Pond dipping.. one of the kids most favourite activities. On our first go at it, two years ago, we got the bug and it doesn’t matter how many times we do it, the kids always love it (well, so do the grown ups if I am being honest!)
On Wednesday we went to the local ecology centre with a couple of other home educating families. We took our nets and buckets and were looking forward to seeing what we could find. We’ve been pond dipping at the ecology centre lots of times over the last two years, but not since the beginning of spring this year so we were keen to see what had changed in that time.
The pond was full of life! We caught so much we had to empty the buckets a couple of times because they were getting too full!
We caught lots of fish, a tadpole, lesser and greater water boatmen, a great diving beetle, lots of damselfly larvae, two dragonfly larvae, water scorpions, pond skaters, pond snails, whirligig beetles and probably more I have forgotten.
I think the kids could have stayed by the pond all day but after a couple of hours we decided to move on to try and see some of the other things the ecology centre has to offer. As we were packing up the nets one of the children came and told me they’d seem a stripy caterpillar. I went to have a look and between us we found around 20-30 Cinnabar moth caterpillars on Ragwort. They are so beautiful!
We walked around the centre, looking for slow worms and grasshoppers. We didn’t see any slow worms but did see a few grasshoppers. Jasmine decided not to try and catch any though because she was keen to continue round to the our next stop. We were heading for the log pile to find newts and toads!
The kids were soon turning over logs and seeing what they could find underneath. They were quite disappointed not to find many newts but did find some toads. Luckily though, Gordon came to the rescue and he went off for a wander and came back having found the newts hiding place! This made the kids day when he showed them where at least 20 newts were hiding!
At the end of the afternoon I think we all agreed that was our most successful trip to the ecology centre so far this year. Everyone had a really good time and it was lovely to see the kids all working together and sharing their knowledge of the animals we found.
Of course, never one to miss an opportunity, I snapped some of the other animals I saw along the way too..