International Dawn Chorus Day

Next Sunday (May 7th) is International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD). This is a day designed to promote one of natures daily wonders. The story behind it is rather nice. Back in the 1980s Chris Baines (known for his excellent wildlife gardening guide) invited people to his birthday at 4AM to enjoy the dawn chorus. It has built over the years to be celebrated in places around the world. The wildlife trust have since taken responsibly for celebrating this little daily pleasure that often goes unnoticed by many.

With Alice only 11 months old I’m often up for the dawn chorus anyway so will probably end up hearing it whether I get up intentionally or not. Recently I’ve been trying to match the bird song to the correct bird. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read is when you hear a bird try to spot it. Then gradually you’ll connect the sound and bird.
The BBC has a number of free resources around the dawn chorus and recognising bird song. The Natural History podcasts did an episode recording the dawn chorus.

BBC dawn chorus

Also from the BBC tweet of the day gives a short clip about each bird.

Tweet of the day

To explain to children the idea of the dawn chorus I’d recommended this little book.

The dawn chorus-Suzanne Barton

It tells the story of a young bird who wants to join in the dawn chorus, but can’t get up early enough. It introduces the concept of nocturnal animals and teaches a nice moral. 

I’ll have to see how Alice sleeps next Sunday otherwise may have to indulge in the dusk chorus instead. Being by the sea we have an unusual cacophonous dawn chorus. The delightful sound of the blackbird mixes with the discordant squeels of gulls, whereas the evening choir is often nicer.

RHS school gardening

Just a quick plug for the RHS and the super work they are doing promoting gardening in school. 

You can sign up at:

Through registering you get a welcome pack of advice and chances to gain more rewards. There are competitions to give your school gardening a target or focus. There are useful guides for identifying flowers, pollinators, parts of mini-beasts. Lots of useful resources for teachers. 

My new units garden area is a mess of weeds in the planters and strawberry plants growing on the path. So my first step is going to be clearing. My outdoor job for next week isn’t a gardening job. I want to put some mini-beast identification sheets up around the bug hotel. I’ve found a few children digging around it and want to extend it further. As little effort as a of w posters and magnifying glasses will be I reckon it will draw a lot of children back in to investigate. We have a lack of evidence for the world and some mini-beast hunting and gardening will help build up our evidence.

Woodsman (Unabridged)

I finished listening to Woodsman (Unabridged) by Ben Law  narrated by Ben Law on my Audible app.

Ben Law became known to the world through channel 4’s TV show grand designs. For readers who don’t know the show a film crew follow someone trying to build their dream home. They usually have more money than sense. Horrifically complicated designs. And it seems to be pretty much compulsary to have a baby on the way. Its presented by a smug presenter who stands back reviling in the setbacks. Ben’s was very different from the vast majority in that it was low budget, largely built from local materials and was completed within a reasonable time frame, though his partner did have a baby on the way.

Ben lives within a wood. He built his house from materials within the wood and has developed a level of self sufficiency through woodland skills.

He details some of these such as foraging and coppicing. Ben outlines issues for the future. He sees the coming oil crisis as oil runs out could lead to a return to a more rural life complete with folk songs. He outlines a future horrific to people who love city life (and polo horses), but wonderful to fans of Tom and Barbara on the good life.

Ben Law narrates the audiobook himself. He isn’t a natural reading it and it is a bit wooden at times (pun intended), buts it’s nice hearing it in the authors voice. An enjoyable quick listen. Interesting to people who would like a more environmentaly friendly vision of the future.


On Friday the family went out swimming with my mum, dad and nephews. This is only Alice’s second time swimming. She still isn’t sure about it, but gained in confidence as time went on. But in comparison to nephew Joe she’s doing wonderfully. Joe tried to climb up my dad to get out the pool. 

After we went back for lunch. Alice was keen to look out at the garden, watching her grandad being silly.

My parents garden is looking good right now, but it was a bit chilly for just popping out without wrapping her up.

With my new lens I managed a shot of a robin I’m particularly proud of.

Robins seem to of been turning up all around the last few days. So the rest of this blog is dedicated to this little bird and a walk today.

Today I took Alice out for just a quick walk on my back in the howdah. I was going to go for a walk to the park, but needed to post a letter. So we ended up heading the opposite direction. As a result I took a chance on a bridleway down the side of the bus depot.

The path is a dream for a host of wildlife with nettles, brambles and dandelions. All cut back enough from the path to walk through comfortably. Bluebells currently edge the path.

From this point on my walk seemed to be monitored by a robin who kept just ahead of us.

Robin’s are quite well known for being little bullies. They are fiercly territorial and will fight off other robins competing for food in their area. Their redbreast is a signal for a fight and they have been known to fight stuffed robins and even piles of red feathers.

This particular robin hopped tree to tree ahead of us for the length of the short bridleway.
We could hear the song as we went along. Robins are one of the few birds who sing through the year. This goes back to their terratorial behaviour.

The bridleway took us out on the new houses that have been built recently and rather suprisingly a pill box.

Then a little further on took us out close to home. So a little investigation has found a good wildlife spot and another route to walk.

Outdoor play

As mentioned previously I have recently got a promotion to a new school. I am now going to be moving back from year one into being an EYFS coordinator. Within my new unit we have provision for two year olds, F1’s (3-4 year olds) and F2’s (4-5 year olds). My job is to oversee the three year groups, but will mainly be working in F2. One of the things I’m looking forward to is developing the outdoor play. The three year groups have their own playground areas that are currently pretty well resourced, but I reckon can still be developed further. But lots of nice areas already established. Anyone who follows the blog knows I care about outdoor learning and these three areas have already made spaces for wildlife and stories, so lots for me to get my teeth into.

The two year old area. They’ve got a slide going down a small slope and under the tarp is a large sand area.


Water play on the fence.


A rather good looking mud kitchen.


Weaved shelters and bug hotels. A nice area for covering to make dens.

The F1 playground.


A story seating area. A good area for taking the story out.


Mud kitchen and seating.




The F2 playground (where I will mainly be).


A story area again.


Pathways through weaved tunnels.


The all important bug hotel.


Pathways to help with all weathers.


And the mud kitchen.


A lot more than I had to work with starting out. It shows how much more significance has been placed into outdoor learning, even in just the last 5 years or so. I’m looking forward to seeing the kids out in it. I’ve no doubt they won’t use any of the areas as adults intended, but that’s part of the course.

A trip on the trains

The last two days saw us taking Alice for her first trip staying away at another house. We got two tickets for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, as part of a teachers go free deal. As it’s a little bit of a journey in the orig to get there for the first train we asked Amy’s dad if we could stay the night before. His house in Robin Hood’s Bay is a bit closer to the railway start point making it easier getting Alice up and ready. We’ve visited the house with Alice last year, but not stayed yet. Loading the car was a military operation, being our first night away we didn’t know what to take. So in the end we probably had enough nappies for a week.

Alice was up early ready to go on train day. Alice wanted to make friends with the cats, but they were a bit more wary of her.

We got to the station in Pickering OK and sorted out tickets. We didn’t go down to look at the engine at this point, as we wanted to make sure we were comfortable on the train with Alice’s things.



We got on the train and settled with a useful table.



The railway takes you through the North Yorkshire Moors. You travel through a mixture of woodland, coniferous woodland and fields. We saw plenty of the larger farm animals.


Alice was initially quite interested in watching out the window with her eyes tracking along. She managed a little while before becoming more wriggly.



Alice then settle down into grazing on some snacks for the journey, working her way through some carrot wotsits type snacks and a little bit of cherry bakewell flapjack.




Refreshed with food Alice was ready to watch around again.


We got out of the train at the end of line at Whitby and saw the engine.




Whitby is famous for being the setting for some of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This weekend is the goth festival, so the shops were all set ready. So this area forms the setting to two of my favourite horror movies: American werewolf in London and Dracula. If movies have taught me anything I know not to go walking this area of the country at night. It’s a lovely old seaside town with lots of historic buildings going back to when the town made it’s fortune from fishing and whaling.



The wind was quite strong along the piers, so Alice nattered away. Amy enjoyed a coconut ice cream and I had a toffee fudge. This area seems to of been developed more from our last trip with a better quality of food huts having emerged. Alice was travelling in the baby howdah as we thought the pram would be a hassle on the train and around Whitby.



The train journey back we had a compartment to ourselves allowing Alice to wander a bit more, but was also lucky as Alice was grumpy and tired by this point. So much of the return journey was spent fractiously trying to get Alice to have a nap.

The sun had come out more though and the moors were looking stunning for it.


The journey has tired Alice out and she fell asleep in the car. As she’d taken so much to get her to sleep I stayed in the car and read my new gardening book to give her a rest.


We stopped off for tea at Amy’s dad before returning home. A few lessons learnt about what we need to take with for sleeping away. But a nice day out. Alice slept well last night after excitement, making it through to almost 6 o’clock, a good achievement for her.

Whitby 2



A little further along the Transpennine Trail

Today saw me and Alice getting out a bit further along the Transpennine Trail. This morning I finished reading Ranulph Fiennes book on Scott of the Antartic putting me in the mood to explore further. If Scott could manhaul a sledge to the South Pole I can manage a bit more of Hornsea.

I started with a stop off near the mere to check out the sheep. The mothers are out protecting their lambs currently. Alice seems to find them funny when we’ve visited before and today was no different sat giggling in her pram.



From there we had a little stroll along the main road before joining the trail. It was sunny today but that section is nicely shaded for Alice.


The trail was rich in wildlife today with many birds, bees, flies and butterflies out.

My new lens helped cature some photos I would if struggled to get before. In order a peacock, a red admiral and what I think is a small white.



Butterfly 2

Part of the way along is a side path coming out above the rescessed trail to a farmers field. Around this stretch was a lot of bees but only captured a few.



This side public footpath took us out at the little bridge out of Hornsea on the main road out. As there was no decent path we retraced our steps back to the trail.



Continuing on from my blog on surveys I am keeping an eye out for blue bells. Lots along the trail, but I don’t believe they are native.




On existing the trail we turned into the cemetary. I’d investigated the cemetary last year and found it good for wildlife with lots of squirells. No squirells todsy, but some lovely blossom.




We returned home along the old railway line. The station building is now houses and in my mind some of the nicest looking in Hornsea.




The last stretch home took us along the seafront where it was windy enough for people to fly kites. Alice loves the wind in her face and gasps and giggles at it.




The floral hall has built a rather nice bug hotel.


A pretty good trek out and some new ground covered. Hopefully all that fresh air will give Alice a good nights sleep as tomorrow we are heading to North Yorkshire.

Two wildlife surveys

Last year I took part in the Great British Bee Count for friends of the earth. This survey allowed you to either log how many bees you saw in a set time or to log sightings of species. I loved the app. It was simple to use. Take a photo of the bee on your phone, then it gave an identification sheet. I became a bit obsessed chasing bees. The hunt returns 19th May.


The Woodland Trust have another survey, The Big Bluebell Watch. Over half the worlds bluebell population are in the UK, so the Woodland Trust want to know where you have sighted bluebells and if their native and non-native. Bluebells are traditionally a sign of ancient woodland and offer an early source of pollen to many insects. So the Woodland Trust wants to make sure they don’t disappear.

I’ve sighted lots along the old Hornsea Railway way and made my submission.


National Gardening Week

This Easter weekend marks National Gardening Week. As its been the school holiday for me I’ve made some good steps forward with sorting out the garden. I’ve had a bit of help from parents over the week.

My dad has been working on greening the lawn and it’s now looking a lot better for it. WhenI moved in last Summer it was a sea of dandelions. While I appreciate that dandelions make a great early food source for bees they aren’t nice to walk on. We also have a path behind the garden where I’ve left them to grow. There also appears to be some wild bluebells emerging.

Some of the flowers put in earlier in the year are doing well. The patch of forget me nots I planted in Autumn are doing well and a few have seeded in other spots.

The foxgloves and hollyhocks are doing well. They got eaten to pieces initially but are now growing better.

These bulbs I planted in Autumn are shooting up. I can’t remember what they were, but lovely leaves. Be a nice surprise seeing what flowers.

My mum turned the apple tree after we cut it back to encourage shaping and growth. It had been a bit neglected but seems to be doing well now.


We got in two varieties of rosemary and silver mist lavender in the back. With some gravel in the soil for drainage I’m hopeful they’ll take well. A few gardens along the street have good patches of rosemary and lavender, so hopefully do well. There good for both bees and butterflies, which I’d like to attract in. I’ve got quite a lot of plants for bees, but less for butterflies.


My parents bought me two hardy fuschias which should look nice when flowering.

On the patio I’ve knocked out one of the unused stone wall planters. Now we’ve got the log burning stove fitted we want to turn this into a seating area and wood store.

The daffodils in the pots on the patio are up to dead heading point so looking to plant up a few other pots with some Summer flowers. I’ve got someĀ night scented flowers recommended for moths and to attract bats. Some poppy seed has gone in the flowerbed.

The seed packet that came from grow wild had grown beyond its pot so my mum split them over the flowerbeds in the front and back garden. There is also some more lavender in the front garden.

The RHS guide to urban gardensĀ was a kindle deal of the day earlier in the week so possibly get some more ideas for the patio there.

And I’ll finish with a few wildlife visitors over the last week.




I’ve moved a bird feeder to the front garden which is seeing plenty of visitors.