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A Family Guide to Wildlife Spotting and Fun outdoors Cover Art by Lauren Greenwood

Contents i remember


my wild life


Amphibian Adventures


Rummaging for Reptiles


Flying High


All Things Great...


....and small


Blooming Marvellous


Gone Fishing


Child’s Play


Distant Memories


i remember


. . . r e b m e m e Ir Photo: L

aura Bra


ules How

Photo: J

“My father ate a live fro g as a bet for 5 shillings during th e war. It was only small. It was differ ent in those days!” Anon, Shetlands


“I nearly drowned catching newts with my sis ter. Granddad pulled us out and we had to walk ho me covered in green pond slim e. Mum went mad.” Anon


ilviu Pe

Photo: S

s (Highlands) “Hearing cuckoos on Harri k and still in springtime. I still go bac hear lots of cuckoos.” Diana, Glasgow

Photo: Laura Brady

y father Marsh with m h ac be ol H to streams to “Going out on muddy marsh e th er ov ng pi and jum Headed Gulls.” ck la B of s d re ring the hund ire Lucy, Lincolnsh


. . . r e b m e I rem

that d a baby thrush un fo er h ot br “My to e raised it back was sick and h n.” flew away agai health until it Janet, Glasgow

of. “Sparrows in the ro of. Starlings in the ro enjoy Everyone seemed to d and bir the sound of black song thrush. An abundance of finch. greenfinch and chaf re.” Time to enjoy natu Ann, Kent, 68

“One o f sent o my earliest ut to memor co 1940s ie ) ther llect mushr s is of my ooms e was toddle for br older brot rs to no tra her eakf c f house. r f I can oss the roa ic and it w ast. In tho and I bein d se g as our ow st n and ill remember and venture perfectly s days (the being a in wh going throu the excitem into the fie fe for two at see g never ld e young h n t o opp th med t le o me e gate into f being allo osite the Howe ft me. w to be t ve a wild he field. Th ed to go o bushes r my brothe n e place, r t on our thrill of me it hat bordere then told own h d the me th might as at the home b e re wa as fast at me, whe rook that s r r a Terry e a n bear alon Jones as I could.” upon my c ourage gside the f living in t he ield. H finally e told failed and I 3 ran

: Laura



a farm. The “Stayed on a campsite on s next to the farmer took us into wood we stood still on a road, said bring torches, family of track, torches on, and a r feet. They were badgers walked across ou lights that they so used to the car head ches!” didn’t care about the tor Richard, Gloucester

“When I was 10 there was a brickya rd near me. They had a large pond in which I saw adders, grass snakes and great crested newts and common newts, frogs, toads and from then on it was “wow!”.” Paul, Nottingham, 58

he wn from t a sp g o r f t c hey to colle jars until t n we used m re ja d il lb h 2 c s in “A aren’t mill eep them k re e d h n T a r. e m h a t orld.“ mill d ach o they ate e different w d A n a s. g d o e r f h c t ha aren’t and there dams now ire Anon, Yorksh

Photo: Jule

s Howard

“Listening to the nightingale in 1936 e.” er no longer heard th Anon, Bournemouth

Photo: L

aura Br



MY WILD LIFE This book and its accompanying film were created to celebrate a twoyear project delivered by Froglife to learn more about different generations’ childhood experiences of nature.

A reminiscence kit of wildlife-themed items was used to bring back memories. The kit contained a wide variety of items from books and toys, cameras and binoculars, to feathers and snakeskins.

Froglife is a national wildlife conservation charity which focusses on native reptiles and amphibians and their habitats. Froglife’s vision is a world in which reptile and amphibian populations are flourishing as part of healthy ecosystems. The My Wild Life project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was created to bring different generations together to share their childhood experiences of wildlife and playing outdoors. The project brought different community groups together in Peterborough, London and Glasgow and worked with over 2,500 people aged 1 to 101. 5

Photo: Jodie


7 my “When I was on a teacher took us rough nature walk th s and ancient meadow nd. She ancient woodla plants and named all the That inspired insects for us. now an me and I am r for the education office RSPB.” 54 Caroline, Essex,

Hundreds of memories were recorded on post-cards and bunting. Many others were captured on film. Some of these memories recall kindness to wildlife, others unfortunately recall cruelty. It is clear that attitudes to wildlife are changing constantly and what may have been acceptable in the past doesn’t seem so now.

These memories show how important nature is as part of a child’s experiences. It is also apparent from these stories that habitats are disappearing fast, and many species with them. We can all take steps to help reduce biodiversity loss so that future generations can enjoy the wildlife we have today.

It is hoped that these real-life stories bring complex issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change to life, and are therefore able to inspire new generations to conserve wildlife.

Why not try some of the ideas from the book, or create new habitats in your own garden?










Most common amphibians

Common toa d

Common frog

Photo: Rob W


An easy wa y to tell frogs and to ads is by watchin apart g how they move frogs jump but to ads crawl!

Photo: Ash Jarvis

Palmate newt

Great crested newt Photo: David Palm



Smooth newt

Photos: Jules


Amphibian adventures A jar full of frogspawn tied with string is an iconic image of childhood and was a common memory shared by older people during the project (13% of all the memories collected). Worryingly, many of the younger people involved in sessions had never seen frogspawn, let alone handled or collected it. Overall, memories featuring amphibians made up 33% of the memories collected by the project. They clearly show the joy that these charismatic creatures can bring to children and adults alike. There are 7 species of amphibian native to the UK. Of these, the pool frog can only be found on one site, the natterjack toad is only found at a handful of coastal and heathland sites and the great crested newt population is declining. used boy we le t t li a s wa ewts “When I play with the n h d ark, whic re p to go an e h t f ide o o mo at the s en built on so n t e b my garden bu in has now og fr a found nd newts.” “As a child I my friends a m so a d h n o g p in a irm ave l burn John, B we didn’t h ’ to the loca n io it d e p x ‘e n e a I went on a It seemed lik . og fr e th help (stream) to at the time!” big adventure 8 w Anon, Glasgo

. . . r e b m e I rem

alked very young, I w “When I was from meet my dad to ke la a nd arou g leapt ry large bullfro work and a ve as I thought it w off a log and of e! I’m not fond m t ea to g in to go t am delighted bu , en th ce sin frogs y allotment!” have them in m Janet, Glasgow

The North A merican bull frog is a non-na tive species a n da threat to na tive amphib ians so sightings should be reported to N atural England. .uk

“When I was a child we would walk down to the canal and there were hundreds of tiny frogs on the path. We tried not to stand on them but the boys would pick them up and put them down our necks.” Jenny, Nottingham, 67 dy

aura Bra

Photo: L

The common frog is an excellent hel p in the garden.


“One memory was catching frogs on the field behind ou r house. I was only 4 or 5 so there must have been loa ds if I could catch th em at that age.. The field was conv erted into playing fields in the late 60 ’s.” David, Manchester

n in the kitchen “I put a jar of frogspaw rn stove) and (where we had a Raybu ere I only had a jar in my bedroom wh used. Of course a small heater - rarely frogspawn in nothing happened to the but downstairs my bedroom for weeks, poles with legs. I we soon had lots of tad about how cold made a point to my dad my room was.” Barbara, Scotland, 57

Photo: Laura Brady

tching a stream and ca in g in d love an st frogs - now I “Spending hours of ed ar sc ly ow.” al ing re develop and gr es bi ba ‘tiddlers’ and be e th g in s and watch talking to frog rough Bobbie, Peterbo

nt in went to an au e w er m m su “Every of her garden om tt bo e th at , cal Brierley Hill We watched lo l. na ca d se isu d My was a stols, at frogs. pi r ai h it w ng lads shooting it was, was seei as ng yi if rr te memory, gst the s floating amon og fr d ea d of lots the canal”. other debris on am John, Birmingh

Why not cre ate a home for am phibians by digging a po in your gard nd en? Visit www.froglife .org for a step-by-step guide.


Where to find amphibians Woodlands


Frogs & toad s do actually spen n’t d all their time in ponds. They may o nly return to pon ds to breed.

Half the UK’s in ponds were lost ry. the 20th Centu


id Palma

av Photo: D



Photo: Jules Ho

Toads retu rn to their ancestral b reeding po nds each year and often h ave to cross ro ads to get there. 1000’s are kil Toads on R led. Froglife’s oads projec t co-ordinat es toad pat rols to help save t hem.

for sticklebacks “We used to go fishing we brought with my mum. One time - too many for back lots of little frogs in the bath and the pond. They got put .” escaped all over the house Sue, Eltham, 52

Photo: Sivi Sivanesan

The best time of year to see amphibians is February to September



Log piles


Photos: Sam Taylo


“Growing up on a farm with access to a wea lth of wildlife, but most enjoyable was ‘adopting’ toads found in a dra in outside the ba ck door!” Janet, Somerse t, 32

iend’s “Going into a fr to look for a air-raid shelter was er’ to find it reported ‘monst toad.” really a common am 12 Matt, Nottingh

How to pond dip

You n eed: - A plastic tray - A net - Some little pots or jars - A spoon can also come in handy for picking up animals!


talie Prets

Photo: Na

1. Fill up your tray gently with some water from the pond 2. Bending down, move your net through the water in a figure of 8 3. Empty your net into the tray, watching out for pond creatures! 4. Take a look at what you find

Photo: Sa

m Taylor

5. Gently empty the water and the creatures back into the pond.


“One particular place that I always liked visiting wa s a pond. I used to catch newts there. On one occasion I was able to catch a great crested newt and I wa s really struck by the siz e of these animals. Six inches long, really viv id bellies and great crests on their backs beautiful animals. About 10 years ago I went to rev isit this site and I found that the pond wasn’t there any more.” Jonathan, Bexley, 51

atman Water bo



o: La

ura B



Newt eft



Photo: N

atalie Pre


nd might What you fi , or just look gunky nd sticks. like leaves a ait & But if you w ould find watch you c reatures in all sorts of c g tray... your dippin


Photo: Jules Howard

d a license You now nee disturb to handle or d newts as Great Creste ulation is their UK pop nd they are declining a law. protected by

Photo: Laura Brad


“When I was youn g my Mother couldn’t afford pocket m on I used t ey for me, so o c sell them atch newts and to classm at for a pla in one a es. 1p nd 2p for a c Joy, Pet oloured one.” erboroug h

“I remember at about 8 or 9 being absolutely blown away by finding and catching newts with my so friends. They were just alien”. David, Irlam


on m m o c t s o M reptiles




Photo: Ju

les Howard

Photo: Georgette Taylor



Adders are o nly likely to bite if tro dden on or caught. N o one has died from a n adder bite in the U k for over 20 years.

Common lizard

Slow-worms look like snakes but are actually leg less lizards. 15


orgette Ta

Photo: Ge

rummaging for REPTILES Memories of reptiles only made up 9% of the memories collected by the project. Perhaps this is because these creatures are much more wary of human contact, and perhaps it is because they often move too quickly to be spotted. This may also explain why very few of the younger people involved in the project had ever seen a reptile in the wild. There are 3 species of snake, and 3 species of lizard native to the UK. Of these, sand lizards are under threat due to habitat deterioration and loss, and smooth snakes are the UK’s rarest reptile, only found in certain heathlands. Both are protected by law.

d of heap at the en st po m co a e “We hav ng to clear day I was tryi ne O . en rd ga our ed tongue Grass snak it when a fork es are very s d ar w away some of slid to timid and fe d ea h y al sc a ign death poked out and when disturb and, to my e m at ed iss h ed - even me. A snake sticking thei e.” ak sn s as gr a e r tongues horror, out cam out! Anon, London


. . . r e b m e m e Ir

at’s even monsters, and th g bi e er w people’s snakes. They put them over to ed us “We had grass e W much. We just d exaggeration. o oo to h ry ild or ch w t ou to h wit seemed s snakes never fences. The gras reams.” wait for the sc d an e id h to used Bob, Essex, 64

was a Bob’s father d often postman an gs home brought thin e he is for Bob - her snake. with a grass Photo: Laura Brady


“We used to ca tch lizards and slow worms to keep as pets bu t regret it now as we realised we did more harm than good!” Simon

to go rds. We used a liz be u to d but when yo id there use m k e a th s r a fo w k I “When moved really e had to loo ey h W T . s. m e d a th lo h ere were out and catc e.” t of them th e ck o p ey were gon e th tl d lit n a a a d re n a u fo the built all over quickly. They lk Justin, Suffo


Photo: Laura Brad

“I had an excellent book called Han dy Homes for Creepy Crawlies. It inspired me to look for slow worms and catch them. I could always find them und er corrugated iron sheets in the garden.” Rob, Hampshire


Where to find Reptiles

Ponds, rivers, lakes


es are Grass snak immers brilliant sw r fish and and hunt fo in the amphibians water

On bare ground.. .

rank Cla

Photo: F

...near long grass rough Pathways th at for grass are gre sk in the reptiles to ba shelter sun close to and er on holiday d d a n a p u holiday “Picking p it by the ro d to ld nd to being was sleepy a it ily ck u L r. e park own did not bite.� Ann, Glasgow 19

Photo: Sam Taylor

Heathland The best time of year to see reptiles is March to September

Photo: Lucy Be



t heap s

On war m rock s liams

ob Wil

:R Photo


Photo: Sam Ta

st when I nic in Epping Fore pic a r fo t en w our I “My parents and and were enjoying et nk bla a on c ni r pic next to was six. We had ou g in the tall grass lin st ru a d ar he all e w ed towards us. We sandwiches when id gl r de ad an s as the gr us. Suddenly out of ywhere.� e picnic went ever jumped up and th Lynn, Essex 20



Photos: Ash Jarv


Blue tit


Photo: George

tte Taylor

House sparro w 21

Photo: Nick Peers

Photo: Silviu Petrovan


Memories collected by the project featuring birds were very common, making up 21% of the memories collected. Perhaps this is because birds are present in both rural and urban areas, and are accessible for children. Participants had often had childhood encounters with birds that had resulted in a lifelong passion for birdwatching and a love of wider nature too. There are an estimated 596 bird species in the UK. Currently 21% are on the Red List (of high concern) in the Birds of Conservation Concern report. (Source: Lapwin


Photo: Laura Brady


iu Petrova

Photo: Silv

g d hours drawin “I used to spen e th t looking for ou go en th s rd bi a Perhaps it was bird I’d drawn. g!” in d with a lapw te ar st I b jo good , 50 Roy, Birmingham

“A cuckoo singing, sitting on our garden fence. Sadly, much rarer these days.” Mark Avery, Bristol, 54 22

. . . r e b m e I rem to rly hours and taken out ea e th in up n ke wo ng “I remember bei afterwards I our farm. For some time on s oru ch wn da e th ed listen to experience, and I have lov e th eat rep to t ou ak used to try to sne ” dawn skylarks ever since. 57 ts, R. Cockerill, Northan as rong memory st ly ib d e cr in “I have one d and is lying in be h ic h w id k utside. a rds singing o bi e th to g now listenin ‘I want to k g in k in th r years I remembe re’, and 40 a s rd bi se o what th sto I do!” later hey pre Mike Dilger

Park e to St James m ok to s nt re and they 6 my pa “When I was s stretched out m ar y m h it w etely ood d I was compl an in London. I st d ea h d an n it my arms e never forgotte put seeds over av h d an s w ro se spar covered in hou any.” u wouldn’t see since! Now yo e Mark Cawardin


Photos: Laura



“Seeing lapwings fo r the first time and gett ing a bird book to help identify them age 4.” Ros, Wales, 72 van

Photo: Silviu Petro

now in orus! Not h c n w a d !” “Wonderful w, too late o r r o m o t t No comparison! rbyshire, 69 Badger, De

Photo: Jodie Coom




“My greatest m emory of wildlif e as a child was being taken to see nightjars d isplaying and w ing clapping and ca tching moths.” Janet, Lancash ire, 50

Photo: Silviu Petrovan


Tips for spotting birds d walk

n Woodla

1. Pick a spot. You can look for birds whilst walking along, or find somewhere quiet to sit. 2. Look around you. Use your binoculars or eyes to see what you can spot. If you keep still and quiet, birds should stay around longer, giving you more chance to identify them. Photo: Jules Howard

their most Birds are at n May active betwee ber. A walk and Septem woods in through the rly summer spring or ea with will be filled birdsong!

3. Keep your ears open too. If you can’t see any birds, there’s a good chance you can hear them. Sit and listen and see how many different calls you can hear.

“Walking up the “Seeing my Royal Mile in first buzza rd while walk Edinburgh at night ing with my fa the dog when a barn owl ther. The next day I glided across the got my fir st pair of bin parapets until it oculars” Laura, Som disappeared into th erset e darkness.” 25 Anon, Scotland

a caravan y b g in t it “S Ness and by Loch e eagle cam a golden u swept p down and a rabbit.” tland Anon, Sco

Sitting in a bird hide

tion and For informa ds & advice on bir g, visit bird-watchin .uk




Bird hid es placed to are sheds overlook areas th at a for birds re good


ncesca Ba

Photo: Fra

“As a young lad out with friends in Epping Forest I fired a stone (with a catapult) at a duck on a lake and killed it. I took it home and persuaded my mum to coo k it. As far as I can remember , I quite enjoyed it.” Frank, London

“At around 4 an uncle had shot a crow and killed it and I thought it was wonderful and put it in a doll’s pram until it got very smelly! Life was different then just after the war.” Anon, Nottingham, 65 26

r Roe dee

Photo: Silv

Grey s quirre l

ls are Grey squirre ut are n, b very commo y from not originall ou’re the UK. If y ight see lucky you m uirrel a rare red sq

iu Petrova




Photo: Sam Taylor



: Rob W


Photo: Silv

iu Petrova


Photo: Rob




ALL CREATURES GREAT... Memories featuring mammals were rarely recalled during the project, making up only 9% of the total. This is probably because mammals can be difficult to see being very shy and often nocturnal. A good way to start looking for mammals is keeping an eye out for footprints, tracks or droppings - clues that the animals have passed through an area. There are 92 species of mammal in the UK and many face threats. For example, there are an estimated 285 million individual mammals in the UK, but red deer only number 360,000, making up 0.126%. (Source: e to find A good plac out native out more ab The mammals is ociety at Mammal S www.mamm

into the “Around 11 or 12 going e night woods near my house on d my sitting in the den, me an see the brother ...and waiting to l.” badgers come out - so coo Anon

“Waking up really early on a campsite and walking th rough the surrounding fields an d spotting a fox and cubs playing with their surroundings and each other, sitting only abo ut 10m away from them acting and exploring like that…just amazing!!” Paul, Unknown 28

. . . r e b m e m I re “When I was about eight years old my father came home with a rather unusual addition to his bowler hat - a baby hedgehog that he’d found in the lane, alone and suffering from heatstroke. We called him Sammy, and he lived with us for about a year. I’ll never forget his first sight of a slug - it was nearly as big as him, and he leapt around it squeaking enthusuastically and nibbling either end. When he was old enough to leave home he marched off into our orchard and we didn’t see him for a couple of weeks.  One night I called him, and there was a crashing and commotion about two gardens down, followed by the familiar hedgehog snuffling noise.  There he was! What lovely creatures they are and how sad that they’re in decline.” Sarah, Shalford

an have Hedgehogs c s in a up to 7 babie ey are litter and th ts. called hogle


in the sandpit ating - all curled up ern hib s og eh dg he ing dead nd “Fi Freezing March day with l. oo sch ry ma pri er aft I played in t of the sand.” rved spiky back poking ou cu a d an re he ryw eve leaves Robert, Henley “We moved to Suffolk wh en I was a y 9 and I discovered wildlife ctuall a is it b b ! I ra The nd especially remember hand a s ie ec p s e v feeding non-nati the wild baby rabbits in the to ed c u d o ou tr r garden, was in no th t a 2 ver 1 y e rar e th an im g al but it was UK durin magical to my young mind . !” Century Sue, Suffolk, 40


:L Photo


bour’s in our neigh d n u fo s a w gs -eared bat with all thin n io at in sc fa “A dead long my a Knowing of r for me as ve o it t back garden. h g u and o e next day neighbour br th e e th m e, h lif it ild w w hool reserve ok it into sc offered to p e h S r.  e present. I to ch a I was my biology te uple of days co a n showed it to I   e. d kilner y formaldeh floating in a e, m o h t ba it for me in d on my my long-eare put the bat I . st e able to bring ch s floating. ossed upon it uld watch it o jar, wings cr w t h ig n glassy and at covered this is d r e th bedside table o m garage. for me, my gned to the si n co Unfortunately s a w own t and the ba d to creep d se u I at th sarcophagus y mother know f hours nearl o y m le p u id co d a e tl Lit im for the most d sit with h s friends in d the stairs an n fi ild ch An only every night.  tion on laces!” For informa unexpected p e Bat rd bats visit th Sarah, Shalfo n Trust at Conservatio .uk


Tips for spotting mammals Coast

in Donna Nook e and Lincolnshir oint in Blakeney P brilliant Norfolk are seals places to see


1. Pick a spot. Find somewhere quiet to sit where you think you might find mammals. 2. Keep your eyes open. Use binoculars if you have them to see what you can spot. If you keep still and quiet, you have more chance of seeing something. 3. Keep your ears open too. If you can’t see any animals, you could still hear them. Listen out for calls and rustles from nearby creatures. 4. Even if you do not see any animals, you might see signs that mammals have been nearby, such as footprints, tracks, burrows, bones or poo.

night to take me out at “My Grandad used them. There was a ith w g in ay st as w when I ent to ed until Granny w ait w e w d an on al war We went to the loc t! ou t ep cr en th bed and ten ce and we were of en sil in t sa d an woods . I was e badgers and cubs lucky enough to se member it today.” about 7 and still re 31 Janet

“Staying in Scotland and watching the otters playing right outsid e the window and then seeing them intera ct with dolphins.” Chris, Hampshire

Early morning and early evening are good times to spot some mammals like rabbits and foxes

f mammals A number o er winter, so hibernate ov summer is a spring and look for them good time to

Useful equip ment

City Woods

burrow t i b b a R

s Howard

Photo: Jule

nd my g me a the in k a t on ther “My fa and sisters up d her an s brother watch a fox late one o play moors t ut and o e m o cubs c evening.� nwall or Julie, C

- A guide to UK mammals - Binoculars - At night time you could take a bat detector out to hear the noises they make as they fly around

Deer skull & tracks

Photos: Sam Taylor


Green-veined whit e butterfly



Photo: Silviu Petrovan

Photo: R


ebecca T

nfly Drago



lly ies actua l f n o g a r D r st of thei spend mo ater as erw lives und phs lled nym larvae ca Photo: A

sh Jarvis




Photo: Silviu


Photo: Jules Howa

...AND SMALL Memories of invertebrates collected by the project made up 16% of the total and were incredibly varied. This is probably due to the abundance and variety of invertebrate life. Creepy crawlies are often a child’s first encounter with nature, whether it’s a snail in the garden or a butterfly in the park. They can also be the first creatures that children choose to either nurture or injure, which can teach important lessons early on. There are over 40,000 species of invertebrate in the UK and it is estimated that 15% are under threat. One stark example of the problem is that 70% of butterflies are declining significantly. (Source:

iend. a wood with a fr h ug ro th ng ki al w a “Age 5 was a valley with d oo w e th of ge At the ed we walked into as d an s er ow fl ild rainbow of w flew up. Never s ie fl er tt bu of d the field a clou again.” to be experienced Anon

. . . r e b m e m I re

to build woodlice and trying by ed at in sc fa g in ein “B mes to keep them ho of s pe ty t en er many diff s find them that I could alway d se ali re I y all tu even wood.” mes -under rotting in their natural ho Dave “Pulling the ba ck legs off grasshoppers in my garden and telling mum I’d found a new species that couldn’t jump.” Dave, Birmingh am, 44


Photo: Ash Ja

in the “I remember had war we each to catch butterfly nets lies to white butterf en save the gre When cabbages etc. r full we had a ja et one we would g old penny.” orough Joan, Peterb


and onfly emerge g ra d a g in ine “Watch into the sunsh e m co it g in see then fly.” 62 Shirley, Kent,

Photo: April Parker

“Going on family picnics in the hills behind Porthcawl and catching butterflies (common blues).” Peter, Porthcawl, 62 blues. “I remember seeing large They’ve gone now.” Anon, Leicester on memory was e lif ild w te ated ri “My favou became fascin I d n a d n a tl holiday in Sco ars and hairy caterpill g bi e m so h ded up wit em up! I en th k ic p to arned decided y hand! I le m n o sh ra with a nasty my lesson.” w Anon, Glasgo Photo: Rebecca Turpin

“When I was six I went away to ca mp in Wales. After 2 weeks of rain when we retu rned home I remember racing sn ails along the wall in the sunshine” Mavis, Essex, 61

uld find snails “Having snail races. We wo ut four of under stones and line abo ade them to them up and try to persu d see which slide to a finishing line an one was quickest.” Veronica, London 36

Bug hunting ideas


: Sam



Long grass

Photo: Ruth



Photo: Laura


1. Gently sweep a net backwards and forwards over some long grass. Carefully turn the net inside out and see what you have caught. 2. Lift up a log and have a look at the creatures living underneath. Carefully put the log back down when you have finished so you don’t squash the bugs! 3. Lay out some white paper or a sheet under a tree. Gently shake some of the tree branches and look at the creatures that fall.


es into an empty “Collecting bumblebe en emptying them glass bottle and th ater to see if they into a barrel of w all drowned - I could swim! They e.” was five at the tim n David Lindo, Londo

“Trespassing in the allotments next to the garden and finding all sorts of creepy crawlies, but chased away as they thought we were stealing raspberries.” Kate, London, 68


Useful equip ment - Butterfly net - Pots with lids - Plastic spoons - Magnifying glass

s eep the bug You can k a pot for a you find in of time to nt short amou m. look at the em you set th Make sure you found free where wards. them after

pport loads u s s e e r t d Dea rates. of inverteb

Photo: Daniel Pie



o: Re


a Tur


to the “Going down trying to shoreline and nt crabs catch differe rocks.” from under w Anon, Glasgio

To find out more about the UK ’s invertebrate s, why not vis it www.buglife

s examples of “Collecting variou l i during a schoo beetles and fung n and cross country ru school to find arriving back at ng anxiously awaiti the headmaster hours late) and my return (2 e police.” about to call th ire, 73 Bryan, Derbysh





Photo: Lucy Beny


me nots

Photo: Silviu



black r o e Slo

Cow pars ley

Photo: Jules Howard


Photo: Jules Ho

oods of the w Chicken

ose Dog r

Photo: Sam Ta



Photo: Cacey


blooming marvellous! Memories centred around plants of all kinds made up 17% of all the memories collected by the project. Plants are clearly important in a child’s experience of nature as they feature in a wide range of activities from picking flowers to playing conkers and climbing trees. There are a huge number of plant species in the UK. There are around 1,400 species of wild flowers, some of which are so rare that it is now illegal to pick their flowers. However, you are very unlikely to come across these amazingly rare plants, so picking common ones like daisies and dandelions is fine, just take care not to uproot the whole plant. The habitats that plants flourish in, such as woodland, hedges and meadows are in great need of protection.

An excellent place to find out mo re about wild plants & their habitats is a t www.plantlif

to the take me out in to e us er h ot m “My mes of told me the na out on countryside and lucky. We were ry ve as w I s. flower could just ondon and you L of ge ed e th countryside.� walk into the 60 Anon, London, 40

. . . r e b m e I rem roads by throwing lumps of “Collecting conkers along the country is was the most dangerous part wood up into the chestnut trees (th ing conkers). We used to of the operation - far more than play h about 5 or 6.” collect about 100, but only played wit Trevor, London

d sps in a woo ra g in k ic p s milie n were “Dozens of fa town. Childre e th m o to be fr s 2 mile mothers were d n a k ic p ildren) expected to rs. Weans (ch at we lle o tr n co y lit the qua e ate wh weans but w be s ay lw a ay from the will w a ff o n ra then to play.” wanted and f the wood o s th ep d e wasps into th w tide Anon, Glasgo ine when the tl as co e th g in “Watch seaweed e movement of th d an t ou t wen anging colour.” floating and ch y, 69 Christine, Jerse “My mother telling me the names of wildflowers when we were out in the countryside. She had been taught her wildflower names as part of her education and she loved to pass that knowledge on.” Hilary, Oxford, 59


ember learning “I will always rem ith an inspiring to date hedges w her.” primary school teac Barry, Norfolk


Photo: Laura Brad

by her primary s taken on nature walks wa me e lik un m, mu her’s y “M small she gave me her fat s wa I en wh te nsa pe school. To com me to identify h flora and encouraged itis Br to ide gu et ck awings po small n built up a folder of dr soo I . nd fou I nts pla and draw wild and never looked back!” “Going to the field Lizzie, Bristol, 34 s and gathering wildflowers to take home and press.” Anon, Glasgow

“As a child labe lling wildflowers an d putting them in jam jars - non PC!” Gill, Yorkshire, 7 2 Photo: Laura Brady

g a basket of flowers “Going across the fields and collectin then gave them out to - half cowslips and half bluebells we people in the estate.” Sue, Glasgow

“Aged 10 with my best friend I was allowed to catch the bus to Wootton Sand Pits to collect things for the school nature table. I remember the smell of pine and fungi to this day!” Stephen, Kings Lynn, 64

h 6 cousins to “Gathering wit to the ferry take the tram sey to visit the across the Mer cockling beds in sand dunes and nding Moreton and fi ich we had to wildflowers wh .” dad to identify take home to ol, 71 Dorothy, Liverpo


PLant & flower fun ries


1. Collect and press flowers, petals and leaves. Decorate cards with them or start a plant book called a herbarium. If you spot rare plants, you could take photos to add to your book.

Photo: Jules Howard

2. There are lots of things you can eat or cook from a hedgerow - have a look online for a guide & recipes.


chain Daisy

Trust has lots The Woodland about trees, as of information r illiant ideas fo well as some br outdoor fun www.woodland

“Collecting cob nuts e in the woods in th autumn.” Anon 43

3. Make some outdoor art using different coloured fallen leaves in autumn.

“I would go primro sing on Good Frid ay to decorate the church for Easter, and blackberrying in th e Autumn. We also used to go for long walk s in the countrysid e.” Betty




garli Wild

“Aged about 4 year s old, I was playing outside with friends. We decided to have a race, rolling down a small hill. Unfortunately at the bottom was a patch of nettles which I ha dn’t seen, and then rolled into. L uckily there was also some docken lea ves close by to rub on all the stin gs.” Mary, Glasgow

Photos: Jules Howard


Photo: Rebecca Ne

py “Making mazes in a swam bed of tall rose bay willow Now herb by the golf course. es and all the rough ground, tre d.” allotments have disappeare Harry, Duffield, 61 r collecting “I remembe the brambles on ks and my railway ban bramble jam mum made and jelly.” ow Anon, Glasg





Photo: Sivi Si




Photos: Clyde River Foundation

t out more abou You can find creatures at fish and other www.clyderiver



GONE FISHING Catching sticklebacks in jam jars with home-made nets or fishing lines is another iconic childhood activity which many people fondly remembered during the project. Only 10% of memories collected mentioned fish and only a few species were specifically recalled. An adult often featured in the stories as the ‘expert’ teaching important skills such as ‘tickling’ or ‘guddling’ trout. There are 38 species of native fish found in freshwaters like ponds, lakes and rivers, and 12 species that have been introduced to these areas. Species range in size from miniscule minnows and sticklebacks to pikes. Our fish species are affected by water quality, pollution, climate change, disease and over-fishing. Some species, such as eels, are in serious decline, whilst others, such as minnows, are still very common. “As a 16 year old I went fishing in the Staines reservoir. Having a fishing rod I caug ht a roach which I used as liv e bait to catch a large pike. At that time the (air raid) sirens w ent off so I cycled home to H ackney with the pik e dangling from the handlebar s. The lady upstair s gave me 2/6d for it and said they enjoyed it for dinner.” Frank, London

. . . r e b m e m I re klebacks in the “Fishing for stic with my dad local park pond a stick) and (and a net on re rd black creatu catching a wei h! ec out to be a le which turned s nd a few year I visited the po ared to be ago and it appe d of life!” completely devoi , 58 Billy, Edinburgh

Photo: Laura Brady

Photo: Georgette Taylor

ed les’ - we liv g in D e h ‘t d lived klebacks in re Tolkein ha e h “Catching stic w m o fr iver e road beside the R s le g in just down th D e s.” Road, so th of the Ring rd in Westfield o L in e ir the Sh Cole is really mingham, 68 Richard, Bir


er guddle (tickle) a “Being about 6 and watching my fath r. He put it in a pail, trout from under a rock in the rive the bath of clean brought it home and released it into there was a severe water my mother had saved because sed!” water shortage on. She was not plea Ann, Glasgow

Photos: Laura Br


ickling) 65 years ago guddling (t ut abo ild ch all sm a as “I remember ly these ind my Gran’s house (sad beh ) am tre (s n bur e e th trout in t to gently feel under th gh tau s wa I ) w! no on fields are all built derbelly.” stones and tickle their un Mavis, Glasgow


Activity Ideas ishing net f n w o r u o Make y


- Old tights or net curtains - A coathanger or some wire - A long pole or stick - A needle - Some thread - A pair of scissors

“Making a fishing net: Cut the foot off of a stocking, find a strip of wire, bend wire to a circle. Put the foot of the stocking over the wire and use Mum’s needle and thread to attach. Find a stick and tie the wire onto it. If you moved it slowly it didn’t fall to bits.” Bob, Peterborough

“Pond d of mum ipping with dad u ’s sing a Catchin tights. cane, w g minn ire, a g ows w glasses lass jar it when h line and a they f Liz, Su a n d hook a ell in pair ffolk, n d fish 53 happy in g days.” for my brothe r’s 49

r tiddlers Fishing fo 1. Take your net and a jar or bucket to a stream or river. 2. Fill your jar or bucket with water from the stream. 3. Have a go at pond dipping, carefully weaving your net backwards and forwards in the water. Be careful not to fall in. 4. Gently pop any fish you catch into the jar for a closer look.


am & stre s r e v i R Photo: Lucy


5. Set your catch free where you found them.


am Tay

Photo: S


Things to try Making




e Coomber

Photo: Jodi



Visit www .5 for inspir ati activities on on outdoor . It sugge sts 50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3 /4. mlett

uane Ha

Photo: D

51 51



child’s play Many of the memories collected by the project did not centre on an encounter with a specific creature. Instead they focus on activities, day trips or holidays. This collection shows a wide variety of memories, from paddling to building dens, and from walking to making mud pies. It also shows how important wild places are for people as well as wildlife. Many of the older people involved in the project believe they had much more freedom than the children of today have. Many of these memories capture that feeling of freedom.

ar St “Paddling in the river ne clarity of e Fagins in Cardiff and th al canal!” the water after our loc Ann, Preston, 62 “I recall spendin g many hours climbing trees an d building huts in the trees w hich gave us many hours of pleasure.” George, Glasgow


. . . r e b m e m e Ir ry weekend “We were taken out eve father would for picnics or walks. My the birds and teach us all the names of l privileged to flowers as we went. I fee es.” have had such experienc Margaret, Glasgow “Making mud pies and decorating them with daisies.” Anon Photo: Sam

every weekend with “I used to go picnicking d our tea and it my mum and dad. We ha afternoon out.” was lovely - our Sunday Anon, Cotswolds, 68


from dawn til “Building dens through the dusk everyday s.” summer holiday Leigh

Photo: Sivi



and play “Freedom to roam r own in safety, making ou iends.” enjoyment with fr Anon, Peterborough

e Coomber

Photo: Jodi

ng “Going on Saturday morni lanes y ntr walks in Suffolk cou er with my teacher and oth pupils.” Judy, Ipswich, 67

Photo: Laura Brad

‘walls’ park and building e th in n de a g “Makin g grass.” from the mown lon Jonathan, Henley “Making little pots out of garden soil turned into mud and dried in the sun.” Anon, London


Photos: Lucy Beny


“When playing having Anon

the sea and of my time paddling in st mo nt spe I all sm s I wa the sky fighters and bombers in in the park and watching over the countryside.” dog-fights, wandering all 54

Outdoor fun

ng game Den buildi 1. Think of an animal. 2. Imagine that you are that animal looking for a new home. Where would you build it? What do you need nearby to survive?

Photo: Sam Ta


Useful equipment: - String - Scissors - Blankets to sit on or drape to make a tent - Clothes pegs to hold things in place - A picnic to eat in your den!

3. Pick a good place for your type of animal to live and build a den. You could use sticks, leaves, build it around a tree - whatever you can find. 4. Imagine you are an animal estate agent selling your den! Tell your friends or family all about the features of the den. What can you say about its location? Its size? The things that are nearby? Is it a good place to hibernate or make a nest?

“Making a top of t den in the bushe he lane where m s, at the lived. I y Na mad a place t e it with my b nna rot o hidden p play in. It was a her, as lac h for hour e. We would pla appy, s, imaginin y there g.� Katya 55

Photo: Jodie Coomber

s ng tip

limbi Tree c

Keep an eye out for low branches and stumps to climb on. Watch out for thin branches - they might not take your weight!


Photo: Sam Ta

Find a place to perch so you can admire the view around you and listen out for birds or rustling leaves. Photo: Andy Morti


“We could go off into the fields all day by ourselves. We spent hours making little felt horses and having gymkhanas in th e fields.” Judy, West Su ssex, 59

Visit www.50t .uk for inspirati on on out doo activities . It sugge r s ts 50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3 /4.

ove tramcar to Milingr “I used to get the the hills with my and then walk into ade. Up the top of half bottle of lemon e drink the lemonad the hill we would at the base of the uid liq te hi w e th d an oke it off.” grass where we br 56 Bill, Glasgow

Ideas for adventures at home There are lots of things you can do to create wild spaces in your garden.... s provide Garden tree birds, habitats for d squirrels an s. They’re te a invertebr nt for also excelle climbing!

heap to Make a compost tes, frogs attract invertebra It will also and hedgehogs. me for provide a warm ho a place for slow-worms and y eggs. grass snakes to la

Add a log p ile to provide she lter for invertebrate s and amphib ians. Build a rock ery to create a ba sking habitat for reptiles and a place of shelter for amphib ians. 57

Plant a wild flower meadow to attract bees, butte rflies and birds. It wil provide flow l also ers for pressing.

A hedge in your garden crea tes a varied mos aic of wildlife hab itats. They’re als o great places to bu ild dens.

of ildlife pond w a g n ti a e r C l benefit any size wil s, invertebrate , s n ia ib h p am ea ammals. Us birds and m me pond net to do so at find out wh dipping and water. lives in the


DISTANT MEMORIES Some project participants grew up outside of the UK and had fascinating stories to share about all kinds of wildlife. Although only 10 people shared memories of growing up overseas, stories about exotic species really captured the imagination of young people involved in the project, perhaps because this wildlife can only be seen in zoos in the UK.

“In 1972 at 5.30am in the Indian Ocean I fe lt I was bein g watched . I was - by an albatross . All I could see was a big beady eye.� Jim, Essex, 63


18 of the 22 species of albatross are heading towards exti nction. An albatross is killed at sea about every 5 minutes (source:www

“My mum showed me a whitethroated kingfisher. She lifted me into her arms and made me look out of the window. That made me a birder.” Mohit, India, 45 first e same time as I “I saw frogs at th very a s old! I lived in saw rain - 6 year d all a and it rained an dry region in Afric d.” these frogs emerge a Kathy, South Afric

Photo: Laura

Almost half of amphibia n species world wide are in decline. A g reater proportion o f amphibian species are a t imminent risk of extin ction than a ny other anima l class.


“I used to go out in th e fields on my grandparen ts’ farm and watch the fireflies. You don’t see them anymore. W e used to collect them in jars. You also use d to be able to hear th e crickets and bull frogs - but not anymore.” Anon, Tenessee “I grew up watching lots of nature e and wildlife documentaries, this mad me interested in nature.” Azucena, Spain, 30 na Smith

Photo: Dr Joan


n Bush in the Africa l o o h sc y m slangs, “The boys at adders, boom ff u p s a ch t s su lling them ou u p caught snake by tc e n mamba pythons, gree d trees.” There are ap of hedges an prox 9000 known repti Tim, Africa le species worldwide. 2 8% of those that h ave been assessed are s rd a z li d n sta considered th “I couldn’t es. I just reatened. n o le t t li e - th cause e b m e h t nd couldn’t sta the to come up they used and ok at you lo d n a r t o do the life ou d e n e t h ig r they f of me.” ibbean Lorna, Car

Photo: Laura Brady


safaris en did short ft o & a ny the e e lived in K mum opened w y 8 m t d u n a bo a ic s n r a pic d up to “When I wa e stopped fo nanas, reache w ba e ce tl n O lit . f little bi o o near Nair ing a bunch ll watched a a ld o e h w d , n rs a e h r ca um had d brushed boot of the a baboon! M tle hairy han lit by A d se t. a o ch bo bananas close the ff with the s!!” o g in n n ru one of us kid monkey to d e g n lo be hand thought the Celia, Kenya

e exist. My y forms of wildlif an m re he w st re fo Nature “I lived near a rain visited the Wright I n he w is y ays or first fond mem ide. Snakes were alw gu a e m ca be on so I eryone. Centre nearby and y they were for ev ar sc w ho of e us my favourite beca Snakes rule!” Jason, Trinidad, 33

Photo: Gillian Simpson

jungle - I m and dad in the mu y m ith w t ou illuminated “We used to go glow worms that of lay sp di ely lov e remember seeing th e.” id the car and outs Lynn, India, 45 62

. . . r e b m e I rem avy mendously he e tr a s a w r ere e me out fo k ta “In 1942 th ld u o w he y mother the fields. T snow and m h g u ro th o e’d g ld walks and w and she wou ep e d ft 2 t u would snow was abo ack’…and we tr ’s re a h a snow say ‘that’s through the g in o g rs u o as great.” spend h trails - it w s’ re a h se e following th ish Borders Morag, Scott

“Finding a gannet’s ach skull on Dunure be in Ayrshire which triggered a lifelong interest in birds.” Rodie, Mansfield, 63


Photo: David Palmar

d my driving test an “I had just passed spring night. There was driving on a crossing the road was 100s of frogs tch out on my Mum clu e th t rn bu I d an get ping constantly to and Dad’s car, stop ogs. Mum and Dad fr e th e ov m to r brothe were not happy.” Anon, Glasgow

“My father was a great walker. In order to encourage us w e would alway s have a new Ibook for each Spy holiday. I partic ul arly remember Spy in the Cou “I ntry”. It was al ways a big competition betw een my brother and I to spot something first and score the points!” Trevor, London

“Village life was so relaxed, able to play with friends by the river; very safe times.” Anon, Peterborough

e Coomber

Photo: Jodi

“Playing with Grandad and Grandma in the fields and woods.” Anon, Peterborough

inter in “I remember one w e Turkey 1970-72 when th a gang of us Brook froze and from Turkey walked on the ice bany Park on Street Station to Al the ice.” Chris, Freezy Water Photo: L

aura Br



ared the Harnault Forest appe ere wh am nh ge Da rth “Cycling into No lived.” the large estate where I so wild compared with Dave, Dagenham, 67

the “Collecting fossils on ds Bay.” beach at Robin Hoo Anon, Peterborough

Photo: Cacey Ba


g the I recall collectin er st g un yo a s “A ere a cards-they w Brooke Bond te oks!” our wildlife bo Steve, Essex, 55


Photo: Laur

t ent in Glasgow bu m ne te a in ed liv “I ith my parents in enjoyed holidays w n we experienced the countryside whe more wildlife.” Isabel, Glasgow

a Brady

able t, we would be en K in ild ch ds a fields and woo “When I was s os cr A e. er h everyw s and to roam freely orries. The bird w t ou h it w ay l d ered you.” and be gone al d nobody both an nd ou ar l al wildlife were Anon, Kent

read as a “Wind in the Willows I love of little girl that started my in the wildlife dreaming of living ving a pond.” country and one day ha x Mrs Leppard, West Susse ld ad wou d y m and Sheffield he Derbyshire in d e mid nto t “We liv inutes o e day a h m t 0 r o 2 f drive us out ams).” nd let a s r ns (stre o r o u b m d n ther a the hea gow las Andy, G “During WWII, when there were no street lamps, we would look up at the star s and identify the ‘Great Bear, ‘Orion’s Bel t’ etc in the pitch black sky.” Jenny

Photo: Laura Brady


Photos: Laur

a Brady

“Memories of walking in the country side and by the sea in the 1970s, watching the birds and looking at the flowers and lear ning to love and appreciate nature and the wild life that is all around us every day.” Mark, Wolverhampton, 47


r mum used to von. When I was wee ou De in 51 19 in n bor s we “I wa and a cheese butty and ash squ of tle bot a th pack us off wi the river down the stream or by or s, od wo e th to off would be re. Mum would s and arrows and lots mo bow at, flo to ts raf g ” kin ma the evening. Good times! in 8 ut abo at us for k come and loo Anon, Devon

“I Spy bird boo k at ar 7 or 8 ound got me into bird time! T he s the mid coloured photo big dle wer s in e t Anon, To ttenham he best!”

Photo: Cacey


al “We would go to the loc the ay waterfall and clear aw ter. leaves to make it flow fas k While there we would loo lowers. for birds, deer and wildf These are my favourite childhood memories.” Anon, Glasgow

“Walking with dad every Sunday, picking the grasse s and chewing them as we walked along.” Anon, Manchester, 64

“Our school homework on ce a month was to collect ten wildflowers and identify what they were.” Anon, Weymouth, 60

“I loved making mud pie s at our cow sheds. You can imagine how dirty and smelly we were when we had finished.” Trish, Oakham, 62 y

Photo: Laura Brad


a Brady

Photo: Laur

“Being about 7 years of age, following birds I had never se en before along a river. Eventually found out they were mallard ducks. Used to follow them fo r hours - just to see the beautifu l colours of plum age.” Jim, Glasgow

re in Lincolnshire whe e lag vil a in up “I grew r. In less knew each othe or e or m ne yo er ev berries e would pick black the summer time w r go pea pulling afte o als d an s ld fie e in th w pennies.” school to earn a fe “When I was a child in the Anon, Lincolnshire early seventies we used to play on the green betwe en our houses. We’d lie in th e long grass on our bellies watching all sorts of ins ect life including butterflies an d ladybirds. Green t-shirts were part of our uniform !” Navahra, London

Photo: Laura



with thanks to...... Everyone involved in the My Wild Life Project Sam Taylor for use of her illustrations (pages 8-10, 17-20, 23-24, 29-30, 32, 34-36, 41-42, 46-48, 52-54, 56-62 & 65-66, 69) Sarah Springham for use of her drawings (pages 29 & 30 ) Laura brady for use of her illustrations (in intro & on pages 43, 44, 48, 49 & 51) Bob Pond for use of his father’s photo (page 17) Project Volunteers Ash, David & Sian for their invaluable help and support Storm Events for use of their filming & Editing equipment and their expert advice Co-Operative Community Fund for co-funding the project

Froglife is a UK wildlife charity committed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles - working with people, enhancing lives together for a healthier planet. 2A Flag Business Exchange Vicarage Farm Road Peterborough Cambridgeshire PE1 5TX Tel: 01733 558844 Email:

Froglife is a registered charity in England & Wales (no. 1093372) and in Scotland (no. SC041854).

My Wild Life  

A family guide to fun outdoors

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