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Using Wildlife to Learn

Making MDJS Base Camp …

We have been working a lot in Hartshill Hayes and we are very lucky to have this wonderful space right on the school’s doorstep, within walking distance. We decided to build our own Base Camp in the woods. It would be a place to sit, talk, meet and get together. We would have to work as a team to create Base Camp and make it a great place to be.

This week, we started by clearing an area of all the leaves and debris on the floor. Some lovely big holly trees and bushes would help hide our base camp and shel;term it. We then started to make a barrier all around our camp; a bit like a natural branch and twig barrier.

We collected lots of fallen branches and pulled them into position, building them up to create mini walls. Sometimes the branches were quite big and we had to get two or even three of us to work together to move it. We worked hard for nearly an hour and were really pleased with our results.

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The Ranger at The Hayes is going to help too, by getting us some logs to sit on and to clear any stuff too large for us. We all really enjoyed our time in the woods and look forward to continuing with the project this year!

 

Our film all about Bird feeding!

How did you get on with Big Garden Birdwatch at the weekend? WildlifeKate filmed a bit with BBC Midlands Today all about her garden birds and she recorded 16 different species in her garden in Lichfield! Here is her on the news on Friday….

The Green Team took on the challenge of making a film about the bird feeding we do here at school. There are some budding presenters in this group, as there was no script and very little practise to get it right!

We are very proud of what we have produced!

Getting ready for RSPB Big School Birdwatch…

We are gearing up for the RSPB  Big School Birdwatch by ‘upping ‘the bird feeding we do at school. We have 2 feeding stations that we run all year, down at our Wild Learning Area and also outside our school hall. We have also now got some set up outside the Year 6 classrooms as well.

The pupils have also been busy making some feeders as well. Both Green teams and Outdoor Explorers made their own feeders out of plastic bottles. Some were hung up in school and others taken home for their gardens.

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Over the next few weeks, pupils will be learning all about birds and we will do our counts at the beginning of February to submit to the RSPB.

 

Icy fun!

When Outdoors Explorers headed down to the Wild Learning Area to check on the Hedgehog homes, we became somewhat distracted by the amount of ice on our ponds. The pupils were fascinated in it and how it had formed, how thick it was and how easy it would be to break.

Of course, we talked about the dangers of ice on waterways and how we should never attempt to walk across as the ice could break suddenly, plunging us into freezing water. Our pond is small enough for us to touch the edges and we all wanted to break off ice, hold it and feel it melting in our hands!

We loved the way that some leaves and foliage had become frozen inside the ice. It was great exploring it …. and getting out hands very cold and dirty!

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More winter food for our Michael Drayton birds

A second Green Team took on the challenge to make some log bird feeders. This group of Year 5 boys loved using the drill to create the holes in the logs and screwed two screws in the top to create a hanging cord.

The group then mixed up the seed and mealworms into lard and packed it into the holes in the log. This group also added a pine cone and covered that in the mix as well… a perfect snack for hungry birds.

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The group then took them down to the Wild Learning area feeding station and we hung some of them up there. We are sure they will soon attract some visitors!

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What’s crawling under our Fence?

One of our Green Teams noticed a track in the Wild Learning Area, that went under the fence. We could clearly see that an animal of some kind was regularly going under this fence, into our school field. What animal could it be? We had suggestions of hedgehogs, cats, a deer and even a wolf!

There was only one way to find out for sure and that was to set the Bushnell trail camera. This camera would remotely monitor the area and make a video every time an animal came past. The boys set the camera up, facing the hole under the fence…

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The following week, we were keen to get the SD card out and to see what had been recorded. We had over 300 clips! We looked through them on the PC and were delighted to find out that foxes regular travel under this fence. A couple of the clips did, indeed, look like we had a wolf visiting! This fox is big, very bushy and looks very well fed!

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We also captured clips of two different cats using this path.

We chose our favourite clips and combined them into one clip, which you can see here.

Making Log Bird Feeders

With the weather getting much colder, the Green Teams set to work to make some bird feeders that they could take home with them for their gardens. WildlifeKate had collected some logs and cut them up, ready for us to use.

We learnt how to use the electric drill, with a wood bit on the end, the make some large holes in the log. We also screwed two small screws in the top of our log  so we could create a hanging point.

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Mixing some seed and mealworms up with a small amount of lard, we then packed the holes we had drilled, with this food. We crammed as much as we could inside.

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Tying a piece of cord around the screws, our feeders were ready to hang up. We thought a Great spotted woodpecker might like to use this feeder, as well as a blue tit and a great tit !

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Making More Hibernation homes…

The Green Teams and the Outdoor Explorers have been busy in the last week or so, making and putting finishing touches to their hibernation homes. These could be suitable for all sorts of animals that would like to shelter in cold weather, but we would really like some hedgehogs to use these!

We started by going to the Hayes and collecting lots of sticks and twigs. Then, we used string and cable ties to create a tent-like structure…..

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Once the structure was complete, we pulled up grass and packed it all around our structure until we could not see any gaps…

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Deciding where to position our Hibernation Home, we carried them to under the hedges and around the perimeter of the Wild Learning Area. We then got the wheelbarrow and collected lots of lovely leaves. These would act like a big duvet over our shelter, helping to protect the occupants from the cold weather. We put the leaves on top and packed them down…

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We had two model hedgehogs and we tested the Hibernation Home to see if they could fit in and looked cosy! We were very pleased with the results and these shelters had cost us nothing but our time and we thought they were much nicer than some of the shop bought hedgehog homes.

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Now,we just hope a hedgehog will decide that they are the perfect place to sleep the winter away!

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Creating Wildlife Hibernation Shelters

The Green teams have been working hard to create some hibernation shelters for our Wild Learning Area. We talked about animals that might need shelter over the winter months. These could include lots of small mammals like mice and voles. Some animals hibernate over the winter. This means they go into a deep sleep and sleep all through the winter months when there is not much food around. They stock up in the Autumn and get as fat as they can before going into hibernation. In the UK, hedgehogs hibernate. They need somewhere sheltered and dry and they will make a bed of leaves to curl up in.

Green Team decided to help out! Collecting lots of sticks and twigs, we brought them back into the outdoor classroom area. Working as a team, they had to construct a small shelter that would be study enough to stay together. It would then be covered in leaves and branches, with an entrance left open. We plan to put them in the Wild Learning Area and see if anything decides to use them!

The teams  worked really well and the constructions were pretty impressive! If we were hedgehogs, we decided that we would like to take up residence!

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