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Nature-club

Nature Club – May 2016 – Pond Dip and Water Survey


Studying pond dip finds

Retrieving  ph strip

Images: GJ – Retrieving a ph strip. Studying pond dip finds.

We followed up the Clean Water Survey we did on our two ponds in March when we tested for water pollution. This time we thought about what wildife we might find in Spring in our ponds and we looked at some sedge plants, dried up yukky deadfrogs, some live toadlets, water snails and even a newt borrowed from Gill’s pond to remind us what to look for.
We did three tests on Jubilee Pond as part of the national OPAL survey. First we tested to see how clear the water was by collecting the pond water in a plastic bottle and working out if we could see the spots on the Opalometer disc in the bottom. The water was nice and clear and slightly green. Then we tested to see if the water was acid or alkali by dipping ph test strips in the pond and seeing what colour they turned. They turned greeny-blue, which told us that the water was not too alkaline which is good for wildlife. Finally we did our pond dip! It was quite cold and we only found small things such as beetles, lots of water boatmen, tiny bugs or fleas, and damselfly larvae and other larvae, which told us that the pond was a good place for wildlife and has a high Pond Health Score.
The ducks, swans and geese already knew this as there were lots of them there and they hadn’t done any of the tests! We had thirteen children today and several parents too.

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May 23rd, 2016

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Nature Club – April 2016 – London Pigeons


Jubilee Pond pigeons

Drawing pigeons

Images: GJ – Jubilee Pond pigeons. Drawing pigeons.

Today we took a closer look at a very familiar bird: the pigeon! We looked a two bird’s eggs to compare their sizes and worked out that the larger white one was a pigeon’s egg. Then we looked at pictures of different kinds of pigeons, some of which we might see in the garden like the wood pigeon and the collared dove- and we listened to their songs ( ‘two teas please Louise….’) and Anya told us about when she dissected and ate a ( cooked) wood pigeon! We saw an amazing film of a huge flock of racing pigeons being released on Wanstead Flats. Then we went out and found our own flock of pigeons near Jubilee Pond , chose one pigeon ( they are all different) and carefully drew it. Our pigeons were called Alphie, Mr Hoo, Sharon, Polly, Jimeela, Honko and Percy. Then we went to find where they roost at night- it was easy to find the roost under the railway arches because of the piles of poo underneath!
Then, because it is spring, we planted some dwarf bean seeds in pots to take home to grow and, we hope, eat one day.

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May 23rd, 2016

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Nature Club – March 2016 – Clean Water for Wildlife!


Holding up nitrate test tube

Image: GJ – Holding up nitrate test tube.

We did a scientific test on the water quality of the two ponds we know well, Jubilee Pond and Cat and Dog Pond. We used clean water kits to test how polluted the water was with two nutrients, nitrate and phosphate, which can be bad for freshwater plants and animals. We found that the Cat and Dog Pond,which is a natural reedy pond with lots of frogspawn in it, had almost no nitrates and phosphates. This kind of water pollution is more common in farming areas. Jubilee Pond, which is much busier with people and bird life like ducks and geese, had slightly more nitrates and phosphates so is not so rich in wildlife. Afterwards Gill submitted our results to the Clean Water for Wildlife survey. We did a nice collage of the two ponds showing what plants and animals rely on them.

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May 23rd, 2016

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Nature Club – February 2016


HEDGEHOGS

Hedgehog Cake

Hedgehog expert Barry Chapman told us loads of facts about hedgehogs and how we can help them to survive. There are some on Wanstead Flats and if we ever see any we should let Barry know. They are hibernating now in little burrows and nests in secret places like piles of leaves because it is winter and it would be hard for them to find any slugs and worms and beetles to eat. They need lots of space to roam around on summer nights and so we have to make sure they can get into and through our gardens. We played a game where we pretended to be hedgehogs smelling out worms under the ground, and then we pretended to be predators, foxes and owls, trying to catch hedgehogs in the dark. Then we made spikey chocolate hedgehog cakes. Yum yum.

Handout – Hedgehogs for children

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February 13th, 2016

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Nature Club – January 2016


SQUIRRELS & WINTER TREASURE HUNT

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Squirrels collect nuts like acorns in the Autumn when there are lots about and they bury them in the ground so that they can find them again when it is cold and miserable in the winter and they are hungry. They can smell them out as they have such good noses! We pretended to be squirrels and we hid some chocolate gold coins in the wood in secret places. Then we went back later to find them. This was very hard as we do not have such a good sense of smell! We also spotted a squirrel drey high up in the trees where they go to keep warm and have their babies.It looked like a large football made of twigs and grass.

Then we went on a treasure hunt .We had three different teams and we got points for finding things although it is hard to find flowers and insects in winter.We had to find five different coloured flowers, some seeds, a live insect and a feather around Jubilee Pond. Then we had to identify the flowers and we were very good at naming the flowers. The yellow ones were dandelions, sowthistle, mustard, ragwort and gorse. We found a millipede, a spider, a hoverfly, a snail, a beetle and a woodlouse. The Nutty Team won but we were all brilliant!

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February 13th, 2016

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Nature Club – December 2015


ROBINS AND TREE DECORATIONS

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Seven children today for our seasonal celebration. First we visited the birds on Jubilee Pond and took them some presents in the shape of peanuts, fresh grapes and fatballs. This was all gratefully hoovered up by the swans, tufted ducks, pochard, mallard and lots of Canada geese. There was also a cormorant there diving to catch fish. Some of these birds are migrant birds which come from far up north where the water is now frozen so they can’t find food in winter.

Then we dressed a tree! We chose a little apple tree and draped its branches with the bunting we had made by tying things like feathers, bunches of dried yellow grasses , and branches with red and white berries on to pieces of coloured wool. All these things will rot in time as they are all natural so we can leave them on the tree.

The last thing we did was make some robins with pine cone bodies and plane tree seed heads and we stuck on wings and a red breasts. The robin is a popular bird because it is so friendly to humans but not to other robins which might try to invade their territory to steal their worms!

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February 13th, 2016

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Nature Club – September 2015


SEPTEMBER: THERE BE DRAGONS!

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dragonflies

A fine morning, great for dragonflies ! Eleven children today. We made some fantastic model dragonflies, some with sycamore seedcases for wings and plantain heads for bodies. Dragonflies are champion fliers- they can even fly backwards and they are hard to catch as they zoom around so fast. They are also very special as they were flying 300 million years ago and some of them were a lot bigger than we see nowadays. We did see some big ones -probably southern hawkers- flying over Jubilee Pond but there was no way we could catch them for a better look.

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October 7th, 2015

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Nature Club – August 2015


AUGUST: INSECT HOTELS

All together

Pond Dipping

Where do insects go in the winter? There are lots of bees and wasps and ladybirds and other insects buzzing about now it is summer but when it gets colder there are no flowers and so no food. Many insects will die but some will hibernate and wake up again next spring.
Where do they hibernate? They look for somewhere cosy and dry!
So we went on a stick safari to find some suitable material for insect homes. We found lots of hollow stems of grasses and reeds.
Then we made our insect hotels. Some were made out of upside-down plastic drinks bottles stuffed with hollow stems. Some were made from pieces of wood which we screwed together to make little houses. We stuffed them with lots of cosy leaves, sheeps wool, old decayed bits of wood, and hollow stems and reeds. Some already had insect lodgers in them! Our homes looked very inviting so we will put them somewhere sheltered in the garden and hope for the best.

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September 21st, 2015

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Nature Club – July 2015


JULY: POND-DIP & BUTTERFLIES

Sesame Street Monster eats butterfly

Eight children today and a special visitor, Minakshi, and a lovely new helper, Charlotte.
The sun was shining and there were hundreds of little brown butterflies flitting around the nettles and grass (Small Skippers).We had fun chasing them with our nets. We also found two large brown ones ( Meadow Brown & Speckled Wood) and a large white one ( called a Large White!)
Then we did a Ducks Picnic. Ducks should not eat too much bread as it is bad for them so we laid out a pondside buffet at Jubilee Pond for them to choose from: grapes, carrot, lettuce, peas, birdseed, a fatball, and some mealworms. The ducks and swans were quite fussy and went for the seedy things and mealworms and not the veggie things!
Then we took our nets and waded into the pond where it is shallow. We found lots of tiny things such as small fish, big fat leeches, mayfly larvae, and a perfect tiny bivalve shell. We saw big Emperor dragonflies swooping about and we saw a mother tufty duck with four tiny ducklings which she was protecting from a gull which was trying to snatch up a duckling for its dinner. Every time the gull swooped down, the ducklings disappeared under the water and in the end the brave mother duck flew up and chased the gull away.
Then we sat down at one of the picnic tables by the Pond and had a mini-picnic and the custard creams disappeared in a flash.
Last of all we spotted some scarey yellow and black striped caterpillars on the ragwort. They will magically turn into something quite different next month. Do you know what?

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September 21st, 2015

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Nature Club – June 2015


JUNE: BIRDS & BUGS

We had 7 children (Holly, Menuo and Ruduo, Nils, Ruby, Clementine and Anya the vicar’s daughter). Jane and Tim were there and two mums stayed too. To start with we looked at some patterned feathers, tried to work out how they ‘zip’ up, and drew them. Ruby brought an abandoned robin’s nest complete with old eggs (she donated it to Nature Club).
Tim’s game on bird migration was great fun and we learned a lot. Some birds make amazing journeys. We walked through the long grass to the Cat and Dog pond, looking for bugs en route.There were some huge tadpoles and we spotted lots of baby frogs. Tim identified some moths for us. Then back for refreshments and more feather sketching and bug identification. Time seemed to fly by.

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September 21st, 2015

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