This Saturday Klabb Huttaf members got out and about exploring in Buskett Woodland, learning all about nature through games and activities organised by leader, Kathleen Mamo. There really is no better way to inspire a connection to nature than to get kids outside experiencing it first-hand.
As the youngsters and their families arrived, our activity leaders were on hand to show them how to use binoculars to spot the birds they could hear singing in the trees all around. Recordings of bird calls were played to help the children to learn which birds they were hearing and picture books made sure even if they didn’t manage to spot the bird, they would know what it looked like.
The group then moved on to find out all about the trees growing in the area, including spotting the difference between the Mediterranean Oak and the English Oak – leaves, bark and how many children it takes to hug the trunk!
From the mighty oak to the tiny minibeast, the children also examined the rubble walls found along the main path which are an excellent habitat for all sorts of animals and plants. Geckoes, snakes, lizards and skinks bask on the warm stones to soak up the heat of the sun; birds use them as look-out posts; snails wedge themselves in shady cracks to hide from the sun and sleep the summer away; spiders build their webs across the gaps in the stones to trap insects; wasps use stones as a base on which to build their nests; and ants, beetles, bugs, slugs, millipedes, hedgehogs, shrews and weasels live in and around rubble walls – so much to discover!
Nature has so many connections with our lives and is embedded into our history and our culture. The activity leaders pointed out one of these connections to the young people showing them a common, well known plant called Bear’s Breech, or ħannewija in Maltese. Besides its natural beauty this plant has a bigger claim to fame as it forms the inspiration behind the Corinthian column of classical Graeco-Roman architecture.
All of the children (and parents) loved the full sensory experience of smelling flowers, feeling the texture of leaves, listening for birds and soaking up the peaceful environment away from roads, traffic and pollution. We encourage everyone to get out and explore nature as much as possible. There is so much to see and take in and you really don’t need to be an expert in anything to inspire your young ones to want to find out more and to discover new things for themselves. It is really important that the next generation grow up with an appreciation for the natural world and an understanding that their actions affect the world around them. On an island as small as Malta the remaining ‘wild spaces’ are very precious and we must make sure they are protected for generations to come.
The next Klabb Huttaf activity will be a boat trip to see rafting shearwaters around the cliffs of Ta’ Cenc in early July. To make sure you don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity join BirdLife Malta as a family and receive both the Il-Huttafa magazine and Bird’s Eye View.
Photos and words by Hannah Chisholm, BLM Education Manager