We are big fans of Avon Country Park. It's not far from us, parking fees are minimal and you can do the main circuit and play in the park in an hour making it a great after school activity. In the winter there is still plenty to see/do jumping in muddy puddles and checking out the fungi.
On Mother's Day we went for a walk and after Megan, Olive and Charlie climbed some honey suckle that had weaved together to create rope; we pretended it was Rapunzel's hair (wish one of us had a camera that day!), we popped into the visitor centre. I noticed the Easter activities were all listed and decided to book the moo's on pellet picking. What better way to spend a Tuesday lunchtime than dissecting owl pellets!
Before pellet picking there was a talk from the guys at Liberty Owl and Reptile Centre. He had a buzzard, falcon and owl and as if on cue a wild buzzard was flying above the park giving a spectacular display of it's mighty wingspan! The girls had wondered off into the play park but Moo had held back in the vain hope he could stroke the owl.
We made our way down to the education block and got started. Megan decided to wear gloves, Olive literally looked at her pellet and left! While Moo on the other hand dissected his within an inch of it's life and removed every tiny bone fragment he could find. He actually found some spine vertebrates they were so tiny.
Owl pellets are hard lumps filled with hair and bones, the parts of the prey they can't digest. They cough them up and although it sounds really gross, it was really interesting! We found shrews, mice and chick bones and after a while you really get excited by what you can find! The barn owls had been enjoying a really varied diet lately, helping them to thrive. Sounds grim but you actually forget that it's chewed up hair and skin and really get into finding the bones! (things only a mother would say!)
This is a really interesting activity the children even bought their bones home with them (thanks Avon Country Park!) and only £2 per person.