Day 30: I can’t quite believe that June is almost over! How quick the month has flown. The Wildlife Trusts’30 Days Wild has been wonderful in focusing the mind to the nature that is all around. Also blogging everyday has been challenging but ultimately enjoyable. Would I do it all again? Probably. There is so much out there to see and learn.
Today’s post, from Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve is a little bit different. I decided to make you all a message via a vlog. I hope you enjoy my celebration of 2018’s 30 Days Wild? Thanks to David for piecing the video together.
During our walk through Lunt Meadows there were so many butterflies, I lost count! Meadow browns, tortoiseshells and red admirals were among the numbers. The highlight for me was seeing avocets hovering and chattering overhead. It looked like they were having a heated argument with some geese!
June 2018 has well and truly been a month to remember and thank you for following me in my wild adventures!
If you have participated in 30 Days Wild this year, what have been your highlights?
Day 29: For the penultimate day of 2018’s 30 Days Wild, I decided to go looking for moths. In the past I have never been successful in my moth hunts. This year wasn’t any different, however I spent a peaceful evening in the yarden. I enjoyed the quietude of sitting outside as the night darkened. The air was warm and scented heavily with jasmine. I saw many micro-moths but none stopped for a photograph. My light trap was ineffectual once again.
With nothing to show for my time outdoors, I decided to rummage through my archive of photos and show you the moths I have been lucky in seeing.
Heart and Dart
Silver Y Moth
Six-spot Burnet Moth
Cinnabar Moth…day moth
Gold Mint Moth
A few years ago we did see a plume moth but it looks like I never saved the photograph. 😦
There are 2,500 species of moth in the UK. Not all moths are active at night. Some moths have proboscis but others as adults have none, these moths rely on fat stores and only live up to a week. Moths have sense receptors on their legs and other parts of their bodies to smell, and they hear through their wings. Some species are expert at camouflage while others (especially their caterpillars) mimic other species in defense to being preyed upon. They are food for many birds and mammals.
If you’ve been luckier than I have in your moth sightings, do let me know which species has caught you eye.
Day 28: For this Throw Back Thursday, I am going to break open the elderflower champagne. Last year I made elderflower champagne which turned out to be more like cordial than champagne. So this year I made a second batch using a recipe from the Women’s Institute, with extra sprinkles of champagne yeast. In reality perhaps I shouldn’t have used four sprinkles of the yeast as the bottles have become very explosive!!
I let David cautiously open the bottle and poured two glasses of the elderflower. We shall toast to all things wild!
With the addition of the champagne yeast there is a definite hint of alcohol which was sadly missing in last years attempt. Still as flowery and refreshing as ever, especially on an extremely HOT day!
How have you been keeping cool?
In 2015 I went dragon spotting in Norwich. 2016 saw me looking for moths using a light trap and in 2017 I participated in the Great British Wildflower Hunt.
Day 27: At the weekend a post on the Facebook 30 Days Wild page caught my eye. The post was all about species with a link to The Wildlife Trusts Wildlife Explorer. I noticed that ferns and horsetails were in their own species category, so I decided to look more closely at the ferns in the yarden.
We seem to have only one species of fern growing which I’ve ID’d as bracken! I think of bracken in woodland and heath-land, but apparently we have at least three bracken plants flourishing in the yarden.
They are ancient plants, far older than the dinosaurs, and can grow up to 1.5 meters.
Bracken spreads by underground rhizomes or horizontal stems but can germinate from spores (sporangia) carried on the wind. I noticed spores on the underside of the fronds and found them fascinating. I read that this bracken is fertile (due to the presence of spores) as not all have them.
Bracken is deciduous and dies back during winter and turns the landscape a tinge of brown. The plant is highly toxic to animals and should not be eaten. I read many scare stories associated with bracken online, that they harbour ticks and are carcinogenic.
I visited Woolfall Heath Meadow before work and spent a leisurely half an hour walking around the circular path through grassland.
It was a hot day, the thermometer reaching 24°C. The area was very quiet and I only saw two people walking their dogs. As I walked along the path, soaking up the rays of the sun, the chirp of grasshoppers sounded at my feet while willow warblers sung from the shelter of nearby trees.
The River Alt runs through the site and I sat overlooking a reedbed while watching as red admirals fluttered past. There were many meadow browns flying over the meadow but non stopped still enough for me to take a picture.
Woolfall Heath Meadow
Common Evening Primrose
Of the flowers I spotted were, bindweed, thistles and field scabious. Bees enjoyed the ever popular brambles.
Do you have a community development like this one near you?
It was the first outing of my orange tow float, and to celebrate this momentous occasion I walked 1.5 hours to Stickle Tarn, in the Langdales (and 1.5 hours back) to test it out!
At Stickle Tarn
On a particular down day I decided that my swim kit just wasn’t complete without a tow float. I had read that COWS who swim at Derwentwater had asked swimmers to don a tow float so tourist boaters could see swimmers. For the sake of safety I decided to buy a Lomo tow float with pouch (other brands are available). It was only £19 including postage and arrived not two days after I ordered it. I was very happy with my purchase and was excited to test it out.
So when an impromptu break to the Lake District beckoned, the tow float came with me, along with a brand new Regatta rucksack. All this swim kit needs to be carried and the rucksack I had just wasn’t adequate.
Our walk started from The National Trust Stickle Ghyll car park off the B5343 (nearest postcode LA22 9JX). David and I, didn’t know how long it would take to walk the route with a swim and picnic, so we paid for all day parking at £7.00. While David calibrated his steady cam I sat and enjoyed the woodland birds visiting the feeders a NT volunteer had put up. I even saw a yellowhammer but was unable to photograph it due to the poor zoom on my S6!
We followed a path from the north end of the car park. Passed a gate which traversed towards Stickle Ghyll and a path that had been stone pitched, that led steeply upwards. There were many plunge pools that looked inviting along the route.
The path towards Stickle Tarn
We crossed a bridge which overlooked a hydroelectric scheme, that harnessed the power of the ghyll, from there the path steadily gained height. There were many scrambles which I wasn’t too happy about. However I manged to scale the rocks and overcame the stepping stones across the turbulent ghyll, before we took the final steps towards the tarn.
The summits of Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Pike O’ Stickle once formed the outer rim of a volcano. Many a climber has enjoyed ascending Jake’s Rake. I preferred to sink my body into cold 14°C waters. It was an ancient volcano after all!
I lasted about 15 minutes in the water before I decided to call it a day. While I looked the part, my technique let me down, with turbulent waters I struggled. The water was cold, and the wind that chopped the waters was equally as cold. I suffered badly from shivers on land afterwards. The tow float had a good swim and remained visible. Also the pouch with dry bag kept my phone dry (which I used to measure my swim), even after a capsize! David kindly filmed me swimming, the result can be seen above.
Stickle Tarn swim
View down Stickle Ghyll
Once warmed up and had lunch we took the descent back to the car park. However we missed the boulder crossing at the ghyll and ended up looking for a way across further down. David found a site he thought was broach-able. For his long legs it was, but I failed in this leap of faith and hit the side of the ghyll. David reached for my left arm and as he kept a hold of me, to stop me from falling down the waterfall, I felt my tendons twist. I managed to climb onto dry land, having taken an impromptu dip in the ghyll. My boots were soaked and I was in the water up to my knees. I had just got dry, and now I was wet again! Add to that a throbbing wrist and I could be forgiven for giving up on the remaining plans for the day. However I did not. I fought the injury to go on a second swim that day.
I am happy to report that the remaining journey down the ghyll was uneventful. Thankfully there were free toilets at the car park and I managed to change into fresh swimwear. I will write about about my second swim of the day in my next post.
Have you visited Stickle Tarn, or had an unexpected swim? Fallen into fast flowing water?
Day 25: Today’s Close Up Monday is all about goldfinches.
This colourful finch has been on the increase in the UK, mainly due to changes in feeding habits, enjoying seeds from garden feeders. They ranked #6 in the 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.
A very sociable bird, in autumn they flock in charms of 100+.
They predominantly eat seeds (sunflower and niger among others) but also eat aphids. Males are the only ones who can access the seeds from teasel heads. In Victorian times they were captured in their thousands for caged displays. They can have up to three broods a year and nest in trees and bushes.
Goldfinches Picture by David Evans
Goldfinch Picture by David Evans
In the past my yarden has attracted charms of some 20+ birds. Do you have any goldfinches visiting your feeders? They are such pretty birds.
Day 24: Today we visited Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve, Congleton. This small nature reserve has a lake and a one mile circular walk through woodland, heath and grassland, which is popular with dog walkers. There is also a visitor centre. The car park charge was £2 for up to three hours, or £3 for all day. I was slightly saddened that nature sightings weren’t very high but there were butterflies and damsels fluttering over the many spotted orchids in a wildflower meadow.
We did spot a striking broad bodied chaser, a species neither of us had seen before.
Broad Bodied Chaser
Have you visited Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve? Have something like it near you?
Day 23: Today was going to be all about lavender. I had planned a day out to Inglenook Farm to see their lavender fields. However since spring was late this year, it means that flowers are late in blooming, so we aborted the visit and I was left with nothing to fill today’s 30 Days Wild post.
Unfortunately it feels like a bit of a cop out, but I am reverting to a staple #randomactofwildness; that of capturing something blue. It may not have been the blue of lavender but I have many blues in the yarden.
Lithodora Heavenly Blue
Something Blue – sky blue
From borage and vipers-bugloss, to a blue summers sky and rockery plant, Lithodora Heavenly Blue.
Have you photographed anything blue recently?
Thanks for reading, and stay wild!
P.S: I promise tomorrow’s post will be a bit more wild!
I peered under ivy and lifted rocks in the hope of finding some arthropods but all I found was a few frightened spiders.
I did have many flying insects visiting the yarden. Bees featured heavily. I saw my first honeybee of the season and a leaf-cutter bee foraged from flower to flower. A strange looking wasp also ventured into the yarden but didn’t stay for long.
I didn’t see any beetles, nor sight or sound of ants. They all must be hiding.