunday when the Otley Nature Network held its second Chevin Discovery Day.

Led by the Friends of Chevin Forest, Wildlife Friendly Otley and Otley2030, the day included hands-on activities as well as displays to enjoy and stalls representing a variety of local organisations. Visitors were guided by a stylish, hand-drawn map of the area made by Sandra Flitcroft.

As last year, the pond-dipping proved very popular, with the small pond near the White House offering up a considerable number of creatures. These included a surprising number of fish (how did they get there?) such as minnows and stickleback, though one young naturalist was a bit wide of the mark when she excitedly shouted “I’ve got a tuna!” Two huge tadpoles were caught – maybe young toads, hopefully not young bullfrogs – as well as interesting water beetles and pond snails. Young scientists were also enthused by a minibeast hunt, closely examining butterflies, bees, drone flies, a greenbottle and a curious garden snail. Both these activities formed part of a “bioblitz”: finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific location in a short period of time. Families were given recording sheets with which to contribute their findings, and Wildlife Friendly Otley collated all the results. Unfortunately the wet weather forced the cancellation of the reptile walk, and the rain meant the moth-trap investigation only revealed 3 specimens.

A new addition to the programme was an art workshop. First up was the construction of a large mandala – a circular spiritual symbol – made here using natural resources such as bracken, pine cones and tree bark. Then came Tataki (or Hapa) Zome – the Japanese art of printing on fabric using the pigments and shapes of leaves and petals (Waitrose kindly provided several bunches of colourful flowers). The fabric is folded around the plant parts and gently beaten with mallets or stones. The work surfaces were magnificent pieces of oak provided by the Chevin Rangers from a tree that came down in Tittybottle Park. The other art activity was drawing with inks made from nettles, red onions, brown onions, beetroot, turmeric, saffron, charcoal, blackberry and oak. Sinclair’s kindly provided watercolour paper for this, and feathers were used as tools. The art activities were led by Pat Foster, assisted by Isabel Ruiz, Michelle Plum-Hall and Aphra Tandy, who was there as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Also new this year was the addition of live music, which was well-received and fitted nicely with the emergence of the sun. April and Robin kicked this off by the White House, playing trumpet, guitar and keyboard. They were followed by Emma from the Brigadistas music collective, and finally Ana Luisa from the Mestisa group, playing music from Latin America.

Most of the event took place next to the White House or in the field to its west, but a slack-line and top-line were set up by Otley2030 near the maze, and proved very popular with the agile young. The day also featured an adaptation of the Climate Fresk game, which uses large cards to help people understand climate change. Otley Sewing Collective made some fantastic, realistic animals, and these were hung in the trees as a trail for children to find. The Chevin Forest School ran fun activities for young people, too. The Friends of Chevin Forest provided a local history display, quizzes and a tree trail, as well as tea and cake in the Nature Hub (what used to be called the Education Room opposite the White House).

The Bridge Church kindly loaned eight tables for the event. Wildlife Friendly Otley had an attractive stall, which they used to promote their cause and sell plants and cake. They enrolled new members, as did the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at their stand. Otley2030 welcomed people to the event and had conversations about their work and aims in Otley ie reducing our carbon emissions and making Otley a greener, fairer place. They also handed out sticky boards for children to collect woodland flowers and leaves on. Otley Camera Club brought some of their amazing photos (and expertise), whilst the Otley branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association included their “build-your-own-wall” kit for children to have a go at. There was also a stall selling RSPB pin badges amongst other things.

Neil Griffin said “Despite the wet start we had a good turnout. People love nature and they love the Chevin, and it was great to offer some new things this year, which went down very well. We’re very grateful to all the people who got involved or provided resources – it was another team effort that reflects Otley Nature Network and the community we live in.”