Legacy project - Education

Rosemary Marshall and I have been approaching primary schools in the area with a view to inviting 3 or 4 of them to join in our project to create or enhance a wildlife area with a view to reconnecting children with nature.  We now have 3 schools who are all very excited to be included.  Rosemary and I have visited them all and been shown the areas to be developed and work has begun.

We met the Office Manager and the Early Years Teacher at Rumboldswhyke Infants School.  They have had a wildlife area for some years but this has been neglected recently and they are delighted to have the opportunity to revitalise it.  A replacement camera box was top of their list.  They have a pond and a large Bug Hotel that is still very effective.  This school does not require a lot of input from CNHS.  Rosemary Marshall, Richard Williamson and I visited them to hand over their equipment and talk to them about how to use it.  Richard demonstrated binoculars and talked about the wildlife in his garden.  He begged them not to drop cans or yogurt pots in the countryside and told them how dangerous they can be to wildlife.  The Head teacher then showed us around their lovely wildlife area and we pointed out the camera nest box to Richard.  A blue tit has already shown interest in it. We have been invited back in the summer to see how the area is progressing.

The Head teacher at Funtington Primary School would like their new Woodland Walk developed.  She submitted a Wish List of equipment she felt would benefit local wildlife and the children, giving them an opportunity to get involved with making and putting up homes for such things as birds, hedgehogs, bees, bugs and amphibians. She is keen to have a small wetland/marsh area to attract wildlife which will be at one end of the woodland. There is also an arch which she would like covered with climbers.  She would also like a nectar bed or pots with flowers to attract bees and butterflies. Snowdrops and other woodland plants will be planted after half term.  We are currently sourcing an outdoor blackboard to be fixed to the shed for the children to write their sightings.  A robin/wren nest box and 2 bat boxes are due to be installed after half term. At the end of February we have been invited, with Richard Williamson, to talk to the children at an assembly and hand over the equipment.  Some children will then show Richard the Woodland Walk and where the nest box and bat boxes have been hung.

The Forest School teacher is our contact at Chidham School. He showed us a pond, which is in need of some clearance and replanting and would love to be able to use it for pond dipping.  On our visit to install nest boxes a newt was spotted in the pond. There is a large area of decking next to the pond, which is fenced. This will provide places for troughs/pots sown with seeds to attract pollinating insects. A robin box has been installed near the pond and 2 tit boxes on trees around the edge of the field. We are providing 2 pond nets with sampling trays and ID guides which we hope the children will enjoy. We hope to be able to hold an Assembly as at the other schools when we hand over the equipment.  Richard is keen to come too. This morning 2 volunteers, myself and a parent volunteer met with some of the children to start work pruning the buddleia and cutting back some of the vegetation along the side.  It was very cold and the pond was iced up but gradually began to thaw. Two hours of hard work cutting, raking, collecting prunings and taking them to add to the heap and we had done as much as we could today.  A Robin was singing his encouragement and, as we left, 2 Robins came down to inspect the newly-made log pile – and the nest box we had just put up!

We have asked the schools to give us some feedback such as drawings, photos, articles from the children so we can report to CNHS members and show them how the money is being used.  The schools are all keen to do this and we are looking into the possiblity of getting such reports on to our website so that each school can see what the others are doing as well.  One staff member has become so enthused she is buying a butterfly feeder and Frogitat for her own garden and as presents for her family.  At another school the Head teacher is thinking of forming a Natural History Club to carry on what this project has started.

In order to get the projects going successfully, we would be very grateful for some help from volunteers.  We will need help with digging and planting the marsh at Funtington.  Also, planting climbers and building a bug hotel there.

I would like to thank all those who have offered to help already but, as usual, the more people we have the less work for each one.  I am not expecting to visit Funtington more than once or twice a term in the spring and summer, but nothing is definite yet

Philippa Arnott                                                           

01243 575345 or 07840859122


Erecting Robin box at Chidham

Erecting camera box at Rumboldswhyke

Richard Williamson at Rumboldswhyke

Clearing the pond at Chidham

Getting there

Clearing the heavy stuff

Spot the robin

Current Progress

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

© Copyright 2018 Chichester Natural History SocietyWeb Design By Toolkit Websites