Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Grand Finale!

THE BOG BLOGGERS! (plus my dog Boo who snuck in!)
Last week we had our very last Bog Blog session of 2014. While we have seriously lucked out with the weather each week, we were super lucky on our last day to have a gloriously sunny and warm summer's day to see the Bog Blog out.

As it was the last session we had a more informal session to celebrate our last Bog Blog. All of the brilliant Bog-Bloggers have been a pleasure to "teach" and explore the marsh with. Miss Amos and the school have also been very helpful and Miss Amos great to have along for fox poo sniffing and mealworm tasting (see previous blogs).

In previous blog sessions we have always followed the dedicated path for the general public. However, today the mini wildlife rangers had been given permission by Devon Wildlife Trust to go on the normally out of bounds path which leads to the sluice gate so that they might get a chance to see what makes the marsh...well marshy!

Surprisingly the path wasn't quite as dry as we expected. In the muddy pools along the path a very eagle-eyed wildlife ranger noticed tadpoles and also a little newt! Unfortunately, I had missed an opportunity to slip in one of my favourite amphibian jokes...I should have introduced my pet newt "Tiny" to the group called Tiny because he's my newt...

Anyway, we progressed on to the sluice gate which was a great chance to reinforce to the group that this was a developing habitat. That the sluice gate had only recently been put in place to allow water (from the estuary's incoming tide) into the marsh to develop more saltmarsh habitats. That the children were here to see what wildlife could be found here in 2014 but that perhaps in years to come it will have developed in other ways and might look very different with a variety of new wildlife and plants. Hopefully, the school and other groups might come and use the site for further investgations!

We headed towards our (we have now made claim to it!) bird hide  and again these wildlife rangers who were not going to miss a thing spotted a lizard scurrying across the dry and cracked mud - a Common Lizard.

A Common Lizard found close to the South Efford Marsh Sluice Gate
Despite it being an informal and fun last session we still managed to find 2 new species! There were signs of new life too with both Pigeon and Mallard Duck egg shells. Indeed, today (Sunday 18/05) while I was kayaking further down the estuary I saw a mother with 11 chicks - perhaps one that had hatched from the egg shell that was found!

After stopping for a mini picnic and seeing a formation of Canada Geese fly over and 4 Swans making their charachteristic thwacking noise when in flight I asked the children what had been the best part of the Bog Blog to which they replied, "EVERYTHING!"

During our celebratory picnic we saw hundreds of birds enjoying a snack too!

On our walk we used a sweep net over the long grass and saw lots of different flies, spiders and midges. Sadly, we haven't had time to fully look at them for identification but it gave a sense of all the mini bugs that were living all around South Efford Marsh.

A wonderful sight to see the children at home in the great outdoors!

The children certainly seem to have developed an affinity with South Efford Marsh. Some of the girls independently decided to do a litter clean which just went to show how much they had grown to treasure this wildlife haven.
The Bog Blog Litter Pickers!
Next week we will prepare for our guided tour. This will take place on Thursday 5th June between 1430 - 1530 for members of the local community and 1530-1630 for primary school parents and children. We would love to see you there. The children will give their own guided tour to South Efford Marsh so that you can see what an "epic" place it really is.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the Aune Conservation Association and it's members for funding this project. I think the children's enthusiasm for South Efford Marsh shows just what a valuable experience it's been for all involved.

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