Kids dive in to new wildlife season
YOUNG nature enthusiasts came face to face with pond life at the first of the season’s meetings of Macclesfield RSPB Wildlife Explorers.
The junior section of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in East Cheshire, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, used magnifying glasses to examine local pond water samples teeming with life.
Following a freshwater life quiz, the six to 19-year-olds looked at different stages of tadpole development as well as at a variety of creatures including water slaters, which are relatives of woodlice, pond snails, damselfly larvae and a baby newt.
They then created a virtual pond to take home, with layers reflecting the layers of life in a pond.
The Phoenix group for teenagers used a USB microscope to investigate a sample of moss on the hunt for tardigrades, or water bears, ancient creatures measuring about 1mm long and some of the most resistant creatures on earth, even surviving being blasted into space and back.
Tina Hanak, group leader, said: “We didn’t find any this time which was a bit of a shame but all the children had a fantastic time. The most important thing for us is that our members have hands-on experience with nature.
“Children spend far too much time on screens nowadays so the fact we had an actual pond they could look at made it more interesting.”
She added: “We try to ensure as much relevance as possible to the outdoor world at all our meetings; even if just playing a game that helps us explain things it is more interactive.”
Other tiny creatures encountered during the session included microscopic worms and a selection of springtails.
All sessions were then rounded off with a fun game of Frog Flipping involving the children returning toy frogs to a pond via lily pads while learning some ‘amazing’ amphibian facts.
The next meeting, on Sunday, October 11, at Tatton Park, will commemorate the first ever meeting of the group 30 years ago. There will be a special guided walk to see Autumn birds and wildlife and possibly witness the start of the annual deer rut. All Wildlife Explorers are welcome to attend.
Contact group leader Tina Hanak for more information on 07870804413. Details of the 30th Anniversary Programme are available on the website macclesfieldrspb.org.uk .
●● Above, members play a frog flipping game, below, the children create virtual ponds