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.

Enjoying the rain Day 22 of 30 Days Wild

After the intense heat this week we finally got some rain. Some people run for cover but I stepped outside and embraced it’s cooling touch.

The beautiful azure sky changed colour as fluffy clouds appeared almost sticking to each other like magnets. Large pillows of cloud covered the sun and a fresh breeze caressed my warm skin. Then came the pitter-patter of raindrops, slowly and lightly at first, but then increasing with intensity.

I love the smell of rain after a dry spell and the freshness it brings to the air. You can almost see the plants wiggling happily as the rain soaks their roots. I love the way raindrops sit like diamonds on spider webs and rest on flower petals and leaves like blobs of mercury.

The trickles of rain rolled down my skin cooling me down after a week of intense heat. It was nice to feel the rain again and I bet the plants and wildlife enjoyed it too.

The air now feels a little cooler and the plants have had a drink. I don’t feel as cranky or sleepy now the heatwave has gone. I feel fresh and revived thanks to the rain.

Next time it rains, don’t hide indoors. Instead of moaning about it, think of all the benefits it brings.

Rain is part of nature so embrace it.

Wirral Wanderings -Day 21 of 30 Days Wild

First of all let me start by saying:

Merry Litha, Happy Summer Solstice and Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf hapus everyone. What ever you call the longest day I hope you had a fantastic time.

Today was another hot day but at least by the afternoon it turned overcast and we had 5 minutes of thunder and lightening to clear the air a tiny little bit.

For my 30 days Wild challenge today, I went for a stroll around different parts of the Wirral Peninsula.

My first stop this morning was Gordales garden centre. They have a little lake there and it was teaming with wildlife. There was buzzards flying over head cooing, moorhens splashing about in the water and a variety of small birds eating seed on the ground.

My next stop was Burton Manor gardens in the beautiful chocolate box village of Burton, followed by a quick pop into Burton RSPB nature reserve to see the fantastic wildlife there.

My next exploration took me to a little secret place tucked down a quiet lane called Hampston Well, also in Burton. The spring is is thought to have been in use during the Iron Age and Anglo Saxon times.  Sadly it was overgrown and I never got to see much which is a great shame.

As the sun started to rise high in the sky I drove down to Thurstaston beach to soak up the lovely scenery and gaze over at the Welsh hills across the water. (The river Dee estuary)

I then decided to head to the other side of the Wirral Peninsula.  Half way across I drove past the old Hadlow station. The  disused railway line is now called The Wirral Way and is a great place to walk if you wish to see wildlife and history.

On reaching the river Mersey side of Wirral, my first stop is the old Eastham churchyard to say hello to an ancient yew tree who is somewhere between 1,500-2,000 years old.

I then drove a little further, to walk around the old Eastham pleasure grounds. You can still see evidence here of old zoo cages and a bear pit. It is quite sad to think animals were once kept in such awful conditions in Victorian time.

My final stop of the day was to sit by the old 12th Century Eastham Ferry quay. I sat for a while watching ships come in along the river Mersey and gazed over at the Liverpool iconic skyline on the other side of the river.

Wirral is a wonderful place to visit and there is so much more to see…there just isn’t enough time in the day for me. (even if it is the longest day)

New creature encounters -Day 20 of 30 Days Wild

I had 2 exciting encounters today at work. I saw 2 creatures that I have never seen before.

My first encounter was with a ruby tailed wasp, which landed on my hosepipe as I was watering the plants. Annoyingly the moment I moved to take a photo, it flew off. All I can say is, it had absolutely stunning colours. It was only small but it was iridescent turquoise and vibrant pink. It was beautiful to see, I just wish I had been able to take a photo.

My other encounter was with a ghost slug. This was a thin small white slug which suits its name with its ghostly appearance.

I also had a few lovely admiral butterflies fluttering about me today which was magical and I saw a number of bumblebees buzzing about the flowers. I had a number of hoverflies interested in my bright blue water flask (which was lovely to see) and a number of horseflies interested in me.(which wasn’t a nice experience)

To end the day, a young buzzard landed in the tree next to me and a green woodpecker flew overhead rushing to feed its young.

 

 

Tracking creatures Day 19 of 30 Days Wild

Welcome to the 19th day of my 30 Days Wild challenge. I can’t believe I have managed to blog every day. Its certainly been hard work in this heatwave we have been having.

One of the places where I work is a plant nursery which is set upon a sandy hillside.  The great thing about it being sandy is that I quite often come across little prints in the sand especially first thing in the morning before anyone else arrives on site.

I stumble upon fox and badger paw prints. Lots of rabbit foot prints, and some bird ones too. I have also seen smaller mammals and amphibians on site but not found any tracks yet.

Today I saw a little vole, cute bunnies, a smooth newt, a frog, and I even heard a cuckoo.

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I have great fun spotting tracks in the sand and watching the wildlife as I walk around; and try and capture a photo if possible.

Here are some tracks that I spotted today.

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.

 

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.