Thursday, 23 April 2015

Mini beast safari

The kids have had a brilliant day!  We went to Woolley Firs, an education centre of the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.  It's our second visit - last year we went on a Sensational Senses workshop (which was excellent).

Today was a habitat safari.  It linked so well with Betsy's current interest in mini beasts - the caterpillar habitat, her plans to make a bug hotel.

We started by walking around the site, identifying the different habitats that we could see. Pond, garden, tree, meadow, woodland etc.  The leader told the kids about what a habitat provided - air, food, water and shelter.

In the meadow, the kids were given sweep nets, and took it turns to sweep through the grass and collect insects.

We had small jars and magnifying glasses, and an identification sheet so that we could try and work out what had been caught.

This tiny speck in the jar is a froghopper.

Next we headed into the woods.

The kids were given spoons and brushes, and we set off to look for more mini beasts.  We rolled over logs, and found woodlice.  They found some loose bark and pulled it back, and found lots of baby slugs.

After lunch, it was pond dipping.  They loved this.  They took it in turns to swoosh a net through the pond, bringing lots of pond weed along with various creatures.  There were water snails, damselfly nymphs, and there was much excitement when some newts were found.

Part of the session was indoors, holding beetle larvae and doing a worksheet on whatever creature the kids had caught and brought inside in a jar.  They answered questions about it, and drew it if they wanted to.  There was no pressure to do it, but all three spent some time on it.

The final activity of the day was more pond dipping, in a newer pond.  The first one is 50 years old, the second one is only 3.

There was a big difference in the colour of the water, amount of pond weed, and the mini beats that we found.

There were lots of water boatmen, and one group collect loads and loads of tadpoles.

We managed to get a couple of broad bodied dragonfly larvae, a diving beetle, lots of water snails, and some mayfly larvae.

It was such a great day.  Betsy is even more enthusiastic about bugs, and was inspired by the big bug hotel they have (just behind the pond dippers in the photo above).  She also wants to make a small wormery that she can see inside of.

The weather was odd - it was freezing to start with (coats required) and so warm by the afternoon.  

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