The Litter Heroes are coming!

This year Keep Britain Tidy are hosting the Great British Spring Clean. In the New Forest National Park, we have teamed up with the Forestry Commission and New Forest District Council and hundreds of volunteers who collected over 250 bags of litter in one weekend (3rd- 5th March).

Meanwhile, local school children are being treated to special visits from newly qualified “Litter Heroes” in their school assemblies. Complete with cape and superpowers, these visitors are proving very popular way to share messages about caring for the Forest. Continue reading The Litter Heroes are coming!

Welcome signs of spring

A late winter visitor - a waxwing
                       A late winter visitor – a waxwing

At this time of year the weather is often unpredictable with frost and flurries of snow, heavy rain and flooding mixed with warm, sunny days that reminds us that spring is almost here. Wildlife also reflect this ‘in-between-the-seasons’ character with winter visitors from Scandinavia such as waxwings feeding on the last of the autumns berries at the same time as the drumming of woodpeckers establishing their breeding territories can be heard. Here are some activity ideas to help reawaken your senses and look for those cheerful first signs of spring. Continue reading Welcome signs of spring

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

A Woodland Invitation

Spot the treecreeper
                                         Spot the treecreeper

January is a quiet month after all the New Year festivities and in terms of wildlife it feels a bit bleak, with trees stripped bare of leaves and many animals in hibernation, the woods seem to be in a deep slumber.

Not surprisingly, January is a month associated with deep reflection as we look back at the year departed and look forward with new hopes. In Greek mythology Janus, for which January is named, is the god of beginnings, transitions and endings. Janus is depicted as having two faces, to look at the future and to the past. We also need time to stop and reflect, and nature can provide the perfect medium to do this. Read on for some ‘woodland therapy’ ideas. Continue reading A Woodland Invitation

Show the Love: Guest Blog

Show the Love and Collect Stories for the Tree Charter this February

tree-charter-logo

The Woodland Trust are nearing the end of story gathering for the Tree Charter campaign! You have until the end of February 2017 to add your voice to the Charter for Trees, Woods and People to tell us why you value your trees and woods.

Therefore we are having one last big push until the end of February, and are working with The Climate Coalition, a Tree Charter partner organisation, to collect tree stories and raise awareness of the issues of climate change for trees. This year, the Climate Coalition is producing a special Tree Charter story gathering resource, as part of their wider campaign. You can take part with your school or community group. Why not run an event during the week 6-12th February? (although you can run an event at any time as long as we receive your tree story hearts by the end of February!). Continue reading Show the Love: Guest Blog

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

 

Discover the New Forest – ‘We’re going on a cone hunt’

Cones in hand: Douglas fir, Western hemlock, Coast redwood
Cones: Douglas fir, Western hemlock, Coast redwood

Cones make a beautiful addition to Christmas wreathes and decorations but often go unnoticed, hanging high in trees, out of reach until they fall to the ground.  Commonly called pine cones, there are in fact many kinds of cones that grow on different cone bearing trees called conifers. A short walk along the Tall Trees Trail in the New Forest is a wonderful way to experience and learn about some very spectacular conifer trees and their unique cone designs. Read on to begin your cone hunt challenge. Continue reading Discover the New Forest – ‘We’re going on a cone hunt’

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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