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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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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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Spring Dipping for Lamprey

Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve

It was lovely to be back at Blashford on Sunday after a two week break, with the sun shining and chiffchaff’s calling from what seemed like every other tree. It was time again for our monthly Young Naturalists meeting, and with the weather warming up we began with a rummage through the light trap. It revealed a number of Common and Small Quakers and Hebrew Characters along with this rather pale Brindled Beauty.

Brindled Beauty by Talia Felstead Brindled Beauty by Talia Felstead

The light trap also contained a number of Clouded Drabs, with this one in particular making us take a closer look:

Clouded drab by Talia Felstead Clouded Drab by Talia Falstead

We wondered if it could perhaps have been a Lead-coloured Drab instead, but couldn’t be sure. Having only a photo to show Bob today, we’ve decided it probably was a Clouded Drab, as their colours can be quite variable, but you never know…

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Paultons Park seasonal highlights 2016

It’s been another busy year for us in the Paultons Park Education Team. We’ve welcomed many school groups to the park for education and recreational based visits, delivered new workshops and ran our 2nd successful year of Summer Club.

With much to look forward to in 2017, we look back and highlight some of our favourite moments from the 2016 season

Science in the Park’

mad-scientists-at-paultons-park-2017

Continue reading Paultons Park seasonal highlights 2016

Mermaid’s Purses

I love walking along the beach and especially along the strand line, to see what you can find. From natural treasures to plastic debris that’s been lost at sea, there’s always lots to pick up and discover. If you can safely visit a beach with young people at this time of year, there is always more to see after some strong winds, large waves or high tides.

Recently we have been picking up lots of Mermaid’s purses – these are egg cases from skates and rays that have developed and hatched in the Solent or out at sea. They are anything from 5 to 10cm in length and wash up on the beach, once the young skate or ray has hatched.

A video of a ray hatching can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx5RiXlLGco

There are about 12 species of skates, rays and sharks in the UK that we can identify by looking at their egg cases, and more specifically about 5-6 fairly common species on the South Coast.

To identify the Mermaids Purses, you will need to take your egg cases back to the classroom and put them in a bucket of fresh water for 24hrs, this will allow them to rehydrate, and return to their original size. You can then start to sort them by size and shape, and arrange them into groups.

The smallest egg cases, are about the size of a large bladderwrack (seaweed) popping case! They have thin curly tendrils coming from each corner.

There are a number of medium sized egg cases that are harder to identify, because they look quite similar. However, if you are keen, look closely at cases and use this ID key, provided by the Shark Trust, to identify them.

ID Key http://www.sharktrust.org/shared/great_eggcase_hunt/eggcase_id_key.pdf

Photo Key  eggcase_id_poster

Citizen Science – You can then help the Shark Trust by logging on to their Great Eggcase Hunt website and recording where you found your cases, and the number of each species found.

Project Website http://www.sharktrust.org/en/GEH_the_project