Kids dive in to new wildlife sea­son

Macclesfield Express - - SCHOOLS NEWS - DANIELLE ROPER

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 mac­cles­fiel­dr­ .

●● Above, mem­bers play a frog flip­ping game, be­low, the chil­dren cre­ate vir­tual ponds

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