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10 things to look for on a nature walk with children in November

Going for a nature walk with children is one of the things you can still do despite lockdown. But what should you look out for while getting your daily exercise? We asked a some nature experts from Nene Park and the Wildlife Trust!
What can you spot in an autumn walk in the park? Robins, otters, animal tracks? (Photo: Supplied)

1. Robins

Want to see some robins? Find some hedgerow with berries - that's where the bird voted Britain's favourite loves to spend some time. It's a lovely time of year to see them, too, as everyone begins to get into the Christmas spirit.

2. Pine cones

Pine cones fall to the ground in autumn, which means a pine cone hunt is a great addition to any November walk. Collect an armful and take them home - they're great for crafts, making decorations, can be fashioned into very useful bird feeders or used as mulch for plants in the garden.

You may also find acorns and conkers, but these may be a little past their best at this time of year.

3. Animal tracks

As the weather gets colder and wetter in the autumn, it’s often possible to spot animal tracks on muddy surfaces. Can your children work out what animals or birds have been past - perhaps a rabbit or even a fox or deer?

If you’re not sure what the tracks are, you could take a photo to identify them more easily when you get home.

4. Squirrels

Red squirrel populations are more conserved in the north of England, but grey squirrels are out and about and always exciting to spot with children. In autumn, you are extremely likely to spot squirrels in parks, burying nuts to eat in the winter.

kingfisherYou could see a kingfisher at Dogsthorpe Star Pit (Photo: Pixabay)

5. Wild water birds

If you're walking in Ferry Meadows, Nene Park conservation officer Chris Park advises people to make a point of visiting the viewing platforms overlooking Heron Meadow. The shallow pools and scrapes attract a good variety of wild birds with some "handsome looking ducks, including mallard, wigeon, teal and shoveler" that can all be seen feeding on the flooded grassland.

Also keep a lookout for grey herons that are frequently seen on Heron Meadow or fishing around the lakes and river.

At the Wildlife Trust reserves - particularly Dogsthorpe Star Pit - you may be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher hunting fish in the pools.

6. And plenty of other birds too!

Caroline Fitton, from The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, highlighted Lattersey nature reserve in Whittlesey for listening out for "woodpeckers, warblers, owls". Research what noises each of the birds make before you go and then keep an ear out!

You can also look out for red kites in and around Peterborough. This species almost went extinct in the UK but reintroduction programmes and legal protections have led to thriving populations - and we're lucky enough to be able to spot them here.

red-kiteRed kites faced extinction in the UK, but Peterborough has a thriving population (Photo: Pixabay)

7. Autumn leaves

Autumn is the time for crunchy leaves under feet - but can you match the fallen leaves to the trees they came from? In Thorpe Wood, another Wildlife Trust nature reserve, there are oak, ash, hazel and field maple trees, which all have very distinctive leaf shapes.

8. Fungi

As trees become barer in the autumn, fungi stand out more and you may be able to spot a wide variety. Let your children look at these from a distance but not touch, as many fungi are poisonous, including colourful toadstools such as red-and-white Fly Agaric.

Bluebell Wood is a good place to fungi-spot, with a wide variety magically appearing in the damp shady conditions of the woodland floor.  

9. Beetles and insects

Did you know that at Dogsthorpe Star Pit there are 63 species of water beetle in the shallow pools? How many do you think you could spot in one day?

Of course, there are plenty of other critters to spot - common and rare alike. Lifting up a fallen branch in a woodland area is a treasure trove for any kids that take an interest in insects. Worms, spiders, ants, woodlice... there are plenty to spot.

10. Otters

Nene Park's Chris Park also advises people to keep their eyes peeled as they walk around the lakes for signs of otters around the shoreline. Some lucky visitors see otters either as single animals diving in the water, or sometimes a family group of two or three as a mother shows her kits where to fish.