30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Twenty.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_20Day 20: Today is the summer solstice, or the longest day in the northern hemisphere. The UK we will be bathed in daylight for 16 hours and 38 minutes. The solstice marks the beginning of meteorological summer and the drawing in of the days. English Heritage has cancelled its event at Stonehenge due to Covid-19, however you can watch it from the comfort of your own home via a Facebook live stream here.

English Heritage will be broadcasting the sunset of Saturday 20th June 21:26 BST (20:26 GMT) and the sunrise of Sunday 21st June 04:52 BST (03:52 GMT) and begin broadcasting at least 30 minutes before. They stated that they’ll be announcing their full schedule soon.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend, part of 30 Days Wild have a full calendar of events to mark the solstice. On Saturday they will be celebrating by having a summer solstice camp out (or in) from 5pm to 10pm with lots of activities to partake in, and on Sunday between 7pm and 8.30pm there is a wildlife quiz on their Facebook page here.

So, however you spend the solstice, stay safe!

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2020 – Day Nineteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_19Day 19: For today’s 30 Days Wild, I’ll try and ID a feather. While walking Riley to and from our local park I have been looking for fallen feathers. Many have been pigeon feathers but the other day I spied a black and white feather. At first I thought it was a magpie feather but I wasn’t certain. After doing a quick search on Google, my first instinct was right. It is a magpie feather!

On looking at the Feather Atlas website, part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there is a detailed entry on magpie feathers. On this site it states that the feather I found was a primary wing feather of the magpie. Primary meaning closest to the wing tip and most birds have about 10 of these on each wing. Without primary feathers a bird can’t fly.

The magpie (pica pica) is a member of the corvid (crow) family, and is an omnivore and a scavenger. They will only predate on songbird nests in the breeding season and during winter months they largely eat berries and grains. Magpies live up to five years and are seen throughout the year. They are sociable birds and during winter create roosts of up to 200 individuals. Being none migratory they don’t stray far from where they fledged. Folklore surrounds the magpie from being bearers of good luck to being in league with the devil the popular rhyme ‘one for sorrow’ is associated with this bird.

One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret, Never to be told, Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss, Ten for a bird, You must not miss.

Have you found any interesting bird feathers?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

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 Fourteen.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_14

Day 14: It’s been a stormy few days up here in the NW of England, meaning lots of great cloud formations.

Today’s 30 Days Wild is linking in with #SilentSunday. One picture, no words. Perhaps you can join in?

clouds

Storm Clouds

Thanks for stopping by, 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