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…..
The penultimate indoor meeting of the season focussed on birds of prey and the incredible adaptations that make them formidable airborne hunters. Leader Martin explained that as well as sharp beaks and powerful talons (all perfected to deal with different prey) these birds have a whole host of mind-boggling special features to make them efficient and effective predators. In owls the facial disc channels sound precisely to allow hunting at night and their feathers have a soft edge facilitating silent flight, enough to surprise unsuspecting mice and voles. The fastest animal on earth, the peregrine falcon, can only achieve amazing … Click here for more information…..
The Wildlife Explorers visit to Fletcher Moss Park and Parsonage Gardens took advantage of a glorious sunny day. There are two main buildings on the site, one of which, The Croft is famous as the birthplace of The RSPB. In 1890, Emily Williamson held a meeting at The Croft to discuss the exploitation of bird for their feathers. The Plumage League was formed and great work was done campaigning against the use of bird feathers in fashion, particularly millinery. Birds like the Great Crested Grebe were saved from the brink of extinction. On joining forces with Croydon’s Fur and feather … Click here for more information…..
It’s that time of year Wildlife Explorers set their alarm clocks for 5.00 am and head to a beauty spot close to Macclesfield to listen to the incredible sounds of the Dawn Chorus. 35 Wildlife Explorers gathered at the car park at the bottom of Tegg’s Nose Country Park, Leader Martin played a selection of bird songs so the group could start to familiarise themselves with the sounds filling the woods. Families learned how to identify Chiffchaff, Willow warbler, Wood pigeon and the distinctive trill of the wren. There was a carpet of pretty, white wood sorrel flowers and the … Click here for more information…..
Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers assembled a group of enthusiastic volunteers for a morning of conservation work at Danes Moss. This Cheshire Wildlife Trust reserve near Macclesfield is Cheshire’s largest and highest lowland raised bog, one of the scarcest and most threatened habitats in Britain. The open areas of the bog are covered with plants like cotton grass and cross-leaved heath and at least six species of sphagnum moss. In recent years the Trust has undertaken work to expand the reserve and recently contractors have been busy working on site to help clear large tree saplings from the bog. Bunds of … Click here for more information…..
Since the 1930s we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows in Britain. Changes in traditional farming practices mean that this important wildlife habitat has become increasingly rare, along with the species of birds, insects and wildflowers that it supports – some have even become extinct. At the most recent Wildlife Explorer meeting our members learned about the plants that grow in meadows and creatures that make their home there. To get everyone in the room ‘meadow-ready’ (and to help everyone defrost from the recent cold weather) we all spent a few minutes lying on the floor with our eyes … Click here for more information…..
You are never too young to start learning about nature in your immediate environment – and the tiny children visiting Macclesfield Children’s Centres this week were no exception. Families were introduced to a selection of toy singing birds so that they could learn how to identify some of our most familiar garden visitors. There was also an opportunity for even the youngest birdwatchers to get hands-on using binoculars. Unfortunately torrential rain at the Ash Grove session meant that we couldn’t complete a birdwatch but a cold, crisp bright morning at Broken Cross meant that we a really good list of … Click here for more information…..
The Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers February indoor meeting involved some time travel as we focussed our attention on the origins of modern birds! Both age groups headed back millions of years to the age of the dinosaurs for all of our crafts, games and activities. The dinosaur name game at the start of the meeting got everyone scratching their heads as they worked out the origins of those amazing dinosaur species names and even created some of their own! Then it was time to dig out Leader Martin’s trusty geological timeline scarf to help to work out when, in the … Click here for more information…..