A Cold Educational Visit

Friday, April 29th 2016

Again the cold weather persisted, and precipitation fell in various forms. This was not ideal for the last of the week’s school visits, and even though an indoor alternative activity was offered to the children they were still keen to pond dip. Today we were visited by Year 3, Carnagill Community Primary, where we split the group into two for the various activities we had in store. My group went to the pond dipping platform where the usual pondlife was found, again dominated by sticklebacks. But a few Wandering Pond Snails were found.

These snails are fairly common, and a lot smaller than the larger Great Pond Snail we also have in the same ponds.

On the habitat walk we had a good view of the Greylag Goose and her 3 goslings, but had no sightings of the Moorhen and chicks recently fledged.

A respite from the weather in the Lake Hide had us searching for birdlife, and a decent view with the spotting scope allowed the teams to view the Little Grebe on the nest.

 After lunch I took my group to the outdoor classroom where we found Ground Beetles, and Millipedes and the usual slugs.

Elizabeth’s group found a few extra things, a Spiny Headed Harvestman (Megabunus diadema). The picture below shows the front end and the palps.

Harvestmen look like spiders, and in fact are arachnids, have eight legs, palps, but do not carry venom, or make webs; they are hunters, chasing their prey and holding them with their legs whilst consuming them. The body is a combined head and abdomen, unlike the spider's two part body. If you look at the above harvestman it has a turret that contains the eyes, which Elizabeth nicely describes as a Sputnik. There are over 6400 species of harvestman in the world but we have only 24 varities in this country. Unlike spiders, who have up to eight light sensitive eyes, this little beasty has only two, and has poor eyesight, depending on its legs as sensors.  The photo below shows the rear end.  You will note that there are only seven legs in the photo as they have the ability to shed a leg if threatened or predated.

And we also found this unidentified moth caterpillar, so if anyone knows the name of this chap please contact me.

Here is the school group at 2.30pm in the rain, still with smiles on their faces!

While all this was going on, Colin, our Friday volunteer, filled the bird feeders. Our sincere thanks to him for his valued and much needed help.

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