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Nocturnal Animals Eco Project with Miss Mathias

We began our project by watching footage from a camera that had been strapped to a tree in the school woods over the Easter holidays. We were amazed to see how many different animal species were active in our woods at night! We discussed what the animals might be doing and why some were more likely to be active at night than in the daytime. Our conversations led to an understanding that some animals, such as foxes, are specially adapted to see in the dark and that their prey, including rabbits and mice, are also active at dawn, dusk or in the dead of night. What interesting animal behaviour can you detect in the clips? (Please ignore the incorrect date and time settings!)

Badger

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We know that badgers eat earthworms, so perhaps this badger is sniffing the ground in search of food? When it suddenly drops its hind quarters, it could be leaving a scent message for other badgers.

Fox

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The fox is moving around with its nose close to the ground, perhaps to detect the scent of rabbits!

Rabbits

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Do you see how the rabbits occasionally stop their nibbling and sit stock still with their ears swivelling? Their acute sense of hearing and smell (the constantly twitching nose) may help them to escape a hungry fox! Now wait a minute! Is that a cat between the trees to the mid-left of the shot?

Cat

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Do you have a cat that hunts at night? Cats are known for being able to see well in the dark. They also have a highly developed sense of smell and can detect high-pitched sounds that humans cannot hear.

Stag scent marking

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When we looked closely at this footage of the stag, we could see that it was pawing the ground and rubbing its face on the branches of the tree. We realised it was using its scent glands to leave messages for other deer.

Young stags locking antlers!

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We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw these two young stags locking antlers! The more mature males would be showing off their strength in this way to compete for females.

Signs of nocturnal life in the woods!

We explored the woods to see if we could find any signs left behind by our night-time visitors. While some children wanted to use all their senses to comb the woods for evidence of nocturnal wildlife, others decided to record their findings in informal sketches and notes. As you will see, these show fascinating scrape marks in the soil, possibly left by badgers digging for earthworms. Children also spotted rabbit or deer droppings, nibbled tree bark and roots, animals tracks and a variety of other clues. (We couldn't help marvelling at the rare sight of woodland violets so sketches of these have been included too!)

 

A record of findings in sketches and jottings

A record of findings in sketches and jottings 1
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 2
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 3
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 4
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 5
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 6
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 7
A record of findings in sketches and jottings 8

Young naturalists of the future!

 

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Children's photographic records of visiting wildlife

Picture 1 A badger trail, clearly visible in the vegetation.
Picture 2 Where do you think the badger is going?
Picture 1 Deer or rabbit droppings.
Picture 2 Curious scrape marks in the soil.
Picture 1 Tree bark nibbled by deer.
Picture 2 We think this could be a fox hole.

Class 2 are helping the endangered Barn Owl

During Term 5, Class 2 had a visit from Chrissie's Owls, a sanctuary and educational service. They watched a Barn Owl fly and feed and were awed by its beauty, grace and diet! They also learned about the scarcity of Barn Owls today, due to a lack of nesting sites and suitable hunting grounds. We set about planning how we could raise £65 to buy a nesting box from the Barn Owl Trust. Everyone got busy making posters to put up around school and creating clay Barn Owl feathers to give out at a collecting table set up before and after school in the last week of term.

 

An amazing £82.30 raised!
 

With your help Class 2 exceeded their target by £17.30! The extra money collected will cover the £12 delivery charge and the rest will be donated to the Barn Owl Trust to support their conservation work. The box will be placed inside a barn on a local farm, surrounded by plenty of open, rough grassland that supports Barn Owl prey, including field voles, wood mice and shrews. Look out for updates!

Hard working fund raisers at the collecting table

Barn Owl pellet dissection

On the last day of term, Class 2 experienced watching Barn Owl pellets being skilfully dissected by a child in Class 3. The child belongs to a Barn Owl conservation organisation in Scotland and receives the pellets by post. He dissects them and then sends back notes about their contents. In this way, he is helping the organisation to learn what food is being eaten by the Barn Owls in that area. We were all fascinated to watch how he carefully took the pellets apart using cocktail sticks. As he worked, he explained that he was finding tiny skulls and bits of jaw bone, possibly of shrews and voles. Thank you for providing such an interesting experience and for answering our questions so expertly. It was an enriching learning experience.

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