As we get closer to the start date for the new Wildlife Watch Group in Cumbernauld we thought it would be a great idea to host a few Pop-Up events showcasing the kinds of activities that will be taking place during the Wildlife Watch Group itself. The wonderful staff at Palacerigg Country Park, where the Wildlife Watch group will be held, allowed us to set up four activity sessions in the Eriskay Longhouse. The wonderful volunteers here at Cumbernauld Living Landscape led the sessions which took place on the 28th of July and the 3rd, 9th and 11th of August in the run up to the schools starting again. 

Pond Dipping Day

I'm afraid there is no Loch Ness monster in here today!

This first activity session was a blast! We took a wee walk down the path to one of the easily accessible ponds and set up some trays for the children to see what they’d found in the pond. We found some newt efts, a few rather large aquatic snails and even an exuvia from a recently emerged damselfly!  The most interesting find, to me anyway, was the huge beetle we found swimming in one of the nearby puddles on our way back to the Longhouse. He was quickly rescued by one of the children and placed back into the pond. Everyone there learned a lot, including the volunteers! 

Wild Art Day

Do you like my picture?

The next session was a bit louder (a lot louder!) and messier, if you can believe it. We set up some spray bottle art and brought out the mallets to make hapa-zome. Everyone was sent out to collect some interestingly shaped leaves, brightly coloured flowers, twigs of any size or anything else they might like to showcase in their art, one person even brought back a nice bit of bark. The material was laid out on top of some paper and then the kids went wild with the coloured sprays which are supposed to allow a nice outline of the material to be seen on the paper. Unfortunately the sprays were a bit too runny this time, but everyone had a lot of fun trying different colours and generally getting a bit messy!

Our hapa-zome turned out great though! The brightly coloured leaves and flowers were laid out between two sheets of cotton and then squashed with the mallets to bring out the natural dyes from the plants. This proved very effective (and noisy!) and we saw some absolutely stunning designs from everyone who came along! One piece of the hapa-zome was taken home and the other half was dried out and will be turned into some decoration, potentially for the Longhouse or for us to bring out during community events.

Wildlife Walk

Enjoying a wildlife walk

For the third session we decided to host a wildlife recording walk. The process of recording any and all wildlife that you see while you’re out and about, whether you’re in your own garden, your local park or out in the countryside, is one of the best ways for everyone to know what’s in the area. Scientists use this information to study the populations of the animals, councils may use the information to manage the land to best suit the animals living in the area and anyone who wants to see a specific animal can travel out to see the rare species you’ve recorded in your Local Nature Reserve.  Recording is really quick and easy, anyone can do it! 

For the Wildlife Walk we took the group out on a small loop through Palacerigg Country Park and simply identified and wrote down what we’d seen. For unknown beasties we took a picture and later identified it in the office while inputting the sightings into various recording websites. We saw loads of Green-veined butterflies, a Larch Ladybird, several difference species of bumblebee and heard several species of bird too!  We also created small bookmarks as we walked using the natural materials around us, small flowers, interesting leaves and even some soil to remember the walk by. These turned out great and every single one is different, showcasing the very best of the nature we saw.

Craft Activities

Origami butterflies with Watch Leader Gemma

We had planned to lead a Minibeast Hunt on the last Wildlife Watch Pop Up day but unfortunately due to the terrible rain the day before we couldn’t put out any pitfall traps just in case the beasties got caught in the traps with the rising water….not a great idea! So instead we brought along some of our Cumbernauld famous origami skills and led people through making different origami animals including butterflies, pelicans, cats and a mouse, which was definitely more difficult than the medium level advertised in our book! We also brought along some bird of prey cut outs which can be removed from the card and slotted together to make a bird that can actually fly! The children really enjoyed themselves colouring in their creations with pens, pencils and glitter glue and our volunteers did too!

We had an absolute ball at each of the Wildlife Watch Pop Up days and hope that everyone who came along did as well. These activities were a taster of what’s to come when our new Wildlife Watch group starts properly near the end of the month, so if these are the kinds of things you think your children will enjoy get in touch with us and we’ll let you know all the details! 

Cumbernauld LL