Where is the year 2021 going? We are now in August and I have very little to show for it! Time seems to be slipping through my fingers at an unimaginable speed! It’ll soon be Christmas at this rate! :p
This month has been all about positive covid-19 tests, thankfully not mine, though it feels like I am running the gauntlet and it’s only a matter of time before I catch it! All covid regulations in England were relaxed in July, it seems to be the case of just get on with it now!
My July began by taking another trip to Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to see the Peace Doves with mum. I think she was a little underwhelmed but we visited on a weekday morning and got to see the art installation before anyone else managed to get in the photos!
July was all about the heatwave! Just over a week of glorious sunshine and temperatures in the NW reaching 32°C. Sadly, I didn’t go on any adventures due to a member of the family being ill, but I made the most of staying local by visiting Sefton Park with Riley and Pickerings Pasture, which was full of fluttering meadow brown butterflies.
During this short heatwave, water was vital for all wildlife and after purchasing a £3 paddling pool from Asda for Steven, the herring gull, he wasn’t the only one to be seen having a pool party! The pigeons, starlings and even I, had to have a cool down in these hot temperatures!
After a month of rehabilitation, David and I released Harri. He had grown stronger during his stay with us and managed to eat by himself. Near the end of his stay he was getting a little stressed at being constrained. So the best decision we could make was to release him back to his flock and hope that he gets on ok. On his release it didn’t take him long to come out of the cage and fly up to the roof top. Good luck Harri. It’s up to you now!
Update on Harri: he has been seen visiting the yarden a couple of days after his release! Flying and eating well!
The Dyfi Project osprey chicks I have been following on YouTube, fledged in July. Ystwyth (Bobby Bach) was the last chick to fledge and I watched on a Saturday morning her first flight. It was very emotional and I have to admit I cried. They will remain in the area until they migrate to warmer climes end of August!
No sooner had we released Harri when David caught a lost racing pigeon, who he named Hercules as he was twice the size of the feral pigeons. David contacted The Royal Pigeon Racing Association and registered the number of the lost pigeon. The result came back as his owner was from Birmingham and David contacted him. David found out that Hercules was flying from Guernsey and overshot Birmingham by 100 miles! (I blame Storm Evert). However the lure of our yarden was too much not to visit for Hercules and he enjoyed a few days with the resident Scouse ladies. David and I released Hercules and hope that he makes his way back home! Safe journey Hercules.
David has also caught another sick pigeon. This time one with canker. Idris has been given medication and is being crop fed twice daily. We just hope that we have caught the infection in time. Fingers crossed.
On the final Saturday of July David and I had a short adventure to Snowdonia. We had intended on visiting Llynnau Mymbyr but there was a triathlon going on so we had to quickly change plans and headed to Llyn Ogwen instead for a very chilly and rainy swim!
That was my July, how was yours? Did you enjoy the hot weather or kept to the shade?
Day 1: Today is the start of 2021’s 30 Days Wild by The Wildlife Trusts! To celebrate the first day of this nature challenge I’m took part in the Big Wild Breakfast! I took my breakfast out into the yarden to see who I would share my meal with.
I spent an hour in the yarden listening to a blackbird and wood pigeon on the airwaves and watched with amusement as goldfinches chattered about the tree. A female hairy footed flower bee perused the red campion, while Steven the herring gull watched cautiously from the rooftop. The birds waited for me to leave before they all came into the yarden to feed. It was a pleasant beginning to a hot day!
Big Wild Breakfast
Hairy-footed flower bee
Did you participate in the Big Wild Breakfast? If so, what did you see?
This weekend was the highly anticipated RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I have been participating in this annual event for the past nine years and 2021 was no different. During the last weekend in January, you are encouraged to sit with a hot cup of coffee and count the visiting birds for this all important citizen science project. This year I had David alongside me, taking fantastic photos of the wonderful array of feathered friends we have visiting our yarden.
I suppose not many people can say a herring gull was part of their count, but Steven saw me sitting by the window and he flew to our wall looking for kitchen scraps, so obviously he had to be the first bird to be counted. We did our count on Saturday, 30th January 2021, 11 am to 12 noon. The weather was windy and drizzly, with a temperature of around 5°. It was a very damp, grey, overcast day which made for counting birds pretty easy. Through the hour, (and all day in fact) the feeders were visited frequently by swathes of hungry birds.
Steven wasn’t the only celebrity that featured during our one hour count. Hoppy the pigeon who, five years ago we rehabilitated after having string wrapped around her feet, decided to help herself to the feeders and frightened the goldfinches away in the process.
During the hour we counted 11 goldfinches, (a smaller charm than usual), a brave blue tit, four squabbling starlings, an unassuming dunnock (my favourite garden bird) and of course 10+ pigeons gobbling up the food dropped by the others. Six species in total. Perhaps not as many species for other gardens but for an inner city walled yard, I’d say that was a good tally.
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 has now ended but it doesn’t stop me looking ahead to next year. Who knows what 2022’s count will look like, it could have the likes of such feathered visitors as the sparrowhawk, chaffinch, robin, house sparrow, chiffchaff, yellow wagtail and blackbird, all species who have visited the yarden in the past.
How did your RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 go? What birds did you see?
Seven years ago David and I began work on creating a wildlife yarden. We focused on attracting as much wildlife to an inner city walled yard as we could.
Bird feeders were the first and easiest addition to the yarden and during late summer/early autumn the feeders are usually awash with different coloured wings and bird calls. From chattering charms of goldfinches and the happy chirruping of sparrows to boisterous gangs of starlings. The odd blue tit is seen nervously snatching away a sunflower heart as well as two delicate greenfinches who’ve visited among with the goldfinches. All this activity has caught the eye of several sparrowhawks whose presence in the yarden is a wondrous sight to behold.
Goldfinches Picture by David Evans
Starling Picture by David Evans
About three years ago we put in a wash bowl pond. It’s in a sheltered spot so we don’t have dragonflies or damsels visiting but we did have a little frog for a short while.
Over the years we have planted shrubs and herbs which flower at different times of the year to attract insects. We even have the odd sapling tree, with a hawthorn being my pride and joy!
Red Mason Bee
Honey Bee and Passion Flower
Large White Butterfly
Swallow Tailed Moth
Red Tailed Bumblebee
Trying to increase the insect population means that other predators will hopefully move in. Imagine my excitement and surprise when I discovered that a bat frequents the area!
I know nothing about bats so here’s a few facts on them:
There are 18 species of UK bat, with 17 breeding here
They all eat insects and are a natural pest control for e.g. mosquitoes
A pipistrelle can eat up to 3000 insects a night
They use echolocation to find food
They are indicators of biodiversity
They pollinate and spread seeds
Like the dormouse and hedgehog they hibernate
The mating season is from September and females give birth to one pup around June in maternity roosts
Cats and birds of prey are their main predators
They are the only mammal that can fly
I wonder what type of bat is visiting? It could be the most common bat in the UK, called a common pipistrelle. I’d need a bat detector to discover the identity of our new visitor, perhaps I’ll add one to my birthday/Christmas wish list. :p
Have you got bats visiting your garden? What is your favourite bat?
You all know how much I love updating you all in a Sunday Sevens! I’ve managed to collate enough info this week for a post. Thanks to Natalie at Threads and Bobbins for devising the successful series.
Sunday 21st July 2019 was RSPB Burton Mere‘s 40th anniversary pin badge launch. David and I made our way to the reserve on this special occasion to purchase the much anticipated badge. The badge ID was unknown until we arrived. It was a cattle egret! A species that has nested and reared young in previous years. I paid the £2 donation and we enjoyed a few hours walking about the reserve.
Cattle Egret Pin – 40th Anniversary
David has been curing pigeons again! This time a female pigeon with a sore eye, who was unable to close her beak. After a few attempts at capture, David managed to catch her and quickly discovered that she had canker, a bacterium that if left untreated can kill pigeons. David has bought tablets to treat this disease so after an overnight stay at Rescue No.49, Doris was released and has been seen frequenting the yarden every day this week. Thanks David for saving another life!
Doris the pigeon
David and Dalmatian Puppy
After all the uncertainty recently about David’s job, re: redundancies and reshuffling, an event at David’s work called Puppy Day helped him release the stresses and strains of daily life by spending time with dalmatian puppies.
During recent research I’ve discovered that there is no such thing as a seagull. They are just gulls seen at the seaside! However since their food and habitat is being encroached by humans these gulls are becoming more prevalent inland. The nesting gulls around our home I have learned are two different types. The gull nest to the back of our house is a herring gull and the nest to the front, I have identified as alesser black-backed gull. On Friday the chick to the back had fallen from the nest (chimney stack) and now cries for food whilst on the roof. The adult tends to this chick so I am not too concerned.
Watching birds while it rained:
This weekend was a rather damp squib, in more ways than one!! It rained constantly all day Saturday, so I decided to spend a good hour watching the birds visiting the yarden feeders. I saw four species of bird, 7 goldfinches, 5 sparrows, (who are so adventurous and like to explore every corner of the yarden). 13 Starlings and 4 pigeons. I even spotted a poor bedraggled honeybee trying to dodge the raindrops!
View from the window
I’ve forgotten to calculate my miles recently. So when I did add up this week’s mileage, I found that I had walked 35 miles, bringing my annual total to 1,177!
Book I am reading?
Having finished The Heightsby Juliet Bell I am left wondering what to read next. Any ideas??
I’ve noticed that since Riley has hit the prime age of 10, he has slowed down a lot. He no longer plays for as long as he used too and he stop and starts when going for a long walk. I worry for him. Do you have any tips on looking after an older dog?
It was thanks to Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines, (who informed me of this month’s photo an hour challenge), that I managed to participate. Unfortunately the challenge fell on a Sunday when I had nothing planned. My photos all come from a stay at home day. I hope it’s not too boring for you?!
Photo and Hour – 29th January 2017
My Sunday started at 9am. I feigned sleep while I heard the bed springs creak as David got out of bed, to make the most of the last day of the weekend. I didn’t really want to get up as the day before had been tiring, we had spent five hours repainting the bathroom. It looks fresh and clean now though!
10am – 11am: A 40 minute session on the treadmill beckoned, then a quick cool down.
Big Garden Birdwatch
11am to 12 noon: I tootled about the yarden before lunch, filling up the bird feeders in preparation for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. I also celebrated the appearance of a lone snow drop standing proudly!
Blue Faced Parrot Finches
Chocolate Silverbill Finches
12 noon to 1pm: Lunch was spent in the living room with the finches flying from their aviary. David photographed the Blue Faced Parrot Finches playing in a vase of flowers while I took a selfie with the Chocolate Silverbills who tried to pull at my hair.
1pm to 2pm: I sat down with a cafetiere filled with coffee supplied by the RSPB. In anticipation I counted the visiting birds to my yarden. It was an overcast afternoon with drizzle. The usual suspects appeared but sadly no Blue Tits, (they arrived after the count – typical!) My count for this one hour period was as follows:
5 Pigeons – though there were 10 after the count!
1 House Sparrow
A Crow and Herring Gull flew overhead, but couldn’t be included as not in the boundaries of the yarden.
The Robin sat in the laurel bush looking at me as I counted him. He sat in the bush for the whole hour! It was nice to have a little company. I will be doing the count again on Monday morning just in case there is a better turn out. We usually see a charm of 20+ Goldfinches. It’s just being at the right place at the right time!
H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
Hans Zimmer, The Classics
2pm to 5pm: It was a lazy afternoon. As I sat reading H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, I listened to Hans Zimmer’s new album, The Classics. Tracks from The Dark Knight, Superman, and Inception were among my favourites!
5pm to 6pm: This evenings dinner was a salad, here’s a picture of David’s mountain!
Yellow painted nails
6pm to 7pm: I sat listening to Classic FM while painting my nails. Perhaps it’s the dark days of winter that have inspired me to paint them bright colours!
7pm to 8pm: After a hot relaxing shower I pampered my skin with a gift I got for Christmas. This Body Shop body butter really does make your skin look radiant and nourished.
Body Shop Body Butter
8pm to 9pm: I finished the day by writing this blog. I hope you have enjoyed a brief foray into my time at home? Not every day can be exciting and given I had a hectic Saturday, this photo an hour Sunday has been very relaxing. I always enjoy the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, even though we only get a smidgen of visitors. Those visitors are good enough for a small yarden! I look forward to next years count as I do every year!
Once again, thank you for stopping by and reading about my day, uneventful as it was. How did you spend your Sunday?
I can’t quite believe how fast this June is going, too quickly for my liking! Unlike last years 30 Days Wild, I am trying to look beyond the yarden. Taking more days out in the country for long scenic walks and wild swims.
Here’s a summary of week three!
Day 15: Wednesday
The third week of The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild dawned with a migraine. So I forsook the treadmill and spent a lazy day of watching ‘wild’ webcams. I particularly enjoyed watching the Derby Cathedral peregrines. It had four, close to fledgling peregrine chicks in a nest that had lots of pigeon kill! I also tried to spot the puffins on the Teaching Through Nature website. David had chosen this ‘wild’ card and it was perfect for the type of day it became. I frequently tune into the RSPB’s Lodge webcam to watch garden birds visit the feeders. Today when I logged on, two grey squirrels and a great spotted woodpecker hung off the feeders. It cheered me up!
Day 16: Thursday
I wasn’t feeling very wild today. It was a staying under the bed covers kind of day. So I thought I would ID a plant that was growing in my yarden. I used the Pl@nt.Net app, but the programme was having trouble identifying the leaves. I said to David ‘I’m sure I’ve seen the buds before,’ but on what plant I could not remember! Then I realised! The flower buds are very like borage, though the leaves look very different. I grew borage for the bees last year as one of my 30 Days Wild and it looks like some have seeded themselves! I am not complaining though, they’ll be more food for the bees! 🙂 And I suppose it ticks off another wild task without me even trying! 🙂
Day 17: Friday
Today was a special day. It was a day I got to go wild swimming again!! The weather may have been much grottier than my first time in Derwentwater, but it was a much special day. I got to swim in the waters of my favourite lake, Buttermere! 🙂
After walking three hours alongside Crummock Water and then back towards Buttermere, I finally submerged my weary body under the cool, clear waters of the lake, with Fleetwith Pike as the glorious backdrop.
Today was busy with shopping and visiting family, so I didn’t have much time to do anything ‘wild’. In the evening, I decided to try my hand at identification, with little result. I began by looking at Google images in the hope of identifying the owner of this feather I found at Crummock Water the day before. Then I turned to theForest Xplorer app by the Forestry Commission to discover what type of tree I had hugged.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am useless at identification. After a good few hours searching, I stopped feeling frustrated, with still no answers! I really need to improve my skills, perhaps I should take a course in the future?
Day 19: Sunday
Today’s ‘wild’ card was, keep an eye out for newborns. Once again I had set my camcorder at the kitchen window overlooking the bird feeders. During the hours recording, it captured a baby Goldfinch visiting the feeders with two adults!
Day 20: Monday
Happy Summer Solstice or Litha. I don’t think I have sat up and watched the Longest Day of the year dawn, if I have in the past it was unintentionally! For one of my 30 Days Wild this year, I wanted to wake up with the city dawn chorus. I decided it would be a perfect way to celebrate the solstice too.
Sunrise was at 4.42am. I crawled out of bed blurry eyed an hour before. I left David in the thrall of Morpheus. With a hot drink in hand, notepad and pen, camcorder and phone, I sat in the guest bedroom with the window open wide and listened to the soft breeze for any birdsong.
It was faint, ethereal almost in the gloaming, but there was the sound of sweet birdsong. I think if I lived closer to a park the volume would have been louder. I tried to record the sound, which I have mixed in a video below.
I found it difficult to identify the birdsong. I had expected to hear a blackbird’s call but I think the predominant song was that of a robin. (I heard the blackbird before I returned to bed.)
Half an hour before the dawn, I saw herring gulls circling in the sky. These birds get up early! Members of the tit family were also calling and flying between the houses at this time.
It was after sunrise, when the birds came to the yarden, that I captured the loudest of the birdsong. It seemed that the lighter the day became the louder the sounds! 5am seemed to be the best time! Goldfinches came to the yarden in charms. I saw a crow fly over the roof. Mr. Dunnock sang so loudly he almost deafened me! Pigeons visited the feeders and magpies cackled somewhere in the near distance. Also at this time a tree bumblebee was heard and seen buzzing loudly around the campanula, bell flowers. If that was not enough for my small yarden oasis, a black cat walked along the wall crying. It jumped into the yarden and went for a long, quenching drink from our pond before jumping back on the wall and walking out of sight!
The sunrise was less eventful than the dawn chorus. The day broke grey and uninspiring. I retired to bed, to a fitful snooze after 5.30am.
Day 21: Tuesday
David went back to work today, so I spent the day looking over the pictures we took during out visit toChester Zoo on Monday. I know I am cheating a little here and its not totally nature or indeed wild but the weather in the morning could have been described as wild so its going into my 30 Days blog.
Chester Zoo do have an initiative called Act for Wildlife. They have conservation projects not only around the world but in the UK too.
We spent a good three hours dodging the showers. We spent over half an hour watching the Aye-aye (Madagascan Lemur), he is so cute, and marveling at the new dinosaurs collection. We both liked Utahraptor with his feathers!
Aye-aye by David Evans
This week has been quite a diverse one! Like last years 30 Days Wild, I am loving every moment! I am continuing to read and enjoy other blogs and I am learning along the way.
With only one more full week left of June, I hope you will continue to follow me as I discover more wildness in my life.
I can’t believe how quickly the first week of 30 Days Wild went and now I am finalising this post at the end of the second week! I am enjoying reading other bloggers’ adventures, and The Wildlife Trusts, 30 Days Wild app, of 101 random acts of wildness, is really inspiring me to learn more about the nature that I see around me.
Day Eight: Wednesday.
Wednesday was World Oceans Day. Highlighting the plight of the seas and collaborating for a better future. I was unable to get to the coast but I still managed to celebrate the diversity of the oceans. It was a day of cooking and baking bread. I shaped these granary loaves into sea turtles (recipe here). I’m no artist but I am pretty happy with how they turned out. What do you think?
In the afternoon I opened the app for the Great British Bee Count. I thought with the amount of bees flying about the yarden that I could do a timed count. I set up alongside a popular plant and started the one minute timer. Sadly, all the bees must have known and only one mason bee made an appearance! Typical!
Day Nine: Thursday.
I turned to the wildness cards for inspiration. I downloaded the cards from the email pack The Wildlife Trusts sent when I signed up for 30 Days Wild. (I wish I had asked for a mail pack as they sent a cute little ‘I love wild’ badge! But such is life!)
I picked the sketch up close card. If my sea turtle bread rolls were any indication, then this activity could go horribly wrong, but I had to try. So I grabbed a piece of paper and sharpened a pencil and sat down to draw one of my favourite garden birds. The dunnock.
Some interesting facts on the dunnock (hedge sparrow):
Has a fine bill due to preferring insects and beetles than seeds.
Is a ground feeder.
As their diets are similar to Robins, can come into conflict if food is scarce, usually losing out to the more aggressive Robins.
Their nests are often parasitised by the cuckoo.
Most are polyandrous (female has more than one male mate) or polygynous (males have more than one female mate).
Day Ten: Friday.
I let David chose today’s ‘wild card’. He chose keep a note of wildlife. List the species that you see from your window. I decided to spend an hour watching the yarden after the evenings dinner. Here’s what I saw.
House Sparrow (x1)
Hover flies (many)
Small white butterfly (x1)
Cinnabar moth (x1)
Spider (garden) (x1)
Herring gull (x1)
Day Eleven: Saturday.
During 30 Days Wild, I have also been setting up my camcorder to record for an hour a day. Below is the ‘highlights’ video of the species, mainly birds visiting the yarden.
Day Twelve: Sunday.
With the flowers having fallen, it was time to haul up our potato plants. We have found that it has not been easy to grow our own vegetables. However, David and I were overjoyed that we got some kind of harvest! Below find pictures of us celebrating our maris bard potatoes!
Maris Bard potatoes
For the evening dinner we boiled some of our harvest and had them with a vegetarian roast. They were delicate and creamy. They tasted all the better for having grown them ourselves.
Day Thirteen: Monday.
Sadly the weather has taken a turn for the worse, even this poor buff tailed bumblebee was having trouble today. David rescued her/him from the yarden floor and the jaws of Artie and fed it some sugar solution. After a while it perked up and flew away. Later on I saw another bee busily enjoying an oriental poppy.
I also managed to do another bee count, in between the showers. Within a minute I got a tally of three!
I decided to write a short creative passage around wild swimming. I didn’t intend for it to become so morbid… sorry!
On a frosty winter’s day. Erin dipped her toe into the water and shivered as the delicious cold touched her skin. She often wondered if her sister had felt the same sensation before she slipped eternally into the dark abyss. Perhaps her depression had steeled her against the cold? Either way Erin gasped as she stepped in.
‘What torments brought you to these waters?’ She thought, finding herself waist deep in the lake. ‘If only I could have helped.’ She swam through the icy water towards a small island, a tangle of tree branches and sandy shores.
During the summer holidays, Erin and her younger sister, Elise used to swim out towards the island. The warm waters suspended their sun kissed limbs as they splashed headlong towards an adventure of exploring over rock and under root.
Erin, felt her teeth chatter as she breaststroked through the choppy waters. Erin didn’t mind, she was a strong swimmer. Elise too, but on that fateful day she chose to succumb. ‘It’s very easy to get cramp,’ their swimming instructor had prophesied. ‘If you don’t respect the water or your ability, tragedy can happen.’ Erin swam on until a man’s voice from the lakeside beckoned tensely.
‘What are you doing?’ She turned, noticing her funeral garb heaped on the shingle shore. The waters caressed her breasts, stroked seductively between her legs. She saw Josh standing at the lakeside. In his hand he held the length of his black tie. His shoes discarded.
‘I’m okay!’ Erin called through the drizzle. She looked at Josh as she treaded water. She felt the love Elise had felt for him. Watched as he disregarded his mourning clothes and lunged into the lake. His arms were strong as he crawled towards her, while she felt cradled in the waters embrace.
Erin recalled the last time she and Elise swam together in the lake. Elise had been no older than eleven. They both lay on their backs looking up at the blue cloudless sky. Swallows skirted over the water catching flies, and laughter tinged the air with joyful exuberance. Elise had been so full of life. Her death remained inexplicable.
‘Come back to shore.’ Erin felt Josh’s arms embrace her. They were becoming shrouded in a mist that rolled down from the mountains. ‘You’ll get hypothermia.’ Josh reached for Erin’s hand. They swam alongside each other back towards the shore.
Erin’s body ached with the cold as she walked out of the water. She looked into Josh’s dark eyes that searched her face for a reason. ‘I just felt like a swim.’
‘In this weather?’ She felt Josh’s warm lips on hers. ‘I don’t want to lose you too.’ He threw his jacket over Erin’s shoulders before hurrying her towards their hotel where Elise’s wake was winding down. With luck, Erin’s disappearance had gone undetected and they could creep inside unseen.
A warm light flooded from the hotel doorway, and bathed their heads in a golden glow. Josh took Erin’s hand in his and they both walked into the light.
I have taken things much slower this week. Perhaps a bit too slow. Most days haven’t been really ‘wild.’ I have enjoyed doing the creative activities, like molding bread into turtles and even drawing the dunnock, I found relaxing.
I wonder what discoveries week three of 30 Days Wild will uncover? At some point, I am hoping to go looking for moths and perhaps a wild swim will feature, who knows? I hope you will join me in my forthcoming adventures…