Yesterday, we had our first outing to South Efford Marsh with 10 welly-clad and excited children. As it was also World Book Day the Marsh was looking extra colourful with the children dressed as Pippy Longstocking, Queen of Hearts, Tintin, a cat, the Three Muskateers and other well known childrens characters!
The weather was a little drizzly and the marsh more sodden than usual with all the rain that we've experienced in recent weeks. However, this didn't put anybody off from having a great recce of the marsh. This day was an introduction to the Marsh so that the children could get a bearing of where they were in relation to the village school, pub and even some of their homes and find out their role as mini wildlife rangers!
The marsh certainly didn't disappoint. After a safety briefing we merrily started squelching our way along the footpath towards our ultimate destination of the bird hide. As we went I asked the children to take a careful look around them for any evidence of wildlife and to really use their noses, ears and eyes to take in all the wonderful smells, sounds and sights on the marsh.
We talked about all the different ways in which we might discover what types of wildlife we might find. We'll be using pitfall traps to catch bugs, mammal traps for potential shrews or voles, sweep nets for flying invertebrates, fishing nets for the creeks, bino's for birds and even a borrowed camera trap to see the resident otters!
The children were very pleased to discover an otter run and we talked about poo. One child suggested some people taste the poo to see just what it consists of. I suggested that perhaps we might not need to do that! We could simply look at the poo to see what the creature may have eaten and in the case of otters you often see fish scales and bones.
Alongside the footpath is a little slope which separates the marshland from the estuary. We went to the top of the slope to look at this very different habitat. There in front of us was a big school of Mullet! They were flashing their silvery sides at the children as they swam twisting and turning in the water.
|The children enjoy smelling the coconut aromas of the Gorse flowers. We talked about how you can make Gorse Fudge!|
We were very pleased at this point to have already seen great wildlife sights!
We turned around to face the marshland when suddenly the Queen of Hearts shouted, "FOX!"
Trotting across the field on the other side of the creek the fox seemed undisturbed by Tin tin and his friends.
|Children pointing out where they saw the FOX!!|
On arrival to the bird hide we opened the viewing panels on to the marshland and the children sat with their note books while looking to see what birds they could spot. I then revealed the panels which meant that we could also see the estuary on the other side which resulted in lots of, "Coooool!"
Their journal entries included the following statements:
"My first experience of South Efford Marsh was incredible! We saw a swan, egret, FOX, mullet and curlew! It was really peaceful and relaxing." (She'd written FOX in caps!) Jenny
"Today I saw a wild fox! I think the marsh is a good place for wildlife!" Joss
"What I thought of South Efford Marsh was cold and damp but it's very exiting!" Fleur
All in all a great success! Next week we will be going back to the bird hide to focus on birdspotting and collecting a list of birds that can be seen on the Marshland. Roll on next week!