On Sunday we held our first online Young Naturalists meeting using Zoom. It was a great success with eleven young people joining us for two hours. We chatted about what everyone had been up to over the last couple of months, including their wildlife highlights and where they had been on their daily walks, how they had been finding homeschooling and projects they had been doing at home – a lot of lockdown ponds have been created which is lovely to hear!
We were joined by volunteer Nigel who pond dipped his garden pond and shared his catch with the group, shared some of the moths caught in his light trap the night before and talked about some of the butterflies out on the wing at present, using photos to help.
We also used the digital microscope to take a closer look at the moths caught overnight at Blashford. Sadly the trap included the remains of a privet hawk-moth, indicating a bird had managed to get in and have a feast, something that does unfortunately happen on occasion. An easy meal for the bird, not so good for the moths! We had a closer look at what had been left behind, its head and one wing. The head was still wriggling which was slightly disconcerting! By chance, Alex and Thomas who had also run their moth trap at home the night before had caught a privet hawk-moth too, which hadn’t fallen foul of an intruder in the trap, and we were able to have a look at a live one.
We had some great moths in the trap and looked up a couple we didn’t know online using the Hants Moths Flying Tonight webpage.
We also had a closer look at some dragonfly exuvia I had collected from around the pond:
The larger exuvia is from a emperor dragonfly whilst the smaller one is from a downy emerald. These exuvia are both larger and different in shape to the damselfly one I shared yesterday.
It was great to be able to catch up with the group and we are planning on running sessions fortnightly over the next couple of months. We will be making the most of the moth trap, looking at some of Blashford’s pond and river creatures using the digital microscope, using photos to improve insect identification, create a few quizzes to keep us going and continue to share wildlife sightings and experiences.
When I returned from furlough I got in touch with the group to see what they had all been up to and whether they had any wildlife highlights from their time in lockdown. I hadn’t got round to sharing them sooner, so these are there replies, hopefully a couple more will follow:
Kiera – from an email on the 20th May
Last week we went for a walk at Kings Hat near Beaulieu and we stumbled upon this lizard running through the grass. It’s the first one I have seen in the wild!
Common lizard by Keira
Amber – from an email on the 18th May
I have been lucky enough to have taken some great nature photos during lockdown. We have been very careful to only walk from home on our dog walks. I have a dachshund called Hagrid.
We’ve recently discovered lots of great walks around Hightown Lakes in Ringwood, some longer than others. In March we came across a mummy duck with absolutely loads of ducklings. Then just last week, we were on our way to the lakes and saw the most wonderful thing, a field of Canada geese, and about 30 gosling’s!! I have never seen so many, they were impossible to count.
The best picture I managed to take was a chicken having a paddle, I didn’t know chickens liked water.
Will A – from an email on 20th May
My dad has built a veggie planter in the front garden and another planter with a wildlife pond and seating area in the back garden. I enjoyed helping build the wildlife pond and have included some pictures of the garden.
Since we only live a ten minute walk away from Stanpit Marsh we have made an effort to get out for a walk most days and I am appreciating things a lot more. I have seen Stanpit spring into life since the end of February. I feel very lucky to have this on my doorstep especially when compared to others. I have also heard from a neighbour that seals have been seen on the beach at Highcliffe.
I’m looking forward to catching up with them again in a couple of weeks to see what else they have been up to.
Our Young Naturalists group is kindly sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.