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Archive for August, 2014

Thank you to everyone who entered our Family Zone June/July Competition, it sounds like you all had lots of fun on your Bug Hunts, you found some wonderful creatures:

Wood Lice, Worms, Slugs, Millipedes, Bees, Painted Lady Butterflies, a big furry caterpillar, a Slow Worm, Buff Tip Moth Caterpillars, Ants, Spiders, hoverflies, Ladybirds.

It was difficult to choose a winner and unfortunately there can be only one, the winning entry was from Jake Andrews aged 5 from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire he found a Grasshopper and sent in a lovely picture of it that he had drawn himself ‘well done Jake’, Jake wins a Ladybird and Insect Tower and a Field Guide to Ladybirds.

grasshopper

Grasshopper by Jake Andrews, age 5

The School Zone Competition was won by Halstead Preparatory School for Girls, Woking, Surrey the winning entry was by Maddie Robson aged 8 who answered all the Insect Questions correctly they will receive a Solar Insect Theatre and a Minibeast Identification Guide – well done.

I hope that they enjoy their prizes and that they will attract lots of insects into their gardens which they can identify with their guides.

You never know what you will find in your garden!

A couple of weeks ago, as I was pegging out the washing, something caught my eye, I had a closer look I couldn’t believe what I saw it was a huge fat green caterpillar about 8cm long, there were actually two of them the second was slightly smaller about 6cm long.

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar July 14

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

I quickly searched through the Books of Moths, Butterflies and Caterpillars that we have and found a perfect match it was the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawk Moth. Elephant Hawk Moths are resident in the UK and commonly found throughout England, Wales and Southern Scotland the adult moths feed at night on Honeysuckle and other tubular flowers and are attracted to light. The caterpillars also feed at night their preferred food plants are Willowherb, Fuchsia and Bedstraw the ones in my garden were feeding on the Bog Bean at the edge of my pond, on fine days in the late afternoon they rest on stems. The caterpillar spends the winter as a pupa in a flimsy cocoon amongst plant debris on the ground or just below the surface this means that I will have to be very careful when I am tidying up the garden in the Autumn.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Elephant Hawk Moth

The caterpillars were amazing, I have only seen one of them again since, we have caught the Elephant Haw Moths in our moth trap before, they are stunning you would never think they are flying around in the UK at night they look tropical.

Why not make a moth trap and find out what is flying about in your garden at night – click here for more information.

Congratulations to our winners – have fun.

Gill

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Beach

You can’t beat a day at the seaside there are lots of activities to keep you busy:

Paddling or Swimming in the sea

Building Sandcastles

Burying dad in the sand!

Rock pooling

Playing ball games/flying kites

or Beach Combing

There is so much you can find on a beach that has been washed up by the sea, unfortunately most of it is man-made litter, there are millions of tonnes of rubbish in our seas not just around Britain but worldwide only small amounts get washed up on the shore, this is a big problem which is getting worse, harming birds, animals, fish and sea creatures.

I love beachcombing you never know what you will find:

Colourful pebbles – worn smooth by the sea

Seaweed – I didn’t realise there were so many different types

Driftwood – Bleached and smooth to the touch

Shells – Cockle, Mussel, Periwinkle, Whelk, Razor, Scallop, Limpet

Crab Shells and Claws, Cuttlefish bones

Whelk Egg Cases and Dogfish Egg Cases also called Mermaids Purses

Sea monster 2

Why not make a Sea Creature with your beach treasure?

What you will need

Collect as many shells, pebbles, sticks, strands of seaweed, etc. as you can find

What you need to do

You can either make your creature on the beach or when you get home, we made ours at home.

Start off by making a body from damp sand or if you are at home you could use modelling clay, and firm your shells into place on the body, then add arms, legs, a mouth, eyes, hair, claws, tails and wings. This is your Sea Creature be creative you can make it how you want, it can have 2, 4 or 6 legs, 2 or 3 heads or tails, you can give it wings or claws and as many eyes as you want.

Sea Monster 1

How we made our Sea Creature

  1. Firstly we got a storage box lid and covered it with a blue plastic bag to represent the sea; you could also use a tray or cover it with kitchen foil.
  2. We then got a piece of white modelling clay, made it into an egg shape and pressed it onto the lid.
  3. We covered the modelling clay with Mussel shells to make the body, and used broken Razor shells for the legs, the curly tail was a large Whelk shell.
  4. For the head we used a Cuttlefish bone for the lower jaw and the top was a Spider Crab shell, two eyes were made out of small Whelk shells which were stuck on with the modelling clay, I drew on two eyes with black marker pen.
  5. The crowning glory was the three Dogfish Egg cases that we placed along his back.
  6. To finish it off we sprinkled sand on the lid and placed some shells and Whelks egg cases around him to make him feel at home!

It is a good idea to buy a guide to the seashore so that you can identify and learn all about what you find on your day out.

Have fun on the beach this summer, enjoy all that the seaside has to offer and help to preserve it for future generations by taking you litter home with you – the British Coastline is stunning and home to many amazing and unique plants, animals, fish, sea creatures and birds.

Love your environment

Gill

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