Royal High School has a splendid outdoor educational environment. Local groups interested in the environment and organisms had been approached to lead activities to help engage the pupils with their surroundings. Gordon Rutter, with responsibility for outdoor education and a biologist, coordinated the day.
Stephan Helfer, who had recently retired as a mycologist at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, brought along his basket and introduced some fungi. The curriculum does not include the study of fungi, nonetheless they are very important both environmentally and as a source of food. Stephan had a large collection of fungi, especially St George's mushroom which is a fine edible spring mushroom.
From the Edinburgh Natural History Society Sarah Adamson organised a couple of ladybird hunts. The pupils, initially nonplussed by being asked to used their phones, searched areas of the grounds for ladybirds. Their task was to photograph the ladybirds which could then be recorded online via iRecord. Four species were found 2, 7, 10 and cream spot, including different varieties of the 2-spot ladybirds. Sarah had taken along a few ladybird larvae, they needed to be looked at with a hand lens and appear quite unlike adults.
The weather was perfect and at one point a roe deer walked close by the working groups. Many of the pupils appeared happy in the outdoors and we hoped this would be a memorable day for them.