Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Avon Wildlife Safari Day 13 - Animal Adventures

Photo: Mandy Leivers
August 1st is the first day of the Avon Gorge and Downs Summer children's activities for 8-12 year olds. If you've not booked yourself on for the first 'Animal Adventures' session then don't worry you can still book onto one of the others.Every Thursday until 15th August from 10.00am - 3.30pm, with themes such as 'Wild Works of Art' and 'Ladybird Spotters' there's plenty of opportunity to get a new perspective of the Downs. At £8.50 per child for a day exploring, learning and creating with expert Mandy Leivers, Avon Gorge & Downs Biodiversity Education Officer and her team, I think it's a great way to spend a few hours. And if your children like this, then book onto the 'Creepy Creatures' event on October 31st, in time for Halloween. For more information call Mandy Leivers on 0117 9030609 or email

Meanwhile, if you didn't manage to get a place on the Animal Adventures activity session, why not do your own exploring. At this time of year there's lots of wildlife about so you could go on a shieldbug hunt, be a snail detective or a spider spotter. You'll need to look carefully as lots of wildlife is very good at hiding. Camouflage is a great way of protecting yourself if you're very small and vulnerable to predators. Shield bugs are common in gardens and have a distinctive body shape but can be hard to spot as they are well camouflaged amongst the plants that they like to eat. You can find out more about the different species and their behaviour on this brilliant Nottinghamshire based invertebrates website. For example, did you know that the Common Green shieldbug turns brown in winter and the Hairy Shieldbug hides in dead leaves with 7-spot ladybirds?
photo:Gorse Shieldbug

Spiders are fascinating too. All spiders are carnivorous and inject poison into their victims with a pair of sharp fangs. The poison contains digestive fluids which turns the insides of their victims into a kind of soup which the spider then drinks, leaving just an empty skin.Many spiders spin webs to catch their prey but some go out hunting, using bristly hairs on their body and legs to pick up movements and then pouncing on their prey. Spiders do come in an amazing array of patterns, colours and sizes though so print out your chart and see how many you can find!

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