A Miscellany of Wildlife over the half-term holidays!

HAVE you ever played that game where somebody thinks of a subject and then you have to name things related to that subject, in order, as an A to Z?

HAVE you ever played that game where somebody thinks of a subject and then you have to name things related to that subject, in order, as an A to Z?

Well you may be able to do a similar thing this half-term holiday, as East Devon District Council's Education Ranger, James Chubb, tries to find almost everything that walks, crawls, flies or swims on the Local Nature Reserves.

Of course, the big advantage of playing the A to Z game with plants or animals is that they have so many names - always a Latin one, of course - but also an English one and, sometimes, many English ones.

Take Arum maculatum, which is just unfurling all around the woodlands and hedgerows right now - also known as Lords-and-Ladies, Cuckoo Pint, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Arum, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Adam and Eve, Bobbins, Starch Root and Wake Robin!

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Bugs and beasties

The Countryside Service's half-term activities begin on Tuesday 26 May with three events up at Fire Beacon Hill Local Nature Reserve: a reptile ramble at 9.00 a.m.; bugs and beasties at 2.00 p.m. and nightjars at 7.00 p.m. James will meet you at the Bowd Inn before facing the challenge of the steep climb up the hill to the nature reserve. With three events on one day by the end of it you should have already covered quite a few letters of the alphabet.

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The following day, Wednesday 27 May, James will be at Holyford Woods Local Nature Reserve to listen out for birds. Meet him in the lay-by at the top of Seaton Down Hill at 10.00 a.m. Don't forget to bring your binoculars if you have some.

On Thursday 28 May James will be on his hands and knees, crawling around The Maer Local Nature Reserve, at the eastern end of Exmouth, to look for some of the amazing burrowing bees. As the bees take a while to get up, meet him there at 2.00 p.m. There are some insects that have Latin names beginning with X. The only one you may have heard of is the Death Watch Beetle - a species we probably won't find on The Maer!

The final day is Friday 29 May, when James will be at Seaton Marshes Local Nature Reserve for a pond dipping session. Meet him in the car park at 10.00 a.m. If you haven't managed to find a Z yet this week, then look out for a damselfly nymph - Zygoptera!

All the events mentioned are free, and don't require prior booking. If you have any queries, please contact the Countryside Service on 01395 517 557.

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