9 things to look for on a nature walk with children in November
- Credit: JULIE KEMP
Going for a nature walk with children is one of the things you can still do despite lockdown. But what should you look out for while getting your daily exercise?
East Anglia has an amazing wealth of wildlife to look out for, from birds to plants and trees. Here are nine suggestions for things you may be able to discover and activities to try, to help your children to appreciate nature.
If you have a pair of binoculars, take them along. Younger children will find it even more fun if you make a “scavenger hunt” list before setting out, listing common items such as leaves and stones to spot along the way.
On a more hi-tech note, there are plenty of phone apps available to help identify everything from leaves to birdsong. Some are free, and if not they may offer a free trial.
• Robins - It’s not just rare birds that are exciting to see during autumn and winter. More common birds are also fascinating to watch, including the bird which has been voted Britain’s favourite.
An RSPB spokesman said that robins will be out and about more frequently at this time of year, especially in hedgerows with berries.
• Autumn leaves - Have you ever caught a falling leaf? It’s supposed to be good luck, but, as the National Trust points out in its autumn woodland activities sheet, it may be harder than you think! However, you should be able to find piles of colourful leaves to walk through.
You could also take a few rough-textured leaves home to do a rubbing with crayons, which helps to show the patterns in nature, or do a quick tree bark rubbing while you are out and about.
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• Fallen nuts and pine cones - If you’re on a walk in woodland, you are likely to spot acorns, conkers (though they may be a bit old by now to play with!) and other fallen nuts, as well as pine cones, which fall from trees in November. If you take a few cones home, they are great to use in a range of craft activities, including creating Christmas decorations.
• Starlings - If you are walking in the evening, you might see a starling murmuration, where large groups of birds swoop and dive over their resting site. Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves are good places to spot this, but you can see starlings in towns too.
These popular birds even have their own website with details of where to find murmurations.
• Animal tracks - As the weather gets colder and wetter in the autumn, it’s often possible to spot animal tracks on muddy surfaces. Can your children work out what animals or birds have been past - perhaps a rabbit or even a fox or deer?
If you’re not sure what the tracks are, you could take a photo to identify them more easily when you get home.
• Grey squirrels - These are one of Britain’s most common mammals and, although some may regard them as a pest, children love to see them. You are extremely likely to spot squirrels in parks during the autumn, burying nuts to eat in the winter.
MORE: 9 things to try during lockdown 2.0• Fungi - As trees become barer in the autumn, fungi stand out more, and you may be able to spot a wide variety. Let your children look at these from a distance but not touch, as many fungi are poisonous, including colourful toadstools such as red-and-white Fly Agaric.
• Winter bird visitors - Large numbers of wading birds visit Suffolk’s estuaries in November, and can be spotted in places such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserves at Trimley Marshes, Dingle Marshes, Levington Lagoon and Lackford Lakes, as well as many other places around the area. If heading for an SWT site, check the website first, as some facilities may be closed due to lockdown.
Other unusual birds to look out for at this time of year include fieldfares, redwings, waxwings and bramblings.
• Mini-beasts - Children are endlessly fascinated by the tiny creepy-crawlies which can be seen all over the place during November. If you lift up a fallen branch, you may see them nestling underneath. Worms, spiders, ants, beetles and snails are just a few of the creatures you may spot.