It has been far too long since I last posted on the blog, so I thought I would share yesterday’s adventures with you all. The weather was beautiful, and just after I arrived, at about 8:30, I was finally treated to a good view of our kingfisher. I didn’t get a photo of it unfortunately. I’ll leave that to the experts. If anyone would like to send me a picture of the famous Eastney Lake kingfisher to put up here, I’m sure people would love to see it. Regular visitors and local people have mentioned seeing it for a few weeks. I’ve heard its characteristic high pitched flight call a number of times when I’ve been working at Milton Locks, but yesterday morning, I finally saw the unmistakable flash of blue and orange to go with the sound.
After that magical moment, the volunteers and I set up for our February Wildlife Tots session. Although the session was fully booked, a couple of parents called in the morning to let me know their children were unwell. It sounds as though various germs are doing the rounds again. We still had several families to join in with the fun and what we lacked in number, we made up for in enthusiasm.
We had a high tide which meant that wellington boots were a good style choice. I had brought out all kinds of activities for the children to take part in, but the clear favourites were water play using buckets and items from our mud kitchen and making dens for cuddly toys. Although these activities sound very simple, they are wonderful ways for little ones to build a sense of familiarity with nature and curiosity in the world around them.
Here are some of the animal homes. The rabbit’s home was made of sticks tied together with grass and the seal looked very cosy in his nest. I must say, I’ve never seen a seal in a nest before, so this one must be very special.
The element of Wildlife Tots that I’m increasingly fond of, is the sense of community that seems to be developing. The sessions are not really just for the children. They provide a space for families, including parents and grandparents, to meet up and enjoy the simple fresh air and the opportunity to play together. We also have lots of volunteer help, so for me, it hardly feels like work at all.
Our next public event is the Milton’s Hidden Seashore Open Morning on Saturday 10th March. Why not pop along to help us welcome the spring.
This week I was delighted to receive some wonderful photos from Stuart Ball, a local entomologist (insect expert) and friend of Milton Locks. They are extraordinary shots and I have been eagerly awaiting a moment to sit down and share them with you.
Broad-nosed Weevil by Stuart Ball
Hoverfly by Stuart Ball
Wasp Spider by Stuart Ball
Stuart took these photos at our Friends of Milton Locks event last week. This particular spider is becoming a bit of a celebrity as Jim Craise also sent me another lovely photo of the very same animal.
Wasp spiders are fascinating creatures. This is the strikingly beautiful female. She uses her intricate web to catch grassland insects. The zigzag pattern on the web is designed to reflect UV light in order to attract prey. We’re very lucky to have such magnificent images to share with everyone. Thank you Stuart and Jim.
Wasp Spider by Jim Craise
The events at Beddow Library and at the Reverse last week went very well and, as well as making new friends, we met some familiar faces. There were lots of families at the library, with children doing their summer reading challenge. I spent some time chatting to a little girl from Meon Infant School, who I had met on a school trip at the end of last term. She initially seemed at little confused and she asked me ‘Are you allowed to go to other places then?’. Often young children assume that I spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Milton Locks and she was clearly worried that I’d escaped. She then went on to tell me all about the activities we had done back in July.
Next Thursday, I’ll be running another Wildlife Tots session for pre-school children and their parents and carers. If you or someone you know would like to come along, check out the details on the Upcoming Events section of the blog and call or email to book you place.
I’m delighted to share a sneak preview of some of the creations produced at one of the recent art mornings at Milton Locks, ahead of our little outdoor art exhibition on Friday. Last Friday, several families braved the showers to join in the first of our morning workshops. All kinds of creativity took place, from the traditional, watercolour end of the spectrum, to the more unusual and high spirited use of mud and found objects.
Part of a larger painting of the reserve by volunteer, Katy.
by Bella. 🙂
Looking across Lock Lake by Eliza
Circular beach art by Sophia
It turns out that mud can be just as useful as paint.
If this has wetted your appetite for outdoor art, in a range of styles, why not pop along to the reserve on Friday 4th August between 11am and 2pm to see the fruits of our labours.
Morning all. I’m coming to the end of a raucously busy summer term, so normal blogging service will soon be resumed, as I have a little more time in front of a computer screen. This is just a quick post to let everyone know about our summer art events which have just popped up on the website.
Last summer, our Heritage Art Day was one of our most successful ventures, so this year we have dedicated more days to encouraging people to capture and celebrate Milton Locks through art. The following pictures, from last year’s art antics, give a flavour of the inspirational and extraordinary creations that were produced from a simple morning on the beach.
See the ‘Upcoming events’ button on the blog to find out how you can get involved or email me on Jess.Parsons@hiwwt.org.uk to find out more.
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 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!
Minibeast hunting at Milton Locks
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.