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 Four.

04Day 4: 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 one of my favourite insects: hoverflies!

Hoverflies or Syrphidae are known as true flies in the order of Diptera (having only one pair of wings). There are around 280 hoverfly species in the UK, which are active between the months of March to November. They are an excellent example of mimics (Batesian). The adults mimic the yellow and black stripes of bees and wasps (but are harmless), while their larvae mimic slugs, therefore looking undesirable food for a predator.

The life cycle of a hoverfly is that of a fly: adult, egg, larvae and pupa. While some adults feed on dead insects, the majority feed on nectar and pollen. Hoverflies are an underrated champion of pollination. Recent studies have shown that hoverflies pollinate flowers, trees and grasses. Whereas hoverfly larvae are helpful in the garden by eating unwanted aphids and other pests, while some larvae feed on fungi and parasitise bumblebee nests. For the conclusion of this post I shall focus on the larvae that are aquatic.

rat tailed maggot microsopy.uk.org

rat tailed maggot microsopy.uk.org

Buzz Club have an initiative to create Hoverfly Lagoons. These lagoons are to aid hoverflies with aquatic larvae to find appropriate breeding environments. Some larvae of hoverfly species prefer to eat the detritus of decaying matter, hence the creation of stagnant pools. Unfortunately named rat-tailed maggots, these larvae of the Myathropa and Helophilus and the drone fly (Eristalis) have tail like snorkels  which help them breathe, while they enjoy the aquatic environment and eat rotten plant matter. Ellen Rothery and Dave Goulson have created some great hoverflies lagoons. Here’s more information on creating a hoverfly lagoon for yourself.

For this years 30 Days Wild, I have tried to recreate a hoverfly lagoon myself. In the past our small pond has been a welcome habitat for hoverfly larvae but I wanted to try my hand at creating a hoverfly lagoon from scratch. I used an old ceramic container, some grass cuttings, (I got from the local park), twigs (for the adults to land on), a handful of leaf litter and some water. I’ll survey near the end of 30 Days Wild and let you know if I get any success in finding any hoverfly larvae!

Have you created a hoverfly lagoon?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine xx


Further Reading:

RSPB

BNA

Microscopy UK

Wildlife Gardening Forum

Pollinator Project 

Buzz Club  

Nature Spot 

Bumblebee.org

EcoRecord

My May

May 2021 has been another rather uneventful month. The weather has been horrendous, cold and wet for most, and the warm weather we have hoped for has been very sporadic.

It was our houseiversary last week. 9 years of having the keys to our lovely home! I still remember the moment I got the call to come and collect the keys to the house on the 25th. It was a hot, sunny May day in 2012. 2012 had been quite a year for me! David picked me up from my then work at the University of Liverpool before heading down to the Dock Road to collect the keys. We got home and opened the front door and stood in shock. ‘What do we do now!’ we thought. Buying a home can sometimes be rather anticlimactic but then a further year and a half of demolishing walls, an outhouse, getting a new roof and exterior doors is hard work! However it is all worth it in the end when you come home after a hard days work to your loved ones and fur/feather babies. I love my home and the life I have made with David! Long may it continue!

Last year before Covid struck and lockdowns were galore, Peter Walker’s Peace Doves were planned to be installed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. I was excited to see this beautiful art installation of thousands of paper doves with messages of hope and love written on them, suspended from the vaulted ceiling. Then the exhibition was cancelled due to Covid. However there is light at the end of the tunnel. The night doesn’t last forever! This May it was announced that the Peace Doves were once again coming to Liverpool. One negative of Covid’s social distancing is that it has taken away all the spontaneity out of life, one now has to book before going anywhere. Gone were the days when you just woke up and felt like going the zoo. You now have to plan/book days in advance! Anyway, (rant over) I did mange to book tickets to see these Peace Doves. The installation was beautiful and quite moving.

The book I am reading this month, (or trying to read) is Davie Goulson’s The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet.

Which ties in nicely with the plants I have bought for the yarden. There were a few casualties during winter so I managed to purchase another salvia and forget-me-not plant to add to my spring flowering plants.

David and I have been watching a few films this month, most notably my favourite trilogy (save for The Lord of the Rings), How to Train your Dragon! I just love the friendship of Hiccup and Toothless. Who doesn’t love Toothless?

I have also caught up with the second season of ITV’s Innocent. The second series is based in Keswick with lovely panoramas of Derwentwater.

David managed to rescue three pigeons in one evening a few weekends ago. He captured and released one which had string around its feet and then quickly took in another two. One ailed sadly and passed away two days after but the second we managed to treat for canker and mites and she was so feisty that she had to be released and for the past few weeks now she has been visiting the yarden daily. It’s so nice to be able to help wildlife once in a while.

In the quite moments of life, I’ve been following an osprey webcam from the Dyfi Osprey Project. It’s quite stressful watching a wildlife cam, you invest so much emotion into it, however it’s been a privilege to follow the ups and downs of this osprey nest of Telyn and Idris as they raise their two young. Good luck to the two bobs!

Surprisingly, an adventure happened at the end of an uneventful May! The Spring Bank Holiday brought with it some lovely warm temperatures of over 23°C and David suggested we go on a day out. I had already decided where I wanted my first swim of 2021 to be and so on the 30th we were up at 6am on a beautiful clear, warm day and headed towards Snowdonia, Wales. We stopped off at two llyns during the day, Gwynant was my first swim of the year and Padarn the second!

May has been a quiet month, how’s your’s been?

Take care,

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2021 – Preparation

Hi Everyone!

Today, I am fishing for some inspiration from you guys!

In just over two weeks time it is once again the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild and it will be my sixth year participating since it’s inception in 2015. This year however, I have little in the way of ideas for blogging each of the 30 days. I think I have become mentally de-stimulated due to Covid-19 restrictions, so I am turning to you in the hope that you can help my creative juices to start flowing again.

I am looking for any ideas you may have around the topic of enjoying nature and wildlife and how I can best blog about it daily for each day in June.

Here’s a few subjects I’ve already blogged about over the years: I took in a bee experience at the Bee Centre Chorley, beach walked and forest bathed, breathed in the scent of a glorious wildflower meadow, swam wild in the Lake District, went on a badger watch at RSPB Haweswater and moth trapped at RSPB Leighton Moss.

So, if you have any suggestions, whether it is a trip to a local nature reserve (I’m sure I can fit in one or two), or a close up focus on a type of bird, mammal or insect, then do let me know in the comments below.

I very much look forward to all your ideas, and thank you in advance.

Stay Wild!

Christine x

My April

I’ll get the sad news out of the way before I delve into this post. While I was putting the finishing touches to this blog our blue faced parrot finch, Leaf became ill. He declined pretty quickly and this morning 30th April, we found that he had gained his angel wings. We only had him for four years but he had a lasting impact on the aviary. He will be missed.

April 2021 may have been one of the driest on record but inside our home it was one of the chilliest! Half way through the month our boiler packed up, leaving us without heat and hot water for over two weeks. Finding the right type of boiler for our home was a difficult decision, and not to mention radiators and BTU’s! Thankfully after lots of research we found the right boiler and radiators for our home. I decided to replace four out of the seven radiators we have as some looked old and leaked. It’s amazing how adaptive we are, as we layered up against the chill, but I can now smile and say we have hot running water and warm radiators, much better than boiling a kettle every-time we wanted to wash the dishes!

On a more happier, less stressful note, Easter was a joyous occasion. David and I spent the long weekend by taking long walks with Riley. At the local park we went on an Easter Egg hunt and at Sefton Park we took in the gorgeous daffodil fields.

We’ve not watched any TV shows or films of note this month, but I have started watching the new series of Call the Midwife.

My reading is still very sporadic but I have begun All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle.

We’ve not had any days out this April, but many of our weekends have been filled with freshening up our décor. The front of the house got a new coat of paint during the Easter weekend and the last week of April we painted the guest room/study and bought new furniture. There’s a few more rooms I want to freshen up in the coming months.

As we are slowly coming out of lochdown my mind naturally turned to days out and holidays. As a ‘take two’ we decided to book again for the Trossach holiday we had planned, but sadly had to cancel last year. Hopefully, ‘fingers crossed’ we will make it to this gorgeous looking cabin for a few days of overdue R&R.

This month I discovered a new yummy recipe. I follow Sunday Brunch on Instagram and one of their posts was of a Moroccan Spiced Sea Bass. The combination of spices, sun dried tomatoes, lentils and chickpeas made for a surprisingly filling meal.

Method, serves 4:
1. Mix a Tbs each of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, Tsp chilli flakes, Tsp garlic powder, Tsp ginger and a Tsp salt together.
2. Take approx. 1/3 and rub onto 4 x 150g sea bass fillets.
3. Fry the fish 3mins each side in oil, then finish with a knob of butter
4. Gently fry 4 chopped spring onions for 2mins
5. Then add 12 sliced sundried toms, Tin cooked, drained rinsed green lentils, Tin drained, rinsed chick peas and 1 finely diced carrot.
6. Add the 200ml of vegetable stock and the remaining spice mix, simmer 5-6mins
7. Finish with 50g butter and juice and zest of 1 lemon and and handful of chopped parsley

The wildlife highlight of the month was spotting a buzzard resting in a tree in the local park! Sadly I only had my camera phone with me, so it’s a blurry photo of a buzzard!

April has been a mixed bag for David and I, hows your April been? Have you any plans for after lockdown?

Take care,

Christine x

My March

I don’t know about you, but March 2021 has seemed a long month to me. Though the evenings have been getting lighter there has still been a chilling nip in the air during the day. March however, is a great month to witness the start of spring, from the birds beginning to sing, to the garden finally waking up. Here are a few pictures of the unfurling plants in my yarden.

March is our anniversary month, and this year was our 15th year anniversary together. David and I celebrated it by sharing a tasty curry.

March is also the birthday month of both my mum and brother Daniel.

The 23rd of March this year was also a National Day of Remembrance. I took the time to remember my dad, Graham who we said goodbye too nine years ago on 28th March 2012.

David had a few days off work in March and we spent many of his days off by walking around Sefton Park. On one occasion, I spied a little grebe on the lake and Riley enjoyed the warm springlike sunshine.

Sadly, I’ve not done any reading this month at all!

Since I am back at work two days a week, I’ve spent the days in between by catching up on some series. I’ve been enjoying Netflix’s The Queens Gambit, ITV’s Unforgotten and David and I have both been having a laugh to SyFy’s Resident Alien.

Having been living together in our home now for the past eight years, some of the paintwork in the rooms are looking a little tired. So to make a start on the project of sprucing up the interiors we decided to paint the easiest room in the house, the bathroom. We decided on a medium grey to replace the purple we had on firstly. It only took us a few hours to do two coats of paint and the result is a fresh, cleaner, more modern looking style. What do you think?

I celebrated Earth Hour by switching off my lights for an hour on the 27th. This WWF campaign is to spread awareness of our carbon footprints. By using less light and energy this reduces harmful Co2 emissions.

I’m not sure what prompted Liverpool City Council to install 11 light art fixtures as part of their River of Light during lockdown, but in need of some stimulation, David and I with a nervous Riley in tow, spent a couple of hours walking around Liverpool’s waterfront.

It’s been a year since the UK was plunged into the first lockdown. How have you coped? It has been a struggle for many. From having too much time on your hands and the boredom and frustration that brings, to working from home and all the pressures it adds to the mental state. Finances have been hit hard and businesses have suffered. Not being able to travel and every day melding into one. It has been a long, dark year but hopefully we can recover and regain some semblance of normality in the coming months ahead.

How have you spent March? What are you most looking forward to getting back to doing?

Take care,

Christine x

Hawthorn’s Scavenger Hunt: Spring Edition – March 2021

I’m a bit late to the party, (and missed the link up) but I’ve wanted to write another post for some time but haven’t had the material to do so. So, Hawthorn’s scavenger hunt for spring is perfect. I’ve spent the weekend doing some maintenance in the yarden and have noticed lots of signs that spring is on its way.

Here’s a collage of the gorgeous blooms that are signalling the arrival of the best of seasons.

What are you looking forward to most in spring?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

My February

Following on from my January post, I thought I would continue the monthly update theme as a new series for 2021. February can sometimes be the coldest and darkest of months. This year’s February began cold and frosty with frigid days and bone chilling nights but the month ended with mild winds and the scent of spring on the air. 🙂

David had a well earned few days off work in February. Whilst still in lock-down we stayed local and took a walk to Liverpool’s Sefton Park with an excitable Riley. David managed to feed a few squirrels and crows with the monkey nuts we had brought with us, while I had a captive audience of geese, coots and gulls enjoying the bird seed I offered them. I love feeding the birds on the lake, it makes me feel such a child again!

In January’s post I commented that I had seen the first, brief visit from the chiffchaff. Well he/she visited again, enjoying the insects on the laurel bush! David didn’t grab his camera quite quick enough, so I had to make do with a grainy photo I managed to get off my phone. Isn’t he so cute? The harbinger of spring?

Even though the mornings and evenings are getting lighter, these February nights seem cold and dark for some reason. This month I’ve been snuggling up in bed most nights and have managed to rekindle my reading. I’ve just finished Cilka’s Journey (a semi-fictional account of a survivor of Auschwitz who was imprisoned in a Russian gulag) and have begun The Glass House a mystery by Eve Chase.

I’m still only working one day a week, so using my free time to watch some series I’ve not seen before. I know I am very late to the party but I’ve been enjoying watching the 90’s American sitcom Friends. I’ve also caught up with the second series of The Bay and the Netflix sensation, Bridgerton.

I know Valentine’s Day is very commercial but I still like to celebrate it none the less. When I was single I would buy myself something nice as an act of self love, and now I’m in a long standing relationship, I celebrate the day by ordering a nice curry so we can both enjoy it. As a little token I bought David this cute little bumblebee (or did I buy her for myself?) She’s so sweet! 🙂

I got my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine the end of February and I had a few side effects, like shaking and sweating and aches and pains. Thankfully these were short lived and I’m feeling much better now.

To end the month, we got a new patient, Elliott a feral pigeon, who we spotted sitting in someone’s front yard while on a walk with Riley. On our way back from the park, the pigeon was still vulnerable so David caught him and brought him home with us. He’s being treated for canker and coccidiosis, let’s hope he gets better soon!

How have you spent February? Do you like the long, dark nights or looking forward to spring?

Take care,

Christine x

Signs of Spring in the Yarden

With the weather warming up this week (and the days finally getting longer), I took the opportunity to have a wander around the yarden to see how the plants had fared over the cold winter. Sadly my fuschia isn’t looking it’s best, but hopefully it will pull through, as it’s a great autumn flower.

Throughout winter the herb rosemary has flowered it’s delicate blue flowers and I noticed its colour was joined by flashes of purple and yellow from the crocus and the green leaves of perfumed hyacinths, which I thought had been overshadowed by an azalea. I even spotted the leafy promise of bluebells that will hopefully flower in April/May. I’ve two hellebores, one I thought was being swamped by a dwarf rhododendron and cotoneaster, but I noticed it’s purple and white flowers bending in the breeze. There are also an abundance of buds on the star magnolia and camellia.

The pond also seems to have braved the frosts and the oxygenating plant within, is still vibrant. Hopefully we will have lots of aquatic life enjoying our tiny pond this year.

Calls from the visiting birds has also changed in recent weeks. The goldfinches have moved on from the winter chatter to their now playful chirp and waggle of their tails in the hope of attracting a mate.

What signs of spring have you noticed recently?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Wild Swimming with Christine – My Top 10

Since we are still in the grasp of a third lockdown and I am far from the Lakes, I have been musing on making a top 10 video of my favourite wild swims. It’s taken me a while to finish the video, and it has gone through a few revisions since its inception, but here it is!

I thought I would write a little paragraph about each swim and why it made it into my top 10!

10. Blea Water

Blea Water, the deepest tarn in the Lake District, at 63 metres deep, had to make an appearance in this list due to the quality of the swim. It takes just about an hours walk to the shore from the Mardale Head car park, Haweswater. There is only a small beach area in which to access the water but the peacefulness of the area is astounding. Blea Water is on the route towards High Street and is a perfect stopping place to rest and recharge.

9. Llyn Dinas

Llyn Dinas is another llyn that could very well be further up the list. Though not our first choice for a swim on a very hot August day, it quickly dispelled any disappointment with the quietude of the surroundings and the 20° waters! It was another body of water I’d swam in with lots of tiny minnows in the shallows.

8. Loch Lomond

My first Scottish wild swim! I’d planned a short break to the Scottish Highlands in 2018, with wild swimming at the core of the itinerary. The weather wasn’t kind to us, deciding to unleash a tropical storm our way, but Loch Lomond was the least wild of the swims and was a joy. With easy access from the A82, the beach I entered the loch was lovely and soft with an easy incline into the water. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.

7. Derwentwater

One of my loves in the Lake District. Derwentater was the first lake I swam, and I have been back several times over the years. The footage in the video is from my second swim at Derwentwater, when at 9am, it was just David and I and a cool sun rising. It’s a beautiful lake to visit for a walk or swim and we will probably revisit again in the future.

6. Loch Etive

One of the best swims during a brief holiday to the Scottish Highlands. Loch Etive is a sea loch and was shrouded in low lying mist on a drizzly morning the day we visited. We hadn’t been favoured with good weather but the mist and rain added to the atmosphere of this beautiful loch.

5. Llyn Idwal

Idwal was the llyn where all this wild swimming malarkey began in 2016. On that cold winters day I stood at the shoreline and wondered what it would be like to swim there. Fast forward three years and I visited Llyn Idwal again in 2019 with a swim buddy in tow to finally swim in its mythical waters. It was a fun swim and the llyn is very popular with day trippers due to its accessibility.

4. Alcock Tarn

I have many happy memories of our visit to Alcock Tarn, that is almost made it into the top three! Two friendly ducks and a beautiful early autumn day made this swim so memorable. Nestled in beautiful, peaceful scenery above Grasmere, Alcock Tarn was one of those perfect swims. I’d definitely recommend a visit for swimmers and walkers alike.

3. Rydal Water

Rydal Water is a lake I want to return to so desperately. It may be one of the smaller lakes of the Lake District but its atmospheric charm and quaintness makes it so unique. This was the only lake where I shared the water with swans, (at a distance of course) and have visited several times with Riley. Not far from a car park and with a wonderful walk into the fells or around Grasmere, it’s a place I would definitely recommend to other swimmers and walkers.

2. Buttermere

Buttermere has always been a lake close to my heart, and it was a tough decision to put this in second place. My final swim of 2020 was at Buttermere, and it was a spectacular day! The sun was out and for an early October it was pleasantly warm. There was no wind, creating a mirror sheen on the lake that reflected the rugged mountain tops. The water was silky smooth, and the view from the water was breathtaking. It will be a swim I won’t forget in a hurry!

1. Glaslyn

Of my many swims, the beauty of Glaslyn has been unparalleled. On first sight, Glaslyn took my breath away. There was the imposing peak of Snowdon mirrored in water so turquoise I’d never seen anything like it! To have this beautiful llyn all to myself while I swam in its soft waters was pure joy. All other walkers seemed to prefer the Pyg Track to the Miners that day and David and I enjoyed the peaceful tranquility.

Do you agree with my selection? What is your favourite swim of mine, or indeed your own? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Christine x