April - Connect with nature
Wildlife and wild places
Wildlife and wild places are all round us, you just have to know where to look and what you’re looking at.
Wildlife can find a home in the most unusual of places, so start with those you know well; your garden, your neighbourhood, and any regular journeys you make, such as to work or school.
The town of Chesterfield is your ‘patch’ – a little bit of the world that you can get to know better than anyone else.
Take the first step towards exploring your local wildlife and within a short space of time you’ll become a local patch expert.
Send your completed activities to us
You can send all your completed activities to us at email@example.com.
Write a poem about the wildlife you see this Easter - our favourite will win prizes.
You can also send us photos, videos, drawings of the wildlife you have found this month.
Send us a selfie of you getting close with nature throughout the month to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous prize. Email your selfies to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Make your own kite.
- Create a rock painting.
- Keep a window diary for the rest of the year of all you see.
- Smell a flower whilst you are out and about.
- Create a daisy chain.
- Can you find a four leafed clover?
Identify as many birds as you can
BirdNET and BirdGenie are tools that can help to identify birds. You can use these tools to help identify the birds on the activity sheet.
Birds are elusive and can remain hidden, which means they can be hard to see at times. You need to be quiet and still when bird spotting to avoid scaring off any birds.
Every bird has its own song. This bird song identifier will help you identify types of birds. Woodland Trust also provide useful blogs with bird songs to help identify birds.
Some of our parks have bodies of water where you may be able to spot:
- mandarin duck,
- and moorhens.
Please feed the birds in our parks responsibly.
Whilst we’d rather you didn’t feed the birds if you do please use mixed corn, floating duck pellets, uncooked plain porridge oats or bird seed.
Feeding birds bread is really bad for them, it can give geese something called Angel Wing, causing permanent damage to their wings.
Also don’t feed them too much because they can get overweight.
Make your own birds' nest
Make a nest that could be small enough for a bird or even big enough to fit yourself in.
Think about what sort of materials a bird uses from the environment around it.
Once you have the shape you need to make sure the nest is nice and cosy – maybe you could use some fallen leaves or grass.
Identify water birds
If you live near water, you may be able to identify some water birds. Use this sheet to help you identify different kinds of water birds.
You can print off this water bird spotter sheet and tick off the birds you find.
Make a loo roll bird feeder
This messy and fun activity is one for the kids to get stuck into. It will help to get to know more about the birds in your neighbourhood.
Make this simple feeder with items you probably already have at home:
- Smother a cardboard tube in peanut butter (no added salt and sugar versions are suitable for birds).
- Roll it in bird seed and thread some string through the hole.
- Tie it up in your garden where birds will feel safe eating.
Use your spotter sheet or take a look at the Woodland Trust’s blog to help you identify them.
Find out how to make more bird feeders on the Woodland Trust website.
Create a nest box fitted with a camera
You could create some nest boxes fitted with a camera. This is one we have installed. At the moment it is empty but watch this space and we will keep you posted on any action.
Learn more about birds
Learn more about birds on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) website. RSPB also have a range of 'spot it' activity sheets for you to enjoy.
What are minibeasts?
Minibeasts are all things creepy crawly that lurk hidden in our wonderful parks and open spaces. Minibeasts can range from a beetle, spider, butterfly, ant, worm, woodlouse, centipede or a caterpillar.
Lift a log
Look for a log that’s been lying on the ground a good long time. This could be anywhere – in a woodland, in your garden, in the park.
Carefully lift one end and see what might be lurking in the cracks.
This may not look like much, but a fallen log, decaying inside, with lots of bits rotting away, creating a yummy, woody mulch, is the perfect mini ecosystem for all sorts of invertebrates, or maybe even amphibians like frogs or newts.
The trick is to be gentle, and don’t pick anything that looks too heavy. Just peek underneath – what can you see?
Look for brightly coloured beetles, like ladybirds, or earwigs scurrying for covering. Centipedes and millipedes love this damp, dark hideaway, and slugs and snails might tuck themselves into the cracks.
Even if you don’t know the species, see how many different creatures you can spot.
When you’re finished, make sure to lay the log back down exactly where you found it - it's somebody else’s home after all.
Follow a bumblebee
Who doesn’t love seeing a bumblebee bustling on its journey from flower to flower?
Early in the year, around March, the queen bee searches for somewhere to nest, building her detailed home and laying her first brood (worker bees).
Once worker bees develop into adults (in early summer) they’ll help tend the nest and collect pollen, to feed the next brood.
In the late summer, the second brood – mostly new queen bees and males, will emerge, disappearing out of the nest to reproduce.
Watch as they buzz between bushes, flowers and trees and see if you can keep up. See if you can map which flowers are their favourites, and how far they travel around the garden. Some of them will have bright yellow or orange sacs on their hind legs, carrying the pollen back home.
Remember to keep your distance and don’t disturb them.
Learn more about bumble bees.
More minibeast activities.
These flowers are in bloom at the moment – see how many you can spot whilst you're outside:
- Blossom – Cherry, apple, strawberry, hawthorn,
Take a moment to look at a flower in details - see how detailed they can be.
If you’re deciding on what to plant in your garden, use the flower finder Bumblebee Conservation Trust website to help you decide.
Why are trees important?
See how many trees on this list you can find. Take a picture every time you find a tree and send us a collage once you complete it to email@example.com for the chance to win a prize.
Measure the age of the trees you find
To get the approximate age of a tree:
- Take a piece of string and wrap it round,
- Use a tape measure to measure the length of the string in inches,
- The number of inches you measure is approximately how old the tree is.
Try out bark rubbing
You can create bark rubbings by taking wax crayons and some paper. Place the paper on the tree and rub over it with a wax crayon. Compare different trees and the patterns they create. If there are any fallen leaves on low down ones try doing a leaf rubbing too.
Take a time-lapse of your favourite tree
To create a time-lapse of your favourite tree you can use a camera or a smartphone camera. Take photos of your favourite tree once a month throughout the whole year. At the end of the year you will end up with a time-lapse of your favourite tree.
You could print your photos off and create a collage, or if you’re a techy whiz then you could create a single display or even a video of them on your computer – a perfect for sharing with friends!
More information on trees
Get even more knowledge on trees by visiting Tree Tools For Schools.
Next month's theme is 'Mindful May'. So, keep an eye out on our Year of Outdoors page for new activities.