Owl pellets Day 18 of 30 Days Wild

It was another scorching hot day of 27 °C, so out came the parasol once again so I could hide under it’s shade.

On Friday I was given a tawny owl pellet so today I sat in the garden and began to dissect it.

I didn’t bother soaking the pellet in water first as it was quite soft and started to come apart easily. I got my tweezers and long needle and carefully pulled the fur apart to find all the little bones inside the pellet.

After I had picked out all the bones, I then started to study them. I counted the number of skulls in the pellet and gathered the jaw bones to study further.

It’s amazing seeing all the different types of teeth, skull and jaw bones. Some people may look at the bones in front of me and just say….”well it’s just a small mammal, probably a mouse. All those bones look alike so whats so interesting about that?”

The thing is. If you look more closely you will see that skulls, jawbones and teeth are all different. Once you get your eye in you start to spot the difference between a vole, shrew and mouse. There are a number of clues to look out for such as; shrews have a red tip on their teeth and voles have a zigzag like pattern to their molars.

That’s why I love dissecting owl pellets. They are like a jigsaw puzzle and are a wealth of information about the biodiversity in the owls hunting area.

So next time you find an owl pellet, why not have a go at dissecting it. The bones are normally quite easy to extract with tweezers and it is great fun to examine all those bones and find out about the small mammals that live in the area. It’s great getting so close up to nature.

 

painting in the garden Day 17

It was a very hot day. Too hot to be stuck indoors and too hot to be sat outside in the sun. I decided to get comfy under the shade of a parasol where it felt cooler, and I got creative. I got my paints out and sat waiting for some inspiration to come my way.

I started to think of the environment and what is happening to our planet. I thought about the people who think that climate change is some kind of hoax, about the uncertainty of environmental issues after Brexit and chaos of British politics.

As forests are being cut down, polluted rivers, rising seas and air quality getting poorer, our rich biodiversity is being lost. I made a decision to paint an abstract piece of how this made me feel.

forest destruction

We need to take more care of our planet.

Say No to products with plastic micro beads in them. Say Yes to more greener energies.

Take care of our wildlife and create more wild green spaces.

If we all did even just a little bit, it would make a big difference, not just to planet earth but to ourselves.

Relaxing in the garden Day 16 of 30 Days Wild

It’s day 16 of 30 Days Wild and it’s been a lovely relaxing day. I spent the day just sitting on the grass, admiring the flowers and watching the birds and bugs.

It has been lovely to just take a moment to do absolutely nothing and let my senses roam free in the garden.  All the beautiful scents wafting by me on the gentle breeze. The garden is alive with the sound of baby birds tweeting “Feed Me” loudly to their parents. The grass is cooling and soft to touch and insects delicately land on my skin tickling me.  I watch bees busily buzzing from flower to flower before lying on the grass and watching the different shaped fluffy clouds float on by above me.

 

 

Make friends with a slug -Day 15 of 30 Days Wild

Normally when you mention slugs to someone they pull a face and say… Yuck!

Mention slugs to a gardener and they will tell you in no uncertain terms what they actually think of them.

As a general rule we tend to think that slugs do nothing but eat all our young seedlings, pretty flowers and precious plants, but thats not the case.

Did you know that one slug in particular is a gardeners best friend?

Meet the leopard slug.

This rather large (16cms), attractive patterned slug actually helps gardeners.

They don’t eat healthy plants like other slugs do. They actually munch their way through decaying material and fungi, recycling nutrients and fertilising the soil.  Even more amazing is…….. they eat other slugs.

Yes…you heard that correctly. They eat all those other pesky slugs in your garden.

These slugs are normally found in woodlands, parks and gardens where there are old trees and dead fallen wood. Slugs need to keep their bodies damp so that they can breathe so are usually found in dark damp places.

To encourage this helpful garden friendly slug, create a log pile in your garden, as rotting damp wood is a great habitat for them.

An evening with a squirrel Day 14 

After working hard all day in the warm sunshine surrounded by nature I was just too tired to do anything special for todays 30 Days Wild when I got home. My knee was hurting and I felt exhausted so I figured that whatever I decided to do, it would be lazy and relaxing.

After tea I decided to spend some of the evening watching squirrels in the garden. They are so funny to watch. They are such cheeky little characters. The blackbirds and sparrows tweet annoyingly at them when they steal their food from the bird feeder. The squirrels chase each other around the garden and and flap their tail to let others know that this is their food source. They are always entertaining to watch.

After squirrel watching I looked at my watch and saw it was 8pm. I jumped on the sofa and put my feet up, as it was time to watch another great episode of Springwatch in TV.

Wild Verges Day 13 of 30 Days Wild

Spurred on by watching Springwatch last night I decided to take a walk down the country lane where I work and see if could see an orange tip butterfly or caterpillar.

I knew that garlic mustard (Also known as Jack-by-the-hedge) grew along the wild verges there but until last nights episode of Springwatch I didn’t know that both the orange tip butterfly and caterpillar feed on this plant. So off I went along the lane to see what I could find.

One thing I did notice was quite a bit of cuckoo spit clinging to grass stems.

I also saw this delightful little moth. Though I’m not sure what kind of moth it is, I am sure someone out there will inform me of it’s name.

Whilst walking I even caught a glimpse of a black fox in the far distance and a few rabbits scurrying into the hedges which was really exciting. Just wish I had got my binoculars with me.

Next I came to part of the verge where there are a lot of garlic mustard plants. A  great deal of them had already finished flowering and starting to form seed heads.

Walking a bit further I suddenly noticed on one of the seed head stems there was a thin green speckled caterpillar.

Yeapy…my quest was complete. It was the caterpillar of an orange tip butterfly.

Even though it was a very short walk down a country lane today, it is amazing what can be seen in such a short space of time if you look around.

 

 

 

Learning about nature in another language -30 Days Wild

I ordered my 30 Days Wild pack in Welsh and I love it. It’s exactly the same as the English pack but everything is written in the Welsh language. Welsh stickers, Welsh calendar, welsh ID sheet….it’s brilliant.

I’d like to thank The Wildlife Trust for producing the pack in both English and Welsh.  It was hard to decided which language to order at first but then I thought as I’m learning Welsh I should learn about nature in Welsh also.

So today I decided that one of my “Random Acts Of Wilderness” should be to try and learn more about wildlife using the Welsh language.

I sat outside eating my lunch looking through my favourite Welsh language book about nature.  Llyfr Natur by Iolo Williams.

 

I love this book as it has brilliant photos, Welsh names and descriptions but also has the names in English too to help you out. It is also my favourite book as Iolo Williams signed it for me when I worked with him on an episode  of Great Welsh Parks. That means alot as he wrote something for me in Welsh knowing I was a Welsh learner.

As I sat there I looked about at the wildlife around me then quickly looked it up in my book so see what it was called it in Welsh.

I think one of my favourite Welsh names is…titw tomas las. This is blue tit in Welsh. I love this name as if you listen, it sounds like the bird is saying “titoo” which is how you pronounce titw in Welsh.

The thing I love about the Welsh language is how descriptive it is.

Madfall ddŵr means  Newt in Welsh but its literal translation is water lizard.

My two favourite hobbies of wildlife spotting and learning Welsh came together today to make a fun and educational lunchtime.