Stick Man arrives at Blashford Lakes, spends time with the Tots, what route does he take?

The Stick Men began life as a pile of sticks, and were soon brought to life by our Wildlife Tots group. They collected all different shapes and sizes of leaves to create fantastic skirts, trousers, and even legwarmers for their Stick Men! The leafy hairdos and headdresses were ornate, and that left only one thing, a scarf to keep the stickmen warm.

As Tracy read through the story, we moved around the reserve. First, we took our Stick Men on a walk towards the river, to get away from the fictional dog who would have used them for a game of fetch!

The next obstacle in our Stick Men’s quest to get home… pooh sticks! We gathered some sticks and went to the Docken’s bridge, careful to drop our sticks and not our Stick Men. 1…2….3…. DROP! Sticks into the river and Stick Men safe, we ran to the other side of the bridge to see who would win.

Having survived the pooh stick game, our Wildlife Tots and Stick Men moved on to our next activity, building a nest for a swan. We gathered some sticks and put them all together, then counted out some ‘eggs’ for our cuddly toy swan to keep warm. In the next part of the story, the Stick Man drifts down the river and out to sea, washing up on the beach.

Tracy read on, “Here comes a dad with a spade in his hand. Stick Man oh Stick Man, beware of the sand!’ ‘A mast!’ yells the dad, ‘An excellent mast!” and our next activity, making sandcastles of course! We got pots, sticks and leaves, and using sand next to the river a village of castles was made.

We left the river, some castles were trampled by Tots feet, and we made our way to the campfire area, stopping in some muddy puddles for a splash on the way. It’s winter in the story now, and the Stick Man’s next hurdle on his way home… is being mistaken for the perfect ‘stick arm’ for a snowman. As is the usual way with Hampshire… it’s not snowy despite it being winter, so we created doughmen instead of snowmen!

The group scrambled around to find good sticks for the arms, and charcoal for eyes and buttons. We then had a quick briefing on campfire safety, and, keeping all our Stick Men safe, Tracy lit a small fire. Enthralled by the campfire, the Tots were the quietest they had been all morning, and listened intently to the last part of the story. The Stick Man in the story helps Father Christmas escapes the fire, helps to deliver the presents, and then gets returned safe and sound to his Family Tree. After putting out the fire, we walked back to the centre and all the newly created Stick Men got in the car with their Tots, ready to go on another adventure.

12 Days Wild, day 4 – noticing the little things.

As I walked around the reserve today I noticed lots of people, and lots of lichen! Those of you that have visited Blashford Lakes know that we have a wonderful ‘lichen heath’ where balls of lichen grow freely on the ground. There is also an incredible amount of lichen and mosses all around the reserve, and when you take the time to look at it you can see beautiful patterns, and a huge variety of colours too. Healthy lichen communities are good natural indicators of air quality, long many they continue to thrive here!

It’s 12 Days Wild! What wild thing have you done today?

Just like our 30 Days Wild challenge in the summer, we are asking you to do one wild thing a day over the festive period, from 25th December to 5th January for #12DaysWild.

If you haven’t started yet don’t worry, you can begin right now just by going and spending 5 minutes outside, looking at the sky and seeing if you can hear any birds.

Today is day 3 of #12DaysWild!
For day 1 I went on a lovely Christmas dog walk, enjoying the sound of the rain on the hood of my coat, and the birds chirping in the hedgerows. Yesterday I went for a walk in the New Forest, and saw lots of mossy fallen trees, and admired a golden glowing sunset.

Day 3… and luckily I am working at Blashford today! I decided I would spend some time outdoors despite the rain, practising my willow weaving skills. Now that our Christmas wreath making activity has come to an end, we need do to something with all the willow, so I am learning how to make bird feeders. They don’t necessarily always go to plan, but practise does (I hope) make perfect, and it feels great to learn a new skill using a natural material.

Let us know your wild acts for nature on social media using the hashtag #12DaysWild and if you’ve done something at Blashford, make sure to #BlashfordLakes too!

Nature and wildlife on my doorstep

Young Naturalist Izzy Fry has written a blog for us to share about her experiences during lockdown, along with some fabulous photos. Whilst off she also began writing her own blog, titled My Nature and Photography, and you can find it here.

Enjoy!

Red admiral by Izzy Fry

Red admiral by Izzy Fry

 

Despite the current circumstances, Summer is just round the corner. The weather is warming; young hares begin to bound around the meadows and migratory birds have returned. Bees are busy collecting pollen, wildflowers are in full bloom, and butterflies begin to lay their eggs.

Hare by Izzy Fry

Brown hare by Izzy Fry

 

Although many of us are contained to our homes and gardens, there is still so much to explore! I am lucky enough to live on a farm surrounded by woodland and fields which is a haven for wildlife. From Rabbits and Pied Wagtails on the farmland to Spotted Flycatchers and Muntjacs in the woods.

I absolutely love photography, and it has massively helped me to get through these past months. One of my favourite things to photograph is the birds and squirrels in my garden!

Grey squirrel by Izzy Fry 2

Grey squirrel by Izzy Fry

I have made my own woodland table to get photos of my garden wildlife on natural objects. I get four Grey squirrels which spend hours munching on the loose food on the table as well as providing lots of different bird foods, to attract different species!
For example, peanuts for tit species and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, nyger seed for Gold and Greenfinches, fat balls for Robins and Long‐tailed tits and seeds for Nuthatches and Sparrows!

To give me a project during quarantine, I have also made my own nature and photography blog where I post about my photos and nature experiences. Nearly a year ago I made an Instagram account ‐ @focus.photograph.y – and I loved sharing my photos with people! I also have a big interest in journalism and so decided to make a blog to present my photos and journalism at the same time! This is the link to it – https://mynatureandphotographyblog.wordpress.com/

Blog

Homepage of Izzy’s blog

My family owns two hives full of honeybees which we collected from swarms in people’s gardens! I have been out learning more about them with my mum who is
a beekeeper. We have been looking at the three different types of bees – the drones, workers and queen! The drone honeybees have a bigger abdomen and their job is to care for the eggs and larvae! The worker’s job is to collect pollen and make the honey and the queen is the most important bee of all! The queen’s only job is to reproduce – she is the mother to every single bee (around 15,000!) in the hive!


I was walking back home one day from my daily exercise, when I heard a loud cheeping noise coming from a hole in a tree. At first, I thought it was a Nuthatch nest as they usually nest in small cavities in trees, but after sitting close by for a while, I noticed a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying around in the trees nearby. After a bit longer, I saw them go in to feed their chicks! It was amazing to watch – unfortunately, I did not get any photos as I didn’t want to spook the parents by moving the camera around! But I plan to go back soon and see if I can get some shots!

To keep ourselves occupied during lockdown, my family decided to install a pond in our garden in the hope to attract more wildlife! After digging a big hole and placing the pond liner inside, we filled it with pond water from a nearby pond. We also had a mini pond inside full of tadpoles which had hatched from toad spawn which we put in too as well as 3 newts we caught and a caddis fly larvae!

Very close to my house, we have a small orchard where I saw a big group of juvenile blue tits! For the last couple of days, I have sat for ages photographing them in the trees and being fed by their parents. Did you know that even after having fledged, blue tit chicks will still rely on their parents for food for a while after leaving the nest!


Even though we are limited to a small space at the moment, there are still lots of activities that you can do to stay connected to nature! For example: make a bird feeder, build a bug house, watch a wildlife webcam.

Blue tit on feeder by Izzy Fry

Blue tit on homemade bird feeder by Izzy Fry

Currently we all have a lot of free time, and so it is the perfect time to explore!

Meadow brown by Izzy Fry

Meadow brown by Izzy Fry

Shovelling silt

On Sunday our Young Naturalists were treated to the lovely task of clearing all the silt, mud and other debris from the main car park by Tern Hide, following the recent flooding, a task they got stuck into and I think quite enjoyed!

Car park

Before

I think the thing they enjoyed the most, was trying to sweep the water lengthways down the puddle then through the outflow pipe…

Playing aside, they did scrape off a lot and Bob was very impressed by their efforts.

After lunch they then had a go at pewter smelting, as we had all the kit to hand and they hadn’t tried it before. They used the play-dough to make a mould before melting the pewter shot over the fire and carefully pouring it into the mould.

Their finished items looked great, we will have to do it again:

Pewter smelting by Izzy Fry 2

Pewter pine cone and mould by Izzy Fry

Cast items

Finished items – alder cones, shells, pine cones and acorns

After the session Izzy went to the Woodland Hide to see what she could spot and sent in these brilliant photos:

Thanks Izzy for sharing!

Our Young Naturalists group is funded by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.

Natural Wellbeing

We know that a strong connection with nature has countless benefits for people’s health and wellbeing, which is why we began Natural Wellbeing sessions here on the reserve last year.

Natural Wellbeing

The sessions run every Friday from 11am until 2.30pm and use the natural environment to promote adult health and wellbeing, so are particularly beneficial for people who are suffering with mental health conditions. Participants are able to get involved with cooking and sharing an outdoor lunch over the campfire, wildlife watching, outdoor craft activities or they can just simply enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the woodland with the company of others.  If you would like to join us or know someone who may be interested, please get in touch on 01425 472760 or BlashfordLakes@hiwwt.org.uk – we like to know who’s coming so we can make sure we cater for the right number and any dietary requirements.

These sessions are now being supported by local Co-op stores as part of their Local Community Fund, and if you are a member of the Co-op you can support Natural Wellbeing every time you shop!

Coop

Every time a Co-op member shops in their stores for Co-op own brand products from now until end October 2018, they can raise money for our Blashford Lakes Natural Wellbeing sessions with 1% going towards the project. The money raised will be spent on the staff time, materials and training needed to run the weekly sessions.

You can help to raise funds to support this important work by:

  1. Becoming a member of the Co-op here. It costs just £1 and will give you other benefits too like 5% back on Co-op own brand products.
  2. Choose Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as your charity: https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/14604/
  3. Use your Co-op card at the till every time you buy Co-op branded products

 

Please help us to raise as much to support this valuable project as you can! Thank you!

Natural Wellbeing 2

Coop 2