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Take a reflective walk in the rain Wanderings in nature January 24, 2018 - With a new year stretching ahead of us, we naturally begin to think about and reflect upon past experiences and future hopes. A great way to do this is on the move in nature. Being ‘mindful’ in, and connecting to, the natural world is an integral part of our happiness and wellbeing. ‘Wandering’ (walking without […]
Oak apple gall with exit hole Stranger Things November 29, 2017 - What are those strange lumps and bumps on the underside of some leaves and those odd-shaped growths on acorns that look like woody asteroids? These bizarre plant growths become more noticeable in the autumn amongst the piles of fallen leaves, and on now naked tree branches and twigs.  Read on for the answer and some […]
Good foraging reminds us we are part of nature Wild Foods of the Forest – the good forager September 9, 2017 -   Autumn is my favourite season of the year; I enjoy the changing colours of the woodlands, dewy spider webs and especially the ‘wild food’ treasures hung brightly within hedgerows. ‘Blackberrying’ is often one of our first experiences of nature. Even toddlers quickly learn how to identify blackberry fruits! Foraging for wild foods is a […]
An unwary blackbird chick will need to be fed by its parents for several days after leaving the nest Fledgling birds April 28, 2017 - 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 […]
A visiting waxwing - beautiful! Welcome signs of spring March 1, 2017 -   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 […]
Treecreeper A Woodland Invitation January 28, 2017 - 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 […]
Cones: Douglas fir, Western hemlock, coast redwood Discover the New Forest – ‘We’re going on a cone hunt’ December 30, 2016 - 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 […]
Use a mirror to discover how a tree might look to a bird Winter Trees November 27, 2016 - The New Forest’s woodlands become different places in the winter. Leaves fall from deciduous trees, in a myriad of autumn colours, to reveal bare branches and twigs with pointy buds. Suddenly leafless, this is the best time to study the shapes and silhouettes of trees; the ancient oaks look bent and wrinkled whilst silver birch […]
Use clay as another alternative for making footprints Animal tracks and signs November 5, 2016 - It’s been a wonderful season for wild food foraging. Harvesting reminds us that we are part of nature and the importance of taking only what you need. Many animals are also busy collecting and eating this bounty of autumn foods to prepare for the winter ahead. As many mammals are nocturnal or very secretive now […]
Leaf Cat Nature inspired autumn land art September 30, 2016 - Autumn is my favourite time of the year to be outdoors exploring the New Forest; foraging for juicy blackberries, collecting fallen crab apples and enjoying the season’s changing colours. It’s also a wonderful time to create some amazing land art – all you need are leaves and a creative imagination. Land art is fun and […]
This ‘Old Lady’ visited our sugar trap. Moth Mania August 31, 2016 - Moths are fab – not drab! They are as brightly coloured and patterned as their day-flying relatives, and come in all shapes and sizes. With an amazing 2,500 different types of moths, compared to 58 different butterflies in the UK, looking for moths and experiencing their world at night is a magical and wonderful way […]
Collect moulted feathers for identification or simply for their varied beauty Focus on feathers July 28, 2016 - Feathers are unique to birds. Strong, yet light and flexible, a single feather is a thing of great beauty. From July until late summer is a good time to look for feathers when adult birds are moulting: a process of shedding old feathers and growing new ones. Not surprisingly many birds are looking a bit […]
Close encounters - dragonfly emergence Close encounters with dragonflies June 29, 2016 - Did you know the New Forest is one of the best places in the UK to spot a dragonfly?  Of the 36 species which exist in this county, an amazing 74% of them can be found here. June and early July is the wonderful time to observe dragonflies as they emerge from their larval cases […]
Set your feet free and be tickled by a daisy A Walk in the Wild May 29, 2016 - Join in with The Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild and challenge yourself to do something wild every day this June. Here are some of my favourite ‘rewilding’ experiences to help you explore and reconnect with the wild places of the New Forest. And your local wild space – whether it’s an allotment or back garden – can […]
'Merlin' - a rescued hedgehog checking out a hogitat house Hedgehog Hogitats April 30, 2016 - Hedgehogs are one of our most iconic British mammals and the worrying decline in numbers could mean that these snuffling spiny hogs might become a rare sight in the future. The plight of our hedgehogs and how people can help is an excellent study to introduce to children the concept of wildlife conservation and hands-on […]
'Bugnapping'- making a pitfall trap Minibeasts and bughunting March 30, 2016 - Learning to observe and record wildlife is vital for understanding the natural world and conservation. Wildlife is all around us so it’s important to focus, to start with, on one group of animals or plants, and on a local patch – a garden, school grounds or woodland. For beginner groups invertebrates or ‘minibeasts’ offer many […]
Mud sculpture hedgehog Marvellous mud art February 28, 2016 - Mud, mud glorious mud! Most people see mud as something to avoid, but it offers lots of creative potential for the outdoor learning practitioner: it’s free, easy to use, safe to handle and can be found pretty much anywhere. So, having found a nice muddy patch, how can you use it to create some artwork? […]
A travel journal - exploring and learning about new trees Drawing from nature – nature journals January 29, 2016 - Creating a nature journal or field guide can be a richly rewarding experience. It is the perfect way to develop and record an understanding of the natural world around you by using observation, reflection, drawing and creative writing.  Traditionally, nature study journals were more of a scientific way to record observations, but they can also […]
Robin from garden birds study Drawing from Nature December 22, 2015 - The personal benefits we can draw from nature are huge. I find nature itself an endless source of joy and inspiration for my teaching but more importantly in my life itself. Recently whilst quietly observing and sketching a robin that regularly visits my garden I became aware of its large keen eyes, the striking rusty […]
Making a hibernaculum to help keep a frog snug during the winter Surviving the winter – as snug as a bug November 26, 2015 - With temperatures dropping and winter now upon us it’s important to think about how animals cope in the winter and how we can help provide over-wintering habitats. No matter how big or small your school grounds or back garden, you can create features to help shelter and protect wildlife through the cold months. So if […]
Discovering how a mushroom gets it spots The weird and wonderful world of fungi October 28, 2015 - Mushrooms and toadstools are fascinating. Neither plant nor animal, they belong in their own kingdom, the ‘Kingdom of Fungi’ and form a largely invisible world hidden under your feet. It’s the strange fruiting bodies of the fungi that you notice, especially during the wet and mild autumn months, appearing in a wonderful range of colours, […]
A keen but careful blackberry forager! Brambles and blackberries September 28, 2015 - Blackberries must be one of our favourite and most commonly gathered wild food. Easy to recognise, children quickly learn how to identify blackberry fruits and eagerly help gather this annual feast. Foraging for wild foods is a wonderful activity which connects us to the seasons, increases observational and sensory skills and deepens our relationship to […]
Bell heather, Ling and Cross-leaved heath Purple Haze September 6, 2015 - Returning home last week after a long summer break, I was instantly struck by the vast purple haze of the rolling New Forest heathlands. In August the normally muted brown heaths are transformed by the flowering heathers to a landscape rich in shades of purple and pink.  Take a moment and challenge yourself to find […]
Experience of awe - New Forest sunset Reconnecting with nature July 22, 2015 - A great way to truly experience and understand the natural world is to slow down, take a break from our busy lives and reconnect with nature. We often look but don’t see – we forget how to listen to nature and enjoy the beauty of the moment. Here are my top ten New Forest ‘rewilding’ […]
Meet the pond inhabitants - up close! Top tips for pond dips June 24, 2015 - Pond dipping is a fantastic activity but often concerns about safety and a lack of knowledge about pond life identification skills deter people from giving it a go. However by following a few simple tips and guidelines you can safely run an exciting session and enjoy watching children discover the natural wonders of this watery […]
Adder 3 comp Snakes and adders May 20, 2015 - Snakes have often been historically described as ‘cold-blooded, venomous and evil’. Today however many people are fascinated by these intriguing creatures and a sighting of one of our native reptiles, which are in fact secretive and shy, can be very exciting. We can help develop this enthusiasm to educate and nurture a respect for snakes […]
Journey stick Remembering a journey April 26, 2015 - ‘the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between’ Everyone, especially children, love collecting mementos: special treasures that capture a moment and a memory. I’m always finding acorns, small stones and picked flower heads in my children’s coat pocket or in the bottom of a school bag. […]
Overwinterd Red admiral butterfly Surviving the seasons in stages March 23, 2015 - March is the first month that many of us will spot the colourful flutter of butterfly wings heralding that spring has finally sprung. But their reappearance begs the question – where have they been all winter? Butterflies are insects and unlike mammals and birds need external sources of heat to warm their bodies. This is […]
Variety of ivy Focus on ivy February 21, 2015 - At this time of year when deciduous trees and shrubs are only just beginning to bud, the glossy evergreen leaves of ivy and its tangle of climbing stems really stand out. Common ivy in fact provides a year-round place for a variety of creatures to hide, breed, feed and even hibernate. It is easy to […]
Robin courtesy of Derek Tippetts Feathered friends January 20, 2015 - January can be a wet and uninviting month to explore the outdoors but fortunately it’s great for birdwatching as the cold weather brings birds into gardens, looking for food and shelter.  Most birds will be sporting winter plumage, making each species more recognisable. It’s a perfect time for learning the different colours and behaviour of […]
Holly and berries Holy Holly! December 18, 2014 - Holly is well known and loved for its spiky evergreen leaves and bright red berries, and as a symbol of Christmas. In homage to the twelve days of Christmas, here’s twelve fascinating holly facts and activities that you can use on an outdoor walk or lesson. Common holly (Ilex aquifolium) has long been regarded as […]
Casts look like mud toothpaste The Underground Farmers November 20, 2014 - Earthworms, as their name suggests, live within the earth in a hidden world but where they perform an essential service by not only turning over, aerating and loosening soil, but also by recycling dead things! Autumn is a great time to pull on your welly boots, get outdoors and discover these amazing but often overlooked […]
Orb web The web weavers October 23, 2014 - Nature has many beautiful designs and amongst these the intricate beauty of a spider web glistening with dew in the early morning sun is a visual masterpiece. Late summer and early autumn is the best time to admire and study these amazing web designs as they can be found everywhere – gardens, fields and forests. […]
Picture of child holding up winged seeds Ingenious seeds, inquisitive minds September 13, 2014 - As the summer ends, many plants are preparing for the next generation and launching their offspring into the world. September is a great month to explore and investigate your school grounds and local wild space for different seed dispersal strategies. Flowering plants are called angiosperms, which translates to a ‘seed in a vessel’. They are […]
Cricket picture Summer song of the crickets August 12, 2014 - It is a popular myth that a cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together. In fact, crickets sing with their wings and listen with their legs! During the summer they are an easy insect to find in school grounds in long grass and brambles and are fascinating to study revealing some remarkable adaptations. So how […]
6 spotted ladybird Ladybird secrets July 18, 2014 - Nature is full of fascinating surprises, as I found out recently when investigating the ladybird life cycle with a group of reception school children. We were very intrigued to discover that the ladybird emerged from its pupa completely yellow with no spots! Having just read ‘Lucy Ladybird’ a story about a ladybird with no spots, […]
Ladybird adult and larvae 1 Encounters with a seven-spotted friend July 6, 2014 -   Different stages of the ladybird life cycle For anyone working with children the word ‘minibeast’ needs no explaining – the world of invertebrate animals such as snails, woodlouse and centipedes holds a limitless fascination for children, and adults too! Minibeasts are therefore the perfect topic to study life cycles. Children are very familiar with […]
YAY text New website June 16, 2014 - Our new website is up and running! Feel free to give us feed back and any suggestions, I’m sure tweaks and new content will regularly be added.   Enjoy