Helping kids discover London's wildlife
23rd October 2014 - Laura Anderson
The crunch of fallen leaves beneath our feet and the soft light of shorter, misty days can make this an enchanting time of year, so this half-term Laura Anderson, from our Royal Festival Hall shop, suggests that parents and children might want the natural wonders to be found amid the red, browns and golds of autumn, even in a city as busy as London.
As the days end earlier and the trees are bare of leaves, it becomes clear to one and all that winter is coming! Goodbye summer and luscious green parks, goodbye to the warm sun and balmy evenings; but hello to autumn and winter! Hello to orange and yellow leaves, muddy puddles and wellies! Hello to chilly days wrapped up in woolly hats and scarves and mitts! Hello to the outdoor exploration that November and December brings!
After the rain kicks in and clouds gather, it can be a little daunting venturing back outside - but do not fear! The later months can be just as much fun. So grab your coat, pull on your wellie boots and hat and let's see what the great London outdoors has to offer!
You might be surprised just how much nature exploration there is to be done near you right now. There are nature reserves and woodlands on every turn! Great trees presenting conkers just waiting for you and the ultimate conker challenge. Trees, leaves and birds primed and ready to be identified! Is that an oak or a birch? Camley Street Nature Reserve is round the corner from King's Cross (no, really!) and has plants and animals in abundance! At its ponds there are lots of different birds to spot, and take a look at the strange, swampy plants that they live in and near. Be sure not to fall in!
There are other kinds of animal homes apart from the ponds and the canals; they even have a woodland area! Where you might have seen ducks and geese and kingfishers around the ponds, you'll find a completely different set of creatures reside here! Keep your eyes peeled for bats and badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs, robins and starlings, creepy crawlies and - shiver! - spiders! Watch out when you peek behind rocks and under foot, there may be worms and centipedes waiting to make your acquaintance. Can you count the legs and tell the difference? There are thousands of different kinds of bugs, learning and reading and spotting them can be a lot of fun, even in winter!
When you want to go adventuring, you can try bringing some of your friends. You can each keep a journal of all the different animals, insects and plants that you've seen: who has spotted the most? There are lots of exciting books you can read and bring with you to help you identify and find wildlife every where you go. When it comes to leaves and pinecones, you can always take them home, and maybe you will make them into something special! With Christmas around the corner, pinecones and feathers can make beautiful decorations and mobiles. Or you could collect them into a scrap book to show your friends and family, or just for yourself, to document your adventures.
All sorts of things are snuffling through the woods in winter waiting for you to discover them!
Josie Jeffery; Alice Lickens
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