2017, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Real Family Holidays

By Rowena

We had Real Family Holidays in on the 7th-10th April, one of my favourite times of year! The activities have been great fun, with some returning families from last year. Sunday morning was wild art around the grounds of Juniper Hall, and there were some excellent creations to be seen.

 

There were lots of inventive uses of natural materials collected from around the grounds. A mixture of stones, green leaves, a few flowers and sticks and twigs.

Gather round to enjoy everyone’s creations

There were all sorts of inspirations- the largest art of the day was a giant spider in it’s web on the Templeton lawn…

2016, Biology, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Bioblitz 2016

By Rowena

For half term, we ran our annual Bioblitz to record all the birds, bugs, plants and anything else on Juniper Hall’s grounds. In the weeks leading up, Daniel’s been busy handing out tons of flyers around Dorking and Leatherhead…

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So many leaflets!

Thankfully when the big day came the weather was kind to us! It all kicked off with opening our moth traps, which we had put out the evening before. Unfortunately there were only a few moths inside, as it’s getting to the time when they’re all tucked up and hibernating, but happily a few extras were brought along by the AES to admire as well.

Next we had Lisa and Saoirse open mammal traps in Templeton Woods. There were a couple of successes, with a water shrew, and then some wood mice later on in the ha-ha.

 Drawing quite the crowd

Later on in the lineup we had woodland and meadow invertebrate hunting. We got out the sweep nets, pooters and keys to see what we could find, scooping up grasshoppers, shield bugs, leafhoppers and moths. In the woods we had some fun charming worms too, making them wiggle to the surface to be identified.

The reptile mats didn’t reward any reptiles, but Lisa and a few families did find some hiding mammals and lots of insects- the ants just love colonising underneath the felting we’ve put down in our meadow.

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What’s Lisa found?

While Saoirse manned the ponds, looking for underwater critters, Rowena and Helen made some nettle tea with the kelly kettles, that took a lot longer than it should have…

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Putting on a brew!

Also throughout the day we had arts and crafts in the students’ common room, colouring moths and glittering invertebrates, and local societies joining us in the Templeton Room to promote bats, birds and bugs!

A big thank you to everyone that visited and helped, and to the lovely charities that attended; the Bat Conservation Trust, Surrey Bird Club, the Amateur Entomological Society and others!

We haven’t got final totals for everything we recorded on the day yet, but we’ll be sure to update once we do know what we managed to find.

2016, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Coastal geography development

By Rowena

New specifications are coming for September, and we’ve been very busy putting together brand new days for them…

It’s a long way down to the coast from Juniper Hall, about an hour and a half to Newhaven or Pagham each, so we split it over a couple of days. Coasts is coming back in a big way to geography, so we headed down on Wednesday to update our fieldwork techniques and collect some secondary data (and some pokemon! Newhaven has loads!)

Newhaven is one of those places that seems to be always windy, but the beach is pretty nice when the sun finally comes out. The tide was really far out, so we explored down past a wooden groyne at the end of the beach, and the rockpools below the pebble beach. We also checked out a few information signs about the area for background information- along Seaford these were most helpful, showing a cross-section of the beach defences underneath the beach that’s been built up. Apparently there are 3 different sea walls hidden under there!

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Investigating information boards

While we were at Newhaven, we had a go at some beach and cliff profiling, collecting some secondary data for groups to use and compare their own data to in the future. Out with the clinometers and the ranging poles!

Cracking out the ranging poles

After Newhaven, we headed down to Seaford, for both chips on the beach (lunch!), and a look at the terminal groyne. This prevents longshore drift removing all the sediment from the beach (ie, the whole thing).  We measured the beach profile beyond the terminal groyne as well, to give a bit of a comparison to Newhaven- which is in front of the harbour arm, so a little different. Did a spot of bird watching as well- lovely fulmars flying round the cliffs, and cormorants drying their wings on Seaford’s stack.

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360 view from Seaford’s terminal groyne

Next we headed off to Birling Gap, famous for its slowly-diminishing number of houses. There are only four left now after they knocked the fifth down a couple of years ago, and it’s a really good example of what happens when there’s no coastal management along a piece of coastline.

We had a quick stop off at Cuckmere Haven on the way back to look at the meanders, before hitting the road to get back to JH for the weekly Stepping Stones quiz!

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Juniper Hall’s education team (Missing Denham D:)

2016, Biology, FSC, Uncategorized

30 Days Wild & other exciting things

By Rowena

June is fast approaching (somehow!) and is the month for biodiversity, it seems. This morning I’ve been doing a little bit of research to promote three different fantastic biodiversity projects in June, and made ourselves a board with loads of information and resources for the coming month.

30 Days Wild- All of June

Set up last year, 30 Days Wild is an awesome drive by the Wildlife Trusts to get more people outside and interacting with nature. Individuals can sign up here for a pack, which contains things like a calendar for the month, stickers, a badge, and some ideas of what to do! There are loads of free activities that the Wildlife Trusts are putting on too, which is pretty cool as it means people really have the opportunity to get out and explore.

They also have an app, which you can download for some quick ideas to get outside in nature. I’ve not downloaded it yet (too many other recording apps!) but from a quick glance, it looks pretty fun.

 

National Insect Week- 20-26th June

National Insect Week is a bi-annual event run by the Royal Entomological Society promoting insects. There are tons of events occurring during the week all over the country, which is pretty cool really, as insects are sometimes undervalued- especially the ones that aren’t “pretty”.

The section of NIW’s website I like the best is the Learning Resources area (I guess that says a lot…)- there are loads of activities and things to do; worksheets and things to read, lesson plans, podcasts and websites. Fantastic!

 

Great British Bee Count- 19th May- 30th June

Run by the Friends of the Earth, the Great British Bee Count mostly revolves around an app used to count bees. When I first downloaded it only 10 bees had been counted- now it’s over 18,000! When you spot a bee, you can record it on the app. There are handy pictures too, which makes it easy to work out what you’re looking at. It even has a few non-bees that look like bees (like wasps and bee-flies).

Record all of the bees

You can also do a timed count, watching a 50cm area for 1 minute and recording all the bees that visit the flowers you’re watching.

Putting together all these cool biodiversity projects into one board was a bit of a challenge, and I might have gotten overexcited… But there’s so much to look forward to in June!

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So much biodiversity!

2016, FSC, Uncategorized

Wild Art

By Rowena

Wednesday of Real Family Holidays found us making wild art in Templeton Woods and on the lawn. We started off with nature’s palettes, finding the different colours of spring…

Nature’s palettes

With all the colours of the rainbow found, we took inspiration from Andy Goldsworthy to create our own sculptures using what we could find on the grounds.

Fabulous sculptures on the lawn and in the woods

Beautiful!

2016, FSC, Juniper Hall

Real Family Holidays

By Rowena

This week we have Real Family Holidays, where families can come and stay at Juniper Hall for a few days. We put on events in the mornings and afternoons, with time to explore the countryside inbetween.

Monday morning mammal traps was the first activity we had- Rory helpfully set up 15 mammal traps in the Ha-Ha and Templeton Woods which we went out and found.

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Mammal traps

4 shut in each place rewarded us with lots of very bouncy mice and a scampering vole. It was easy to see how the two move differently to avoid different predators- mice jump high so they can’t be heard by owls, whereas voles scurry and hide to avoid being seen by kestrels. We also checked the reptile mats, which had lots more voles hiding underneath, a shrew, a toad and a small slow worm.

In the afternoon, we had fun with bushcraft, learning to use strike sticks and building small fires to boil nettle tea.

Today we have been up to Lodge Hill to build shelters. The sun is beautiful and warm, and some amazing shelters were built by the families staying, using the wood and leaf litter around Box Hill.

Some really inventive shelters!

This evening is campfire, and plans are underway for marshmallows, singing and stories… All of the fun!

2016, FSC, geography

Lowland Leader Training

By Rowena

It’s been a really busy week, so I’ve only just managed to get round to writing about this now! Last weekend, from the 26th to the 28th February, Ruth and myself travelled to Orielton Field Centre for three days of training in our Lowland Leader Award. It’s about a 5 hour journey to Orielton by car- to use their tagline, it’s not as far as you think! It wasn’t too bad in all honesty. The worst bit was that we had decided to travel over that morning, so we found ourselves with a 5am wake-up call.

IMG_20160226_0733427am at the Severn Bridge

Obviously, the instant we got to Wales it started to rain, but by the time we had got to Orielton (which is in Pembrokeshire), it had amazingly stopped! What was this, a weekend in Wales and no rain?! Somehow, the impossible came true, and we had barely a speckle of rain at all.

After being introduced to the course, the first thing we did was plan our walk for the afternoon with trainer Chris. Tom and Steve had come over from Dale Fort Field Centre (about a 45 minute drive from Orielton) to also attend the course, and knew the area much better than we did, so suggested we went for a 6km walk around Stackpole. There was a picture on the wall of some of the coastline, but it was even more amazing than it looked in a photo.

Barafundle Bay and Stackpole cliffs

Orielton are really lucky to have perfect coastal formations right on their doorstep. It’s very different to the Dorset coastline I got used to living by the sea for a few years. Also fantastic, the birdlife we saw- a kingfisher, goosander and (most excitingly), a pair of chough perched on the clifftops.

Returning to Orielton, we planned our walks for the next couple of days, up in the Preseli Hills. We chose a slightly longer walk for Sunday of 9km, and a walk up the highest hill in Pembrokeshire on Saturday, to the top of Foel Cwmcerwyn. Most of my photos from Saturday are on my camera (perhaps I’ll upload them another time), but I have a few from Sunday, when we went for a walk to Carn Ingli, an old hill fort with spectacular views.

Planning our route

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, as it was amazing to see. The weather was perfect- very cold, especially being up high, but so clear you could see over to the mountains in north Wales.

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Looking towards Newport from Carn Ingli

Steve, font of all knowledge of the area, told us the story of Carn Ingli while we sat in a sheltered spot behind some rocks for a cup of tea before moving on. Who would want to live up so high?!

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Carn Ingli

The weekend was really awesome, and I for one learnt a lot about how to plan routes, how to pace a walk and how to use a compass to measure distances. I’ll be putting my new knowledge to use when leading groups out back at Juniper in the future- there was lots of consolidating time on Monday to make sure I knew everything inside out on my 7 hour train journey back to Surrey. Thankfully, I had a spare hour before heading to Pembroke station to run and find a geocache local to Orielton though…

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Treasure!!