Nurturing Nature Enthusiasm


Harrow Nature Conservation Forum believes that it is critical that more people are aware of the wildlife around us and how to monitor it. Our courses, which are free to attend thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, will help you plan and carry out your own survey project or nature event.

We plan to run a total of nine courses in 2019 and 2020. Here is the current schedule. To apply email admin@harrowncf.org or write to us at 40 Walton Drive, Harrow HA1 4XA including a one sentence explanation of why you would like to attend the course.

Bat Detection and Identification Sunday 22nd September 2019 Base: The Old Dairy, Wood Farm HA7 4LG. Teacher: Huma Pearce of Mostly Bats.

We will learn about British bat species and their ecology, where and when to look for active bats, and how to use different types of detectors to identify species. Huma will check some local bat boxes so there is the possibility of seeing live bats close up. (Note: Only qualified licensed personnel are legally permitted to disturb bats and therefore bat boxes can only be checked by or under the supervision of a suitably licensed by ecologist.) Following the course participants should have the skills needed to lead their own bat walks for members of the public and we will support this.

The course begins at 2PM and will run into the evening so participants should bring food and drink. The course will include fieldwork and therefore participants must bring appropriate footwear and clothing (e.g. waterproofs). Night-time temperatures can often drop soon after sunset so warm clothing is recommended. Note that the bat walk and bat box survey will only proceed under suitable dry weather conditions.


Small Mammal surveying Sunday 20th October 2019 Base: Stanmore Common HA7 3HQ. Teacher: Huma Pearce of Mostly Bats.

We will learn how to survey for small mammals (mice, voles, shrews and hedgehogs) in wild areas. The course will cover detection techniques such as footprint tunnels as well as direct trapping and release. Huma will also describe how to record survey data and how to report it to the appropriate organizations such as GIGL (Green Space Information for Greater London). Many sites in Harrow have not been carefully surveyed and following the course we hope that participants will join or even lead surveys of such sites with or without our support.

We will begin at 8 AM at Stanmore Common to visit traps that Huma set up earlier, so there is every chance of seeing some of the animals at close hand. We will finish in the late afternoon so participants should bring lunch and a drink. The course will include fieldwork and therefore participants must bring appropriate footwear and clothing (e.g. waterproofs).


Winter Tree Identification Sunday 2nd February 2020 Base: Bentley Priory, Masefield Avenue visitor centre HA7 3LY. Teacher: Paul Losse of Salix Ecology.

We think of winter as a quiet time, but in fact there is a lot of work to be done in wooded areas in winter. It is therefore important to be able to identify tree species even when they are leafless. Moreover, being able to identify trees enlivens winter walks! We will learn how to identify British trees by their buds, bark and canopy shape. We will begin indoors in the visitor centre at Masefield Avenue but will also spend time outdoors on Bentley Priory honing our identification skills. We hope that after the course participants will feel able to lead their own woodland walks, perhaps as part of the HNCF program or in their own groups.

The course will finish in the late afternoon so participants should bring lunch and a drink.The course will include fieldwork and therefore participants must bring appropriate footwear and clothing (e.g. waterproofs).


Riverfly Monitoring Saturday 18th April 2020 Base: Bernays Memorial Hall, 25 The Broadway, Stanmore, HA7 4DA. Teacher: Phoebe Shaw-Stewart of the Zoological Society of London.

A healthy stream supports a wide range of invertebrates from flatworms to insects. The Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (RMI) provides a simple monitoring technique that is used to detect pollution events and learn about long-term trends on river health. During the training you will learn the theory of RMI, how to kick sample a river, how to identify river invertebrates and score a sample and what to do with the data you collect. The course is free to attend and will prepare participants to help with surveys of streams in their local area.


Bees and hoverflies: how to tell the difference and monitor populations Sunday 17th May 2020 Base: The Old Dairy, Wood Farm HA7 4LG. Teacher: Russell Miller MSc, chair of the Ancient Tree Forum.

Bees are in the news at the moment: they are a noticeable, well liked insect group with obvious economic importance as crop pollinators, yet are declining in numbers. In the east of England, 73 of the 228 bee species recorded are threatened, regionally extinct or are of conservation concern. Hoverflies are also economically important, not only as pollinators but also because their larvae are major predators of aphids and other crop pests. In this course we will learn the difference between bees and hoverflies and how to identify the species likely to be seen in Harrow. We will learn techniques of surveying for bees and hoverflies and how to report findings to the appropriate database. Depending on the weather we will spend about half the time outside in Wood Farm and Stanmore Country Park. The knowledge that participants gain will both increase their enjoyment when they are in the wild and allow them to participate in surveys of populations in Harrow and elsewhere.


Phase 1 Survey of grassland habitats Sundays May 31 and June 14 2020 Bentley Priory, Masefield Avenue visitor centre HA7 3LY. Teacher: Denis Vickers, consultant ecologist.

Phase 1 is a method for relatively quickly assessing habitats and assigning them to particular classes such as acid grassland or broadleaved woodland, then assessing the ecological quality of the habitat. This course will describe how to carry out a phase 1 survey of grasslands, and will include training in recognising particular grassland species as well as how to use species lists to decide on the type and quality of the habitat. We will begin indoors in the visitor centre at Masefield Avenue but will also spend time outdoors on Bentley Priory which has a wide variety of grassland habitats. We hope that after the course participants will be able to assist in the surveying of grasslands at other sites in Harrow. This is a two day course comprising both Sundays.


What's living in dead wood? Surveying deadwood invertebrates Sunday 28th June 2020 Base: The Old Dairy, Wood Farm HA7 4LG. Teacher: Russell Miller MSc, chair of the Ancient Tree Forum.

Many invertebrates live all or part of their lives in dead trees including iconic species such as the stag beetle. This course will describe some of the invertebrates found in deadwood, how to find them and recognise them, and how the different stages of death and decay of a tree support different communities of invertebrates. Depending on the weather we will spend about half the time outside in the ancient woodland of Pear Wood looking at the invertebrates to be found there. The knowledge that participants gain will both increase their enjoyment when they are in the wild and allow them to participate in surveys of biodiversity in Harrow and elsewhere.


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