It’s almost time for this year’s Sidmouth Biodiversity Festival which runs from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 June. Three days exploring local nature, what could be better! The full programme of free events is available from our website. www.sidvalleybiodiversity.org

There’s something for all ages and interests at the festival, whether you are already enthusiastic about the natural world, simply curious about our local wildlife or just looking for an enjoyable experience where you can learn from knowledgeable people.

There is a theme to the activities on each day with River coming first on Friday; Sea on Saturday and Land on Sunday.

Children and young people will find plenty to interest and enthuse them over the weekend. Various drop-in activities are taking place on the Friday afternoon between 3pm and 5pm in The Byes by Annie’s Bridge, Lawn Vista. This includes having a close up look at the wealth of bug life in the river and testing your ability to identify each species which, together, form an important part of the river’s food chain.

In the evening, starting at 9.15pm, you can join a guided bat detection walk through The Byes, giving you the chance to see, hear and identify some of the species that feed and roost in the area.

On Saturday 8 June, World Oceans Day, there is a family rockpooling event and Big Seaweed Search where you will be encouraged to explore and identify the wildlife living in rockpools.

At 3pm at Kennaway House, biologist turned filmmaker, Tom Mustill, will speak about his book How to Speak Whale, uncovering the secrets of whale communication. Signed copies will be available to purchase.

On Saturday 9 June there will be plenty going on at the Sidmouth Food Forest by Sidford Social Hall. Tours of the volunteer-run edible garden will be available in the morning and, in the afternoon, children of all ages can decorate a pot and plant it with something they can grow and eat in a few weeks.

Two nature exploration guided walks are planned for the afternoon, one in the town and the other in The Byes. Both will have plenty of things for enthusiasts of all ages to spot including wildlife and plants that you may not normally notice or think are important for biodiversity.

In addition to these events, the festival will feature the River Sid Catchment Group, who are seeking views from the community on proposals for improving the River Sid and its surrounding landscapes. They want to hear from people of all ages, interests and backgrounds about what the river means to them and how they would like to see improvements made.

There will be a display in the Methodist Church foyer (6-8 June) and you can discuss ideas in The Byes on the Friday afternoon or take part in a public discussion at Kennaway House on Friday evening.

All events are free of charge, with donations welcomed to support the ongoing activities of our voluntary group. Booking is required for the bat walk and rockpooling due to limited capacity. For the full programme and to book your place where necessary, visit our website www.sidvalleybiodiversity.org or look out for posters and flyers around town and scan the QR code. A full, printed programme is available from the TIC, library and Kennaway House.

Sheila Meades, on behalf of the Sid Biodiversity Group

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