Scilly Success for Newquay Community Orchard!

Friday 1st April 2016

Scilly Success for Newquay Community Orchard ~ © Isles of Scilly Wildlife TrustScilly Success for Newquay Community Orchard ~ © Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

The Easter Holidays saw the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust teaming up with Newquay Community Orchard to deliver a series of sessions to the 8-14 year olds on the Islands. A range of activities were available, from plant identification to building a mini-beast hotel, all of which were well attended and oodles of fun. To find out more, read on....

Derek and Sally, from the Newquay Community Orchard, arrived on Scilly late Tuesday afternoon and appeared to bring the good weather with them; shortly after touching down I met up with them to give them a quick tour before they hit the ground at a rate of knots the following day with their first activity! 

I loved it!  It was really, really fun!

Wednesday morning saw perfect Scilly Spring weather, ideal for messing around outside, getting dirty and learning lots of fun things.  Derek and Sally embarked on their first activity, Wildlife Scene Investigation, with 10 dedicated detectives, hunting for footprints, nibbled plants and poo!  

Our detectives learnt about the different methods of seeking out wildlife, looking for evidence (other than physically seeing an animal) and how even the least likely looking habitat contains a buzzing metropolis of life if you know what to look for.

The detectives even got to dissect Owl pellets, which Derek and Sally had collected the previous day at Land's End from a local farmer before flying across to the Islands; in them they found all sorts of fur and bones and even a skull!

Wednesday afternoon's session took us to the beach for a Seashore Survey; 9 stealthy surveyors really got stuck in hunting out sealife on the shores of PorthCressa.  With discussions taking place around safety and ensuring that habitats were left as they were found our surveyors had a fantastic afternoon with some amazing sealife finds!

We found a whole host of  weird and wonderful creatures including Strawberry Sea Anemones, Green & Red Beadlet Anemones, Shore Crabs, an Edible Crab, a King Rag Worm, Rock Gobys, Cushion Starfish, Brittle Starfish, Spiny Starfish, Sea-Squirts and much more.  In fact our surveyors found so many different types of sealife, and were so excited about all their different finds, they had to be reminded quite often to write down what they'd found!  

The feedback from our stealthy surveyors at the end of the session was nearly all positive; the only things that we were told could have improved this activity is for it to have been longer (!) and, according to one of our intrepid surveyors, the best part was "finding a King RagWorm" and the worst thing about the afternoon? "Having to let the King RagWorm go!" (I think he thought he might have a new pet!)

Everyone went home that afternoon tired, wet and happy with their finds (especially Derek and Sally) and very much looking forward to the next day of planned activities.  The day was so successful in fact that we had a number of parents contacting asking whether their children could be booked onto the following days activities as they hadn't stopped talking about it and wanted to do more!

Thursday morning dawned with yet more stunning Scilly weather perfect for a walk and learning more about Scilly's plant life in the Practical Plants Survival Kit activity.  

Derek and Sally were joined by 10 budding botanists and asked to imagine life on Scilly 300 years ago; no Co-op to buy food (the looks of horror were hilarious), no chemist to buy medicines, no builders merchants with building materials stacked up nicely for you to go and choose what you needed.

What would have made the activity better?

Completing the walk around the Garrison 

We had planned to walk from Carn Thomas and around the Garrison identifying plants along the way, learning their uses and whether they were a source of food or likely to kill you; however, it took us two hours just to get to Newman, there was simply too much to look at and discuss!

Our budding botanists learnt about Scurvy Weed and Celandines and their medicinal uses, Three Cornered Leek, Violets and Nasturtiums and how best to eat them and the benefits and dangers of plants such as Lords & Ladies (wild Arum), Foxgloves and Hemlock.

When asked whether they enjoyed the activity on a scale of 0-5 (with 0 being not at all and 5 being a lot) one young person added a few more numbers and gave the activity a rating of 8!!

Thursday afternoon saw a group of 11 heading off to RoseHill with Derek and Sally in order to Build a 5 Star Minibeast Hotel; we started off with a pile of rubbish and ended up with a....urm....luxury bug hotel of course?!

There was a lot of sawing and hammering (which apparently was one of the best bits) and the crafty construction team created a multi-story luxury complex for some of Scilly's tiniest residents.  There were grand ideas of staircases and lifts, guttering and bathtubs and at one point there were plans to build the hotel close to an electricity pylon so the bugs could have lighting and warm water!

Towards the end of the session our construction team witnessed a spider climbing up the outside and heading in amongst the flower pots and wood chippings, they all became very excited about this and declared the hotel open with its first official guest!

Once again the only complaint that the group had was that the session didn't last long enough (although I'm sure Derek and Sally felt it was plenty long enough!)

So with tired legs, grubby knees and hands and some new found knowledge about our Islands plant and animal life the group made their way back to Carn Thomas for drinks, a rest and a well earned biscuit before heading home with their parents and telling them all about the things they had done throughout the day.

Thankyou!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended over the two days for making the sessions fantastic and no doubt memorable.  I hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did!

I would also like to thank Helen McGuinness, from the Children's Services Team, and the Active Scilly Team for their help and support in the promotion and administration of the sessions.

And the biggest "thank you" goes to Derek and Sally, from Newquay Community Orchard, for coming to Scilly and doing something a little different with our young people

These education sessions were made possible in part by Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty funding and were arranged and delivered by the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

If you have any comments or feedback regarding these session please do not hesitate to email me on nikkibanfield@ios-wildlifetrust.org.uk

Tagged with: Outdoor learning, Events & Shows; Education; Newquay Orchard; AONB; Every Child Wild; 30 Days Wild;