30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Twenty-one.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_21Day 21: Happy Litha or Summer Solstice!

2019’s longest day, saw the UK welcome 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. However, after all this celebration of light, the shorter days and darker nights begin from here. Today the weather for the NW of England has been fair and warm. Perfect weather to release my painted lady butterflies.

I was sad to see my butterflies fly but knew I had given them the best start in life.

painted lady butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly

After coming home from work David and I headed out to a sun drenched yarden. The chirrup of sparrows and the cooing of pigeons sounded in the air. Once I had opened the habitat one butterfly, (I would like to think it was my little caterpillar who hadn’t made it to the top of the cup), flew straight up into the air! The other four butterflies needed a little more coaxing. I noticed one feeding on the watermelon I had given them before he/she took to the wing.

All five butterflies safely flew away. I hope they enjoy the sunshine on this solstice and manage to breed and begin the cycle again.

It has been a wonderful experience. I was amazed at how quickly I grew attached to the caterpillars and then saddened when they became chrysalids, but soon celebrated the emergence of them as butterflies. Nature is truly miraculous!

Would I do it all again? Probably, though I stressed about feeding the butterflies and when I couldn’t release them. But the positive experience more than out weighed the worries.

Have you been inspired to give the experience a go? If so, you can read more about butterfly gardens from Insect Lore.

Thanks for following my caterpillars to butterflies,

Stay wild!

Christine x

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30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Twenty.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_20Day 20: For today’s Throw Back Thursday I will be returning to the theme of planting for wildlife as I did in 2015. 2016 saw me celebrate the summer solstice. In 2017 I showcased bees and in 2018 I walked alpacas.

Planting for wildlife can be so rewarding. My little yarden is five years old and has some wonderful plants for birds and insects.

Such as ivy, polemonium, crocus, salvia, hellebore, red campion, passion flower and delilah.

What flowers do you grow for pollinators and birds?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Nineteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_19Day 19: Today I am returning to my painted ladies chrysalids. Monday evening, coming home from work, we found one painted lady butterfly clinging to the mesh of the habitat. I was overjoyed to find it was the little caterpillar I had been worrying about, who hadn’t made it to the top of the cup to chrysalise. I left him/her to harden its wings and expel red meconium which is the left over part of the caterpillar.

An hour later, our first butterfly was joined by another!

Tuesday morning, we awoke to three painted lady butterflies. I chopped up some orange and apple and made nectar (sugar/water) and left them at the bottom of the habitat, hoping the butterflies would find them.

On arriving home from work Tuesday evening David and I found all five had emerged from their chrysalises. I was ecstatic, yet slightly concerned. I had five new lives in my hands.

I shall be releasing them soon, so they can continue their life cycle. I also read that painted lady butterflies are migratory and can travel 2,500 miles to North Africa.

What’s your favourite butterfly?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Eighteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_18Day 18: Though the full moon was yesterday. I thought I would focus a little on our closest satellite today. Our moon is the 6th largest in the solar system and is 4.5 billion years old. Is 384,000km away and rotates at the same rate as it orbits, meaning the same hemisphere faces Earth all the time. It’s thin atmosphere provides no protection from the sun, surface temperatures range from +150°C to -250°C.

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The Moon by David Evans

Are you like me and on a clear night always look to the heavens in search of the moon and what phase it is? Sunlight is reflected off the surface of the moon creating moonlight. Phases are created by our view of the moon as it orbits the Earth, hence why it changes phase every night. It takes the moon 29.5 days to go through it’s eight phases called a lunar month.

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The phases are:

  • New Moon
  • Waxing Crescent
  • First Quarter
  • Waxing Gibbous
  • Full
  • Waning Gibbous
  • Third Quarter
  • Waning Crescent
  • New Moon

The far side of the moon, known as the ‘dark side’ is never visible from the Earth. In January 2019 a Chinese spacecraft Chang’e -4 with rover Yutu-2 is the first man made craft to view this mysterious hemisphere of the moon.

Do you know any fun facts on the moon?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Seventeen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_17Day 17: Following on from last week’s Close Up Monday, today’s focus is on the red squirrel.

I am very lucky to live within an hours drive from Formby, which is a stronghold of the red squirrels. Disease and the introduction of the American grey squirrel in the 19th Century has impacted greatly on red squirrel numbers.

Red squirrels, a mammal, are native to the UK and classed regionally as endangered. Though red squirrels can be found in other European countries. Their population in the UK is estimated at approx. 140,000 which is quite shocking given that the figure of the grey squirrel as 2.5 million.

maps working version of comparison

The reason for this disparity is obvious when you see both species side by side. Whereas the red squirrel is small and dainty the grey is larger in body.

The two main competitions are:

  • food
  • disease

Food: The grey squirrel being larger has show to eat more and also to be more successful at foraging. Whereas the red has been left behind and is often pushed out of an area due to the competition for food.

Disease: grey squirrels seem to have a natural immunity to squirrel pox than reds. Pox to the red squirrels has a 100% mortality rate, which is catastrophic to any resident population. According to The Wildlife Trusts, there is currently an outbreak of squirrel pox at Formby, but hopefully it won’t be as devastating to the population as the 2008 pox outbreak when 80% of Merseyside and Lancashire’s red squirrels were wiped out!

Habitat loss is also a contributing factor to the decline of the red squirrel.

Red squirrels are found in the North of England and Scotland. They prefer to live in coniferous forests and nest in dreys. They can have up to two litters a year, with 2-3 kittens per litter. Their diet consists of hazelnuts and pine cones but occasionally they eat small birds and eggs. Like the grey squirrel they do not hibernate.

There are a number of projects currently running to help sustain red squirrel numbers: Red Squirrels United is a partnership with The Wildlife Trusts, academics and volunteers and funded by the EU and The National Lottery to create a scientifically robust conservation programme. In turn Red Squirrels United are working closely with Saving Scotland’s RED Squirrels, who work with local communities to preserve this iconic UK animal. Red Squirrel Survival Trust is an entirely donation run initiative created to spread awareness to the plight of the red squirrel.

What is your stance on the red vs grey squirrel argument? Do you ever see a time when both can coexist in the UK?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x


Further reading:

The Wildlife Trusts:

The Wildlife Trusts saving species:

The Wildlife Trusts’ Projects:

The Woodland Trust:

Red Squirrel Survival Trust

Trees for Life

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Sixteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_16Day 16: For today’s 30 Days Wild we visited a wildflower meadow at Local Nature Reserve Pickerings Pasture. There were lots of daisies and vipers-bugloss but nothing like the colour scheme when we visited in 2018. I think we need a little bit more sunshine. Perhaps a future visit to this reserve will pay better dividends. For now I’ll leave you with pictures from this year and last.

Do you have a wildflower meadow nearby? What’s your favourite wildflower?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Fifteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_15Day 15: Today’s 30 Days Wild post comes from a quick visit to Port Sunlight River Park, where I went in search of bee orchids.

This small orchid is a wonderful example of a mimic. The flower mimics a female bee (it even smells like one), enticing a male bee to come in to mate; in reality to pollinate the flower. UK bee orchids however are self pollinating but nonetheless they are beautiful. I was overjoyed to finally see and photograph them!

During our short time at Port Sunlight River Park, I watched skylarks flutter overhead. I spied a six spot burnet moth resting on red clover. Willow Warblers sang loudly and wildflowers of viper bugloss, daisies and geraniums buzzed with numerous bumblebees. Even on a grey day there was so much wildlife.

Have you seen a bee orchid? Visited Port Sunlight River Park?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Fourteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_14Day 14: For today’s 30 Days Wild, I’m focusing on our glorious gardens.

I sat with a cup of tea this afternoon and gazed out towards my yarden. I watched as bumblebees flew about the flowers dodging birds as they swooped to the feeders. I’ve created a wildlife yarden in a small urban space. I was reminded of the Alan Titchmarsh and Debbie Wiseman album The Glorious Garden featuring music and poetry.

garden

The Yarden through window

So I played the album and spent a relaxing afternoon watching nature go about its business.

How is your garden growing?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Thirteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_13Day 13: Today is Throw Back Thursday! 2015 was all about pets, while in 2016 I counted bees and celebrated Meat Free Day. During 2017 I looked out for newborns and in 2018 I planned a wild adventure. For this year’s 30 Days Wild, I’ll revisit the #randomactofwildness of looking for newborns.

Already this season fledged blue tits, goldfinches, sparrows and starlings have visited the yarden.

Have you seen any fledged birds this season?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Twelve.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_12Day 12: It’s been a very wet June. To embrace this dreich weather for 30 Days Wild, I went for a mindful walk in the rain.

A wood pigeon cooed and magpies foraged for worms on sweet smelling grass. I felt the cold breath of wind on my cheek, the tickle of a raindrop as it coursed down my nose. The patter of rain on the path and the rustle of leaves.

Though I am 42 I enjoyed looking for puddles to jump into.

Do you enjoy walks in the rain?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x