30 Days Wild: Days 13-20

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Burghley Park

We’re now two thirds of the way through 30 Days Wild. I’m sad to see it’s going so fast! It’s been a glorious few days for wild adventures, how I love summer when it’s hot like this as it means I can be out in nature as much as I can!

Here’s an overview of what we have been up to over the past week.

Day 13

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I started a free online course on conservation. I’ve wanted to study more to complement my career and understand more about the diversity Whilst I’ve studied it from a human social science perspective I’d like to know more about the science of what I’m working to protect. So far I’ve learnt about the scientific and philosophical arguments behind why conservation as a practice is important and looked at more in depth definitions of ‘biodiversity’. I never realised until now that biodiversity doesn’t just refer to the variety of life on our planet but also the genetics that make up and the interconnections.

Check it out at United for Wildlife.

 

Day 14

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We had dinner in the garden enjoying seeing the swifts flying overhead and hearing the starlings burbling from the rooftops. We sat out late until a load of cockchafers appeared, their silhouettes in the growing darkness bumbling and buzzing through the air.

Day 15

Perhaps one of the less wild days as I spent the evening writing a blog for Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. I did, however, let my creative juices flow and attempted some of my own nature writing. You can read my blog here. Definitely check out their other blogs for 30 Days Wild too!

Day 16

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After work Alex and I headed to another of our local wild areas in Stamford that we hadn’t visited for a while. This time it was Burghley Park, the grounds of the great Burghley House which are open to the public. A deer park filled with ancient trees, mainly oaks, horse chestnuts and limes towering far above us. Despite it being private land that happens to be open to the public for free, it is one of few places where I feel a huge sense of freedom. The large space open green offers no barriers Here I let my inner playfulness come out, running at random in the wide open, going where I please and hugging trees. This parkland seemed to mainly be the domain of corvids, jackdaws and crows calling from the huge trees. At one point during our exploring a jackdaw appeared from a hole in a tree trunk, a likely location for a nest!

Day 17

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Rutland Water

As part of my volunteer role helping the osprey project at Rutland Water I had the opportunity to volunteer on an osprey cruise. Upon the Rutland Belle we followed ospreys around Rutland Water to see them flying and fishing. We had three sightings of ospreys, including one hovering over the water, another diving down to the water to wash its feet and another flew close to the boat flying right over us. It was a thrill to see them flying across the reservoir as I usually only watch their activity around the nest. It was a stunning evening too with the low sun glistening on unusually calm waters. The ospreys were too far away for good photos with my camera!

Day 18

As it was Father’s Day we headed to the pub for lunch with family. It was the Tap and Kitchen in Oundle which is a lovely quirky place. It was a little wild, as we sat by the river with red kites and a buzzard wheeling overhead. Even though red kites have become so common in this area I never tire of them of their graceful angled shaped gliding in the sky. Back at my parents’ house set deep in the countryside we sat out in the garden. I searched for newts in the pond to no avail. Just before we left I spotted an adorable blue tit fledgling singing on a my parents’ birch tree! No photos sadly as my phone was out of battery!

Day 19

I spent lunchtime at work sat outside in our office’s garden. It’s a properly wild garden planted with wildlife in mind with silver birches, fern and long grasses. Bug hotels sit amongst the foliage. I love sitting out here when I can, there’s usually a few birds about. On this day I spotted a chirpy female house sparrow.

Day 20

Today my colleagues and I watched the Loch Arkaig osprey pair on the webcam at work. The chicks hatched at the weekend so it was very exciting to watch them being fed fish by Aila, their mum. Louis, the father, is admirable in the amount of fish he’s catching but he spends most of his time hovering unhelpfully on the nest and moving sticks whilst she cares for the chicks. We do get equally frustrated and amused by the young pair! Two of the three eggs hatched so there’s currently two fluffy chicks. Although we are concerned for the survival of one of the chicks as it appears to be getting far less food than the other. It’s nice to watch young ‘bobblehead’ chicks now that the Rutland osprey chicks are huge! It’s also helping with my Springwatch withdrawal, still having a bird of prey family to follow on video is helping with the lack of nature TV.

 

If you’d like to hear more about what I’m up to this month for 30 Days Wild, follow my blog (click the button at top of right sidebar ^), like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

30 Days Wild: Days 8-12

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Damselflies at Holme Fen Nature Reserve

Wow, the last 5 days have flown by and thrown up quite a variety of wildness, with us visiting new and old wild places, and seeing new and old species. Two of my biggest highlights of 30 Days Wild and a new favourite reserve have also come out of these adventures.

It’s been a busy few days so I’m a little behind with this 30 Days Wild update, so thank you for bearing with me. Here’s a few snapshots of what we have been up to!

Day 8

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This was polling day and so for our wild act Alex and I went to the polling station to vote for wildlife. As always, mention of the environment was woefully lacking in this election. Whilst voting for different parties at the polling station, we followed our hearts choosing what we felt were the best options for protecting the environment.

And an unexpected act of wildness. As it had been a windy day we’d come home to find our compost bin fallen over with its contents strewn across the lawn. It was in the garden when we first moved in and we found, with its recent collapse, that its contents were actually wholly unsuitable for creating compost, including mostly dry conifer branches and plastic. So, with leftover lawn cuttings I started again, creating a compost bin that will actually create compost and benefit our garden wildlife.

Day 9

After a day of political debate and chaos in the office with the shock election result, a wild escape was certainly needed! And we found one at the peaceful Ketton Quarry Nature reserve which is only 10 minutes drive from home and yet we’d never been. It’s a small reserve so it was ideal for an evening adventure!

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Ketton Quarry Nature Reserve

We wandered through mini valleys and mounds littered with rocks and uneven ground that evidenced its quarried past. The dense jumble of so many plants, wildflower, birds, rabbits and insects all intertwined was wonderful and absorbing to be in. It just shows what can develop if you let nature be after scarring a landscape through human exploitation. We also spotted a deer as it fled from us in the woodland and the alarm calls of a blackbird.

As the light began to fade we sat at the bottom of one of the mini valleys looking up at brambles and hedge that lined the brow of the hill. We’d seen a green woodpecker flit across and chattering blue tits in the brambles so we sat down still and silent for a bit of wildlife watching. And we were rewarded for our quiet vigil!  A ball of pinky-red ringed with black appeared in a dense tree with Alex’s cry of ‘Is it Bullfinch?’. I confirmed it was, having seen them during my uni days in Cornwall. But I was just as thrilled as he, having not seen what is one my all time favourite  birds for over three years!

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Bullfinch

Day 10

Our trip to Holme Fen Nature Reserve for our wild adventure on Saturday has been my favourite wild act so far this month. Another local reserve we’d never been to, and we’d not even heard of it before. It’s tucked away secretly on the edge of the Fens. It is a stunning silver birch forest covered in jungle like fern with stretches of water hidden amongst trees. I won’t give away too much about it as I’ll be blogging about it for Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust for 30 Days Wild, but I will share some of my photos here. And I must mention that we heard a cuckoo which was a huge highlight for me! Watch this space for my blog over the weekend.

Day 11

Stamford Meadows is our nearest patch of wild with us living in the town centre. The closely mown carpet-like grass of the main area of greenspace gives way to a truly wild meadow, if not as filled with wildflower as I’d like. Brambles, thistles and nettles stand as tall as us in places. Insects and bird song crowd this area with a river and stream running either side filled with fish. But the little egret and kingfisher didn’t greet us that day. I think of the meadows as my very own edgeland, a concept that anyone who has read Common Ground will be familiar with!

There’s always wild things to discover if you look closely in the meadows, as you can see!

Day 12

Today’s act, as written on our 30 Days Wild wall chart, is to watch a nature documentary and after a long Monday at work and me writing this blog I think it’s likely that’s all we have the energy and time for today. The show of choice will of course be Springwatch! I’m particularly enjoying this series with the focus on birds of prey (especially the red kite) and with the new setting away from their usual nature reserves. I feel I’ve learnt a lot from this series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else I’ll learn today!

What have you been up to for 30 Days Wild over the past 5 days? I’m loving reading all about everyone’s wild acts on blogs and social media!

If you’d like to hear more about what I’m up to this month for 30 Days Wild, follow my blog (click the button at top of right sidebar ^), like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

30 Days Wild: Days 5-7


Welcome to the second installment of our 30 Days Wild adventures! As the weather has turned rather wet and gloomy we’ve spent less time outdoors sadly but still succeeded in being a bit wild everyday. Here’s what what we’ve been up to over the past three days.

Day 5

After a long Monday at work we logged onto Zooniverse as planned to volunteer on their conservation projects. I settled on Snapshot Serengeti where you ID animals captured with camera traps. It provides lots of help on how to ID the various species. Highlights for me included elephant, dik dik, impala, hyena and a male lion. Alex had a go at a more relevant project for UK wildlife, counting wild flowers for bees. 


Day 6

As it was pouring with rain outdoors we opted for some creativity instead inspired by Springwatch. Here’s the two haiku I wrote about Dippers and Pine Martens:

Head bobs up and down

Diving underwater for food

Dipper by nature 

Arrow heads appear

Liver fur coating playful cubs

Red squirrel saviour?

And Alex’s far superior and rhyming haiku on the Kingfisher:

Flash of brightest blue

Flitting across river view

The kingfisher’s hue


Day 7

Today we explored the great outdoors of our garden and cul-de-sac! With summer finally here our garden has grown truly wild, just how we like it. When we first moved in, the lawn was bare and patchy, hedges trimmed, an absence of greenery and littered with rubbish left over from builders. But since then, 9 months ago, we’ve allowed everything to flourish resulting in a much lovelier and more enjoyable garden. We’ve added bird feeders, a bird house, potted trees and a bug house. Our pet quail seem to enjoy the foliage that’s grown up around their pens. Perhaps our landlord won’t be too happy about the small wilderness that’s appeared but the wildlife certainly are! 

First, we identified all the trees in the vicinity.

Copper Beech
Hawthorne
Elder
Blackthorne (I think)
Silver Birch
 

And then we just spend some time looking a little closer at the nature all around us and noticed things we hadn’t before like cuckoo’s spit, the differences between young and old leaves, bees crawling on flowers and little hints that some petals were beginning to fade.

Cuckoo Spit

Baby Ash Tree

30 Days Wild: Days 1-4

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Sedge Warbler at Rutland Water Nature Reserve

30 Days Wild has officially begun! It’s been so exciting to start the challenge and get stuck into random acts of wildness everyday. I’m also thrilled in these 4 days I’ve managed to see a new species I’ve never seen before. So here’s a rundown of what we have got up to so far, with lots of photos to document our every wild step!

Day 1

For Day 1 we planned to plant our wildflower seeds that we received in the 30 Days Wild pack. We have a couple of bare patches in our garden so we followed the instructions in our pack and then sprinkled our seeds. Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll see them start to grow!

Day 2

Scrawled on Day 2 of our 30 Days Wild wall chart were the words ‘Climb a tree’. So despite the grey sky we ventured out after work to find a climbable tree in Stamford. It made sense to try the Meadows and here we stumbled upon a multi-trunked ancient willow, the ideal climbing frame. Alex, an expert climber, managed to climb far higher than me but I was content with a tree hug!

Whilst journeying to find the perfect tree we also discovered lots of patches of wildness in the town. We found that even with our goal complete we were inspired to explore more of the local nature, including a stream that branches off from the River Welland. Here’s a few of the things we found.

Day 3

Despite spending the whole day in central Leicester visiting family, we managed to find some wild to add to our day. We first had lunch in the greenery covered cafe, Salvador Deli, which featured plant pots all over its walls. We noticed beautiful flowers next to the pavement and a crochet covered bollard featuring wild animals! A local shop had a very relevant art print. We then explored Victoria Park, a beautiful green space in the centre of the city covered in veteran trees. It’s great to see city streets surrounded by so much nature. Although we felt the park needed a wildflower meadow!

Day 4

Today I had my shift volunteering with Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust monitoring the osprey family, which naturally was very wild! A fairly quiet shift, the adult ospreys mainly sat with the chicks, occasionally flying off to gather hay and twigs for the nest. The chicks looked quite disappointed when they came back with no food! Some drama did occur when Maya the female dive-bombed some Egyptian geese swimming a tad close to the nest.

We also saw great crested grebes, cormorants, tufted ducks, mallards, coots (and chicks), moorhen, little egret, common terns, swifts, house martins, red kite, reed buntings, swans, Egyptian geese, sedge warbler and water vole. But the highlight for me was seeing the rather special water rail, a bird I’ve never seen before. On arrival we heard its feral screech from amongst the reeds in front of the hide. But it wasn’t until a few hours later that a visitor spotted it slip out the reeds. I glimpsed its elegant frame and red streak beak through my binoculars before it vanished. No time to take a photo unfortunately!

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The Osprey nest on a telegraph pole
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Coot and baby

What wild things have you been up to over last 4 days? If you’d like to keep up with our wild adventures over 30 Days Wild follow this blog (click Follow on right ^), follow my Twitter, like my Facebook page or my Instagram!

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30 Days Wild: Ideas for outdoor adventures

Nature Walking @EmmaBradshaw

In my last blog post I shared lots of ideas on what to do on busy weekdays or when the weather is less than appealing. But 30 Days Wild wouldn’t be complete without forays into the wild outdoors beyond our doorsteps! That’s what I love most about 30 Days Wild, that extra motivation to visit new places, see new species, and take on new adventures, however big or small. So for the days when the sun shines and we have a couple hours or more free, I’ve come up with another 20 or so ideas so we’ll never be stuck for what to do next!

Here’s 23 ideas for outdoor adventures:

  • Find and explore a new wild place you didn’t know existed, for example try your local cemetery or closest green patch on Google maps
  • Plant wildflower seeds
  • Go stargazing on a clear night
  • Try some nature photography, a phone camera will do
  • Walk in a wood
  • Visit a nature reserve
  • Kayak on a wild river, we invested in inflatable kayaks which are perfect for spontaneous river trips anywhere
  • Roll down a hill, embrace your inner playfulness!
  • Walk barefoot in the grass
  • Swim in the wild, be it sea or river
  • Help the planet by picking up litter
  • Walk a dog, and appreciate the natural world all around through their eyes
  • Touch tree bark, smell flowers, stroke leaves, rescue insects and listen to the birds

 

Check out my ideas for busy and rainy days here. Once June begins I’ll be blogging all about my adventures for 30 Days Wild, follow me (click Follow on sidebar to the right >), like my page on Facebook or Twitter, or add me on BlogLovin’ to hear about what me and Alex get up to! I also plan to Instagram every Random Act of Wildness I do. You should also check out my fellow 30 Days Wild bloggers.

Do you have any other exciting plans for your 30 Days Wild? I can’t wait to see what everyone gets up to!

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30 Days Wild: Ideas for busy and rainy days

Curb @Furygodmother

30 Days Wild can be a challenge. Committing to wildness everyday in June in our cluttered schedules and often not nature friendly modern lives isn’t always easy. Which is only more reason to have a go! So I’ve come up with 20 wild acts that we can all do when the weather is being rather uninviting or when you simply haven’t got time or space to go on a wild adventure.

As you might have guessed, this year for 30 Days Wild Alex and I are getting organised! I’m plotting out 40 random acts of wildness for all occasions and situations to make sure we get the most out of this amazing month. Me and Alex are putting our favourite 30 acts on the wall chart, that the Wildlife Trust kindly provided us in the 30 Days Wild pack, so we know what we’re doing each day. But they’re flexible so we can swap them around during the month to suit our needs.

Here’s our 20 ideas for busy and rainy days:

  • Start a free online course on wildlife or nature. United for Wildlife have a free wildlife conservation course and FutureLearn have one on ecosystems.
  • Learn to identify tree leaves by drawing/stencilling some common tree leaves and annotating them
  • Similarly, learn to identify garden birds by drawing/stencilling some from a guide book
  • Watch a wildlife webcam online. I follow the lives of two osprey families in Scotland and England
  • A game idea: name/write down as many UK species as possible in 5-10 minutes
  • Read about a recent nature discovery or scientific research. The website for the magazine Biosphere is always an interesting read.
  • Do a garden birds quiz
  • Do a wildflower quiz
  • Do a garden bird watch from your window
  • Go for a walk in the rain
  • Take a photo of raindrops, for example droplets on leaves or flowers
  • Write a poem or haiku about nature. Haikus are easy, just follow the structure.
  • Take part in a nature campaign and show your support for a good cause. Sign the Charter for woods and trees or help the bees.
  • Plan a wild trip, for example think about going wild camping in Scotland
  • Make a bird cake, here’s a recipe to try
  • Volunteer on Zooniverse and help with their conservation projects online
  • Draw or paint a picture of wildlife or get a nature inspired colouring book to colour
  • Read nature writing, I’ve got ‘Gossip from the Forest‘ by Sara Maitland lined up
  • Make a DIY bug house, I found some inspiration here
  • Hunt out the closest bit of nature to you, wherever you are. Whether it be dandelions bursting from a crack in a paving stone or a ladybird flying by.

 

If you haven’t already, sign up for 30 Days Wild here! Check out my ideas for outdoors adventures here. Once June begins I’ll be blogging all about my adventures for 30 Days Wild, follow me (click Follow near top of sidebar to the right >), like my page on Facebook or Twitter, or add me on BlogLovin’ to hear about what me and Alex get up to! I also plan to Instagram every Random Act of Wildness I do. You should also check out my fellow 30 Days Wild bloggers.

Do you have any wild ideas for rainy days or busy schedules? I’d love to hear them.

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30 Days Wild: Books and Birds for Days 9, 10 and 11 

Days 9-10 mainly centred around wild birds and nature books for my 30 Days Wild.

Day 9

The boyfriend lives in Hampton in Peterborough which is a recently developed area on what used to be brick fields. Buglife, The Wildlife Trust and Froglife were involved in the design of the area and I definitely think it is an example of what all housing developments should be like. It’s a beautiful place with lots of wildlife, long grass and little lakes. House martins, terns, swifts and swallows can be seen regularly flitting through the houses and dipping down to the water. On this day we headed to one of the lakes to see what wildlife we could find. Coots, geese and more geese!

They were tame enough to let us feed them by hand and the goslings were adorable. And on the way back home we saw a heron hunting.

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