Friday, 8 August 2014

Family fun days

The Safari visited a brand new site yesterday, a totally urban park totally surrounded by early 20th C homes that used to be used for sports but was never able to be drained properly and couldn't meet modern standards for playing surfaces. We remember learning of an ill-fated try at drainage when hundreds of ancient bog-oaks were ripped out of the ground, amazingly we found a couple of them that had been pushed to one side and left to rot which they hadn't!
The families turned up with their small children, many of them not having ever done a mini-beast safari before and in the main were unnaturally terrified of anything remotely spidery or winged - they soon changed when they started getting in to it.
A Common Blue butterfly landed close to us but couldn't be netted. Young E was with us again and commandeered our 'posh' net and swung it well to catch a Green Veined White - not seen many of those this year...he might have netted it well but butterfingers here let it go before the others have a good look at it.
One young lass had a good eye for ladybirds and found two 7-Spot Ladybirds on her own, the only two seen all day!
Over our heads three Migrant Hawkers buzz about thrilling our little onlookers - aren't they great! The dragonflies not the kids - well OK the kids are great too!
It's really brill to watch mums, dads and kids squealing with delight at their finds. They even found a Frog!
The variety of invertebrates at this site is amazing and a credit to the site managers who have found a great balance between formal and wild with new and older tree plantings thrown in for good measure.
Nursery-web Spider's nest
It's the sort of site that's deffo under watched but could easily turn up a nice selction of scarce birds at migration times.
Four lingering Swifts scythed through the sky while a couple of Swallows sculled low across the field.
At the end of the session one of the Migrant Hawkers was settled high in the tree above our heads but fortunately sunning itself in a bright patch.
Today our group was towards the other end of the age spectrum, from students to retirees all of whom give up their time to help to keep our beaches clear of litter. Today was a fun reward session for them so we were asked to take them rockpooling and have a closer look at all the creatures they're helping protect by removing all the litter from their habitats.
They found loads of interesting stuff including another reasonable sized 5-bearded Rockling, lots of Common Prawns are about now loads of tiny youngsters and a big female still in 'berry'.
One of the 'young men' found a 4-bearded Rockling but was unable to net the little wriggler. A few of the Beadlet Anemones were still wafting their tentacles around as the water hadn't drained from their pool yet while their high and dry companions had blobbed up and gone to sleep until the tide returned.
A Tower Shell caught our eye having much stronger whorls than the ones we normally see.
No Hermit Crab lurking inside this time though.
Our hour was too soon gone and well over-run but yet another fantastic session exploring the amazing wildlife on our doorstep. And we got the minutes of last night's meeting all written up this morning too -  -that's always a big relief.
Where to next? Well the mothy is on so that'll make it rain tonight then!
In the meantime let us know where all the brilliant things are in your outback 

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