Going Wild about Scotland through June!

July 12, 2015 § Leave a comment


Nesting guillemots at Duncansby Head

Nesting guillemots at Duncansby Head

We’ve had a fantastic end to the school year, reaching some of the furthest corners of Scotland, including Eilean Siar, Skye, Ullapool, Wick and Orkney, as well as schools closer to home in Edinburgh and Renfrewshire.

This month has been a real adventure, taking the bus on long stretches of single-track road and two ferry trips! We’ve seen some amazing Scottish wildlife on the way including seals, otters and minke whales. Another highlight was visiting the spectacular seabird colonies at Duncansby Head – the most north-easterly point on mainland Scotland (pictured, right). Even the smallest of ledges were crowded with nesting birds here for the summer breeding season. Approaching from downwind, the smell gave away their presence long before we could see them!

Pupils taking a closer look at the mini-beasts found in their school grounds

Pupils taking a closer look at the mini-beasts found in their school grounds

Despite some less than summery weather, our mini-beast hunts have been in full swing. We took pupils out into their school grounds to see what they could find, before bringing any mini-beasts back to the bus so the pupils could take a closer look (pictured, left). It’s been brilliant to get pupils and teachers thinking about all the wildlife right outside their front door and how they can make use of their outdoor space.

For many pupils in Orkney, our visit was a chance to compare their unique wildlife with that in the rest of Scotland. Although not found on the island, it was interesting for the pupils to think about how the Scottish Wildcat might be protected and discuss the re-introduction of species such as beavers (pictured, below right).

It’s all about beavers!

It’s all about beavers!

We also had a great day meeting members of the public at Dawyck Botanic Gardens in the Borders, one of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh sites. It’s always nice to link up with other conservation organisations and meet people interested in plants and wildlife, as well as spreading the word about the Wild about Scotland project.

Jamie and David at John O’Groats, pondering next year’s destinations…

Jamie and David at John O’Groats, pondering next year’s destinations…

And so our first school year is complete! Since August 2014 the Wild about Scotland bus has visited 136 schools and welcomed over 11,000 people on board. We’ve been involved in world class events such as the Edinburgh International Science Festival and Scotland’s Big Nature Festival and travelled to 29 of the 32 Scottish local authorities, all whilst spreading the word about Scotland’s extraordinary native wildlife.

We’re delighted that Clydesdale Bank has continued to fund this project for another year and we look forward to building on the success of the last 12 months, visiting more schools and extending the sessions we offer. It was quite fitting that one of our final weeks on the road involved a visit to John O’Groats – a final destination for many travellers, as well as a starting point for further adventures!

If you would like the Wild about Scotland bus at your school or event please register your interest at www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland

Bus driver DaveFrom the driver’s seat

Each month our ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus driver David gives you a wee insight into what it’s like to drive our double decker the length and breadth of Scotland.

The final month of the school year brought about mixed emotions – sadness at the end of another school year, but excitement to visit places in Scotland I had never previously been. The month started well, travelling to the east and west coasts and back again, visiting schools in Croy, Ullapool and Wick to name a few. But the pinnacle of the project for me was driving our bus to Orkney – one of the few islands I had yet to visit. As luck would have it, I almost missed out due to a broken spring on the bus near John O’Groats on the Thursday before the Monday sail. I carefully nursed the bus to a Stagecoach garage in Thurso, where all the stops were pulled out to get our bus up and running and happy days! A call from Thurso told me the bus was ready to roll and off we went to Orkney! Another island ticked off my places to visit and a great experience for the kids there. Many thanks to the guys at Stagecoach – what a nice and helpful team! Thanks Clydesdale Bank for the continued funding our project – bring on next year!

BrodieKnowsBest#Brodie knows best

Brodie’s mini-beast of the month

Northern Eggar moth caterpillar, found by pupils at Back School, Isle of Lewis

Northern Eggar moth caterpillar, found by pupils at Back School, Isle of Lewis

June’s mini-beast of the month goes to this Northern Eggar moth caterpillar found by pupils in heathland at Back School, on the Isle of Lewis. This impressive caterpillar eats and eats, growing up to 8cm and shedding its skin four times in the process. The brown adult moths have thick feathery antennae and can be seen flying in a zig-zag fashion on sunny afternoons from July to August. Like many invertebrates their development takes longer in the cooler North, going from egg to moth in two years, compared to just one year in Southern England. The southern form is known as the Oak Eggar, but despite its name feeds on heather, bramble and trees such as sallow and hazel.

Top teacher comments and tweets

“The children were engaged and enthusiastic. A great way to encourage learning – the children got maths and science in a practical way” Sgoil a’Bhac, Isle of Lewis.

“The range of activities meant that the children could handle materials and problem solve with lots of opportunities for discussion” Croy Primary, Inverness.

“It is such a unique experience for the children who live up here. They loved taking part in the activities and being on the bus was really exciting for them” Ullapool Primary School.

“Many thanks for a great educational session- very well organised and presented” Bower Primary School, By Wick

Next month – July

During the school holidays you can visit the Wild about Scotland bus at various venues throughout central Scotland (listed below). The bus is free to visit although site entrance fees may apply.

Tuesday 14 July, 10am-4pm Falkland Palace, Cupar, Fife
Wednesday 15 to Thursday 16 July, 10am-4pm Scottish Deer Centre, Cupar, Fife (free,
but entry fees in the Centre may apply)
Friday 17 July, 10am-4pm Hill of Tarvit, Cupar, Fife
Monday 20 to Friday 24 July, 10am-4pm Glasgow Botanic Gardens
Sunday 26 July, 10am-4pm Kelvingrove BioBlitz
Tuesday 28 July, 10am-4pm David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, South Lanarkshire
Wednesday 29 July 10am-4pm Pollock House, Glasgow
Thursday 30 July 10am-4pm Holmwood House, Glasgow
Friday 31 July 10am-4pm Whitmuir Organic Farm, West Linton
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