What are they imagining? What creatures are they creating?
Are they the wizards and witches of the woodlands ....... turning flowers to fairies and trees to trolls?
The kids of Churnet View Middle School in Leek are magicians.
They are the first folks to kick off our birthday celebration - this year the RSPB has been looking after the wildlife of Coombes Valley for 50 years.
So, to help us celebrate they have been capturing magic on paper........ to help us make something......
If you go down to the woods soon :+) ..........................................
Oh and don’t forget why it's IMPORTANT these kids have the chance to enjoy time in the woods:
More and more bluebells are emerging. Still a little way to go before you see them quite like they are in the photos here. They were taken in Brawnback wood at Coombes on May 1st last year (by Becky Elliott).
The next few weeks is probably one of the more amazing times in our wood - a cacophony of sound - a varied pallette of colours.
Adding a splash of colour is this male redstart. First one arrived on Sunday of last weekend.
It's all kicking off :+)
Coombes Valley is all about an amazing web of life. It's about much more than birds and you don't have to visit Coombes with your binoculars.
That doesn't mean there aren't some birds which are special to the Valley. Indeed, one of those specialities is the pied flycatcher which you can see here. The first one arrived on the reserve today after a winter in West Africa. It joins the willow warbler which made it to the reserve last week. Pied flycatchers regularly use nestboxes at Coombes (give it a couple of weeks for them to settle down) - so they can be really easy to see with or without binoculars.
If you want to know more about the pied flycatcher including being able to watch a video of them and hear their song, visit the RSPB web site at:http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/p/piedflycatcher/index.aspx
But what's going on with the weather?!
Have the pied flycatcher and willow warbler made a mistake with their flight times? Should they still be sunning themselves in Africa?
Here's two images taken near our Information centre in the space of just a handful of days last week. I couldn't believe it when I struggled to get into the reserve because of the snow!
Phoebe, Dexter and Elliot Hammonds enjoying the Wacky Wildlife Trail.
Throughout the Easter weekend, families can come and join us and try the Wacky Wildlife Trail, solving clues and learning more about some of the creatures that live on the reserve. At the end of the trail there will be an Easter Egg prize for each youngster.
The Wacky Wildlife Trail will be available from 11am until 4pm over the Easter weekend, through ‘till Easter Monday. Entry to the reserve, of course, is free – but the Wacky Wildlife Trail costs just £2 per child and there’s an Easter Egg if you collect all the stamps around the trail.
Coombes Valley is a wonderful place whatever the season but the Spring is an especially rewarding time to experience the peace and tranquillity to be found deep in the woods, far from the holiday traffic. Bluebells and other spring flowers are starting to emerge, birds are singing and there is a positive feeling of renewal.
So, put simply... get out and about at Coombes Valley and you can have some fun.
On a more serious note – that really is about encouraging fun - keep reading.
If you enjoy having fun in the woods and meadows, you might like to read a nice, simple book to reconnect you to nature called A Bumper book of Nature by Stephen Moss.
I mention Stephen because I would echo many views that he expresses about a Natural Childhood.
I’m sure Stephen Moss would actively encourage local kids to go on our Wacky Wildlife Trail this Easter. It’s not Alton Towers or Legoland; it’s a lot more simple. But it is a way of encouraging kids to wander around Coombes Valley discovering and enjoying the countryside.
These simple experiences are important. In just a generation the extent to which we engage with the outdoors has really changed. Fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places; compared to almost half a generation ago.
As an environmentalist, it really concerns me how much many children appear to have become disconnected with the natural environment. That connection is important for both our physical and mental well-being. It’s also important if we want future generations to value and protect our countryside.
As David Attenborough said:
‘No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced’
Stephen Moss has just written a report for the National Trust called Natural Childhood which you can download at
To get his personal view it’s also worth reading his guest blog on Mark Avery’s blog dated March 30th at
Personally, the best thing my gran ever did was to encourage me to look at plants, listen to birds and enjoy the outdoors. She helped me see that I need to have simple, natural experiences. Whether it is watching the sun go down over the sea or standing in a woodland absorbing the colours, sights and sounds.... I need it .... and intuition (and increasingly science) says we all need it in our lives.
Oh – and finally the butterfly in the last blog was a Comma and the flower was a Lesser Celandine