The penultimate indoor meeting of the season focussed on birds of prey and the incredible adaptations that make them formidable airborne hunters.
Leader Martin explained that as well as sharp beaks and powerful talons (all perfected to deal with different prey) these birds have a whole host of mind-boggling special features to make them efficient and effective predators. In owls the facial disc channels sound precisely to allow hunting at night and their feathers have a soft edge facilitating silent flight, enough to surprise unsuspecting mice and voles. The fastest animal on earth, the peregrine falcon, can only achieve amazing speeds of over 200mph because of the specialised nasal baffles that reduce air pressure entering the birds nose during super-fast stoops as they attack other birds on the wing (a design now being copied and adapted for jet engines!).
The session craft was a raptor mask – explorers decorated masks and even designed their own perfect predator mask – taking inspiration from the evolution of real life birds of prey. Some gorgeous examples were produced.
Phoenix members took part in a group discussion about the threats facing UK birds of prey and the positive steps that can be made to contribute to their conservation. As well as habitat loss we also considered availability of prey items, human persecution, pollution and even the design of urban environments and the impact of glass surfaces in buildings.
As usual the meeting included lots of fun and games. The ever popular feather game was given a ‘Birds of Prey’ twist and the themed story runaround kept everyone (including Leaders) on their toes and out of breath!
As part of the meeting Wildlife Explorers chose a selection of ‘Random Acts of Wildness’ to help inspire them for ‘30 Days Wild’ next month. There were lots of ideas but enterprising youngsters also came up with original ideas of their own. ‘30 Days Wild’ is an initiative from The Wildlife Trusts encouraging everyone to do something wild each day during June. It’s a great idea to get us all thinking about connecting with nature a little more than we normally do.
Wildlife Explorers will be taking part as a group so don’t forget to send us your photos, drawings, poems and descriptions of your ‘random acts of wildness’ so that we can include them in our Facebook and Twitter feeds.