Despite a soggy start to the day lots of Wildlife Explorer families gathered at Poynton Coppice for a ‘Signs of Wildlife’ Treasure Hunt. As well as brilliantly rhymed wildlife-themed clues (honestly!) – families had to complete a series of challenges on the way round the treasure trail including listing the birds we heard singing, determining the tree species on site from looking at their buds and identifying lichen. Family members of all ages took on searching out the clues and completing the challenges with great gusto. Admittedly there was one tiny glitch with the clues – Tina and Susan had … Click here for more information…..
Leaders visited Ivy Bank Primary School in Macclesfield for a rearranged Big School Birdwatch. The first date was cancelled due to snow and ice – luckily the weather was dry and mild for the new session. It was decided that we would run two sessions each with two full classes (sixty children in total). We started in the classroom with an introduction to the Top 10 garden birds, some background on the survey and its methodology plus some safety tips for using binoculars. Everyone was really surprised that such large groups of children were able to birdwatch outside so successfully. … Click here for more information…..
Volunteers and young birdwatchers faced more wintry weather for the Big Schools Birdwatch at Mottram St. Andrew Primary Academy. After a smattering of overnight snow had turned to ice the ground was very slippery and the trainee ornithologists from the Reception and Nursery classes also had to contend with driving sleet. Despite conditions being far from ideal for a bit of birdwatching children had great fun using their binoculars. We listened out for robins, blackbirds and blue tits and we also heard crows and wood pigeons calling. As well as good views of jackdaws the children and adults were all … Click here for more information…..
Leaders Mark, Abercrombie, Susan and Tina visited Terra Nova for a cold but very sunny morning completing the Big School Birdwatch. After learning a little bit about about garden birds – how to identify some of them and what they sound like – children wrapped up warm with hats and scarves to head out on a birdwatching walk around the school grounds. The school regularly feeds the birds (although they have recently been competing with local squirrels for the best treats!) and a soon as the groups were outside we could hear birds singing. The best views during the morning … Click here for more information…..
Wildlife Explorers were lucky with the weather for their 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch (last year there was torrential rain!). Keen families of birdwatchers gathered near the café in West Park armed with binoculars and bird ID sheets. After a quick recap of the Top 10 garden birds for Cheshire in 2018 and some safety tips for using binoculars we set off to look and listen for the birds in the park. With so many eager birdwatchers it wasn’t surprising that we spotted a good range of species, however, we did manage to see some really special birds. We got excellent … Click here for more information…..
Rainow Preschool was our youngest group of birdwatchers this year- some of the children are just two years old, with the more mature members of the cohort being as old as four! The session started with children identifying pictures of garden birds and listening to their different songs. The great spotted woodpecker was a big favourite and everyone knew the barn owl. With their new bird identification skills it was time to wrap up warm with hats and scarves to head outside on a birdwatching walk. Everyone was equipped with a pair of binoculars and listened intently to the safety … Click here for more information…..
Volunteers for Wildlife Explorers visited Prestbury CE Primary School to hep run their Big School Birdwatch. As well as an assembly explaining how taking part in the birdwatch (and the Big Garden Birdwatch) can help the conservation of wild birds several groups of children ventured outside with binoculars to record the birds in the school grounds. Children got excellent, close views of carrion crows, robins and blue tits. A couple magpies were spotted too. As well as looking for birds children listened out for calls – the very first bird they heard was a nuthatch. The team were really impressed … Click here for more information…..
The Birdwatch at Kettleshulme St.James was set against one of the prettiest backdrops we have ever had at a Big Schools’ Birdwatch. The school grounds and surrounding countryside had a thick covering of snow, under bright blue skies and glorious sunshine. Perfect conditions to look for birds. After an introduction covering bird identification, survey methods and the safe use of binoculars each class spent time outside looking for and counting birds. The very first bird spotted was a starling – we got great views with the telescope – the sunshine highlighted the gorgeous green and purple tones of the bird’s … Click here for more information…..
Our morning at Puss Bank saw volunteers and enthusiastic pupils coping with a wide range of weather conditions. As well as snow showers, sleet and cold temperatures there were also moments of bright sunshine and some mist! The morning started with an assembly (indoors!) where we learned about some of the birds that we might see. Volunteer Leaders were really impressed by the bird identification skills on show as robin, blackbird, blue tit, house sparrow and starling were all identified with ease. After a quick talk on using binoculars safely it was time to venture outside in the wintry conditions. … Click here for more information…..
The first meeting of 2019 was designed to prepare everyone for the biggest event in the RSPB’s year – the Big Garden Birdwatch. Leader Helen devised a fabulous craft – a garden bird collage featuring some feathered favourites – a blue tit and a robin. Children used postage stamps to make the bird’s plumage to great effect. After a quick talk about the importance of the garden birdwatch in monitoring bird populations (which also featured a light sabre and Leader Susan’s incredible transformation into Queen Elizabeth II) it was time for some practical birdwatching. Trainee Junior Leader Natasha took on … Click here for more information…..
Our first Big School Birdwatch of 2019 took place at Rainow Primary School. As usual Year 3 split into two groups to count the birds, taking it in turns to take part in the indoor and outdoor part of the survey. The outdoor group used binoculars to spot birds in the school wood and around the grounds, taking care to look around the edges of playing fields in the trees and bushes. The most exciting spots of the morning had to be a song thrush and a treecreeper, looking for food whilst moving carefully up the trunk of tree. The … Click here for more information…..
Every year Wildlife Explorers head into the woods at the end of National Tree week to celebrate trees and their importance to wildlife, people and our culture. Trees are decorated with a mix of natural materials. Budding artists took inspiration from the festive season, the natural world, mythology and popular culture. All the materials used are biodegradable and leave minimal impact on the environment as they weather and degrade. This year’s tree dressers were extremely fortunate, enjoying a couple of hours of dry mild weather in what was otherwise a very wet weekend, perfect conditions for working outdoors with clay. … Click here for more information…..
Our temporary home for the December Indoor meeting was Parkroyal school. We made the most of the lovely surroundings and access to the hall for our session on Nature’s Superheroes. To start off with everyone collated a booklet of nature puzzles and colouring.Leader Martin explained how some incredible creatures use ‘super powers’ to help them survive. We learned about the speed of cheetahs and peregrine falcons, the visual acuity of Buzzards, the strength of dung beetles and the design skills of decorator crabs! Martin also explained the arsenal of defensive and attack weapons of the box jelly and leopard sea … Click here for more information…..
Wildlife Explorers headed to RSPB Coombes Valley Nature Reserve for a morning of practical conservation work in Bellpit Meadow, a short drive from the Visitor Centre. The weather gods looked kindly upon the group and we benefitted from yet another dry outdoor session, despite a dubious forecast earlier in the week. The first task was to plant around 100 hawthorn saplings around the edge of the meadow using a slit planting technique. Warden Paul Bennett demonstrated and then explained how to use the tools correctly. As well as raking up bramble and nettle that had been cut earlier in the … Click here for more information…..
It’s normally only possible to rouse Wildlife Explorers before dawn once a year – for the annual Dawn Chorus Walk, but the chance of an early morning walk at NT Lyme Park to observe the red deer rut was impossible to resist. Wrapped up warm, families gathered at the main car park before sunrise armed with torches and binoculars. Ranger Craig gave us an introduction to the history of Lyme Park, the deer herds on the site and the behaviour of red deer during the rut. At we set out at the start of the walk we could hear … Click here for more information…..
A seasonal indoor meeting – The meeting kicked off with identifying tree leaves using a variety of resources – posters, ID charts and identification books. After a quick introduction about how and why leaves change colour in autumn everyone got hands-on with some real ones with a leaf litter sieving activity. Tiny invertebrates were then collected in bug pots and examined using a USB microscope with images projected on the big screen to give incredible detail on both anatomy and behaviour. Specimens collected included centipede, devil’s coach horse, money spider, slug, springtail and harvestman. All of the minibeasts were returned … Click here for more information…..
For the first time Wildlife Explorers joined forces with Macclesfield Town Council to run our annual ‘Nature Needs You’ event in conjunction with ‘Welly Walk’ at West Park. The morning started with unpromising weather – high winds and threatening rain – but everyone worked hard to get the gazebo and all of our equipment in place. It wasn’t long before the visitors started arriving. The team rans lots of hands-on activities – all with a ‘helping nature’ theme. As well as making bird nestboxes, bee homes and wildflower seedbombs, children made bird food and planted native tree seeds. … Click here for more information…..
The first indoor session kicked off with ‘Tides – Life at the Water’s Edge’ a reminder for some of summer holidays spent by the coast! Abercrombie organised a fascinating shell quiz for the joining activity. Explorers learned lots about the variety of shells and how to spot the odd one out! Leader Martin explained how and why we get tides and then discussed some of the challenges for the creatures living in the intertidal zone. Our craft for the session was strandline printing – recreating an intertidal zone in art, complete with seaweed, flotsam and jetsam on the strandline, using … Click here for more information…..
An enthusiastic team of families gathered at the Jodrell Bank Arboretum for the first outdoor meeting of the new Wildlife Explorer programme. Gardener Phil Bolton, had organised a busy morning work party with tasks for Explorers of all ages to get involved in. Last year we worked on sprucing up the bird hide (which still looks great) and clearing the bird feeder area of bramble to allow clear views to the wildlife pond. This year, helped by the long,dry summer the wildlife pond has all but dried out, providing an ideal opportunity to clear some of the encroaching vegetation away … Click here for more information…..
Leaders from Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers ran a selection of education outreach sessions for RSPB Coombes Valley Nature Reserve at schools in Leek. The team visited Year 5 at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy and Springfield Special School. As well as covering the work of the RSPB, the sessions highlighted the importance of wildflower meadows as habitats for a whole host of creatures. Children played games to illustrate the wide range of animals and birds found in meadows and were set challenges to compare the diversity of meadow and rainforest habitats. There were happy, muddy hands all round as children (and … Click here for more information…..