Posts Tagged ‘nature’

The students from Wheatfield Primary School have been learning about the definition of a habitat, the different types of habitats and why they are important. After looking around Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, the students noticed the many different functions of the various habitat types and how important they are to the species that use them.

The students then played a game to match species with their habitats to show how animals and plants can exist within different niches while occupying the same habitat.

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At dusk this evening a keen group of bat detectives set off on dark and eerie mystery trail around Kings Weston Estate with the hope of tracking down some of the UK’s 12 native bat species.

Led by David Brown with the assistance of fellow bat detector Claire Shellis, the group set off and within about 400 yards of the house we spotted our first flying mammal! Our hand-held bat detectors started to buzz and we turned our heads to the skies where, right above us, a common pipistrelle bat was darting around hunting for insects.

Thrilled by our our first sighting, we carried on walking to find just around the corner a myotis species flying overhead. Our bat detectors were making very different sounds compared to a few moments ago. Bats use high frequency calls, most beyond the range of our human ears, in order to build up a picture of their surroundings, allowing them to hunt for their insect prey at night. Claire explained that the reason why we were hearing different noises from our bat detectors was due to the different frequencies of call used by the two bat species – whereas the common pipistrelle makes a slapping wet sound, myotis species produce a much more dry sound.

As the darkness really started to settle in and the woodlands became eerier, our bat detectors suddenly started producing a much more irregular sound. David soon revealed that what we were hearing was the calls of a serotine bat, which are easily recognisable as they never seem to get into a rhythm! A low flier, the serotine certainly kept the group on their toes!

And if you thought that bats only came out when birds went to bed, you are mistaken!The woodpigeons were particularly active on our brisk walk back to the headquarters at Kings Weston House…!

That’s all from day 1 of the Bristol BioBlitz 2013. We are off to recharge our camera batteries so we can keep you posted on all the activities planned for tomorrow as well as keeping our eye on that all important species total!

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This afternoon the Wildscreen Media Team joined Paul House to learn all about how ornithologists catch wild birds in order to ring them and monitor populations.

Paul and his team have set up a number of mist nets around the Kings Weston site so that we can discover the variety of bird species found here. Mist nets are an important tool for scientists as they help to monitor the diversity as well as the number and populations of bird species within a within a given area.

Find out all about it in Kathryn’s interview with Paul:

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We’re gearing up for an exciting evening of activity, with BioBlitz running into the night with the moth and bat walks. Will you be joining BioBlitz this evening? How many species will you discover?!

Moth revision

Moth revision

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The Media Team are in BioBlitz headquarters editing their footage from their foray into the world of invertebrates. Video coming soon!

Media Team in action

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In winter our six legged friends tend to go quiet – but where do all of the insects go in winter?

The smaller you are, the faster you lose heat and insects can’t use their food to heat their bodies like us mammals so they are stuck with the temperature of their surroundings. So when it gets cold there isn’t enough energy around for insects to keep active. So how do they survive?

Some, like grasshoppers and many flies, simply die off and rely on the eggs and larvae that they laid during the summer to survive and hatch out as adults in spring! Thats why the grasshopper can afford to sing all summer in Aesops fable

Image (thanks to Bird and Moon for this comic)

Lots of insects, like queen bumblebees, hibernate by going underground to shelter from the worst winter frosts, emerging in early March to start a new colony and collect pollen from the spring flowers.

Ladybirds sometimes cluster in swarms in good hibernation spots and can even survive frosting over! Thats why they occassionaly find their way  the spaces around your sash windows!


Thanks to Ladybird expert Richard Comont of Oxford University for some cracking photos!

Follow the link below to invertebrate charity Buglife to learn how to make a bug hotel – a winter home for minibeasts of all kinds!

Build a Bug Hotel

This is a great activity for all the family and uses those dead leaves littering the lawn. Children should be supervised making the hotel for their own safety, but will enjoy joining in!

To build your own Bug Hotel, click here for all of the instructions you will need from the BugLife website.

If you know a keen bug hunter or want to get your kids out enjoying the great outdoors next spring – why not get them a bug hunting kit for christmas to see what moves in to your bug hotel

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It’s cold out there! And as you sit toasting your feet by the fire, snuggling deep into a duvet or layering yourself up with your collection of novelty wooly jumpers, spare a thought for our furry, feathery, scaley and crawly friends out bearing the brunt of the weather.

So what can you do to help your garden wildlife this winter?

TIP 1: Feed the birds

Flying takes a lot of energy and birds need to eat a lot to let them keep active during the winter. Lots of species fly south to avoid the worst of the frists but lots of species stick around all year and some even visit us just for the winter – flying in from even colder climes!

There are lots of comercial bird feeders and foods out there but for an afternoons fun and an energy packed birdy snack, why not make your own bird cakes?!?



  • Lard
  • Porridge oats
  • Bird seed
  • Peanuts (unsalted, crushed)
  • Mealworms*
  • Dried fruit*
  • Plastic cup or bowl to use as a mould

*optional extras

Melt the lard in a large pan and allow to cool but not set then add the other ingredients until the mixture is thick but still pourable.

Pour the mixture into your moulds and push the stick, with string attached, into the centre of the mixture so that it acts as an anchor. Then put in the fridge to set. Once set, you can pop the mixture out of the mould and hang it near to some cover (such as a bush or tree).

It may take the birds a couple of days to notice your bird cakes so its usually best to put out just one at first to avoid waste, but as soon as they catch on your garden will become the most popular cafe in town! All you need to do is sit back and watch and you can identify the birds you attract using a field guide – a great pressie for the budding birdwatcher!

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Its a fresh and frosty afternoon in Bristol and a mad summer of BioBlitzes seems like an age away. As Bristol gears up to Christmas we’ve joined the Bristol Green Capital Blogfest to join the city’s finest environmentally minded organisations to help you have green, wildlife friendly festivities this year!

First out of the blocks was Wildscreen with a blog on Green Christmas Trees!

ImageWatch this space for some tips for sustaining your garden wildlife this winter and we’ll be dispelling some wintery wildlife myths! But first, who can identify this berry munching winter visitor?

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