X is also for….. X files

If you want to amaze your teachers or friends, here are some strange but true facts about animals.

1)      If Cockroaches give you the creeps you’ll be delighted to know that they feel exactly the same way about us. After being touched by a human, cockroaches run away and hide and wash themselves thoroughly.

2)      There are fish in the Amazon Rainforest called anableps whose eyes are divided into two parts so that they can see above and below the water at the same time.

3)      Honey bees have to fly around 88,500 Km to make just under ½ Kg of honey.

4)      Swifts sleep in the air. They can shut down just half of their brain so they can sleep without hitting the ground.

5)      The Arctic Tern flies further than any other migrating bird. It travels about 71,000 Km per year which is more than 2 million kilometres in its lifetime.

Related posts: W is also for…    Y is also for…

It’s all about the little things

7th June
This week started well. We had some friends from New Zealand staying and we took them for a walk around RSPB Sandwell. We saw long-tailed tits (which I’d never seen before), lapwings, cormorants and a pair of buzzards. We also spent some time near Swan Pool watching the fish stirring the water up as they chased each other around. We saw perch (identified by their distinctive dorsal fin) and carp (identified by a friendly fisherman)!

8th June
Monday was another pleasant day spent in the countryside. We visited Chatsworth, and after visiting the house we enjoyed strolling around the grounds and enjoying the views across the Peak District. We saw chaffinches and rabbits, a few fish (possibly sticklebacks) in one of the ponds. It was interesting to chat about the similarities and differences between our wildlife and that in New Zealand.

9th June
It was back to work which again made everything more difficult. By the time I’ve done my day job and then my evening job there’s little time for nature. But on the way home a little moth somehow ended up in the car. It was tiny – only about the size of my fingernail – but I still wasn’t happy when it landed on my cheek. Instead of quickly brushing it off like I usually would though, I held my breath, sat still and waited for it to fly away on its own. It was a bit tickly but otherwise ok. I can’t promise I’d do that for a bigger moth though!

10th June
Another busy day for me with both day and evening jobs, but my lovely husband found time for a quick stroll in a local park, and he brought me some leaves and pine cones back with him. We looked the leaves up and identified them (we think) as Rowan and Wych Elm.

11th June
Today I took advantage of the good weather to have my personal raining session outside. I always do that when it’s warm and dry enough, and often I’m lucky enough to see blue tits and greenfinches. There was nothing to be seen on this occasion, but although the birds remained hidden, they did sing beautifully.

12th June
Another long day – 8am to 7.30pm – so difficult to find the time for nature, but I did open the windows and enjoy the birdsong while I was setting my classroom up.

13th June
It’s been raining none-stop so far today and I haven’t been outside yet. I watched a wagtail land on the tree outside my window though. He clearly wasn’t impressed by the rain either as he hopped underneath a large cluster of leaves, and then shook himself out just like a dog would. I’ve never seen a bird do that before, so I found it fascinating. Eventually the rain eased off a little and he flew away.

The two full days outside at the beginning of this week were great, and I love doing things like that, but this week has been all about the stolen moments and the little things.

It’s all about the winged things

At first I wasn’t sure about including #30dayswild on this blog, because this blog is about education and teaching. But then I decided that #30dayswild is all about nature, and nature is science, and science is very much a part of the national curriculum, so it does belong here.

June 1st

Our 30 days wild adventure started in a spectacular (and unplanned) way when we heard a terrible bumping crashing sound, followed by silence, followed by a panicked fluttering sound. We called out a gas engineer who took our gas fire to pieces and pulled out a terrified wood pigeon, who had somehow managed to fall down our chimney. We set him (or maybe her) down in our back garden with some food and water, and kept an eye on him. It took him a while and we were starting to get worried, but after about 15 minutes he fluffed out his feathers and flew off into the trees. We’re still not sure how it happened as we have a cap on our chimney, but we’ve made a note to check and make sure the cap isn’t damaged as we don’t want other birds to suffer the same fate.

June 2nd

The sky was beautiful. It was covered in thick black cloud, but once it got dark and the moon started peeking between the clouds, it was really quite breathtaking. We spent a few minutes just watching the clouds blow by. Before bed I opened the window ready for the following day’s wild thing.

June 3rd

I woke up to the dawn chorus, and although it was earlier than I would usually wake up, it was a really relaxing sound to wake up to (and to fall back to sleep to before being woken at my more usual time by my alarm).

We always have lots of bees in our garden. I like bees and always insist that we have the sort of flowers they like in the garden. In the late afternoon I watched one of the bees circling round, looking for his home – a little hole in between the flowers on our front drive. I looked him up and identified him as a tawny mining bee.

June 4th

duckMy husband and I went for a walk in a local park. We saw the usual swans, geese, grebes, black-headed gulls and moorhens, as well as rabbits, squirrels and even some cows! As we were leaving we spotted a duck we’d never seen before. My first thought was, “What an ugly duck”, but the more I watched it, the more I liked it. He was standing at the edge of the lake, well apart from the other ducks, and the crest on top of his head stood right on end when they came near.  I took his picture so  could look it up when I got home, although there was no chance of forgetting what it looked like. It turned out to be a Muscovy duck.

June 5th

I thought I was going to do my wild thing early today. I went for my shower and spotted a big black spider scuttling across the bathroom floor. I was going to put him outside so he didn’t accidentally get squished, but by the time I’d found a glass and a sheet of paper to slide underneath, he had found somewhere safe to hide and I’ve not seen him since.

Following that failure, the rest of the day became a tricky one. I arrived at work at 8am and didn’t finish until 7.30pm. By the time I’d eaten, prepared my lessons for the following week and done some housework it was almost midnight!  I went outside with my husband, and we spent the last few minutes of the day standing in our back garden.  It was a clear night, so we looked at the stars, listened to the wind rustling the leaves of our cherry tree, and watched the moths fluttering by.

Birds, bees, ducks and moths – this week has been all about the winged things.