Today we have the second in our series of 2.6 Challenge fundraiser blogs, this time from Merryl Gelling in Oxfordshire who, with her two daughters, raised an amazing £378 for the Mammal Society!
I jumped at the chance to join Pam Worrall in her 2.6 Challenge to see 26 different species of British Mammal in 26 weeks but the realisation that my two daughters (nicknamed Turtle and Seahorse) were aged 2 and 6 inspired me to attempt the challenge with them during lockdown.
It seemed so easy at first – a badger that emerged in our garden while the girls were in the paddling pool gave them literal ringside seats for our first mammal, and several others were ticked off on our daily walks where we’re lucky to be in strolling distance of woodland and a river so two species of deer, fox, mole and even otter and water vole soon joined the ranks. However, it was quickly apparent that short nights and young children did not go well together when it comes to mammal spotting. Bats were emerging too late to sensibly be able to take the girls out in the evening, and thus our challenge shuffled along slowly for several months; by early October we had only reliably ticked off 19 species.
I needed to up my game, which with school being back in full swing was not the easiest… All, however, was not lost. I had a contract to undertake some small mammal trapping and camera trap work at a site I knew had a wide diversity of species – we had worked at the same spot in 2019 and got seven species, none of which we had yet recorded during our challenge. I therefore scheduled the work to coincide with the first day of Turtle’s school holiday, which left us all of two days to complete the challenge! Turtle’s excitement at the prospect of coming out knew no bounds, with everyone in he school ‘bubble’ (and her Zoom ballet teacher) all being told of the upcoming plans. On the morning in question she was the epitome of the perfect fieldworker – ate breakfast in the car, donned waterproofs like a pro and set off for the first traps laden with equipment. Her utter delight at seeing close-up field voles, bank voles and woodmice, as well as a harvest mouse nest, with common and pygmy shrew and harvest mouse on camera was amazing – and she still tells people proudly (and correctly) how to distinguish a bank and field vole. Definitely a proud Mum moment!
With also ticking off brown hare and dormouse on the same day we nailed the challenge – 27 species and a whole day to spare! Both Turtle and Seahorse spent that last day drawing pictures of all the different animals and signs we’d seen along the way, re-living various walks and locations we’d been to over the past 6 months. Taking this on with two young children was definitely a challenge within a challenge but it was great to have something to focus on when life took such a dramatic change of course – and one I’d highly recommend if anyone else is looking for distraction in the months to come.
If you are planning to fundraise for the Mammal Society THANK YOU! A great place to start is our JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving pages. That way we can keep track of what you’re doing and encourage you along the way. Do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you’re doing and be sure to tag us on social media!
For more inspiration why not read the first blog in this series? Click here for Pam Worrall’s blog.