Thank you note -Last day of 30 Days Wild

As it is the last day of 30 Days Wild and I haven’t been able to get out, I have decided to write you all a thank you note.

I’d firstly like to thank everyone for reading my blog and I hope you have enjoyed them and thank you for your support on all my social media sites.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those who support, volunteer and run hedgehog rescues. These places are vital for the survival of our hedgehogs. These places exist with the help of volunteers, donations and the love and care from the people who look after these delightful creatures. If you have a hedgehog rescue near to where you live, then see if they have a wish list of supplies or maybe if they need people to help out there.

Next I would like to thank all those who actively protect our wildlife.  For those who protect foxes, birds of prey and badgers from hunters and those who protest in order to stop cruelty to animals. No matter how you help your wildlife, you all do great work and are inspiring individuals.

I would also like to say a big thank you to all the young naturalists out there. Spreading the word that our environment is important and needs protecting. You are all inspiring individuals and it gives me hope for the future that you are out there now fighting for nature even at such a young age.

I would like to say a big thank you to the Springwatch team for their inspiring, delightful and educational programmes, that bring nature into our living rooms. A special thanks has to go to Chris Packham though. He has inspired me since I used to watch him on The Really Wild Show all those years ago. If anything my admiration for him grows each year. He gives nature a voice and speaks with both his heart and mind. He backs what he says with facts and I think it’s important that he continues to have a voice so he can speak up for nature. That is what I loved about this years Springwatch. Chris was able to tell us all a lot more important facts about what is declining in nature and what we can do to help.  Of course, Chris has not only inspired myself but many generations to get outdoors, explore nature and care and protect it.

My final thank you goes to The Wildlife Trust for inspiring work places, schools and individuals to love and appreciate nature with their 30 Days Wild challenge. I have really enjoyed reading all your 30 Days Wild blogs and looking at your fantastic nature photos and videos.

Thank you to everyone who loves and cares for nature. I hope you have all had a wonderful nature filled June.

 

Helping newts -Day 29 of 30 Days Wild

Today was spent looking at underwater video footage from the garden pond. Its fascinating watching little pond creatures especially newts.

We have 2 types of newts in the garden pond and they have been busy laying eggs.

The problem this year was the newts arrived early to the pond given the very mild winter. They started their courtship before any vegetation started to really grow around the pond. The newts here lay their eggs on plants the cascade over the waters edge, so this year I gave them a little helping hand.

I make artificial egg laying strips for them until everywhere greened up around the pond, and this is how I made them.

Materials:

Black bin bag, stones, scissors and string.

Make egg laying strips:

Measure suitable length from the bottom (sealed end) of the bin bag upwards. (this will depend on how deep your pond is) I made mine about 10 inches. Now cut straight across the bag.

Measure across the bottom half way and cut the bag in two.

Next get one half and start to cut strips down towards the sealed end of the bag but stop about 3/4 of the way down.

Do the same with the other half of the bin bag.

Now open up each half. You will have a section in the middle of each which has not been cut in to. Place a stone inside this area and gather the strips up around it.

Now tie string around the  strips to keep the stone in. Do the same with the other and there you have newt egg laying strips.

When you put them in the water the stone helps to weigh them down, all you need to do is maybe help separate the strips a bit when submerged.

What the newts thought of them:

As soon as I put the strips into the pond, the newts were curious and came over to have a look at them. Check my little video out here

The newts like them as they mimic the leaves of submerged plants and they are flexible enough for the newt to place an egg on a strip and fold it over like a little parcel to protect it.

The pond is now full of vegetation cascading over the sides so the newts have many options of places to lay eggs.

Here is a photo of a smooth newt egg folded up on a blade of grass. It is greyish in colour with a clear jelly around it which differs from great crested newt eggs which are white in colour.

30 Days Wild indoors

Today I had to stay inside, as not only was it pouring down with rain but I now have a sprained ankle ligament to go with my injured knee.

I was feeling sorry for myself with my feet up on the sofa gazing at a rain splattered window. I read a little and also caught up on some Springwatch episodes that i’d missed and also watched some old Time Team episodes which was fun.

I was cheered up when my other half came home from work with gifts for me. Now don’t get too excited, it wasn’t chocolates or a bunch of flowers. It was simple gifts from nature which he knew that I would like.

Today at work, he was working by some lovely old lime trees. He gazed up at them and saw their lovely lime blossom dangling down. He thought the blossom had such a sweet perfume he wanted to share the experience with me. He managed to find a sprig before he left work and he brought it home for me.

It really is such a lovely smell and I didn’t even think of lime trees having scented blossom until now. I can see how lime trees are great for a variety of pollinators such as; hoverflies, bees and ladybirds, as well as birds and of course the lime hawk caterpillar.

My next little gift came from the earth. he was weeding one of the flower beds when something caught his eye. He knew I’d be interested in it and want it for my nature display case, so he put it in his pocket and brought it home for me. It was an animal tooth, but what animal?

I think it is a cow tooth and it looks like it has some age to it as it’s very brown in colour. I cleaned it up and have put it in my display case along with all my other little gifts from nature.

Even though I was unable to get out in nature today, a little bit of nature was brought indoors to me.

Mini beast bioblitz for Day 27 of 30 Days Wild

When I got home from work today it had finally stopped raining so I ran into the garden in search of mini beasts.

I walked around looking closely at each shrub and flower, waiting to catch a glimpse of a bug. I was amazed how many mini beasts I spotted and the closer I looked, the more interesting critters I saw.

There were ladybirds and larvae hiding amongst the leaves and petals of fuschias.

There were caterpillars and moths hiding amongst wood piles and under leaves.

A little ball of garden spiderlings huddled together amongst the lavender stems. Black lace weaver spiders (Amaurobius ferox) scurried across the wall then into their homes, whilst red velvet spider mites (Trombidiidae) moved quickly on the lid of the water butt.

I saw a variety of flies enjoying the wildflowers, fuschias and honeysuckle. A variety of hoverflies hovered above the lavender flowers. Pretty small solider flies called black horned gems (Microchrysa polita) sat on camellia leaves. Whilst other flies sat on daisy flowers, ferns and jasmine leaves.

A stunning metallic coloured rosemary beetle sat on my lavender plant. Cuckoo spit dangled under fuschia leaves and a darkling beetle (Lagria hirta) hid on an old bluebell stem. Flower Bugs – Anthocoris nemorum and Liocoris tripustulatus as well as a variety of other insects (some of which I haven’t found the name for yet) gathered amongst other shrub leaves.  

I thought the prettiest bug of the afternoon was Calocoris stysi. I love it’s yellow and black chequered pattern and I think the yellow marking in the middle looks like a butterfly pattern. It looked very pretty sat on the lavender flower.

My favourite encounter of the afternoon was with a Epistrophe grossulariae hoverfly. It was attracted to my blue water bottle and kept sitting on the lid trying to lick up the ribena juice around the edge. I noticed the hoverfly had licked a lot of it up so I spoke to it and asked if it would like some more. It stayed sat on the top of my bottle unafraid of me, while I opened the lid for it. The hoverfly then carried on drinking from the top of the bottle until it had had enough. It was a magical experience to be just a couple of centimeters away from a hoverfly and it was happy for me to be that close to it.

I’m glad I made the effort to go out in the garden and search for mini beasts. I hope this little blog will inspire you to go out and see what insects are lurking in your garden and appreciate its great biodiversity.

 

Wildflowers -Day 26 of 30 Days Wild

This year I was given free wildflower seeds from Just Bee Drinks, Grow Wild and I also got a packet in my 30 Days Wild pack from The Wildlife Trust.

I decided that a the beginning of June I would put some wildflowers in troughs under my living room window as well as sprinkle them around the garden.
I decided that as some of the seeds were going into 2 troughs, I would sow each seed in plug plant trays.
I didn’t know what type of flowers I was going to get, so it was going to be exciting to see the results. I opened each packet and sprinkled a number of seeds into the trays before sprinkling the rest in various parts of the garden.
I watered the seeds well and now all I had to do was wait.

It was exciting to see the green seedlings shoot from the soil, and start to form their shape. They started to become greener and fill out with more with leaves.

It wasn’t long before the insects started to come and have a look.

Today I planted the plugs out into their troughs and already the bees are taking a look at them so I have even placed a little insect house by the flowers too.

I think these little troughs complement the wildflowers that have been sprinkled around the garden. They are all looking stunningly beautiful in the sunshine and myself, bees and insects are loving them.

 

A big thank you to Grow Wild, Wildlife Trust and Just Bee Drinks for these lovely wildflower seeds.

Burton Mere -Day 25 of 30 Days Wild

Today for Day 25 of 30 Days Wild I went for a stroll around one of my favourite nature reserve in Wirral, Cheshire. Here is a short blog about what I saw at this beautiful place.

It was so peaceful at the nature reserve. All could be heard was a chorus of bird song from the trees, reeds and on the water. From the twitter of a reed warbler, the melodic song of a robin, the honking of geese to the babbling sound of the egrets. I managed to capture 2 little videos on my phone. (here and here)

As I walk around, I see a naughty grey squirrel trying to steal nuts from the feeder and ducks sitting underneath it catching food the squirrel dropped on the floor.

I saw insects gather around the wildflowers and warm themselves up on wooden benches.

 

 

Common lizards bask on the fence.

Spiders scurry below the decking carrying their eggs sacks and caterpillars emerge from the undergrowth onto the path.

As I sit overlooking the estuary and I could hear the wing beat of 2 mallards as they flew over my head before they landed in the water. I saw beautiful dragonflies dart over the water and water boatman lying on the waters surface. As I walked around the ponds 2 geese honked loudly and flew off past me, and I just managed to capture them on my phone here.

 

RSPB nature reserves are not just about birds. They are a safe haven for all wildlife and I’m so glad I have such a beautiful place near where I live.

Steam Rally Day 24 of 30 Days Wild

It’s day 24 of 30 Days Wild and this weekend there is a steam rally in Kelsall, Cheshire. It’s not exactly a nature based activity but it meant I got to spend most of the day outdoors.

The first thing I saw was beautiful gentle shire horses and their 2 gorgeous foals. Even though they are babies they are still big. There was also little Shetland ponies and their cute little babies, which were so adorable to watch playing together.

Walking around the steam rally there are so many sights, sounds and smells that encapsulate the senses. I sat on the grass and watched steam engines roll past me like giant smoke breathing beasts. I saw swallows swooping low across the field of clover before me, catching insects amongst the hussle and bussle of so much human activity.

I watched lawn mower racing for the first time too. I was amazed how fast they went and how loud they were as the went around the track.

After a lot of walking, it was good to come home and just relax in the garden. I’m sat here now enjoying the evening sunshine and listening to the chirping birds and buzzing bees.

I hope you had a lovely time today, and you are enjoying the warm summer evening where you are tonight.