Going Wild about Scotland through November

December 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our Wild about Scotland bus has been up and down the country in November, visiting schools across Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, South Ayrshire, Fife, West Lothian, Perthshire and South Lanarkshire. We also reached an exciting milestone – visiting our 200th school!

Celebrating-visiting-our-200th-school

Celebrating visiting our 200th school!

Since the project began in August 2014, we have delivered almost 400 educational sessions to 8600 pupils in 31 out of 32 school districts in Scotland, not to mention the 8800 members of the public that have come on board during open days and events.

Nursery-children-helping-Polly-the-puffin

Celebrating visiting our 200th school!

When we’re not on the road, we are always busy making additional resources and extending what the project can offer. We’ve recently developed an interactive story session for nursery children following The Adventures of Polly the Puffin. With many schools having nurseries attached, we wanted to give nurseries a chance to explore the bus and learn about one of Scotland’s most charismatic animals.

Our-bus-at-Rabbie-Burns-birthplace-in-Alloway-Ayr

Celebrating visiting our 200th school!

In our travels this month we stopped in at Robert Burns’ birthplace in Alloway, near Ayr and WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) Caerlaverock reserve, which was featured on BBC Autumnwatch. Despite torrential weather, we even saw some of the stars of the show – the barnacle geese.

See you next month,
Jamie and Lindsay

(Wild about Scotland Education Officers)

WaS_Brodie#Brodie knows best

Inspired by Autumnwatch, Brodie’s been learning all about the barnacle geese that call Scotland their home over winter.

The UK hosts migrating birds all year round from African ospreys in the summer months to Icelandic whooper swans in winter. Being only a few miles from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) site in Caerlaverock near Dumfries this month we took the opportunity to see the amazing barnacle geese that had flown 1000 miles from Svalbard in the Arctic circle to the Solway Firth. These geese are long distance experts capable of flying over 120,000 miles in a lifetime from their breeding sites in the north to the wintering sites in the south of Scotland. This WWT site has been an incredible conservation story over the last 40 years increasing the numbers of geese from just 300 to around 35,000 by managing the marsh and pasture that the birds rely on so much.

BarnacleGeese

Top teacher comments and Tweets

“Hands on, interactive activities for pupils to take part in. Amazing resources and friendly hosts providing lots of information and guidance for pupils” Dalyrmple Primary School.

“Very hands on and discussion based. Children enjoyed looking for lonks between the items. Staff good at extending children’s thinking through discussion” Lochside Primary

“The resources were fantastic. The presenters were fantastic with the children” Lockerbie Primary

“Hands on, interactive session was interesting and engaging” Castleview Primary

“Lots of active learning opportunities. High level of discussion. Level aimed appropriately” Auchtertool Primary.

 

 

 

 

Next month- December

Next month we continue our tour, visiting schools in the Central Belt including Falkirk, West Lothian and Fife.

Going Wild about Scotland through October!

November 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Pupils-celebrate-their-dam-building-attempt,-while-learning-about-Beaver-behaviour---Oct-2015

Pupils celebrate their dam-building attempt, while learning about Beaver behaviour.

We’ve had a busy October, welcoming aboard pupils from schools in the Lothians, Fife, Glasgow and Angus to learn about our amazing Scottish Wildlife.

One of the challenges of the project that we face on a regular basis is negotiating the bus around streets designed in the last century for wooden carts and the like. David managed to navigate our nine foot wide double decker successfully into East Linton Primary School grounds and we delivered our popular Beavers and Wildcats lesson to the Primary 4 and Primary 6 classes, much to the delight of the pupils and the teachers.

With it being October half-term across Scotland we decided to park up at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park for the week. This is a great opportunity for us to talk about the project as well as the other work of RZSS. People love hearing about the important conservation and research work that is funded by their visit to our parks as well as hearing about the amazing biodiversity of Scotland and the UK.

RZSS-Education-officers-Jamie-and-Lindsay-with-Costi-from-The-European-Nature-Trust-(TENT),-who-runs-a-similar-project-with-a-bus-in-Romania.---Oct-2015

RZSS Education officers Jamie and Lindsay with Costi from The European Nature Trust (TENT), who runs a similar project with a bus in Romania.

During this time at the park we manged to fit in a meeting with Alexandra Kennaugh and Costi Ciocoiu from The European Nature Trust (TENT). This is an organisation which is interested in the restoration and preservation of wild habitats in Scotland and Romania, particularly the Scottish Highlands and the Carpathian Mountains. TENT have been running a similar project to ours in Romania called Regatul Salbatic (Wild Kingdom) and this was a perfect opportunity to link up the two buses. Costi travels around Romania teaching children about the importance of the forest and was keen to get an idea of what we deliver for his next bus that they will be launching in the new year.

The-Wild-Kingdom-bus-is-run-by-TENT-in-Romania---Oct-2015

The Wild Kingdom bus is run by TENT in Romania

Romania contains 50% of Europe’s virgin forest and with illegal logging on the increase animals such as lynx, brown bear and wolf are now under threat. For more information on TENT and their work across the world just head to http://www.theeuropeannaturetrust.com/en/.

See you next month,
Jamie and Lindsay

WaS_Brodie #Brodie knows best

Following our visit from Costi, who runs The Wild Kingdom bus in Romania, Brodie’s been learning all about Romania’s wildlife. Romania still has species that once roamed Scotland but sadly have been hunted to extinction over the last 1000 years. Animals such as lynx, European brown bear and wolves live alongside the local shepherds working in the mountains. Although some of the large predators hunt their livestock there is a respect for the important role these predators play in controlling large destructive herbivores such as deer in an ecosystem like that of the Romanian forest.

Top teacher comments and Tweets

“Fantastic afternoon of activities which thoroughly engaged children in learning. Resources were interesting and children were excited to engage with them. Education officers were well organised and enthusiastic” St John the Baptist School

“Excellent workshop which engaged everyone in the class” East Linton Primary

“Fantastic workshop and great education officers!” Campie Primary School, Musselburgh

What was the best part?

“Using the nets, bug boxes and sheets to let the children see what is living in their own garden. Motivating and something we can do again when doing info handling and graphs next term” Stenton Primary

“The outdoor section- the children were able to explore in small groups, helping their appreciation of the outdoors and wildlife. Children were engaged, motivated and intrigued to learn about what they had collected” St Benedicts Primary.

Next month- November

Next month we continue to spread the word about Scotland’s amazing widlife visiting schools across South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, West Lothian, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Going Wild about Scotland through September!

October 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Pupils have a closer look at their mini-beasts

Pupils have a closer look at their mini-beasts

It’s been another great month on board the Wild about Scotland bus, visiting schools in the Highlands, Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Falkirk, Fife, the Borders, Aberdeen and North Ayrshire – including the Isles of Cumbrae and Arran!

A highlight for us was seeing the fantastic wildlife garden at Maddiston Primary, which pupils and staff had worked hard over a number of years to create. The pupils really enjoyed getting out and exploring this area and we had one of the most diverse collections of mini-beasts yet!

As well as visiting schools we were invited to attend Aberdeen Tech Fest. This festival celebrates all things science, from maths and engineering to wildlife and the weather. We were a part of their primary programme, with over 300 pupils from 13 different schools across Aberdeenshire taking part in our workshops on beavers, Scottish wildcats and endangered animals.

Sea fog on Arran, which caused ferries to be cancelled.

Sea fog on Arran, which caused ferries to be cancelled.

We also took part in the Explorathon ‘15 activities at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, spreading the word about RZSS’s native species conservation projects. Explorathon is a country-wide event that celebrates European scientists and engages members of the public with their research. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo hosted scientists from Heriot-Watt University and we were joined by Oly Hemmings, Education Officer for the Scottish Beaver Trial. A fantastic event for all ages to get excited about and get involved in cutting-edge scientific research!

View of Arran. Luckily the fog had cleared by the time we were due to leave.

View of Arran. Luckily the fog had cleared by the time we were due to leave.

September brought our first ferry trips of the new school year – to Cumbrae and then to Arran. Unfortunately our bus couldn’t go on the small Cumbrae ferry, but the primary school welcomed us into their classrooms for sessions on mini-beasts and endangered animals. We also met up with staff from the Field Studies Council (FSC), who recently took over the Millport field station. They showed us around their fantastic new eco-friendly buildings and we even saw a basking shark swim by! Pupils from five primary schools came on board our bus on Arran. We enjoyed the spectacular scenery and despite some heavy fog and cancelled ferries during the week, we managed to make it there and back on time.

A big thumbs up from Castleton Primary!

A big thumbs up from Castleton Primary!

See you next month,
Jamie and Lindsay

WaS_Brodie#Brodie knows best

Mini-beast of the month: dung beetle at Glen Affric

Mini-beast of the month: dung beetle at Glen Affric

Brodie’s mini-beast of the month for September is this dung beetle, spotted in Glen Affric. There are over 40 dung beetles native to Britain and they play a vital role in recycling animal dung. By feeding on dung, tunnelling and breeding in dung and burying it they help to break it down and speed up decomposition. The use of livestock wormers and parasiticides, which are toxic to dung beetles, has contributed to their recent decline. Their contribution to the US cattle industry is estimated at over $380 million each year and studies are currently being carried out in the UK to understand their value here.

Top teacher comments and Tweets

“Excellent use of specialist people who can show how their education/training has a practical use for the pupils” GlenUrquhart Primary

“Lots of Scottish Experiences and Outcomes in the curriculum, so good to go over in this interactive way” Marybank Primary

“The session was excellent, well prepared and organised. Session was very active and kept the children focussed” St Constantine’s Primary

“The children loved the whole experience! Very enthusiastic! They loved the mini-beast hunt and the hands on activities. I could tell they were all really involved” Denholm Primary

“A fabulous project that I would definitely recommend. The children at St Mark’s absolutely loved it!” St Mark’s Primary

“The resources at the stations were all excellent (quality and relevance). The staff- answering questions, discussions! Fab!” Castleton Primary

Next month- October

Next month we continue to spread the word about Scotland’s amazing wildlife visiting schools across the Central Belt and Angus. During the half term week (beginning Monday 12 October) we will be open to the public at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, with fun activities for all the family.

 

 

Going Wild about Scotland through August!

September 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

Project manager Ruth Fraser and camera-shy admin assistant Karen Swift on the phone!

Project manager Ruth Fraser and camera-shy admin assistant Karen Swift on the phone!

While the schools were still off we spent the first half of August beavering away in our office at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, preparing for the coming year. We have laid out our plan for the year as we continue to take our Wild about Scotland bus to schools throughout the country. Over the summer we welcomed two new members of the team. Karen Swift, based in the office, will be dealing with school bookings. So if you request a visit you’ll likely speak to her first. Ruth Fraser is our new project manager. Ruth has been an RZSS Senior Education Officer at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo for many years and has previously been involved in teaching school groups visiting the Zoo, running the Zoo’s summer school and has worked on a linking project with schools in the Falkland Islands.

Wellies at the ready for searching for mini-beasts!

Wellies at the ready for searching for mini-beasts!

We also developed a brand new session, ‘Endangered Animals’, in which children uncover clues about the main threats to wildlife in Scotland. They then think about how they could change their everyday behaviour to have a positive impact on the environment.

We kicked off our first week of the new term visiting schools close to home in Edinburgh, West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire. For one lucky class of P1s we were there for their very first day of school. Hopefully we didn’t get their new uniforms too muddy looking for mini-beasts! We spent the last week of August in the Highlands, visiting schools around Inverness. It was a great week surrounded by purple hills and lots of red squirrels.

On 29 August we celebrated our first birthday. Marking one year since the project launched at St Paul’s Primary School, Whiteinch. 141 schools on and we’re still going strong!

Heather-covered hills near Drumnadrochit.

Heather-covered hills near Drumnadrochit.

As part of our focus on local biodiversity, we made some short videos showing how to make your school grounds or garden a better place for wildlife by building a simple bird feeder, a mini-beast hotel and a pond in a bucket. We were lucky to have a fantastic wildlife filmmaker Barrie Williams help us out and we filmed in our newly created wildlife garden at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. Watch this space for their release!

See you next month,
Jamie and Lindsay

From the driver’s seat

WaS_DriverEach 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.

New term, new year, new destinations. Looking forward to them all. First week went well in the central belt, although I always find navigating through Glasgow a challenge! The roads are always busy and many low bridges to avoid and one way systems – not for the faint hearted. The recently opened extension of the M74 is great for accessing west Glasgow – helps a lot!

It was great to see the friendly faces of the team again after the summer break. During the break the bus had been for a full service and safety inspection. Thank you for the good work Graycoll. All ship shape and ready for the miles ahead…

#Brodie knows best

WaS_Brodie

Scotch Argus butterfly, found near Drumnadrochit

Scotch Argus butterfly, found near Drumnadrochit

Brodie’s mini-beast of the month

Brodie’s mini-beast of the month is this beautiful Scotch Argus butterfly found near Drumnadrochit. As the name suggests it is native to Scotland. In England it is only found in two colonies in Cumbria. It can be distinguished from the similar Mountain Ringlet butterfly by the white centre of its eyespots.

Top teacher comments and Tweets

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Next month- September

“The Wild about Scotland project linked well to our Outdoor Learning Programme”
Cathkin Primary School

“Children enjoyed searching habitats and were very excited discovering the insects” St Francis Primary

“Children enjoyed rummaging for beasts and then examining them through the magnifying glass”
St Francis Primary

Going Wild about Scotland through July!

August 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

Wild about Scotland BusAs the school term has finished and the summer holiday has started, we took the Wild about Scotland bus to public attractions to spread the word about native species and the conservation work carried out by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. We visited five National Trust sites as well as Glasgow Botanics, Scottish Deer Centre, Kelvingrove and Whitmuir Organic Farm.

Wild about Scotland National Trust for ScotlandThe National Trust for Scotland (NTS) was very kind to host us at five of their sites across central Scotland throughout July. Starting off at Falkland Palace, the home of modern tennis (the Palace has the oldest standing Royal tennis court in Britain) and one of Mary Queen of Scots favourite places to visit. We were treated to a tour of the grounds by Head Gardener Sonia Ferras-Mana who spoke passionately about planting for wildlife. She has planted wild flowers in the orchard to encourage pollinators into the area and she has also let the grass grow long in parts for larger animals. Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is planted in areas as it feeds on the roots of the grass, restricting its growth, thereby allowing wild flowers to grow, and increasing plant diversity in the meadow. Something we have noticed at all of our visits to NTS properties this month are the incredible gardens that are so well maintained. Hill of Tarvit, David Livingstone Centre, Pollock House and Holmwood House were all teeming with wildlife.

Whilst visiting the properties in Fife we took the opportunity to visit our friends at the Scottish Deer Centre in Cupar. As members of British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) we have worked closely with Yvonne and Alastair from the Education department at the Scottish Deer Centre in the past, so we were delighted to be invited along to talk about the conservation work at RZSS with their visitors as part of their ‘Native Days’ along with other conservation organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, to name but a few. Native days was a great place to discuss the importance of our native species and highlighting the problems they face today. We were able to debate the pros and cons of reintroducing animals, such as beavers, as well as the challenges facing the Scottish wildcat.

Was_blog_4We had our busiest week whilst stationed at the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. This was an opportunity to represent RZSS in the busiest part of Scotland in the beautiful setting of the gardens in Glasgow’s West End. Unfortunately, the unpredictable weather meant we weren’t able to explore the gardens as much as we would have liked but we did have over 1000 people on board the bus and we managed to provide some respite for tiring parents of excitable children in full summer holiday mode. One of the best things about our bus is that we can entertain a whole range of ages with activities such as colouring in and looking through the microscope to mini-beast hunts and identification. We also managed to squeeze in a Bioblitz with RSPB at Kelvingrove as part of the Glasgow Wildlife Garden Festival. This is where a selection of conservation organisations come together and survey an area with help from the public. This UK wide project allows scientists to collect a lot of data in a short period and gives us an important insight into the health of certain ecosystems.

Finally, strengthening our link with Whitmuir the Organic Place, we provided mini-beast expertise for a day of family activities on the farm. With the help of Brian Poole, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s resident beekeeper, we discussed the role of invertebrates in food production and surveyed surrounding fields to see what was living on site. Whitmuir is a working organic farm in West Linton, 16 miles south of Edinburgh. It is a great learning space and produces some of the best sustainable organic produce in the country. We found lots of interesting animals including a bright green pollinating sawfly Tenthredo mesomela and lots of ringlet butterflies.

We are now preparing for the year ahead, developing lesson materials and planning our journeys but don’t worry there is still plenty of time to register your interest in having our bus coming to your school at www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland

Wild about Scotland - Brodie# Brodie knows best

Wild about Scotland - EarthwormBrodie’s mini-beast of the month

Brodie’s mini-beast of the month for July is the humble earthworm. Described by Darwin as “nature’s ploughs” they play a vital role in mixing nutrients and organic matter in the soil. Their burrows help to aerate the soil and let water through.  As they move through the soil they consume dead plant material, breaking it down into smaller pieces. This speeds up decomposition and allows nutrients to be recycled by bacteria and fungi. There are 27 species of earthworm native to Britain. Get digging and discover more about the worms in your garden or school grounds by taking part in OPAL’s national earthworm survey at http://www.opalexplorenature.org/soilsurvey

Top Tweets

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

Going Wild about Scotland through April

May 28, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Wild about Scotland team came up against four seasons worth of weather to deliver ‘Beaver/Wildcat’ and ‘Mini-beast’ lessons as well as public ‘drop-ins’ this month. The bus stayed close to the Central Belt for the most part but did venture through the Borders and also up to Aberdeenshire.

PublicDropInSession_April2015As it was the Easter holidays for two weeks of the month, the team were able to open up to the public for what they call ‘drop-ins’. This allows them to interact with hundreds of people a day highlighting the partnership between Clydesdale Bank and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), as well as talking about the work carried out by RZSS across the world. Although the bus is designed to host school groups it is easily adapted into an exhibition space to promote the Scottish Beaver Trial, Scottish wildcat conservation, marine pollution, deer management, and the importance of mini-beasts (both terrestrial and freshwater) and general native species adaptations.

Collage_April2015The bus spent ten separate days this month open to the public at various locations. Highlights included three days at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, at both the City Art Centre and Summerhall, and visiting a very busy Glasgow Botanics for some pond dipping in the sunshine. Scottish Wildlife Trust were kind enough to host us again, this time at two of their reserves; Falls of Clyde at New Lanark and Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre in Grangemouth. All in all we have had a fantastic month with 1,826 people visiting us on the bus at these venues. If you have an event you would like us to take part in then please fill out an enquiry form at www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland.

Back to the lessons; and as spring is in full bloom (not that you would know it some days this month, when we had to shelter from snow and hail) we are finding lots of interesting specimens on our mini-beast hunts. We have found everything from ant nests and beetle larvae to woodlice and spiderlings and as we get closer to summer it will only get better and better.

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. This month we gained a new addition to the team, a second bus driver called Alan!

Having been the sole driver of the Wild about Scotland bus since the project began, it was with excitement and apprehension that I handed over the keys to our new recruit Alan Currie. Alan has driven buses through Fife and on tours around Scotland for a mere 35 years! Before letting him loose with our bus I gave him a couple of days of ‘expert’ tuition! It really is a unique driving experience – taking a double decker on routes no service bus would go. Planning your own route to avoid overhanging trees and low bridges and manoeuvring through school gates designed for vehicles from by-gone eras. In addition there are also the extra functions and upkeep of an exhibition vehicle to him us all busy. In his first week Alan had some fantastic venues- driving through the middle of Glasgow Botanics and reversing along the entire Main Street in New Lanark Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I can’t wait to tackle the windy roads of Mull and Skye next month!

Red-tailed-bumblebee

Red-tailed-bumblebee

Mini-beast of the Month’: Red tailed bumblebee
This bee pictured, was found at Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, Grangemouth.

Queen bumblebees are currently setting up for the summer looking for places to nest. You’ll see bumblebees nesting in dark and dry places, sometimes underground or in thick grass.

BrodieKnowsBest#Brodie knows best

Each month Brodie the bus mascot answers your questions about science and nature.

Q. What do I do if I find a baby bird on the ground?

A. Spring is an amazing time of year with many animals laying eggs or giving birth to young. Something you might see are young chicks looking abandoned or lost. It is very tempting to pick up these babies and take them to the vet or SSPCA shelter, but really they should be left alone. During this time young birds are leaving their nests to explore for the first time, or fledging, and the parents are rarely far away. If you see any birds looking this way it is best to leave them alone as picking them up could do more harm than good. If the bird is clearly in danger, i.e. on a path or busy road then perhaps move it only a few feet to safety into the undergrowth and the parent bird will soon find it by its chirping.

Submit your questions for next month on Twitter @WildaboutScot using #Brodieknowsbest

Top teacher comments and tweets

“Super experience for all children” – Newcastleton Primary School

“Link to previous visit. Strong links with Eco schools” – Pitfour Primary School

“Our topic is biodiversity so this fit in PERFECTLY!” – Fyvie Primary School

“Children were engaged and motivated throughout…They were definitely extending their knowledge and thinking about topical issues” – Crombie Primary School

“The information and guidance was appropriate and positive/encouraging” – Crombie Primary School

“The activities were very hands on and children were learning lots without realising” – Logie Durno School

“Linked in with content covered in both maths and science lessons” – Mosshead Primary School

“Fitted in well with our rights respecting schools/global citizenship work” – Oxgang Primary School

Next month – May

Next month we will be on our travels once more as we head to Kintyre and Mull in Argyll, Highlands, and North Lanarkshire. You’ll also be able to see us at The Scottish Seabird Centre’s Puffin Fest in North Berwick on the 22nd as well as Scotland’s Big Nature Festival in Musselburgh on 23rd and 24th.

For more information about the Wild about Scotland Project and to see when the bus is next in your area, visit our website at www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland, follow us on twitter @WildaboutScot, or like our Facebook page.

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