Highways and byways

I made a start on my RSPB nature plan yesterday. Currently I’m decorating the new house before moving in. Over the day I took a couple of breaks from painting to do a few gardening jobs.

I took the saw to the back gate to make a gap for hedgehogs and frogs as part of the highways and byways activity. This will give smaller animals a chance to get in and out of the garden past an otherwise impenetrable fence for many animals.The garden is currently pretty wild with overgrown grass and weeds filling the borders, so no issue with ground cover currently. We got some ivy giving cover along the back fence. Next year I think I’ll try and get some climbers maybe honeysuckle along the side fences.

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A hole for hedgehogs.

While I’m decorating I put up a few quick coconut bird feeders and a jar feeder before I move house properly and bring the bird feeders across. The new house is by the sea, so seen lots of gulls, but few garden birds so far. A few pigeons, but nothing else, so be interested to see if I get much else coming in.

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And a bird house above the compost heap where it’s got a bit of cover from a bush.

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Not much, but it’s a start.

Home for nature

As I prepare for moving house I want to plan the new garden for being as wildlife friendly as possible. My current garden has improved over the three years I’ve been in, but this time want to get more going from the off.

The RSPB have a set up to make your own personal plan for nature

You put in details of time, garden type and who will be doing it and it gives activities to suit.

My plan:

Open a hedgehog cafe

Make a butterfly banquet

Open a bird cafe

Create highways and byways for nature

Sow a poppy patch

Build a bug hotel

I reckon these are all quite achievable. The poppy patch won’t be until next year, but I can clear a space for that ready. The garden is already quite nicely set with a number of good bee and butterfly attracting bushes, a compost heap, so I can build on that. I’d like to get some trellis up for some ivy for helping the highways and biways and give a bit more cover on the fence. Going to have a reread of the wildlife garden.

https://twitter.com/Jobasha

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My talented nephews

In a break from my climate change petition efforts I’d like to share some nature efforts from my nephews. This morning they’ve been having a go at watercolours at my dads.

Jacob did a super shark and Joe an excellent effort at a fox.

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Then Jacob and Joe had a go with my camera at capturing some snaps of my parents garden.

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Some excellent photos by Jacob of bees in passion flowers.

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Joe took a good one of my dad, his granddad.

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Jacobs photo of the most wild thing of all.

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One from me on my phone.

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And some by me of my baby Alice being fussed over my family.

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30 days of wild 2016 contents

Here is the full list of blogs from the National Trusts 30 days of wild so I can tidy the sidebar.

Day 1-spreading the word

Day 2-An early start

Day 3-A couple of nature podcasts

Day 4-staying close to home

Day 5-bird watching

Day 6 – write a poem

Day 7-A new book and new listen

Day 8 feeling the grass

Day 9-Butterflies

Day 10-A more domesticated wild

Day 11-An inordinate fondness for beetles

Day 12-homes for wildlife

Day 13-Foxes

Day 14-Budding young photographers

Day 15-half way through

Day 16-A bird on a wire

Day 17-Feed the birds, tuppence a bag

Day 18-The great British Bee Hunt

Day 19-Bee happy

Day 20-National Insect Week

Day 21-mini beast hunting

Day 22-wildflowers

Day 23-survey time

Day 24-trail cam

Day 26-spare a thought for nature

Day 26-continued

Day 27-Foxes

Day 28-success of the trail cam!

Day 29-sadly almost over

Day 30-this is the end, my only friend, the end

Day 30+1 or -364 days-Staying wild

 

Snail races

Today we set up snail races in the class. At the beginning of the half term we had a number of the boys viscously killing snails. While I have no issue removing the things from the garden I don’t like killing them by slowly torturing them. So over the term we have looked at creating more respect for them keeping a few at a time in a tank in the class.

Today we captured a whole snail swarm for us to do snail races. A tray was used, sprayed with water and the snails released into the middle. The winner was the snail who got to the edge of the tray first. About half the kids sat for the better part of twenty minutes watching snails crawl over each other to the edges.

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Invite a tree to tea

Yesterday my Woodland Trust-invite a tree to tea pack arrived in the post. The Woodland Trust is encouraging people to get out and whether it’s having a picnic or a garden party invite a tree along. They have put together a delightful pack of activities available for free from the link. A lovely way to spend a day with kids or enjoy a glass of wine amongst the woods. The woodland trust recognises the need to connect children to nature if they want their work to continue to get support.

In the UK only 13% is covered by tress. This is rather pathetic compared with the average of 37 % in Europe. For a country once covered largely in woods this is devastating in terms of its effects on nature. As a result 60% of animal and plant species have declined in the last 50 years. Theresa May has closed the climate change department, along with the appointment of Andrea (foxes must die) Leadsome to Environment Secretary, shows clearly the environment and conservation is not going to be a priority for the new conservative government. Andrea Leadsome has previously suggested selling off forests. A little ironic from a woman who said she was better to lead as she had a stake in the world for her children. A refusal to accept climate change and looking at how we tackle our fossil fuel reliance will eventually crash our economy. It is incredibly short sighted from Theresa May, but then she possibly isn’t expecting to be re-elected. So more than ever is a time to support the Woodland Trust in their work encouraging people to enjoy trees and wooded areas and protect the little we have.

EDIT: I took action.

I plan to use the Woodland Trusts tree party set with my class to encourage their love of nature and to take care of the trees we have on our school site. We have our end of term reward next week and weather permitting we will get out and have our picnic under one of the trees on the school playing field. Then we can indulge in some of the the games from the pack and maybe go find it.

The set contains a few games to do. There is a leaf ID sheet for the kids to look for the different leaf patterns. There is a nice scavenger hunt with a list of wild objects the children might find (leaves, feathers, dandelion clock etc). Some stickers to show which trees they found. Then some lovely cards to use for photos to change the kids faces to animals.

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Mandela Gardens

On Wednesday I spent an afternoon at Hull Heritage Learning finding out more about their proposed Hull Curriculum. They have put together a set of resources on 20 Hull histories ready for Hulls year as the city of culture. Some wonderfully enthusiastic people leading the way.

The day was hosted in the cities museum quarter with a marque set up in the Mandela gardens. While only a small walled garden they are looking beautiful at this time of year. For those who haven’t ever been it’s a lovely secluded area in the old historic part of the city. You have the museum for William Wilberforce (top rate slave abolisher), the street-life museum (many old vehicles for the young uns to rampage on) and the history museum (giant woolly mammoth and super Roman Mosaics). Best of all it’s all free and I think we have a better collection than the York museum which charges a small fortune for a family day out.

We still have one of the Phillip Larkin toads on display.

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A lovely collection of roses.

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The pond is full of mighty beasts in the depths.

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Gandhi adds an element of calm to the garden.

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Two of the residents at the museum.

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A few of the vehicles on offer in the streetlife museum.

Some more pollen beetles.

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On the way home I tracked down another moth for Amy.

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Beetle update

The darkling beetles started back at day 15 are now reaching maturity and changing from the light brown to black. The children have enjoyed having them in the class immensely.

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On a side note we managed to capture our first photo with Alice smiling. She has been starting to smile the last few weeks, but changes to serious face when the camera is on her.

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And a less cheerful message, but worth watching, from Chris Packham.

Today is sponsored by the letter B

I’m starting today with something for teachers. I received my confirmation that I will be sent a free bulb pack from http://uk.bulbs4kids.com/ Bulbs for kids is encouraging children to get some hands on nature experience planting and growing their own bulbs.

The kit contains:

  • 600 flower bulbs (200 tulips, 100 crocuses, 200 daffodils and 100 grape hyacinths)
  • 35 Bulbs4Kids instruction booklets
  • 1 teacher’s manual
  • 10 gardening trowels
  • 15 plant markers

 

All for free. So if you are a teacher sign up now. Only one set per school, but that is plenty of bulbs to spread between year groups. As I plant different flowers and vegetables each year with my class this is looking great for getting what I need for free. If nothing else I’ll have a collection of trowels for future gardening and sand tray activities.

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Going away from teaching I’ve started to prepare for the big butterfly count. I’ve downloaded the app.It logs location, type of location and then what species of butterflies you’ve sighted. Seems like a good replacement for the void now the Great British Bee Hunt is over.

Now need to brush up on butterflies. Dug out the National Trust butterflies guide and the older E.B. Ford butterflies. My knowledge of butterflies is a bit rusty. I listened to Patrick Barkham’s the butterfly isles last month, so hopefully taking part in the count will build on that knowledge.

And a photo from earlier in the week I spotted another Amy Johnson moth.

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A new garden

Me and my partner, Amy, are set to move house. While we’re very happy in our current house it just isn’t going to be big enough as Alice gets bigger. Amy has a house in Hornsea, a small seaside town on the North East Coast. It has been rented for the last few years while she was living in Indonesia and then at mine. Her tenant has now moved out and we are set to move next month. We went to check out the house today. I’m excited to get to work on the garden. The flower beds are a bit heavy on the dandelions. It needs a bit of love and attention to encourage a greater variety of wildlife than the mass number of slugs and snails currently.

It already has some lovely flowering bushes. A good collection of roses and a small apple tree.

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The roses are looking good.

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With a bit of love and attention maybe get enough apples for a crumble.

The back is a bit bare currently. We need a rail around the decking for when Alice is walking. A few pot plants will add some colour and get some wildlife closer to the house. I reckon one of the bird feeders can go up this end close to the house so I can see through the windows in the kitchen.

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There are two bays for vegetables at the side of the house, but there pretty shaded. Considering a mud kitchen for Alice.

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Various flowers.

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The shed has been overtaken by a rose currently. Unfortunately we need to replace the shed at some point so it will need cutting back but currently it is festooned with pollen beetles (identified thanks to the 30 days of wild facebook group)

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Being a wet grey day the snails were out in force.

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I’m looking forward to getting to work. We’ve got a good compost heap at the bottom which looks like it has some compost ready at the bottom for me to use. I’d like some trellis to put some more wildlife cover along the edge. The trees need a bit of care to encourage some upward growth. I’d like a small water area somewhere. I don’t want to go for the full pond while Alice is little, but can at least have a small water feature somewhere. I’m hopeful for a greater diversity of birds than my current garden gets. There is a nice passageway behind of hedges, so there is the possibility of hedgehogs or foxes. Within Hornsea there is a mere where bats sly, so may look at getting  a bat box up. A whole new world of wildlife possibilities.