Katy Seaman, one of our education volunteers and local mum has sent me a couple of photos of last week’s Go Wild event to share on the Friends of Milton Locks blog. Her family are expertly demonstrating some of the activities that were on offer. Lots of the work I deliver at Milton Locks is aimed at building parents’ confidence to take their children outdoors to play. It looks as though Dad, Gregg, is enjoying himself just as much as the children. Hopefully this will inspire more people to get out there and spend time with nature as the weather becomes kinder.
Today is an entirely different kettle-o-fish. I’m at Portsmouth Museum preparing for our Memories of Milton Locks oral history session. Between 2 and 4:30pm this afternoon, we are inviting people to pop in and share tales and photographs of the past at Milton Locks. The event is linked to the extraordinary Edward King exhibition in the Museum and promises to be an interesting and nostalgic event. If you remember Milton Locks in days gone by, why not pop in and see us. It will be quite a novelty for me to be working inside a building. I’ll have to remember to use my ‘indoor voice’ as parents and teachers often call it.
I have just got back to my occasional perch at Portsmouth City Museum this afternoon and, as promised, here is quick summary of this morning’s adventures. The weather was kind to us for our Go Wild family event this morning and over 70 people signed in to get involved in family activities. Also many other passers-by stopped for a chat. We had a wide variety of activities on offer including bug hunting, beach art, scavenger hunting and making mini dens for fluffy cuddly toys. Here are some of the best mini dens and nests.
We did also come across lots of wildlife in the midst of our busyness. Goldfinches, Blackbirds, a Robin, a Wren and a lovely Chiff Chaff were all singing and chirruping away for most of the morning. A pair of swans flew over at about 11am and Black-Headed and Mediterranean Gulls were ever present in the sky above us.
Among our beach finds were the usual Shore crabs, Sandhoppers, Periwinkles and tiny Hydrobia snails. We also found a little Ragworm, pictured below, which is seldom seen during events, although relatively common in these parts. This caused some excitement and I first suspected that we had found a Ragworm when I overheard someone shout ‘The worm has legs!’. In fact, the leg-like structures on the worm are called parapodia and as well as helping the Ragworm to get around, they are used for respiration.
I will be down at Milton Locks again on Thursday morning this week (13th April) with lots of hands-on family activities. We are going to make a concerted effort to record lots of the species we come across, so watch this space on Thursday afternoon for a big sightings list and tales of an adventurous morning. Better still, pop in, say hello and grab a bug pot. Fingers crossed for the weather!
The sun was out for our open morning at Milton Locks Nature Reserve on Saturday. We saw over 60 people including a walking team from 72nd Portsmouth Scouts who stopped in on their way past. We also had the pleasure of meeting the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Portsmouth, who got fully involved in the activities and chatted to the project team and visiting families.
All in all, it was a successful morning and we spotted a slow worm, a red admiral butterfly and a peacock butterfly amongst other delights. We were also visited by a flock of redshank, who disappeared every time someone tried to point binoculars at them. Here are some snaps I took on the morning.
Sunny scenes from the beginning of morning at the reserve.
The Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress were definitely the most elegantly dressed of our visitors on Saturday. I felt even more scruffy than usual by comparison.
If you are enjoying these posts, and particularly if you have not been before, why not pop along to our Open Morning this Saturday 25th March. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, find out more about what is going on and there will also be some hands-on activities for families to get involved in.
For more information on this and other events, click the ‘Upcoming Events’ button on the blog. Also, if you have a photo or a sighting that you would like to contribute to the Friends of Milton Locks, please do comment on one of the posts or email me on email@example.com.
I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and catch up with posting some photos I was sent last week. Jim Craise spotted 9 Red Breasted Mergansers from Milton’s hidden seashore and sent me two pictures. I’ve seen these before in other places around the Solent, but not at Milton Locks. These handsome ducks have narrow, saw-edged bills which are perfect for catching small fish in the harbour. Personally, I also think that they are serious contenders for the ‘best duck hair style’ award.
Red Breasted Mergansers by Jim Craise
More Red Breasted Mergansers by Jim Craise
Orsolya Pap, who is one of the mums from our Friday Home Education group, sent me a really interesting photo which I’ve been looking forward to sharing. It is a close up of what was under her feet in the spot where she was standing on the shore. You can see in the photo that this particular area of the beach is made up almost entirely of tiny Hydrobia snail shells. More than any photo we’ve posted so far, this is a really good incentive to a stop and have a closer look at things when we are outdoors.
Our mystery-filled, foggy Friday afternoon was really rather wonderful in the end. Fog horns continued in the background right through the day and my group for the afternoon set about mapping the nature reserve, not with pens and paper but with found objects. Our canvas was the beach, our frame was a big blue rope, and like all of the best treasure maps, we had an ‘x marks the spot’, which I added when they had completed the map. We used our spatial awareness and geographical skills to decide how to mark the features of the reserve. The children’s ideas included boats made of old bricks, three dimensional trees and our little windbreak shelter represented by a cuttlefish bone.
The treasure hidden at the spot marked by the x was a box of storytelling props which we used towards the end of the session. One of my favourite things about Milton’s hidden seashore is the fact that it is never the same two days in a row. The atmosphere today was truly unique.