Create mini nocturnal homes
Nocturnal animals are animals that are active during the night and sleep during the day. In order for them to survive they have had to adapt and develop their sense of sight, smell and hearing. The Brecon Beacons National Park is home to a number of nocturnal animal species. Some of which are rare and endangered, and others are protected. One of the UK’s largest populations of the rare, lesser horseshoe bat is found in the Usk Valley. The dormouse is a European protected species and a few small but important populations are known to exist in the Brecon Beacons. The Silurian moth which is a rare endangered species was discovered as a result of moth night surveys undertaken on the Black Mountains.
We have compiled a series of Fact Files so that you can learn more about our nocturnal animals
Nocturnal Animals – Fact Files
Not all animals in the National Park are nocturnal though. Some animals are diurnal and are active in the day and sleep at night. Can you think of any diurnal animals? Others are both nocturnal and diurnal! Have a go at our Venn diagram.
Venn Diagram Nocturnal Animals
Now, why don’t you use your skills to create your very own nocturnal animals. You could use clay and natural materials to create an owl, hedgehog, dormouse, or bat. Can you use natural materials you have found to create safe homes for your nocturnal animals?
If you’ve enjoyed building mini homes why don’t you build your very own den to play in.
The Bat and the Moth
How does a bat find its food?
This game explains how the features of animals give them the advantage they need to catch their prey and to survive. It simulates how bats use sound waves to catch their prey.
Before starting the game, the teacher will give some information about bats, what they eat and how they catch what they eat. Discuss that bats do not use their sense of sight to locate food. Ask the children what senses they think bats use to locate their food.
Discuss the concept of echolocation and tell them that they will play a game where they will pretend that they are bats looking for food.
Explain to the children that in the game the moth is prey and in order to catch its prey, the bat, as it flies makes a high-pitched sound. The sound waves move away from the bat. If there is something ahead of the bat, the sound strikes it and bounces back. The bat then measures distances based on the echo that it receives, thereby revealing where the moth is (echolocation). Although bats have very good vision in daylight, dawn and dusk they are generally active at night and so have developed the system of echolocation to utilise their sharp hearing in the darkness.
The children will form a circle, holding hands. The game is played inside the circle. Choose one child to be the bat and another to be a moth. The children that remain standing in the circle are the trees. Give the bat and moth a blindfold to wear. (The bat relies on its hearing to find the moth. The moth also has adapted to hear the high-pitched sounds emitted during echolocation, so they will also rely on their hearing to escape). The bat will call out ‘bat’ during the game, the moth will answer back by calling ‘moth’. Everyone else in the circle will stay quiet. The game continues until the bat catches the moth. The bat should begin to realise that the more frequently they call out ‘bat’, the easier it is for them to catch the moth. Similarly, bats need to make high-pitched sounds continuously to catch their prey.
FUN FACT: Each bat needs to eat 1000s of insects a night.
Night and day bat game
Bats love living in the Brecon Beacons National Park! Here there are lots of dark, quiet places to roost like old barns, churches, and old trees. They use hedgerows and woodlands to find their way around and love gardens, rivers, and ponds where the insects they need live. Bats need to eat lots of insects to survive- in fact 2000-3000 a day! Bats are very clever and agile flyers. They catch most of the insects they need to eat ‘on the wing,’ that is while they are flying! That is why they are so busy flying around at night-time and dusk.
Bats come out at night to hunt for their insect food. When it is daytime, they find a place to roost i.e., sleep, usually in a north facing old tree, eaves of houses, barns, or church – in fact anywhere they are cool and can hold on by hanging upside down by their toenails! They sleep during the day (they are ‘nocturnal.’ Animals which sleep at night, like humans are ‘diurnal’).
Bats are not blind- they can see during the day and use a special sense called ‘echolocation’ to find their way around! (See the game ‘Bat and Moth’ to learn about how they do this!).
How to play the ‘Night and Day’ game
You will need:
Outdoor space with dry ground and useable ‘roosts’ e.g., walls, trees, playground equipment to rest against
Bubble wands, ideally with multiple heads
Picture of the sun and a picture of the moon / signal to indicate night or day.
Recap- How do bats roost? (Upside down hanging from their toenails).
Start by allowing the children to investigate somewhere in the playground where we the children could pretend to roost (tree, shed, wall, play equipment). Practice lying down and putting our feet up against the roosting place. Designate a playing area where the children have enough space to roost and run around but remain in sight.
Practice closing eyes, listening to how peaceful and quiet it is – then stay still and pretend to be sleeping bats.
Remember, bats sleep in the day but wake up at night. So, when you show the moon/ night-time picture/ give signal/ say the sun is setting, then it is time for the bats to wake up! Remember, bats need to eat lots of food (2000-3000 every night!) Ask support staff also to assist with extra bubble wands so the children aren’t competing around one bubble wand.
Practice making multitudes of bubbles which the children pretend are insects to catch ‘on the wing’! The children must catch the bubble with their hands and never bump into one another (remember bats are expert flyers!) so practice and watch the pace of the game so there are no accidents bumping into one another.
Show the sun picture/ signal it is becoming day time, so the children have to go back to their roosts and go back to sleep.
Play the game Night and Day!
Repeat until they have the idea. Can they estimate how many insects bubbles they caught?
Find out more about wonderful bats!
Creating constellations with natural materials
During your introduction to the Brecon Beacons Dark Sky Reserve, you learnt about 4 constellations that we can see in the night sky at this time of the year. You learnt about Cassiopeia shaped like a ‘W’, Cygnus shaped like a swan flying, Lyra the harp and Aquila the eagle.
Why don’t you go outside to find natural materials to re-create the shape of these 4 constellations?
You could use sticks, stones, pinecones, acorns or berries. This will help you to remember the shape of these constellations and will help you to find them in the night sky.