Sunday, 5 July 2009

Roe deer, fox and school invertebrate course

As we arrived at the Crawley Professional Centre yesterday to run a course we were beckoned into the back office. The fox was siting on the field.

We were told we had just missed the mother Roe deer and juvenile. A couple of minutes later the female deer returned with youngster in tow.

They followed the edge of the wood, the mother seemed to be wary of the fox which after a short while got up and trotted back into the woods.

The young deer stayed more in the cover of the trees, both feeding on leaves on the lower branches.
After a while the female trotted back the way they had originally come and the fawn burst out of the tress and ran off after her.

It was great to watch. Roe deer are a small reddish brown deer with a black nose and white chin.

Once the deer had gone the fox returned to the playing field. It stretched out, legs sticking out at he front and back. However the magpies did not seem happy at the foxes return and seemed intent on driving it away. One of the magpies kept pecking at the foxes tail until it got up and went back into the tree.

The fox has a den just on the edge of the larger oak trees.

The course was about urban invertebrates. The pupils would be learning about invertebrates, surveying and recording invertebrates in the grounds, plotting them on a habitat map and investigating invertebrates through the digital microscope

The course started with a perception quiz. The children had to decide if they thought each of the 14 invertebrates were good for gardens, bad for gardens or dangerous to us based on a picture of each.

The aim is to show that we often treat invertebrates by how they appear to us and that invertebrates that people often think are bad or dangerous actually do a lot of good.

We looked at classification and discussed the important role of insects in flower pollination.

I brought along some dead specimens of bees, wasps and other invertebrates (collected from my garden and window sills) . Afterwards we divided into two groups. One group surveyed the grounds the second group collected searched for a small invertebrate in the grounds and carefully collected it for further examination. Later in the day, the two groups swapped over.

Surveying the grounds and recording invertebrates

Exploring the leaf litter

A shield bug laying eggs

Examining the collected invertebrates using the digital microscope

After collecting an invertebrate in the grounds each was examined and photographed through the microscope. (Ladybird larva)

(Shield bug larvae)

The children further investigated their invertebrate using the pictures. The invertebrates were returned safely to the grounds to emphasise their importance. The children also recorded information about where the invertebrate was found, how it moved etc.

At the end of the session the whole group looked at all the invertebrates that had been collected earlier. A few examples are shown below.

Shield bug
Wolf spider

At the end of the session we discussed all the things we had learned. The children were encouraged to carry on studying invertebrates in their garden or school grounds and to keep a nature journal or weblog to record their investigations.

No comments: