Returning to Howe Dell, the school where I held my first wild wonder day five years ago, is always special for me – and this wonder day was certainly packed with wild excitement, discovery & inspiration from dawn to dusk. An urban primary of 400 pupils, Howe Dell has such fantastic grounds – perfect for wild exploration. After my ‘Night & Day’ assembly, the first group of children headed to Kingfisher Island, where we photographed frogs, crickets, spiders and the beautiful wetland habitat. Then to the bountiful vegetable patch for more frogs, flowers, caterpillars & craneflies.
‘Iain’s visits are important because he is so fascinated by his projects that he shares it with everyone!’ Mia
A local nature reserve, Lemsford Springs, was the afternoon destination for a group of children from across the school. Puffballs the size of footballs, fish in the crystal clear waters, spiky caterpillars and berries of all sorts. But the best moment; when all the group fell silent, listening to the ‘peeping’ call of a kingfisher, teasingly out of view.
But the ringing of school bell did not end our day of wonder – we were going big mammal watching at a reserve a few miles away. We met just before dusk and our party of excited children, parents & headteacher headed to the special hide – most had never seen a badger. It was a beautifully clear moonlit night, and if we were to have any success, silence, patience and stillness was needed from this very eager group. Listening to the corvid roosts above and watching the fields below, there were many false alarms – its easy to think the dark bushes are badgers!
First a robin and a mouse, then a fox appeared. Approaching very cautiously, the fox could clearly sense our presence and kept in the shadows. My hope for badgers reduced, could we be quiet enough? Further away a fox and muntjac deer moved through the fields. Then they came.
‘We did not see one badger, we saw 12… Imani (aged 9). For an hour we watched them feeding and interacting just a few metres the other side of the glass – despite the audible excitement and pleasure of those inside the hide. This was a wonder moment beyond my wildest dreams and a day that I will never forget. I’m so pleased that the children and their parents were able to enjoy these beautiful badgers and all our other wild discoveries during the day.
“Iain provides opportunities for children and grownups to extend their awareness of local habitats and animals. Wonder Days are planned to stimulate speaking and listening and to develop writing skills across the school”. Debra Massey, Head, Howe Dell