Nature with your children

Exploring nature at any age is good for your mind and body.  Follow the links connected to this page to discover easy ways to explore nature with your children.

Count the birds in your garden  Taking part in a survey is great fun and a super way to learn.  The Birdwatch Ireland Garden Bird Survey is an easy way to get into surveys.  All they ask of you is to count and record garden birds once a week over the winter.  If you don’t recognise a lot of them don’t worry, their website helps with that!  Click here to find out about this easy survey..

Get picking berries with your children on the way to school.  The benefits for young people walking to school are huge, increased energy, fitness, concentration etc.  By berry hunting on the way you can have great fun while motivating them to walk.  Click here for a guide to which berries to pick!

Make a Mouse House in a woods near you or your garden.  This activity can be done at any time of the year and is a wonderfully tactile way of getting children busy and engaging in your garden or local woodland.  The more energy and imagination you put into the first few minutes the more they will put into themselves.  Their creations will astound! Make your own Mouse House Instructions here.

Make some bird feeders.  This is a great activity for a wet winters day and you will be rewarded by having lots of happy birds come to your garden!  Warning, it can be messy!  Click here for instructions.

Get to a muddy shore and explore the winter birds.  

Juvenile Knot

This young Knot landed just metres away from us at a beach in Donegal in September. Incredibly tame, it had possibly never seen a human before. They breed in Greenland or Northern Canada.

Did you know that over 2 million shorebirds fly over Ireland and Britain every autumn and spring?  Thousands of them stop in Ireland to build up strength or stay for the winter.  They love the muddy shores of estuaries so get down to your local shore to hear and see these winter travellers.  Brent geese come from the Canadian artic circle and little Dunlins come from as far as Siberia along with many other species. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know which is which, there sounds and sights are enough.  The best time to see them is when the the tide is half in and coming in more.  Check the link below for tide times.  So get out and enjoy the haunting sounds and beautiful sights of these swans, ducks, geese and waders before the wander off again in spring… Click here to watch a video of hundreds of geese coming to Inch Wildfowl Reserve for the night.  Click here for Birdwatch Irelands identification page.  Click here to hear the Curlew, a common winter visitor but nearly extinct as a breeding Irish bird!

Hit the beach, explore the rock pools.  Ever seen a barnacle wave?  Click here to watch one waving at the children in Falcarragh.  Follow the links below for tide times and some exploring materials for the rock pools.  All you need is boots or sandals, a small net and a white tub like an old ice-cream tub.  Rock pools can be explored at anytime of the year as the delights to be found don’t shut down for the winter!  Just be careful of the incoming tide..

 

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Snakelock anemone, found at low tide in the rock pools…

Click here to help identify rockpool creatures.

http://www.theseashore.org.uk/theseashore/speciespages/Spp%20Thumbnails.htm

https://ypte.org.uk/factsheets/seashore/animals-of-the-rocky-shore#section

Click here to find out when its low tide at your beach.

http://www.ukho.gov.uk/easytide/EasyTide/SelectPort.aspx

Try this scavenger hunt with your family when the tide starts to come in!

The Great Beach Scavenger Hunt

Listen out for baby birds in spring.  A great activity to do with your children is to go walking and listening for the sound in the video below.  Its the begging call of baby birds.  The parents feed these small birds for about two weeks after they leave the nest, then they’re own their own!  The birds in this video are Coal Tits.

 

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