An unexpected encounter with some fascinating wildlife

Working from the unique location of Calshot Activities Centre, and taking many different groups into the New Forest, it is sometimes easy for us to forget all the stunning wildlife that surrounds us.

Whilst on duty looking after our residential school groups it is not uncommon to be woken by the call of oystercatchers as they strut around wading along Calshot beach, or drive down the spit road and catch a little egret silently stalking and waiting for prey.

However, I was recently reminded that these wildlife spots were not to be taken for granted by staff and students visiting earlier this summer from Portsmouth to complete A-Level Biology fieldwork. Continue reading An unexpected encounter with some fascinating wildlife

Weekend wanderings – part 2!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

As promised earlier in the week, here’s what happened on day two of our Young Naturalists New Forest residential.

On Sunday morning we started bright and early, meeting Home Farm’s Education Officer Steve Barnard for an animal feed session. Steve took us on a tour of the farm, letting the group help out with some of the feeding tasks, collecting eggs and generally having the opportunity to ooh and ahh or gobble at every animal they came across…it was a definite highlight of the weekend!

We particularly enjoyed watching Lysander feed the ducks, which he had to get to via some sheep…he did a brilliant job…

After our fun feed session we thanked Steve for his time and went to meet Paul and Mandy Manning from Amews Falconry for an incredibly informative falconry demonstration. We began in the garden room with Paul introducing us to four different birds, an American…

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Weekend wanderings – part 1!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

This weekend ten Young Naturalists joined us for our first weekend residential in the New Forest, staying from 7pm Friday night until 4pm Sunday afternoon at the Countryside Education Trust‘s Home Farm centre in Beaulieu.

From our base we explored a mixture of habitats including the local heathland, the traditionally managed broadleaf woodland at Pondhead, near Lyndhurst, the Needs Ore Marshes which form part of the North Solent National Nature Reserve, the farm at Home Farm and the shoreline at Lepe. We also had time for fascinating and informative falconry display by Amews Falconry, so all in all it was a fun, varied and packed weekend!

Here’s what we got up to…

After settling ourselves in at Home Farm, we headed out onto the heathland at Fawley Inclosure in search of churring nightjars, meeting up with Bob just after 8.30pm who was going to be our guide for…

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Early birds…

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

Over the weekend ten super keen Young Naturalists enjoyed a night on the reserve in order to appreciate the dawn chorus at it’s best.

To avoid any ridiculously early drop offs by parents, we met at the Education Centre at 7pm on Saturday night then headed straight over to Tern Hide in the hope of a glimpse of the lapwing chick before it got too dark. We had to wait a while but got lucky!

Lapwing chick by Talia Felstead resized Lapwing chick by Talia Felstead

In the fading light, we also spotted Lapwing, Greylag geese with three goslings, Redshank and a Pied wagtail.

We then headed up to Goosander and Lapwing hides in search of deer, getting out the bat detectors for the walk back and picking up lots of Soprano and Common pipistrelles. The bats put on a great show!

It was then time to head back to the Centre for a drink and a snack and to make…

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Fledgling birds

An unwary blackbird chick will need to be fed by its parents for several days after leaving the nest

Whilst many baby birds are only now eagerly poking their heads out of nests, some parent birds are already encouraging reluctant youngsters to leave the safety of the nest. Most of our common woodland and garden birds such as robins, blackbirds, starlings and blue tits are feeding their hungry fledglings and May is a good time to observe fat fluffy chicks taking their first ‘hop and flap’ into the wider world. Here are some activities to learn about the marvels of nest building, eggs and baby birds. Continue reading Fledgling birds

A Paultons Park Review – By Wellow School (Year 5)

Following a visit to our recent ‘Science in the Park’ event; Evie, Esme and Grace from the brilliant Wellow School sent us this blog report.

Continue reading A Paultons Park Review – By Wellow School (Year 5)

Calling all Young Naturalists!

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

kingfisher-spotting Watching a Kingfisher on Ivy Silt Pond during September’s Bird Trail event

This year our camp out experience is going up a gear and rather than spending a night on the reserve we are embarking on a two night residential in the New Forest, staying at the Countryside Education Trust’s Home Farm centre in Beaulieu. From here we will be exploring the local forest and coastline in search of birds and other wildlife, including an evening walk in search of the elusive Nightjar, a visit to Needs Ore Nature Reserve in search of nesting avocets and a guided walk around Pondhead‘s sustainable woodland, as well as lots more!

The residential is taking place from 7pm on Friday 12th until 4pm on Sunday 14th May and spaces are still available, so if you know a keen 13 to 17 year old, enthusiastic about wildlife and the outdoors please let…

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A blog for school teachers, educators and group leaders, written by activity and learning providers in and around the New Forest National Park, Hampshire

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