It’s June, and that time of year again! Time for The Wildlife Trust’s wonderful initiative, 30 Days Wild. Inspiring us all to get that little bit more wild! This is the third year I’ll be participating and I have to admit, I was a little excited for June to arrive. I learned so much during 2016’s 30 Days and enjoyed immensely the camaraderie of the online community. If you’d like to follow fellow participants, then click on My Wild Life Bloggers, and join in the discussion!
Day One: Thursday.
What could I do for the opening to my 30 Days Wild? With it being a long day at work, I decided to participate in Friends of the Earth’s, Great British Bee Count. The count runs from 19th May to 30th June and helps gather data on how healthy (or not) the British Bee population is.
So once home, and dinner cooked, out I went into our yarden and stood hovering around the plants I know are popular with the bees. I’ve found that bees tend to like blueish coloured flowers. Among these plants are bell flowers, cat mint and chives. In just one small corner I counted five tree bumblebees, in an inner city yarden I find that amazing! There were also sightings of buff tailed bumblebees and I happily saw my first mason bee of the season. The yarden is usually awash with these cute little bees, all knocking each other from the flowers but I’ve noticed numbers seem to be down this year.
Buff Tailed Bumblebee
Have you participated in the Great British Bee Count? If not, you can download their free and easy to use app here, and start counting. 🙂
Day Two: Friday.
The Wildlife Trust’s encourages Random Act of Wildness. These Random Acts, be it for a few minutes or hours, are designed to add a little bit of nature to our otherwise busy lives. You can find their free downloadable app with 101 inspiring suggestions here. One such Random Act is find a creepy crawly. So after work I looked among the plants and undergrowth of our yarden, actively seeking creepy crawlies. I found two to photograph. One was a seven spot ladybird and the other a scarlet lily beetle. One is deemed a goody by gardeners and the other a baddie! I’ve Googled some interesting facts about both.
Seven Spot Ladybird
Scarlet Lily Beetle
Seven Spotted Ladybird:
- The most common ladybird seen in Europe.
- Has a lifespan of a year.
- Can eat up to 5.000 aphids during their life.
- Secretes a fluid from their legs that is distasteful to predators.
Scarlet Lily Beetle:
- Is not a native species to Britain but has been colonising since 1939.
- Often seen on lilies and fritillaries and causes damage to these plants.
- Overwinters in soil cover.
- Studies have shown females find plants by scent.
Do you have any more curious facts about either species?
Day Three: Saturday.
This weekend was the annual National Garden BioBlitz. I took part in this survey last year. You can read how that went on here. This year I didn’t have as much time available, so I snatched an hour here and there. The aim of the project is to count the plants and animals that have arrived in the yarden ‘of its own accord’. Whereas I counted 54+ species of trees, shrubs, alpines and perennials I had planted. I only counted 21+ of flora and fauna that had arrived in the yarden of their own steam. Among them were:
Flora: bell flowers, foxgloves, poppies, herb robert and the annoying sticky weed!
Picture by David Evans
Picture by David Evans
Fauna: goldfinches, starlings, magpie, bee-fly and a spittle bug.
Out of the 20 species to look out for, our lowly little yarden chalked up 5/20. We were able to tick off, house sparrow, mason bee, tree bumblebee, garden snail and seven spot ladybird.
Did you participate in this survey? What wonders did you find?
Day Four: Sunday.
Last year, I participated in Wild October, an initiative started by 30 Days Wild’s Facebook page. The aim was to enjoy the changing season of Autumn. During the month I gathered fallen leaves and other detritus from a local park and displayed them on a nature table. This year for 30 Days Wild, I decided to do similar but with flowers and grasses I found along a woodland walk in Liverpool’s Festival Gardens. Of Course Riley had to tag along too. 🙂
Christine and Riley
Junes Nature Table
Riley and David in woodland walk
While researching for this post, I was saddened to read that Festival Gardens has been earmarked for redevelopment, with shops and a ferry terminal in the pipe works. I do hope they don’t build on the already established park. The park as it stands has lovely lakeside paths and woodland walks and was created back in 2011 so the wildlife has had time to establish themselves. Redevelopment would mean a loss of habitat for wildlife and the opportunity for the residents to get closer to nature.
Have you lost a valued place of nature to redevelopment? Let me know your thoughts on this?
Day Five: Monday.
Everywhere I look there are elders and their flowers growing all over the city. Waving seductively at the sides of roads, gracing parks, and even surprisingly, growing down my road! So I decided I would try my hand at making some elderflower champagne. I don’t know whether it will work as I’ve never done it before, but I thought. ‘I would give it a try’!
There are just so many recipes and videos on YouTube that I didn’t know which one to follow. So I sort of made a conglomeration of a couple!
- David and I foraged 10 medium sized elderflower heads.
- Used 6 litres of water. 1 litre boiled and 5 cold.
- The zest and juice of two lemons as well as two halves thrown in for good measure.
- 750g of sugar (I used granulated).
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
Elderflower Champagne Mix
- After sterilizing a bucket David measured the sugar and dissolved into 1 litre of hot water.
- While David stirred the sugar solution I trimmed and cut the elderflowers from their stalks, shaking any bugs off.
- We threw the flowers into the bucket and added the zest and juice of the lemons.
- Then left in two lemon halves in the mixture.
- Poured the litre of sugar solution onto the elderflower and lemon and then added 5 litres of cold water.
- Finally added the white wine vinegar and gave it a good stir.
- Covered bucket with a tea-towel and left solution to (hopefully) start fermenting.
- Stir the mixture once everyday until you see bubbles or fungus. Then sieve and bottle up. Be careful to leave gaps in top of bottles and monitor as the natural yeast in the elderflower and the sugar can cause the bottles to explode!
I will keep you all updated on our progress.
Day Six: Tuesday.
Since it’s been raining for the past two days, I decided to do a little research on the topic. The Met Office offered a helpful info-gram. This video here, is helpful too.
- It rains due to warm moist air cooling and condensing to liquid.
- The shape of a rain drop is actually like a jelly bean.
- The average speed of a rain drop is 14 mph.
- Petrichor is the smell of rain as it hits dry ground.
- Rain falls from weather fronts (two differing air masses) whereas showers stem from clouds.
Day Seven: Wednesday.
Saving a buff-tailed bumblebee
With this deluge of rain we are having, means the poor wildlife seem to be having a hard time. The rain makes it harder for birds to forage for seeds and insects for their nestlings and bees become sodden and lethargic. It always seems to be buff-tailed bumblebees we find clinging to flower petals in the hope of finding shelter. Here’s what you can do if you find one.
The RSPB state two tablespoons of granulated sugar to one tablespoon of water. I think that is a little excessive. We only use teaspoons. One teaspoon to half a teaspoon of sugar. Place the sugar water where the bee can sit safely and drink. You will be amazed at how quickly the bee perks up.
Our little bumblebee was also wet and cold so we warmed her by the radiator before releasing her back safely into the yarden.
Have you tried reviving tired bees? How did it work for you?
Nature is supposed to be natural, not forced, however this being my third year of participating in 30 Days Wild, I have felt pressurised to do activities which I haven’t done in previous years. Have you felt the same?
I did enjoy foraging for elderflowers and counting the bees. It’s amazing that even a small urban yarden can attract a variety of wildlife.
What random acts of wildness have you enjoyed doing this week?
A Look Back: at week one in previous years.
2015: Mint moths and buying homes for nature.
2016: Bee facts and growing maris bard potatoes.
Thanks for dropping by,