Amelia and Gran’s First Nature Book – June 2017

Here are extracts from our First Nature Book. (Hover over the pictures to see the captions or click on them to see them larger.)

We explored our garden first before setting off for two nights in our campervan. We stayed on the campsite at Bosworth Water Park and walked around the lake, on the trail around Ambion Hill (Bosworth Battlefield where King Richard III was killed in 1485) and along the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal. We used a magnifying lens and a camera to look at tiny things closely, which was amazing.

Amelia collected lots of things, like stones and fir cones, and she made notes and drawings in a notebook.  We looked and listened, touched and smelled, and asked lots of questions. These are all important things to do if we are interested in nature. We especially liked the tiny creatures that everyone else walked past without seeing!

There are 650 different kinds (or species) of spiders in Britain. Spiders have 8 legs, insects have 6 legs, most other animals have 4 legs. People and birds have 2 legs although their arms and wings are really like legs. We saw a spider eating a damselfly which was caught in its web. Another spider (probably a Furrow Orb-weaver) was living inside a silk ‘nest’.

We saw a Common Kestrel (left) and a Peregrine Falcon (right). They are called “birds of prey” because they catch small animals and birds to eat. The Peregrine Falcon was not properly wild as it had been trained by a man called a falconer to fly back to him to be fed – you can see big rings on its legs. It is the fastest bird in the world.

We found lots of different INSECTS. There are more than 1 million kinds (species) of insects in the world, more than any other animals. Insects have 3 pairs of legs and their bodies are divided into 3 parts – head, thorax and abdomen.

The insects below are Dock Beetles – because they eat dock leaves! They even lay their eggs on dock leaves so that their larvae can eat them. Their outer wing cases are shiny, with colours changing from green to blue to gold depending on the light. The Dock Beetle with a huge body is a female full of eggs which have distended her abdomen.

Like the Dock Beetles above, all the creatures below are ARTHROPODS, which means they have EXOSKELETONS (external skeletons instead of bones inside). However, only 5 of them are INSECTS (with 6 legs) – one of them is a SPIDER (with 8 legs). Can you work out which one is the spider? The two insects in the top row are Beetles, while the bottom 3 are all Bugs.

Butterflies and moths are INSECTS. They have four very different stages in their lives: eggs, caterpillars (larvae), cocoons (pupae) and flying adults. We didn’t find any eggs or pupae, only caterpillars and adults. This butterfly is a Speckled Wood. The “eyes” on the edge of its wings makes birds think it is the butterfly’s head so that when they try to catch the head to eat them, they only break off the edge of their wings and the butterfly escapes! This beautiful caterpillar will turn into a pupa (cocoon or chrysalis) and then into a Yellow-tail Moth.

We were fascinated by the stems of this Ginat Hogweed growing by the lake. However, it doesn’t naturally belong to Britain – it was brought to England from the Caucasus Mountains about 200 years ago and has escaped into the wild where it has become invasive and is causing problems. The chemicals in the hairs and stem are poisonous and hurt our skin.

There were lots of beautiful wild flowers. Insects were feeding on the sweet nectar at the base of the flowers.

Our favourite flowers were the lovely wild Dog Roses which had a delicate sweet smell.

We made nature pictures with light-sensitive paper.

We hope you have enjoyed extracts from our First Nature Book. Perhaps you would like to look at our Second Nature Book which is about the Seaside.

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