Monday, 1 June 2015

Half Term Fun

Family fun
Tuesday saw glorious weather at Holkham and the park was very busy with visitors, a great many of whom came to learn the art of Pond Dipping from Michaela and Will. Eager young naturalists were soon kitted out with micro-mesh dipping nets, specimen trays, magna-jars and identification keys. After a quick lesson in pond dipping techniques, trays were soon being filled with an array of marvellous aquatic creatures and the children got down to work identifying what they had captured.

In the top layer of water there were thousands of water fleas, a sprinkling of water mites and good numbers of crazy little whirligig beetles. Our visitors were also astonished by the speed and paddling power of the lesser water boatmen.
The middle and bottom layers of the lake held the real monsters of the deep! Lots of blood-sucking leeches were found, amongst them some absolute whoppers. After seeing these, Will decided against going for a lunchtime paddle! Freshwater hoglice, mayfly, alder fly and damselfly nymphs were successfully identified and we also found lots of their casings, which they shed when they move onto the next stage of their lifecycles. One of the most popular critters was the caddis fly larvae, which had built their own little tunnel casing to live safely in while they grew into their winged form and hatch out of the water’s surface. They looked like little remote controlled sticks, creeping around the bottom of the trays.

Our brand new ‘Bug hotel’
Our first Walled Garden Discovery Day continued along the invertebrate theme as younger visitors helped us build the spectacular bug hotel as pictured above. They also went on a minibeast hunt & found lots of invertebrates lurking in the soil & underneath pieces of dead wood including woodlice, worms, ants, centipedes, millipedes and the gardeners’ worst nightmare….slugs!! Our visitors were also very green fingered & made their own plant pots out of newspaper before planting sunflower seeds to watch grow at home.
It was fantastic to see so many visitors enjoying the Hall, Walled Garden, woodland play area, cycle hire, lake activitites and exploring the parkland and beach over the half term. Now we are busy preparing for our busiest school term ever. Fingers crossed the sun shines for us!

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