It’s been a hectic summer for the Tees Valley Wild Green Places team delivering our Lucinda Ladybird roadshow of family wildlife events in parks and green spaces across the Tees Valley.
We held ten events in partnership with 11 different Friend/community group and two libraries with the help of 38 volunteers. 650 people visited us so it is not surprising that our craft activities used around 800 paper plates, 400 split pins, 800 wiggle eyes, several thousand coloured sticky spots and several tubes of coloured stick.
A big thank you to all the volunteers from Friends groups and the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust that helped make the events a success. From help with publicity and promotion, registering volunteers to assisting with badge making, crafts and minibeast hunts.
The aim of the roadshow was to encourage families to explore their local greenspaces and to provide a fun way to learn about wildlife as well as an opportunity to meet other families interested in wildlife. The events also provided great opportunities for people to learn about the work of the various friends group and get the know the volunteers who help care for their parks and green spaces.
Searching was minibeasts was the most popular activities, with full use being made of nets, magnifying glasses and pooters. The meadow at the Whinnies (Middleton St George) was probably the richest, with an amazing array of bugs, beetles and spiders. Stripy cinnabar moth caterpillars fascinated the children and quite a number of small frogs were captured! The shady environment of Linthorpe Cemetery resulted in very different minibeasts, mainly spiders but also the beautiful Orange ladybird. This ladybird is vegetarian and loved on the mildew on sycamore and ash leaves. The area around the ponds at Seaton Park in Hartlepool were rich in insect life, a lovely 14 spot ladybirds were found here but it was a giant spider that proved most popular (well unpopular with some). At Errington woods we found earwigs in large number and finally a solitary 7 spot ladybird. Minibeasts were thin on the ground at Ward Jackson Park but a 4 year old girl discovered a large and attractive leopard slug and a tribe of woodlice kept us all entranced. Shield bugs were found in abundance along with several 7 spot ladybirds and a 22 spot at Tinkers Yard in Norton whilst the beckside vegetation at Ouslton was alive with shoulder beetles and long thin striped green bugs.
Great fun was had making ladybird crafts, especially our ladybird plates. Children decided on if the wanted to be a red, yellow or black ladybird and then chose the colour six and number of spots. Some children aimed to create real ladybird species, with 7 spot and 22 spot being popular whilst others created ““new species” which were had multi-coloured or glittery spots! Badge making, masks and finger puppets were also popular.
Here are some of the craft template, colouring sheets and word searches if you want to make at home.
The Ladybird Trail
Matching pictures of ladybirds that were hidden around each site with a spotter sheet was surprising popular. It gave children an opportunity for a run around the site and it was a great way to learn about the great variety of ladybirds. Here is the spotter sheet that we made.
Finding out more about ladybirds
Ladybirds are fascinating insects. Here are some links to some great websites to find out more about them and how to get involved in surveys. Here are some links to some websites and identification guides;
UK Ladybird survey http://www.ladybird-survey.org/
BBC Nature (lovely video clips) http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Coccinellidae
Field Studies Council fold out chart (highly recommended) http://www.field-studies-council.org/publications/pubs/ladybirds.aspx
Here is a copy of our own fact sheet pdf of fact sheet (pdf).
More family wildlife Fun
If you came along to one of the Lucinda Ladybird events and are looking for more ideas to enjoy nature with your family here are some ideas
Join us – Family membership of the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust which includes membership of our junior WATCH. Details here http://www.teeswildlife.org/how-you-can-help/membership/. If you live in Darlington you can join the Durham Wildlife Trust http://www.durhamwt.com/. Here is the Wildlife WATCH page http://www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/
Get some wildlife exploring kits http://www.nhbs.com/browse/subject/932/bug-hunting
Explore the Nature Detectives website for ideas http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/
Photographs from the events
Maidendale with the Friends of Maidendale and the Darlington and Teesdale Naturalists
(sorry we deleted photos of the day by accident and only have two left)
Errington Woods with the Friends of Errington Woods
Ward Jackson with the Friends of Ward Jackson
Roseworth with Roseworth Library
Linthorpe Cemetery with the Friends of Linthorpe Cemetery
Seaton Park with the Friends of Seaton Park and Seaton Library
Bluebell Beck with the Friends of Bluebell Beck
Tinkers Yard with the Station Road and Cooksbarn Residents Associations
Oulston Road green space