Canada Hill Primary School

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Natural History Club

Canada Hill Natural History Club

 The school Natural History club encourages children to learn about the wildlife that lives in the school grounds and the local countryside. Through a mixture of hands-on encounters, art and games, club members become familiar with some of Devon’s common species of plants and animals and learn ecological concepts such as food chains, pollination, life cycles and predator avoidance.

In the spring, we learn about nests and eggs, watching wild chicks develop in the school’s camera nestboxes and observing insect eggs under the microscope.

We plant sunflower seeds in the school garden (see photo right) and get to grips with identifying the wildflowers that grow in local hedgerows. 

 In summer, we hunt for minibeasts in the garden, up trees, in the night sky (using a moth trap) and in the school pond, as well as meeting lots of caterpillars and learning the different tactics they use to avoid being eaten.

  

In the autumn, we find out about fruit and nuts and about how plants use animals and the elements to spread their seeds, then use fallen leave to create animal art.

 

Natural History Club runs for the first half of the Autumn term then throughout the Summer term afterschool on Tuesday’s. It is led by Rik Fox, a parent and professional ecologist who works for a national wildlife conservation charity.

 

30 September – Stick insects and adaptation

 This week, two Prickly Stick-insects came to visit Natural History Club. These amazing insects have lived in the wild in the Torbay area for over 100 years since being brought here accidentally on imported plants from their native New Zealand. These two were found last week in a garden hedge in Abbotskerswell, so they may also live in your garden! 

 

The creatures were a big hit with club members and had a really good walk around over our hands and arms!

As well as being fun to meet and handle, we used the stick-insects as an example to think about how animals are adapted to their habitats. Adaptations are special features of an animal’s (or plant’s) body or behaviour that help it to survive in its chosen habitat. Living in trees and bushes, the long, stick-like shape and green colour of the stick-insects provide them with great camouflage from potential predators. They also move very little most of the time, which also helps them to look like sticks rather than tasty insects to predators such as birds. The spines on this type of stick-insect also help to protect from predators.

 

Another amazing fact about Prickly Stick-insects is that there are no males at all, either in Britain or in New Zealand. The female insects are able to lay fertile eggs without mating.

Find out more at http://phasmid-study-group.org/content/Naturalised-British-Stick-Insects-Malcolm-Lee