Nature, Ecology and Permaculture: Summer Natural History

Ref: C2223661

The different species of wildflowers provide food for insects which in turn feed birds and other creatures. Do join this class to discover why flowers are so important! Includes two field trips.

Course aim

A wide range of flowers produce a colourful array in meadows, parks and gardens throughout the summer months and naming them is a pleasant challenge. There will be practical advice on honing ID skills as well as discussions on why plants need to attract insect pollinators and repel hungry herbivores. Their role in sustaining life will be considered and what conservation measures are working to improve biodiversity.

Who is the course for?

Anyone with a passion and enthusiasm to discover the wonders of the natural world.

What topics will this course cover

Examination of structure and naming a variety of flowering plants with practical advice on honing ID skills. Discussions on why plants need to attract insect pollinators and repel hungry herbivores. Discussions on the role of plants in sustaining life will be considered and what conservation measures are working to improve overall biodiversity. During this course there will be a mixture of illustrated talks, displays and specimens for identification. Active participation is encouraged, with discussions on observations or materials read or viewed. Two field visits form an integral part of this course as they will be to flowery locations within the local area.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

• Describe some of the strategies used by plants attract insects for pollination and define how plants cope with insect attack. • Recall that certain bird species require insect food to sustain them. • Record observations and identify key wildflowers.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Students will be more confident in their ability to identify some common wild flowers and trees as well as butterflies, bees and other insects and to appreciate how these interact with one another. Comments on books or articles read or TV programmes watched will be discussed. Records of observations made will be noted and discussed.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

A notebook is helpful. There will be two field visits to local wild flower rich sites and car sharing will be encouraged.

Reading and information sources

No prior reading is required but students may wish to refer to these for further information. Averis, Ben (2013) Plants and Habitats: An Introduction to Common Plants and their Habitats in Britain and Ireland. Ben Averis. Baker, Nick. (2011) Nick Bakers Bug Book. New Holland. Blamey, Marjorie, Fitter, Richard, & Fitter, Alastair H. (2013) Wildflowers of Britain and Ireland. A & C Black Publishers Ltd. Chinery, Michael (2009) British Insects: A photographic guide to every common species (Collins Complete Guide) Beentje Henk, J. (2010) The Kew Plant Glossary: An Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Identification Terms. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Benton, Ted. (2000) Bumblebees of Essex. Lopinga Books. Blamey, Marjorie. (2005) Marjorie Blamey’s Wild Flowers by Colour. A & C Black. Fitter, Richard, Fitter, Alistair and Blamey, Marjorie. (1996) Collins Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers. HarperCollins Haywood, John. (2004) A New Key to Wild Flowers. FSC Publications. Harrison, Mellisa. (2016) Summer: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons. Elliott & Thompson Limited Lewis -Semple, John. (2016) The Running Hare, the Secret Life of Farmland. Doubleday. Keble Martin, W. (1965) The Concise British Flora in Colour. Ebury Press and Michael Joseph. Kilbracken, John. (1984) The Easy Way to Wild Flower Recognition. Kingfisher Books. Moss, Stephen, (2016) Wild Kingdom, Bringing Back Britain’s Wildlife. Square Peg. Poland, John and Clement, Eric. (2009) The Vegetative Key to the British Flora. BSBI Rose, Francis. (2006) The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne Revised editiona Streeter, David. (2009) The Most Complete Guide to the Flowers of Britain and Ireland. Collins. Stace, Clive. (1991) New Flora of the British Isles. CUP Sterry, Paul (2008) British Birds: A photographic guide to every common species. Collins Thomas Jeremy & Lewington, Richard. (2010) The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing Waring Paul & Townsend Martin. Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. British Wildlife Publishing Websites Botanical Society of British Isles: has a user friendly interactive website where you can attempt to identify a plant by answering simple questions. But you still need to use a flower book to verify identification. There is also an online key! Also the site for endangered species, county recording forms and contacts so you can get involved. Essex Field Club for records in Essex Essex Wildlife Trust for information about its reserves. Field Studies Council: courses and AIDGAP keys.Melissa Harrison (Author, Editor), The Wildlife Trusts (Author) Elliott & Thompson Limited (19 May 2016) Kew Gardens is the premier place for information about plants worldwide. Open University: for courses on related topics. Plantlife is a conservation charity devoted to conserving wildflowers. This organisation is currently running a survey of local wild flowers. There is something for every level of expertise! See the Company of Biologists for more detailed volumes dealing with identification and projects. If you can’t identify a specimen and you have a photo of it then try There are several photographic websites of flowers.

What could the course lead to?

In addition to any further WEA courses in related topics, the Field Studies Council runs general and specialist courses in Ecology and related topics. • Several local organisations such as the Essex Wildlife Trust or the Essex Field Club arranges field visits to sites of interest and training courses to improve identification skills. • The Wren Conservation Group arranges guided wildlife walks in the southern parts of Epping Forest. • In addition, there are plans to involve more individuals in ecological surveys within the area and learners will be encouraged to participate in these should they wish to do so. • The Open University runs a range of course too, for students wishing to take their education to a higher level.

Download full course outline

Nature, Ecology and Permaculture: Summer Natural History Course Outline


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