Touring the Trossachs – Day Two.

I decided to take the opportunity of getting up early to enjoy the silence of the loch and admire the views from the veranda. I took my coffee outside and stood watching the woodland birds devour the seed we had topped up the day before. There were blue, great and coal tits in abundance, nuthatches flew like bullets to peck at the peanuts and chaffinches waited patiently in the trees. It was calming to listen to the bird song and to watch the mist drift from the mountains before me.

After breakfast, David and I packed our rucksacks and headed towards Aberfoyle, and the Three Lochs Drive. A seven mile drive through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, stopping at a lochan and two lochs along the way. We decided to make a day of it!

The charge per car was £2 which was reasonable given that we spent over five hours driving, walking the trails and swimming in the lochs. Our first stop was at Lochan Reòidhte, the smallest of the three lochs, very picturesque and tranquil. We found water access besides a picnic bench, I took to the murky waters while David gave Buzz (our Mavic Mini) a stretch of its blades.

After a peaceful swim and a gentle saunter through a conifer plantation, we parked up at our second destination. The car park of Loch Drunkie, which had a toilet block. We walked along a path overlooking the loch which finally lead us towards the water’s edge. The fair weather we had that morning began to change and clouds started drifting in. Loch Drunkie, though a nice swim, was very muddy and I crawled out of the water covered in mud!

Our final destination of the drive was Loch Achray, we managed to find roadside parking and I waddled towards the beach with tow float and dry robe in hand. Access to the water was very shallow and I felt I could have walked for miles in knee high water. It was a rather disappointing swim to end the Three Lochs Drive.

Here’s the video compilation of all three swims:

Back at the cabin, we spent the evening wildlife spotting at the feeders. We spied a hungry red squirrel nibble at the peanuts and even a shy, nervous great spotted woodpecker visited.

We went to bed that night, tired but ready for another great day of touring the Trossachs the next day!

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

My August

I can’t quite believe that it’s almost the end of summer. August for me is a time for mourning. Mourning the warmth, the lighter days and all the wonderful wildlife that visit my yarden. I’m not sure if others notice it, but there’s a slight shift in the angle of sunshine, a scent of autumn is carried on the wind, and in my yarden there is the scratchy call of hundreds of starlings eating their way through all the fat cakes I make. August is summer’s swan song and the song of the starling, is for me, the sound of autumn.

The month began by celebrating David’s birthday. He wanted to go to Leighton Moss to get to grips with his new camera. So we headed up the motorway and spent a peaceful couple of hours spotting birds and enjoying nature.

The wildlife highlight for me this month has been watching the visiting bat, Batty and their friend hunt around the yarden. One night Batty was particularly energetic, hunting moths and midges, turning summersaults in the air.

The other evening we were witness to a spectacular sunset. I tend to miss many sunsets but this one made the whole sky look like it was on fire!

In June I sowed a packet of wildflower seeds for 30 Days Wild. This month they are finally flowering. I have field marigold and camomile growing with a host of field poppies, that are attracting bumblebees and hoverflies.

During the evenings David and I have been watching some older TV shows, both I hadn’t seen before. We started the month with Ricky Gervais’s The Office and now getting through the seasons of Stargate SG1.

At present I am reading The Mabinogion, a set of Celtic Welsh tales, suggested to me by fellow blogger Charlotte Hoather.

All of the Dyfi Ospreys have embarked on their migration south. Safe travels my gorgeous Ystwyth, (Bobby Bach). I wish them all well on their travels. I don’t know why, but the leaving of these beautiful birds makes me feel sad. Another sign that summer is ending. 😦

On a day off work, I was cleaning the bird feeders when I saw a bird strike the kitchen window with a thud! I rushed out into the yarden and discovered a baby goldfinch lying on its back, still breathing. I scooped him up and put him in the hospital cage with the heat lamp on and a hot water bottle. Within half an hour he had perked up and was fluttering about the cage. So, to lessen the stress, David and I let him free. I hope he recovers from his collision. Fly free little one.

My August 2021 ends in spectacular fashion! The Airbnb we had booked for my birthday last year, (and which we had to cancel due to Covid-19 restrictions), luckily we managed to re-booked in April. Thankfully Covid-19 restrictions have eased and we have finally managed to get to this beautiful loch side cabin in Scotland!

Well, that was my August, with a lot of wildlife sightings! How was your August? Did you get up to any adventures?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

A Birthday Trip!

It was David’s birthday on Monday! To celebrate the day, he wanted to visit a nature reserve to test out his new telephoto lens. So we got up early on a bright August morning and headed up the motorway to … Continue reading

My June

This June has been a tough month for me. With lots going on at home and then blogging everyday for The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild, it’s left me feeling exhausted and burned out!

One positive from seeking out nature daily, is that David and I spent a few days out at a couple of nature reserves in the North West. These days were balm for a stressed out soul. As David recently got a new camera, his old Nikon dslr was just gathering dust, so I have been taking it out on our trips to Burton Mere, Brockholes and Lunt Meadows. Here’s a few of my favourite shots that I took.

This June we have been watching season 18 of Dragon’s Den and re-watching Dexter to get us up to speed when the new series airs this autumn.

Last weekend was Riley’s gotcha day! We have been the proud owners of Riley for the past 12 years! Happy gotcha day Riley!

For the past two weeks we have been caring for a regular visitor of ours, Hoppy. She was found weak and unable to fly, so David managed to catch her and we have been caring for her since then. We sent samples of Hoppy’s droppings to the Pigeon Testing Centre and her results came back for worms and coccidiosis. We have treated her for both and hope she recovers. Fingers crossed! Then a week ago David caught another sick pigeon who we named Harri. We have our hands full as you can see!

Update: We fought so much to make Hoppy better, but she gained her angel wings on 29th June. Rest in peace Hoppy, you were a beautiful, elegant pigeon and were much loved. I shall miss looking out for you among our pigeon visitors. 😥

That was my June, how was yours?

Take care,

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Thirty.

82952539_3891626650909438_7747516978942177272_oDay 30: Gaining inspiration from last year’s 30 Days Wild, Wednesdays will be RAW days, meaning Random Acts of Wildness. In this series I’ll be using The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild app, and the 365 Days Wild book to help choose the day’s theme.

For today’s RAW, I’ve decided to check up on my wildflower seeds and hoverfly lagoon.

wildflower seedlings

wildflower seedlings

I’ve had more success with the wildflower seeds than the hoverfly lagoon. Quite a few of the seeds have sprouted and looking good for flowering come the following months. When inspecting the hoverfly lagoon, all I spotted was decomposing grass and leaves with quite an obnoxious smell. I had to cover my nose! I didn’t see any rat-tailed maggots unfortunately, but I’ll keep the lagoon for the rest of the summer and see how it goes. 

I have found this years 30 Days Wild rather hard to complete, especially the final 14 days. I’ve been so exhausted from travelling to work and back and then stresses at home. It’s been a real struggle, but I can say, I’ve achieved what I didn’t think I could, that of posting every day for 30 days! Some of the post may have been below par, but I’ve tried to write about a mix of wildlife and nature in the UK and on my doorstep. 

Here’s a recap of what I got up to!

June 2021 started off with a bang with the Big Wild Breakfast, the following days saw me looking for insects and finding crustaceans, visiting RSPB Burton Mere and Wildlife Trusts’ reserves, Brockholes and Lunt Meadows. I did a litter pick in my local park and took a walk to a nearby cemetery. I spotted a surprising flower growing along the streets of Liverpool, flax and photographed stunning wildflowers.  

I hope you have enjoyed following my 2021 30 Days Wild. It’s been tough!

For the final time, thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-nine.

104208003_3891626624242774_4502143772038181894_oDay 29: For today’s 30 Days Wild, I’d planned to tune into The Wildlife Trusts’ Wild LIVE: Bringing Back Beavers, however it has been postponed. Beavers went extinct in the UK during the 16th Century. For the past 20 years The Wildlife Trusts’ have been at the forefront in restoring beavers back to the rivers they once inhabited. This Wildlife Trusts’ talk was to celebrate the reintroduction of this ecosystem engineer and why beavers are so essential in the restoration of nature in the UK.

wild live

wild live

Here’s some facts on the Eurasian beaver.

The beaver (Castor fiber) was a semi aquatic mammal native to Britain before it was hunted into extinction for its fur and castoreum, a secretion used in perfumes and medicine. They are a keystone species due to their positive influence on the environment. They prefer freshwater habitats. They dig canal systems, coppice trees and shrubs, and create wetlands which in turn has enormous benefits on other species such as otters, fish and birds. As they create their environment, their influence can be seen in the reduction of flooding, increased water retention and cleaner water.

Eurasian Beaver

Eurasian Beaver from the Northwitch Guardian

Their home is called a lodge, made up of sticks and branches and they live in small family groups. They are herbivores and willow bark, twigs and leaves are their favourite foods. Beavers are a large mammal weighing in at around 30kg and are as large as a Labrador. Their teeth are orange due to the protective iron enamel and like all rodents they grow continuously throughout their life. They are crepuscular meaning active during dawn/dusk, and can remain underwater for 15 minutes. There are currently eight beaver reintroduction projects across the UK with several more upcoming.

Have you ever seen a beaver in the wild?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx


Further Reading:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/saving-species/beavers

https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/policy-insight/species/beaver-reintroduction-in-the-uk/

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/animals/mammals/beaver/

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/beaver

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-eight.

103959856_3891626477576122_6424571937642437578_oDay 28: A new series for 30 Days Wild 2021, Mindful Mondays, were we take time out of our busy days and slow down, breathe and experience nature each sense at a time.

Spider Warning:

Today’s theme for Mindful Monday is: stop, observe and wonder at the intricacy of a spider’s web.

The web in question doesn’t look that intricate but the web owner is quite spectacular.

Spider and web

Spider and web

I think it is a giant house spider enjoying the warm weather and abundant insects in my yarden. House spiders spin sheet like webs and is one of our fastest invertebrates. Their body length can be up to 1.8cm, with a leg span of 7.5 cm. They can be seen all year round, but mostly in autumn when the males come into houses looking for females. After mating the females eat the males. Females can live for several years and both males and females can go without food and water for several months. They feast on small invertebrates such as flies, mosquitoes and bees, and are very good pest controllers in the house. 

Do you like spiders or like me learning to get over an irrational phobia?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

N.B. Thanks to the Wildlife Trusts’ website for the above information.

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-six.

103978469_3891626427576127_4930657406489477803_o (1)Day 26: For today’s 30 Days Wild, David and I spent a leisurely two hours walking around the recently re-opened Lunt Meadows Nature Reserve. It had been closed since February 2021 due to the River Alt bursting its banks and flooding the reserve. Lunt Meadows is a flood storage area but I don’t think visitors thought it would be closed for so long! It was nice to be back and see the changes the volunteers and Wildlife Trusts’ have made to the site. New pools and paths and lots of wildflowers had been sown. I took David’s camera along with us and below are a few of my snaps. 

Where is your favourite nature reserve?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-five.

84089555_3891626394242797_3198285049070949385_oDay 25: Continuing a theme from the past two years, Close Up, where I throw a spotlight on a given species and delve a little deeper. These Close up days will be on Fridays for 2021!

Today’s Close Up will be all about the fastest bird in the world – the peregrine falcon.

In the 19th and 20th centuries numbers of peregrine falcons declined rapidly due to persecution from humans and the introduction of pesticides such as DDT. The use of DDT increased adult mortality and caused the thinning of egg shells, resulting in many breaking and the parents unable to breed. By the 1960’s 80% of the UK peregrine population had been lost! There was another population decline in the 1990’s but the cause is unknown. Since these dark days the numbers of peregrines are slowly increasing, and city residents are faring better than their countryside brethren.

In the past, peregrines were found in the north and west of the UK, however in recent years they have been spreading south. They do not migrate and most stay within 100km of their hatching. The peregrine is our largest falcon, and can reach speeds of up to 200mph as they stoop or dive for its prey.

In cities they prey on pigeons but have a wide and varied diet from garden birds to wading birds. They are very territorial and nest on cliff ledges but in cities nest on tall structures, such as cathedrals. The breeding season begins in March-April and the female will lay 3-4 eggs with incubation up to a month. The male will provide food. The chicks take up to two months to be independent and up to a third will reach breeding age. The lifespan of a peregrine is around five years. 20% of the European population of peregrines live in the UK. The main threat to peregrines is illegal persecution especially on grouse moors.

Have you seen a peregrine falcon? I briefly spotted one on a walk a few years ago at Raven Crag, the Lake District.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx


Further Reading:

https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/peregrine-survey/results

http://www.london-peregrine-partnership.org.uk/peregrine-info.html

https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/visit-what-see/peregrine-falcons-live-stream

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/peregrine/#:~:text=Peregrines%20can%20often%20be%20found,lovers%20spot%20these%20stunning%20birds.

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/peregrine/population-numbers-and-trends/

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/birds/birds-prey/peregrine-falcon

https://derbyperegrines.blogspot.com/p/our-webcams.html

30 Days Wild 2021 – Day Twenty-four.

104207573_3891626367576133_9214631175886913806_oDay 24: In keeping with tradition, Thursday’s are Throw Back Thursdays, where I take a look back on what Random Acts of Wildness I did for 30 Days Wild since 2015!

In 2020 I sketched an elephant hawk moth. I got up close with dragonflies in 2019 and visited Brereton Heath Nature Reserve in 2018. I spent an hour at Sanky Valley Country Park in 2017 and made an attempt to make a moth trap in 2016. Finally, in 2015 I watched a wildlife camera.

For 2021, though the weather has taken a turn I’ll try and make a moth trap. I’ll use a white cloth and light to entice the night fliers in. For this post I shall focus briefly on a day flying moth, the cinnabar.

cinnabar moth

cinnabar moth

Due to the colouring of the cinnabar, this medium sized moth is easily confused with a butterfly. The cinnabar can fly both day and night and it’s red and black markings signal it is poisons to hungry predators. The toxin is ingested by the adult’s yellow and black caterpillar which feasts on the ragwort plant. They over winter as cocoons and emerge as adults in the summer. The cinnabar is widespread across the UK but prefers coastal habitats. Cinnabar’s are named after an ore of the metal Mercury, cinnabar was used by artists for its red pigment.

Have you spotted this moth flying where you live?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx