Things to do …
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
STEM Clubs learning activity resources: Animal Adaptations (downloadable PDF doc suitable for ages 7-9), Pages 4-9, ‘Living in the dark’:
Environmental audit of school grounds for habitats suitable for nocturnal animals. Make a list of habitats/potential habitats and plot them on a map of the school grounds.
To observe wild animals, as well as observing them live, consider setting up wildlife cameras to record their visits and activities: https://www.gardenersworld.com/product-guides/nature/best-wildlife-cameras/
Raspberry Pi Nature Cameras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liOH5LUVkWo
They dig underground burrows called ‘setts’ in woodland and hedgerows. They have a broad diet which includes insects, grubs, earthworms (they can eat several hundred each night), small mammals, amphibians, fruit such as apples, pears, plums and elderberries, and even plants bulbs.
Woodland Trust video:
They can be observed by (guidance by Discovery in the Dark – Wales): https://www.discoveryinthedark.wales/activities/badger-watching
Badger Watching with Gareth Morgan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNJddQwW9R8
Badgers may be encouraged to visit/inhabit an area by the presence of trees, hedges and ponds. They can be attracted by leaving out for them wet dog or cat food, raw peanuts or brazil nuts, fruit, root vegetables, cooked potatoes, mealworms and bowls of fresh water.
‘Peek into the amazing secret life of badgers’, wildlife artist, Robert Fuller (BBC video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpx70ARAabo
Trees and buildings. Bats live in roosts and need different roosting conditions at different times of the year. Some bats prefer hollow trees, some like caves and some like both at different times. Many bats shelter in buildings, behind hanging tiles and boarding or in roof spaces. Bat boxes are also put to good use.
WWT information: https://www.wwt.org.uk/discover-wetlands/wetland-wildlife/bats/
An Introduction to British Bats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOlRBkc-xK8
‘30 Days Wild’ – bat spotting guidance by Aiden Matthews, Beds., Cambs. & Northants. WTs (with video and links to use of bat detectors, etc.):
Bats may be encouraged to visit/inhabit an area by the presence of a pond (insects as a food source), night-scented flowers, wild areas, bat boxes, hedgerows and treelines, removal of artificial lighting.
The Wildlife Garden Project – How to help bats in your garden (Michael Walker, Nottinghamshire Bat Group): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj_wMAP45jc
Channel M ‘How to Make a Bat Box’ (Salford Ranger team): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLtjLZvrrU8
They dig underground lairs known as ‘earths’ or ‘dens’ in woodland and hedges. They are scavengers and eat almost anything they can find, including insects, earthworms, fruit, berries, birds, small mammals, carrion and scraps left by humans.
The Red Fox – The British Mammal Guide (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4ToHu1MM9E
Wildlife Online guidance: https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/animals/article/red-fox-senses
‘Red Fox Visits Every Night’ (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAZaUwje3kE
Foxes may be encouraged to visit/inhabit an area by wild areas of gardens with plenty of vegetation, wooden sheds with spaces to hide under and ponds. They can be attracted by food supplies that replicate their natural diet, which primarily means leaving out for them raw meat and cooked meat, such as tinned dog food, and treats such as peanuts, fruit and cheese, and a bowl of fresh water.
Efficient winter nests are essential for hedgehogs to survive hibernation. So, in autumn, they collect leaves, grass, straw, reeds, etc., and use these materials to build nests under hedgerows, logs or piles of brushwood.
Urban Hedgehogs – a night-time garden wildlife drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4EJLPDmxz4
Hedgehogs may be encouraged to visit/inhabit an area by provision of ‘hog-homes’: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-homes/
Looking after wildlife- making a hedgehog house: video by David Domoney (Horticulturist): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSJjDdW05io
Also the presence of hedges, logs, piles of brushwood and natural nest-building materials. And the provision of bowls of dog or cat food (tinned or crushed biscuits) and fresh water.
Hedgehog Mating Rituals/Life of Mammals/BBC Earth (David Attenborough): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btY-3ED__Vo
Their habitats vary according to their species, but generally comprise flowering plants, night-scented plants, trees and long grass. They are generally attracted to flowers in the same way as butterflies to feed on nectar, and some of their favourite flowers are buddleia, red valerian, heather, sallow and ivy. But as well as eating different plants the caterpillars eat different parts of plants. A tree may have caterpillars feeding on its leaves, another on its flowers, yet another on its fruit and a different set living underground and eating its roots.
Butterfly Conservation – Fabulous Moths And How To Find Them: https://butterfly-conservation.org/news-and-blog/fabulous-moths-and-how-to-find-them
National Moth Week: https://nationalmothweek.org/finding-moths-2/
YouTube ‘How to catch moths’ (Eco Sapien): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA6qrGQE2E8
Moths may be encouraged to visit/inhabit and area by less hard landscaping and the planting of more flowering plants, including those with night-scented flowers, such as honeysuckle, common jasmine, evening primrose, sweet rocket and night-scented stock, and leaving grass uncut. Sugaring plants with a cola, brown sugar and treacle mix will also attract moths.
Barn owl: Trees and old buildings with cavities in or near the roof.
An Introduction to the Barn Owl (video by David Ramsden (Head of Conservation, the Barn Owl Trust): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohqEquNnzfU
Tawny owl: Trees and old buildings with small cavities in or near the roof.
Discover Wildlife (BBC): https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/facts-about-tawny-owls/
Barn Owl videos: https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/owl-facts-for-kids/owl-videos/
Escape into the Wild – Barn Owl calling (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGjoknxwbtw
Wild Tawny Owls at Night (Ian McGuire video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TePp82POVp0
Owls are encouraged to visit/inhabit an area by provision of nest boxes in, or on the outside of, old buildings or on trees. Rough grassland nearby for owls to hunt small mammals.
Making barn owl nest boxes (RSPB guidance): https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/nestboxes/nestboxes-for-owls-and-kestrels/barn-owl-nest-boxes/
How to Choose the Best Barn Owl Nest Box Design: YouTube video by David Ramsden (Head of Conservation, the Barn Owl Trust): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr8qLyAFl_k
Making tawny owl nest boxes RSPB guidance): https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/how-you-can-help-birds/nestboxes/nestboxes-for-owls-and-kestrels/tawny-owl-boxes/
Project nest boxes new Tawny Owl nest box (Richard Lloyd Evans): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh4HBpGOl_8
In ornithology a pellet is a cluster of undigested food that a bird has regurgitated, and the contents of the pellet depend on the bird’s diet. A pellet can be studied to find out what a bird has eaten and it can include indigestible plant matter and body parts of creatures the bird has eaten, such as feathers, bills, claws, exoskeletons of insects, fur, bones and teeth.
‘What are owl pellets?’ (Barn Owl Trust): https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/owl-facts-for-kids/owl-pellets/
Owl Pellets (RSPB): http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/Images/Owlpellets_tcm9-133500.pdf
Why not obtain owl pellets and study them for yourself? (pellets can be purchased online from a variety of websites).
School energy use in hours of darkness
Undertake a night-time energy use audit of the school and suggest ways in which energy efficiency could be improved.
Sustainable Learning –‘Energy Use Calculator’: https://www.sustainablelearning.com/resource/energy-use-calculator
‘Schools – Learning to improve energy efficiency’ (Carbon Trust): https://czone.eastsussex.gov.uk/media/1952/ctv019-schools-overview.pdf
Constellations with connections to nature visible in the northern hemisphere in the autumn sky
Look for these constellations in the night sky, see if you can visualise the animals they are supposed to represent and find out 3 useful pieces of information about each of the creatures you’ve identified.
Cygnus – Latin-Greek for ‘swan’.
Delphinus – Latin for ‘dolphin’.
Ursa Major – Latin for ‘Greater She-bear’.
Ursa Minor – Latin for ‘little bear’.
Links to experts in dark skies
Dark Sky Wales/ Awyr Dywyll Cymru: https://darkskywalestrainingservices.co.uk/
Dark Sky Discovery: https://www.darkskydiscovery.org.uk/
Royal Astronomical Society: https://ras.ac.uk/
Links to organisations
- Arfordir Penfro: https://www.arfordirpenfro.cymru/
- Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: https://www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/
- Badger Trust: https://www.badgertrust.org.uk/
- Barn Owl Trust: https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/
- Bat Conservation Trust: https://www.bats.org.uk/
(National Bat Monitoring Programme): https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/national-bat-monitoring-programme
- British Hedgehog Preservation Society: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
- Hedgehog Helpline: http://hedgehoghelplinecymru.org.uk/contact-us/
- Butterfly Conservation (Wales): https://butterfly-conservation.org/in-your-area/wales-office-0
(‘All About Moths’ (Butterfly Conservation)): https://butterfly-conservation.org/sites/default/files/all-about-moths_young-people-leaflet.pdf and https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths
National Moth Night (Citizen Science event): www.MothsCount.org
- Cadw: https://cadw.gov.wales/
- Coed Cadw: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/cymru/ Woodland Trust in Wales: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/wales/
- Conservation Biologists: www.EcoSapien.org
- Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru: https://naturalresources.wales/?lang=cy Natural Resources Wales: https://naturalresources.wales/?lang=en
- National Trust/Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
- Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri: https://www.eryri.llyw.cymru/
Snowdonia National Park: https://www.snowdonia.gov.wales/home
- Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog: https://www.breconbeacons.org/cy
Brecon Beacons National Park: https://www.breconbeacons.org/
- Partneriaeth Bioamrywiaeth Cymru: https://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Cartref
Wales Biodiversity Partnership: https://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/
- People’s Trust for Endangered Species: https://ptes.org/get-informed/facts-figures/red-fox/
- RSPB Cymru: https://www.rspb.org.uk/cy/about-the-rspb/at-home-and-abroad/cymru/
- RSPB (Wales): https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/at-home-and-abroad/wales/
- The Barn Owl Trust: https://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/about-the-barn-owl-trust/barn-owl-trust-projects/
- Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust: https://www.wwt.org.uk/
WWT Llanelli: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/llanelli/
- Wildlife Trusts Wales: https://www.wtwales.org/ and https://www.wtwales.org/cy
- Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF): https://www.wwf.org.uk/
WWF Cymru: https://www.wwf.org.uk/about-wwf-cymru