Autumnal adventures

Working with our local primary schools has been a real highlight for the ranger service this autumn.  Click here to see Ulva primary’s report of their Woodland Workshop with Jan.

Down on the Ross Emily has been helping Class 1 at Bunessan primary with their topic about designing a nature trail.

First some research on habitats and the wildlife living there:

Followed by a couple of visits to Tiroran Community Forest to test out the route of our new trail with help from Community Forester Philip Yielder who marked the route with posts.

The new trail begins by following the river upstream.

The class produced their own maps, poetry and drawings which went into a leaflet and a beautiful wall display.

Finally it was opening day – the children gave a speech and guided their guests around.  Well done everyone!

Soon you’ll be able to pick up a leaflet from the bridge next time you visit the forest and try the route for yourself – wellies recommended!

Also in the forest, the main Woollen Woods display has been taken down, but a few creatures made of natural wool have been moved to the Giant Heads area, see if you can spot them!

Meanwhile Bunessan’s afterschool nature club have been exploring colour and pattern in nature, playing some eco board games and learning about the night sky.

How many star constellations can you recognise?

We seem to have escaped most of the floods and experienced a lot of dry sunny weather this autumn as these photos from Burg last week demonstrate:

 

Seeing Stars

Wednesday evening this week I ran my final event of the season at Ulva Primary School. We were extremely lucky as it turned out to be a fantastic clear evening with an almost full moon for “Seeing Stars”.

I started off quite early, well before dark to run some activities for the children. We learnt some interesting facts; did you know that one million Earth’s could fit inside the sun because it is that big? Or that Saturn has 62 moons? Then we enjoyed some hot chocolate and played with some clever apps, a great way of getting kids interested in all things wild. You can download things like Sky Walk or Star Walk and Moon Phase for free – these help us to find constellations, planets, individual stars and satellites in the sky.

By around 9pm adults were welcome to join and we had a great turn out of both locals and visitors to the island. We watched as the moon rose from behind the rugged hills of Mull and it was looking absolutely stunning at 86% full. The telescope provided an amazing detailed view of the moon’s surface, even allowing us to pick out craters.

Stars began to emerge, with the key constellations easy to find – the bright moonlight drowning out some of the less obvious stars. We found some familiar constellations to begin with, like the plough. This well known shape in the sky actually makes up part of Ursa Major, the Large Bear. Above is Ursa Minor, you guessed it, the Small Bear. The end star of the smaller bear is Polaris – the celestial North Pole. Draco the dragon wraps around Small Bear, the head curving around to point toward Vega and Lyra. Others we looked at include Aquila, the eagle, Cygnus the Swan with the Northern Cross showing very well, Hercules and Cassiopeia the vain Queen. Plenty of satellites passed through too, and last night I caught the International Space Station passing overhead! 

As with wildlife and the natural world, space and stars give us an unlimited amount of learning opportunities. With 88 defined constellations plus many of the smaller lines or individual stars we can always find something new. Autumn and winter are the best time to get out there and enjoy our dark skies, something we are lucky to have.

Thankyou so much to Ulva Primary School for allowing us to run Seeing Stars there and for the hot drinks and biscuits!