Friday, 14 March 2014


What a glorious sunny day for our second bog blog adventure. It was such a joy to see the mire of mud drying out although not quite as much fun to squelch through. The very observant children were walking along the path to the bird hide when one pointed out, "Look how much lower the creek is! The water levels have really dropped!" So we had a chat about why this was and what it might mean for wildlife.
South Efford Marsh is a perfect resting and feeding spot for a variety of birds!

However, this week's session was less water related and more focused on the birds. The aim was to reach the bird hide and make a list of birds that could be seen at this time of year. They were lucky enough to have some fab binoculars to use which helped them clearly see the red beak of a distant Shelduck and to identify it.

The tide was high on the estuary side so there were no Curlew to be seen (as last week) feeding on the creatures that lived in the glorious mud. Towards the end of our time in the bird hide two friendly bird watchers came along to say that they had also seen a heron being mobbed by some gulls. They also pointed out the Wagtails which we'd missed and had only relatively recently come back to the warming south Devon coast.

The children loved using their fantastic Fibre Optics binoculars to spot the Wagtails and Shelduck!
The recently installed bird hide (by Devon Wildfile Trust) is a huge success with the children.

Along with two keen volunteers I helped the children take our first temperature and salinity readings. We started off measuring where there was a shallow entry in to the creek but the temperature reading was very much higher than we expected. I suggested we should go to where we could dangle the probe in deeper water.

When we were in the hide again, a particularly bright 9 year old was looking at the piece of kit we were using to read the temperature and said, "aren't you supposed to take the cap off?" was just me testing them...honest!! So now we have our first reading and we will record this each week to see how the temperature is changing over the time we have of studying the marsh. The children can then create a cool and colourful graph for their guided walk at the end of the project. At the moment the creek was reading 12.9 deg C.

As we left we met another keen bird watcher who said that he was keeping an eye out for the first Swallow and suggested that we do too. He has already seen a House Martin this year!

The birds that we saw were:

Mute Swan
Pied Wagtail
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Long-Tailed Tit

and we hope to see Kingfishers flying through the creek too. We heard from our bird-watching friends that we were more likely to see them on a low tide. The children also noticed lots of fish in the creek which we will explore some more in a fortnight.

Next week will be classroom based and we'll be creating a sign for the bird hide, preparing for our fishing session and starting to create our graph!

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