30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Eighteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_18Day 18: Today’s 30 Days Wild is Throw Back Thursday!

In 2015 I made fat balls for the visiting wild birds. I tried to ID a feather in 2016. We visited Claremont Farm, Wirral and picked our own strawberries in 2017. I got up close with a herdwick sheep in 2018 and in 2019 I focused on facts about the moon.

For 2020’s 30 Days Wild I’ll return to making fat balls for the birds. This year I didn’t melt the fat I used it at room temperature and mixed it with my hands with a selection of seeds and grains. It was a messy job but I managed to shape the balls much easier than if I was pouring a hot mixture into molds. For the cups I pierced two holes in the bottom and fed a length of string through, looping at the top to create a handle in which to hang. I then filled with the messy fat and seed mixture and popped them in the yarden. I just need to see a sparrow or starling on them now to see how successful they have been this year!

Have you made fat balls for the birds? How did you make yours?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Seventeen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_17Day 17: For today’s RAW or Random Act of Wildness, The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild app has chosen: inhale a wild scent – take a few seconds to inhale a wildflower, plant or leaves.  

So, I spent a leisurely couple of minutes pottering about the yarden.

inhale a wild scentI have a few herbs growing in the yarden so I made a bee line for them. Crushing some leaves between my finger and thumb I sampled the scents of fennel, lavender, rosemary and mint. The feathery leaves of the fennel released a very potent scent. Whereas the lavender was much easier on the nose and Artie loved the mint!

What’s your favourite wild scent? Mine has to be the headyness of hawthorne flowers.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Sixteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_16Day 16: Today’s 30 Days Wild is all about birdsong and hopefully being able to ID them more easily.

On my daily walk with Riley there are a number of birdsongs that I hear. I can ID a robin and a blackbird’s song but get confused when a chaffinch and wren add to the mix.

Here are some of the birds that live in my local park, that I hope to be able to ID more efficiently next time I’m out walking the dog.

robin

Robin

The Robin: Hopefully the easiest song to recall? The robin is part of the flycatcher and chat family. Other chat’s known are the stonechat, redstart and even nightingale. The robin is the gardener’s friend. I mainly see them of a winter, hence red breasts on Christmas cards. You can familiarise yourself with its song here.

The Blackbird: my favourite bird song of all. The blackbird, the song of long, warm summer nights and early summer mornings. You can familiarise yourself with its song here. The blackbird is part of the thrush family. They like to eat insects, berries and worms. The females are confusingly brown but the males are strikingly black with yellow beaks. If you like their song here’s a one hour long rendition of their song, found here.

The Wren: This diminutive bird surely makes up for its size when singing its melodious repetitive song which lasts up to six seconds. You can familiarise yourself with its song here.

The Chaffinch: I don’t know why but I always struggle with the song of the robin and the chaffinch. The robin though has a higher pitched song to the chaffinch, the chaffinch song can be found here.

Greenfinch: The biggest eye opener on the list has been the song of the greenfinch! I always thought that the song of the greenfinch was the alarm call of the robin. We learn something new everyday and today the scratchy sound of the greenfinch isn’t the alarm call of a robin at all!! You can familiarise yourself with the greenfinch song here

The Song Thrush: I see song thrushes on my walks, but can never get a good picture of them. Being part of the same family as the blackbird, you can hear the similar tones in this thrush’s song. You can familiarise yourself with the song thrush melody here. Their conservation status is red. If you’d like to listen to an hours recording of the song thrush song, you can find it here.

So there you have it, six bird songs from my local birds. The RSPB website, found here is invaluable to understanding UK bird songs. YouTube videos are also a great help. There are also phone apps which can help ID bird songs, Warblr is a good resource and Merlin.

Which bird song do you like the best? My favourite will always be the blackbird.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Fifteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_15Day 15: For today’s Close up Monday, I’m delving deeper into a favourite flower of bees, bellflowers. Bellflowers or campanula (fairy bells) have around 400+ species, native to northern temperate regions. They are either annual, biennial or perennial plants, and flower from spring to late summer. Bellflowers vary in size from dwarf variations to ones reaching 6ft!

One of the most famous bellflowers is of course the bluebell. The many pictures in today’s blog are of siberian bellfowers. These semi evergreen perennials, native to former Yugoslavia have miraculously appeared in cities over the past couple of years. I love how they trail along garden walls with their pale purple hue. The star shaped flowers are always buzzing with pollinators.

What is your favourite bellflower?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Thirteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_13 Day 13: I’ve been feeling down these past few days so a bit of a lazy post for today’s 30 Days Wild I’m afraid. Today’s blog is a poem from Philip Larkin, taken from the illustrated anthology, Birds, from The British Museum, edited by Mavis Pilbeam.

We have another patient in the form of a pigeon called Pete who has a sore wing. Fingers crossed he makes a full recovery.

Pigeons

On shallow slates the pigeons shift together,
Backing against a thin rain from the west
Blown across each sunk head and settled feather,
Huddling round the warm stack suits them best,
Till winter daylight weakens and they grow
Hardly defined against the brickwork. Soon,
Light from a small intense lopsided moon
Shows them, black as their shadows, sleeping so.

What are your thoughts on pigeons?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Twelve.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_12Day 12: Today’s 30 Days Wild is going to be a ladybird hunt. Right or wrong I prefer to call them ladybugs!! On my daily walk with Riley we follow a path close to a railway line. At present the embankment is full of nettles and I’ve seen shinning red against the greenery, lots of ladybugs. Native or not (harlequin) I’ve decided to take a count of how many ladybugs I see on my walk.

On today’s walk I spotted a grand total of 24 ladybugs, a mixture of native and harlequin. In one section of the walk there were an abundance of ladybird larvae. They do seem to like nettles and knapweed.

It looks like the photos I have captured are all harlequin ladybugs, however I have seen some two, seven spot and 16 spot ladybirds during my count. I find it quite hard to tell native ladybirds from harlequins. Maybe the white eyes are a give away?

There are around 40 native ladybirds in the UK. Their redness is a sign to predators that they bitter tasting, they also exude a liquid that detracts birds and ants. Adults hibernate in winter. Their larvae are voracious aphid eaters.

Harlequin ladybirds are from Asia and arrived in the UK in 2004. They are more prevalent in towns, hence seeing more in a local park. They are larger than the native ladybird and out compete natives in prey and will eat other ladybird’s eggs and larvae.

Have you seen any ladybirds where you live?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Eleven.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_11Day 11: Today is Throw Back Thursday! In 2015 I watched goldfinch fledglings beg for food from their ragged parents, and similarly in 2016 I set up a camcorder to record the visiting birds to our yarden feeders. I took a trip to Formby beach in 2017 and displayed my findings on a nature table. In 2018 I got close up with a tadpole and read from Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ The Lost Words in 2019.

So for today’s Throw Back Thursday, I shall return to Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’ wonderful book, The Lost Words

This adaption of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending with ‘the little astronaut’, skylark spell was performed as part of The Proms, on the 25th August 2019 at The Royal Albert Hall.

What is you favourite piece of music inspired by a bird or animal?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Nine.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_09Day 9: Today’s 30 Days Wild is a bit of a dirty one. We all know that keeping bird feeders clean is just one small action we can do to help stop the spread of infectious avian diseases, so today I am getting my hands dirty and giving my bird feeders a much needed clean. It’s not a job I relish as congealed, moldy birdseed isn’t the nicest thing to touch but its a small price to pay for keeping my visiting feathered friends healthy, especially since they are bringing their fledglings with them.

There, all nice and clean. Within minutes of putting the feeders back up, goldfinches visited.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Eight.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_08Day 8: Today is World Oceans Day, so in honour of this campaign, today’s Close up Monday will be of bottle-nosed dolphins. I’ll admit that marine wildlife is one aspect of my knowledge that isn’t particularly strong. So I am going to use today as a platform to further my understanding around this subject.

What’s your favourite ocean inhabitant?

The bottle-nosed dolphin is probably the best known of all UK whale and dolphin species (cetaceans). While reading the summer edition of the RSPB’s Nature’s Home magazine, I was surprised to discover that up to 28 of these aquatic mammals have been seen around UK shores.

Some facts on bottle-nosed dolphins:

  • UK bottle-nosed dolphins are the biggest in the world, their larger bodies help with the cold of our waters
  • They can live up to 50 years of age
  • Are carnivore and eat other fish and crustaceans
  • They have good eyesight and their eyes can move independently of each other
  • They can’t detect colour
  • Highly sociable and live within pods of up to 15 members
  • Research has shown that dolphins have names or a unique whistle to identify them from other dolphins
  • Like bats they use echolocation for finding food and navigation
  • Their stomachs consist of three chambers, one to store, one to digest and one to excrete
  • They sleep by shutting one side of their brain and the opposing eye
  • ‘Breaching’ or jumping out of water is a way of cleaning parasites off their bodies
  • As a mammal they are warm blooded and need to breathe through a blow hole
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Moray Firth dolphins

Bottle-nosed dolphins enjoy the safety of sheltered bays and can be seen often at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Moray Firth in Scotland, Cornwall and Dorset.

Have you seen any bottle-nosed dolphins around the coast of the UK? Have you seen any other cetaceans?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Six.

download (2)Day 6: Today’s 30 Days Wild is to ID a plant. I have two plants that have appeared by themselves in my yarden. One I have ID’d the other not. I’ll post both and if you can help shed light on the other then please do let me know. I’ve been itching to know!

The first plant has been growing in my yarden for the past couple of years and only in 2020 have I ID’d it as a wood-sorrel (Oxalis).

Wood-sorrell is a woodland plant found all over the UK and is an indicator of ancient woodlands. However the RHS states that wood-sorrell can be a serious weed in the garden! The wood-sorrell has distinctive heart shaped, trefoil leaves. Of a night the leaves fold up, whilst during the day they open out. The flowers self-pollinate by the process of Cleistogamy (pollination and fertilisation occurs before the flower has opened). Wood-sorrell is an edible plant, though sour tasting and in the past has been used to treat scurvy due to being high in vitamin C.

The second picture is of my mystery plant. It has no flowers and is almost 5 foot (1.5m) in height (I’ve not pruned it). I found it growing among my camellia last year, which I had to dig out and separate. This year I’ve watched as it has grew and grew and grew. It’s only in a small pot too. Do you have any idea what it can be? PlantSnap or Pl@ntNet apps have come up blank.

Do let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x