01 02 03 The Princess and The Pickle: Our nature checklist for a walk in the woods 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Our nature checklist for a walk in the woods

Equipped with binoculars (both real and of the toilet roll variety), cameras and scavenger hunt 'goody' bags, we set off on our adventure to an area of the New Forest known as Cadman's Pool.

It was a very warm day, the grass was dry and prickly and the sky was bright.  Here is our checklist of things to look out for in this area...

1.  Plants & Flowers

We found a huge variety of plants and flowers around Cadman's Pool.  From Ferns and Foxgloves to Dandelion Clocks and Daisies.  We saw Cottongrass in the usually 'boggy' areas and because the sun had dried the water up we saw lots of bog moss, which leads us on to our second item on the list...

2.   Something unusual

This is a carnivorous plant, known as Sundew, found in boggy areas.  It looks like there are little drops of dew on the plant but it is actually a sticky substance to attract passing insects - we could even see some of the bugs it had captured!

3.  Butterflies and Bees

We saw lots of these 'Common Blue' butterflies, but they rarely settled and proved very difficult to get photos of!  We think this one is female as it has more brown than blue.  We also saw plenty of bees buzzing around the flowers.  The bees and butterflies feeding on the flowers made us feel hungry so we found a nice shaded spot to enjoy our picnic.

4.  Feathered Friends

As we ate our picnic we noticed a few feathers on the ground, some big and some small and fluffyJust around the corner we saw Canadian Geese and also Ducks and Ducklings.  Luckily they didn't try and steal any of our food!

5.  Other Animals

Typically, you give a boy a camera and he takes a photo of poo!  But that meant there must be animals nearby.  We also found hoof prints in the ground so we knew we had to look out for horses - and here they are grazing by the roadside.

6.  Trees and Leaves

One thing you are certain to find in the New Forest is a wide variety of trees!  Some words we used to describe the trees were 'tall', 'old', 'rough' and 'spiky'.  We found lots of different shaped leaves on the ground, as well as beechnuts, pine cones and pieces of bark.  We used crayons to make rubbings with the bark and made them into tree pictures.  We even found a den someone had built from branches!

Our day in the forest sparked The Princess' imagination, so I'll leave you with her tale of The Whistler Tree (which she is very proud of as she took it into school and received 2 merits!)

The Whistler Tree

Eddie, my fluffy dog and I were walking along in the peaceful woods when suddenly we spotted a gigantic old tree.  It was standing in the middle of the deep dark wood blocking our way.  It had twisted branches and the tips touched the muddy floor.  I’ll tell you what, it was the biggest and tallest tree I’d ever seen.  It was towering over all the other trees and it looked as strong as a giant.

Eddie wanted to investigate so he sniffed around the tree until suddenly he found a tiny wooden door.  He’s usually a good dog but this time he didn’t listen when I yelled “No, Eddie!” and dashed into the eerie tree.  “OH NO!” I screamed, squeezing through the door to find Eddie.  As I crawled into the dark and gloomy tree, all of a sudden I was falling underground.  I screwed my eyes up until I landed with a thud on the prickly, wet ground.  I could hear a quiet whistling sound followed by barking.

I opened my eyes.  ”EDDIE!” I screamed, “I found you, you naughty boy!” 

“Wow”, I whispered as I glanced around.  I found myself sitting on purple grass.  In front of me were stony orange pavements and beautiful, silky yellow daffodils.  I realised Eddie was barking at some funny little creatures.  They looked like tiny dogs with long legs.  They had eyes at the sides of their heads and their ears flopped down like hair.  I noticed the strange creatures were making the whistling sound.  Just then one of them shouted out loudly “Whistlers! Giants in our city! Run for cover!“  They all ran as fast as a lightning strike into a miniature house, but Eddie blocked the door with his wet slimy nose.  The Whistlers were trembling because they thought Eddie was going to eat them and they were never going to get to freedom.

“Naughty Eddie, get your nose out of there at once!”  I wailed. “I’m sorry to disturb you but I fell down an underground hole and this is where I’ve landed, I’d just like to be home”, I called to the Whistlers.  “Eddie didn’t want to eat you, he wanted to be friends!”

The Whistlers calmed down when I told them the story of what had happened.  They looked at each other whilst whispering if they should help or not, before one of them announced “We are going to help you!” and they scurried off.

An army of Whistlers approached with an enormous ladder.  I carefully climbed up holding Eddie tightly.  I was delighted I was going home.  I turned around to say bye but all I could see was the soggy ground inside the tree.  Eddie jumped out of my hands and ran outside back into the forest. “Eddie, don’t get into any more mischief!” I cried…

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