I1 Ponds and Birds

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Aim: To undertake a series of educational and fun activities in order to develop an understanding of their local environment. Introduction: Water provides numerous opportunities for young people to undertake a wide
variety of activities, from individual and team games to enjoyable educational and learning tasks. Taken from the BB Company Section Discoverer Pro Pack, Community Nature and Environment I1


Activity 1
useful equipment for pond-dippers includes:
• Wellies
• Other waterproofs
• White plastic trays
• Pots or ice-cream tubs
• Sieves
• Magnifying glasses
• White plastic spoons for handling creatures
• Notebooks
• Pencils
• Identification guides
• Pond nets

Activity 2
• Warm & waterproof clothing
• Binoculars, pencil & notepad
• Camera & Bird reference material (optional)


Activity 1 - Pond Dipping

Aim: To visit a local pond, and learn how to Identify and record a range of pond animals and plants.

Plants can be examined fairly easily because they stand still. Animals can be a little more elusive! Notes on how to pond-dip follow. When this is done methodically, it can be the most rewarding of pond activities.

How to pond-dip?
1. Approach the pond quietly as you may see birds, frogs or mammals around the edge of the pond. spend some time looking for activity on and below the surface.
2. Then get things ready, e.g. half-fill the plastic trays and pots with pond water.
3. The first pond net sweeps, long and gentle, can be in the open water. Empty the net contents by turning the net inside out into the plastic tray, then observe and record your findings. Some things don’t look like animals at first, so you may have to wait until they start to move!
4. Next sweep the net gently around the submerged plants, being careful not to damage them. Look at your catch in a new tray of water.
5. Now sweep the net along the stems of the emerging plants around the edge of the pond. Observe your findings.
6. Then the net can be swept along the bottom of the pond, taking a very small amount of mud and washing this in the net before emptying the contents into a new tray of water.

You could try other places in the pond too, e.g. shaded and light areas. Findings can be recorded at the pond for writing in pond diaries.

Tips / Advice:
If expense is a problem, most creatures and insects caught in nets can also be found by simply dipping pots into the water and mud.

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
Working outside, particularly near water, can be hazardous. The following are a few points to consider:

1. Choosing a site
Always inspect the site and carry out a risk assessment before taking your group out. Check for unstable or slippery banks — is there any evidence of recent collapses? Test the depth of the water with a stick —
is it shallow and slow enough to allow the young people to wade out to welly depth? Check up and downstream (in running water) for any potential hazards. Avoid the area if the water seems very scummy or smelly. Never work on a river in flood conditions.

2. TakIng the group out
Do not take more children than can be easily supervised. Ensure the participants are adequately clothed and that you have a basic first aid kit, including plasters and rubber gloves to cover cut fingers. Ensure
that all have waterproof clothing for in the event of cold or wet weather.

3. At the water
Weil’s disease is a rare bacterial infection carried in rat urine. It is possible to contract the disease from infected water or river and pond banks. Chances of infection are slight, but sensible precautions should be taken. Avoid full immersion in water and cover any broken skin. Wash all exposed skin thoroughly at the end of the exercise, and before eating. Do not allow water, or objects which have been in contact with it, to enter the mouth. If any illness occurs within two weeks of the field work, consult a doctor and inform him/her of the contact with untreated water.

Blue-green algae occasionally bloom in ponds and rivers during hot weather and appear as a paint-like scum on the water surface. Avoid contact as the algae can irritate the skin. Seek medical advice if there has been ingestion of, or extensive contact with, the scum.

Activity 2 - Bird Watching

Aim: To take a group Into woodland or a remote area, Identifying a range of birds.

• Simply sitting and watching birds can be a very popular hobby. It’s fun and relaxing at the same time. You can watch the birds in your garden, yard, trees and bushes from your front window. However, it’s even better to actually go out into the wild and watch the birds in their own natural habitats.

• Before going on a bird watching outing, ensure that participants are wearing the appropriate clothes for both the location you’ll be visiting, and the climate that area is currently experiencing. Binoculars are extremely useful. They allow you to get a close up view of any birds, nests, and chicks.

• Many bird lovers also enjoy having pen or pencil, and a notepad on hand so they can take notes about the birds they’ve seen, or sketch them as they’re watching. Why not get the young people to record what they see?

Tips / Advice:
• Avoid disturbing birds and their habitats — the birds’ interests should always come first.
• The range and abundance of bird species varies greatly across the UK, and is also dependent on the season. A list and images of birds that can be seen across the various parts of the UK can be found at the following:
— www.birdsofbritain.co.uk/bird-guide
— www.rspb.org.uk/birds

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
Supervision of young people when outside of normal premises.


  • bird watching
  • birds
  • community
  • company
  • discoverer
  • Nature and environment
  • Pond Dipping
  • Ponds

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