I arrived at Milton’s Hidden Seashore this morning just as the heat wave weather broke over Portsmouth. As I was setting up, I could hear thunderstorms rumbling out over the Solent and across to Hayling Island. I had a brief altercation with some hail stones but the weather cleared quickly by the time my group arrived. We have had a fresher and a breezier day as a result.
One of the best things about being Community Education Officer at Milton Locks is the variety of people I get to meet and work with. One week I’ll be working with a Brownie group or pre-school children and their families, the next I’ll be running a school visit or giving a talk at a community centre. No two days are the same, which makes the job endlessly fascinating, not to mention wonderfully fun. Today’s activity introduced me to some more new people.
This morning I met a small but awesome group of staff and students from Catch 22 in Portsmouth. Among it’s many areas of work, Catch 22 provides local young people with individual learning and training experience while enhancing employability skills. The group who visited Milton Locks today were finding and identifying invertebrates on the nature reserve, learning about sampling techniques and recording data and generally enjoying being outside and having a laugh.
I managed to take a few photos, some more successful than others. The group had a good giggle at me trying to take photos of moving things.
A photo of a sweep net, taken a split-second after a butterfly was in it. Whoops!
We did capture a few interesting finds on camera. The following beautiful little animal is something I will always associate with Milton Locks in the summer.
Marbled White Butterfly in a sweep net (after several attempts)
We were surrounded by butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets all morning. As well as the Marbled White, we saw Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown butterflies. We also had close up encounters with handsome Roesel’s Bush Crickets. One of the students was particularly taken by a banded snail we had spotted.
We moved on to the shore as the tide began to ebb. The retreating water left behind a strandline full of the usual curiosities. Whilst looking at shore crabs, sandhoppers and a tiny sea gooseberry, another student found something very interesting and a bit gruesome. When we looked at the mystery object, we realised it was part of a dead Thornback Ray.
We can only speculate about what had happened to it on its journey to the strandline at Milton Locks but it was certainly a fascinating find and we won’t forget the smell of it in a hurry.
As you can no doubt tell, I really enjoyed the session this morning. Thanks Catch 22 guys for your enthusiasm, your sense of humour and your willingness to get stuck in.