July, 2011

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There are loads of fun ways you can help nature with the RSPB... Share your experiences here.

WildSquare

Hello to everyone who is taking part in WildSquare! Here you can find out about the wildlife you have been exploring, from stinky mushrooms and pretty flowers to weird patterns and animal footprints.
  • Why are trees different shapes?

    Common Lime, Chris ShieldsOne of the questions we asked you in the WildSquare survey was to look for 4 different tree shapes, round, tall and thin, triangular or droopy. By far the most common shape to spot so far has been tall and thin. On average each person saw 12 tall thin trees in their WildSquare. Why is this?

    Trees have different shapes to suit the different places that they grow. Two of the most important things trees need to grow are sunlight and water. They use their leaves or needles to collect as much sunlight as they can without losing too much water. And they need to do all of this without falling over by growing too heavy. Trees with large round canopies like oak or beech trees are designed to capture as much sunlight as possible in a cloudy climate where the sunlight is coming in from all angles. Tall thin trees, like pine trees or the common lime in the picture, are designed to get as high as possible so that they can reach sunlight above other trees and also so that at sunset and sunrise, when the sun is shining from the side, not above they have a lot of leaves catching the sun’s rays.

  • Myth, magic and more

    One of the leaves you are looking for in this WildSquare survey is a feather leaf, it’s got a stem in the middle with lots of little leaves coming out from either side. If you see a leaf like this it could be from a rowan, ash or elder tree. All these trees are native to Britain and have lots of myths and legends surrounding them.
    Trees

    Rowan
    Rowan trees are associated with magic and are sometimes called Wizard trees, people used to plant them outside their houses to protect them. Rowans trees produce red berries which are poisonous for people to eat raw but birds love them.

    Ash
    In Viking and Norse mythology there was a ‘tree of the world’ this tree stretched up into heaven with it’s leaves and it’s roots reached down into the underworld. The tree was called Yggdrasil and was an ash tree. In Cheshire people used to believe that an ash tree could be used to cure warts.

    Elder
    You can spot elder at this time of year by it’s white sweet smelling flowers. It’s flowers and berries can be used to make wine and cordials. If you like Harry Potter you’ll know that the most powerful wand in the world was the Elder wand and, you guessed it, was made out of wood from and Elder tree.

  • Elf dens

    Elf Den, Andy HayIf you enjoyed getting outside when you did your WildSquare survey, why not try this idea another time you’re out and about. The idea is to look around at all the things there are in your WildSquare and find materials that could be used to make a house for an elf, insect, small animal or a fairy. Try to use only objects that you find lying around such as pebbles, sticks, twigs, fallen leaves and bark. If you do pick anything, make sure you only pick it if there is lots more around and don’t damage the plant.

    What could you use to make a floor, are there a lot of leaves lying around? What about a bed, is there some moss or something else soft? Walls can be made with sticks and a roof could be made out of a large leaf. Will your creature need a table and chairs, or a cupboard to keep their clothes? Can you make stairs or a door out of the objects around you?