CNHS  CHALLENGE TO SCHOOLS NATURE WRITING COMPETITION - 2019/2020

For Junior schools in West Sussex – a competition with nature at its heart. Chichester Natural History Society offers £200 to the winning school (best single entry); £100 to outstanding entries In each category.  All being well, another £500 available for similar competition in 2020/21).
Emphasis on originality, the themes for essays (300 words max.) or up to five verses of
poetry (which need not rhyme)are:

1 How can we make the planet safer and healthier?

2 My favourite countryside place in West Sussex.

3 My top British animal.

For school year 2019/20 – handwritten submissions by May 31, 2020. Each competing school is required to sift entries down to best three per category. The judges will represent Chichester Natural History Society, West Sussex County Council and the Chichester Observer (naturalist Richard Williamson).

It is expected that prize money will benefit the winning schools’ nature projects or materials,including books. Results will appear in the Observer in July 2020.

Terry Timblick

Legacy project 2018 - Education

 Rumboldswhke School July 17th 2018

Rosemary and I were invited to visit Rumboldswhyke School today to see how the children have been using the equipment Chi Nats gave them.  Unfortunately, Rosemary was unable to come but I was warmly welcomed by the Early Years Teacher and taken on a Grand Tour of the wildlife areas.  She told me that the children had  become really interested in natural history this term, partly due to our encouragement and support and all the items we had given them.  They particularly enjoy using the bug boxes and when we went outside we found 3 children busily inspecting creatures they had caught in them.  I was told about the “woodlouses”, single ant and ladybirds they had found and was also shown a chart indicating all the creatures they had identified around the school grounds.  This was most impressive and included a great many ticks!  I was shown the bee house ( which had been inhabited) and the Forest School area where we found a female Emperor dragonfly.  Then we went to visit the pond where 2 girls demonstrated pond dipping and told me that there were lots of newts.  Two Blue-tailed damselflies landed on the lily pads. The Frogitat was pointed out that had been positioned by the water.  A large buddleia was flowering by the pond and there were many plants around the pond and the fence boundary making a very attractive area.
I was amazed to hear that Blue tits had nested in the camera box we had installed after a first inspection two days after it was erected!  The children had excitedly watched the nest building, appearance of 10 eggs and then 10 chicks. Very sadly, one day it was discovered that all the chicks had died in the nest. At least the children had been able to watch the whole process from nest building to chicks.
It was really encouraging to see how enthusiastic the children are and how much they are enjoying being part of the project.
Before I left I met the Head Teacher and Bursar who wanted to thank Chi Nats for all the items they had been given and told me how much the children enjoyed  using them and how interested they were in their local wildlife.  We agreed to meet again in the autumn and they would have fun deciding what to spend the remainder of their money on.

Philippa Arnott









Rumboldswhyke School July 2018
Rumboldswhke pond - looking for newts!

July 12th 2018 Funtington School

Today John Kelsall and I went to Funtington School to finish the final project – the Minibeast Mansion.  The idea was to transform a pallet into a framework with sections to be filled with hollow stems, fir cones, dried leaves, moss, dried grasses, broken bricks with holes in etc.  It was a very warm afternoon and John was busy sawing pieces of wood to fit the pallet.  Once finished it was lifted into place and secured to the tree behind it and it looks very professional.  As we are so near the end of term it will have to be September before the children and I can start to fill it.
We also fixed the Butterfly Biome to a Silver birch in a sunny position set in a rough piece of grassland which should be attractive to butterflies. It needs to be filled with sugar syrup and mashed banana or other ripe fruit. At the end of summer the tray is lifted up and butterflies can hibernate in the wooden slots at the back.
Last week I planted two native Honeysuckle plants up the arch at the edge of the Woodland Walk.  I was delighted to see that they were both in flower and growing well.
As the Education Project comes to a halt at the end of the school year I would like to express my grateful thanks to all the volunteers who have so kindly given up their time to help make this project so successful.

Philippa Arnott







Minibeast Mansion - Funtington School July 2018
Minibeast Mansion - ready for occupation.

Butterfly biome - Funtington School July 2018
Butterfly biome

Fungus and Honeysuckle - Funtington July 2018
Woodland walk - fungus and honeysuckle

Progress at Chidham School
Monday, 2nd July 2018

Richard Williamson paid a visit to Chidham School to hear about the progress of the Education Project – and to meet some of the children and volunteers who are working on it.  First he was shown the pond and surrounding area then all the Pots for Pollinators which had grown amazingly and were full of flowers.  The children then enjoyed telling Richard what they had done e.g. built a log pile, put up the whiteboard for sightings, positioned a Frogitat, bee house and butterfly biome.  They told Richard how important it is to help bees.  Richard agreed and told them many of the fruits we would be without if we did not have bees.  They also discussed the importance of keeping records of the animals seen.  The children came up with several ideas on how to do this.
While Richard was being shown the different plants that had been put in around the pond edge the children were spotting butterflies – Red Admiral, Small White, Hedge Brown, Comma and Meadow Brown.  Many damselflies were busy over the water.  A frog was also spotted and several birds were flying in and out of the reeds.  These reeds were the vegetation we had hoped to clear from the middle of the pond but were now several feet tall!  Richard advised leaving them as they were so good for wildlife.  Richard was amazed at all the wildlife there was in and around the pond and was very impressed with the project.  He was pleased at how keen the children were and hoped they would encourage others to develop an interest in the natural world.
Some sleepers have been acquired by the school and will be made into bench seating on the decking which will add to the enjoyment of using the area.

Philippa Arnott








Chidham School June 2018 RW holding forth
RW holding forth
RW's visit Chidham School June 2018
Chidham Watch the birdie!
Chidham School June 2018
What's this then?
Chidham Scool June 2018 - The pollinators pot
The Pollinators Pot

Progress at Funtington School

Friday 22nd June 2018

This morning I met up with the Eco Council at Funtington Primary School to finish work on the mini wetland.  The children worked really hard to clear out the rubbish that had accumulated in the sinks that were left empty and ready to plant.  They then put in a layer of clean stones and potted up the plants.  We then decided to make one sink into a bird bathing and drinking area and this was duly planted with two plants at one end.  The rest of it was left with open, shallow water.  After it was filled with gravel the children took turns to fill up watering cans and fill up the sink.  Some stones were then put in with tops above the water so birds could stand on them to access the water. 
The second sink was for amphibians so more plants were put into this one, on top of a layer of stones.  Gravel was then added and water poured in.  A pond in a pot was created by placing pots of irises and a geum on stones and, again, filling it with gravel and then water.  Once it has bedded in and the water has cleared it should look attractive and be very welcome to resident and visiting wildlife. A Robin has already inspected it!
A hedgehog house was then placed by the fence and covered with dead leaves and twigs.  I cut a piece of pond liner to place under the Frogitat to create a cooler, damp feel on the base of it and this was positioned by the amphibian pool.
The next job is to create a Minibeast Mansion.

Philippa Arnott

Funtington School watering 22/6/2018
Funtington School Planting
Funtington School watering 22/6/2018
Funtington School Watering
Funtington Eco Council 22/6/2018
Funtington Eco Council admiring.
 

May  2018

Chidham Primary School
In May some of my marvellous volunteers met at Chidham School in the morning to plant Pots for Pollinators.  Some children joined us and were very excited by all the newts in the pond as well as pond skaters. They helped plant up the pots with herbs and native plants with some garden plants that are recommended to attract bees, butterflies, hoverflies etc.  Some sunflower seeds were also sown and will be planted into large pots later.  When the pots were positioned around the decking they looked very attractive – will be even more so as they come into flower.
Funtington Primary School
In the afternoon I was invited by the Head Teacher of Funtington School to display the remaining items we were giving them before handing them over. The Eco Council of children came in and the Head Teacher introduced me and explained where the items had come from and how they were going to be used. I showed them the shelters for hedgehogs and amphibians and the butterfly biome and said I hoped they would help me find suitable places to put them in a couple of weeks.
Another willing group of volunteers met me at the school in order to make a small bog garden.  However, as we feared, it was not possible to dig into the ground as there were too many tree roots.  We compromised by putting  two long sinks on the site and covered them with pond liner.  One of these will be half filled with stones then water and a plant or two.  This will make a drinking/bathing area for birds, hedgehogs, etc.  We also intend to make a Pond in a Pot using a large, shallow container which will, again, be planted with shade and damp loving plants.  This should provide a cool, damp refuge for amphibians.  So instead of one wetland area we have ended up with several “mini wetlands” which, I think, will look attractive as well as providing water and cool areas for the wildlife that live in the Woodland Walk. There are plans to construct a Minibeast Mansion with the help of the children and a blackboard will be put on the shed for recording sightings.

Philippa Arnott







The Chidham collection

Phillipa with members of Funtington Primary School’s Eco Council


Funtington - debating the tree roots

Funtington - what we did!

Chidham -Writing up the first sightings

Chidham - A first sighting - broad bodied chaser

Chidham - Waiting for occupants!

Chichester, West Sussex

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