30 Days Wild: day 11-Save water

Today I’m looking at saving water in the garden. We have recently added two water butts One 300-litre beast in the back garden and one smaller 100-litre butt in the front garden. For the last week, I’ve been watering purely using the butts. Granted it has rained lots but as I’ve got quite a few newly planted trees and shrubs I want to make sure they are staying damp. At the bottom end, you can pay £30 for a cheap butt to make a big difference.

Installing a butt has many advantages both for the environment and practical:

    • If you’re on a water metre it saves money. In the future more of us may be put on metres if droughts continue. Get prepared!
    • Less water is taken out of rivers for drinking water. Up to 70% of the water from our taps is used for gardens at peak times. This means water companies have to drain streams and groundwater reducing valuable habitats for many species.
    • Most plants prefer rainwater to tap water, particularly if you live in an area of hard water like me.
    • It can save time and effort walking to the tap. This has helped me in the front garden where I have to walk a long way around.
    • It’s estimated if everyone in the UK used a butt we could save a reservoir worth of water.
    • It saves energy. Water treatment plants use up lots of energy so butts help save energy.
    • It potentially reduces flood risk. As you are reducing the water going down the drain it helps stop the drains get full.

Hope this inspires you to add one if you don’t already have a butt. We’ve already had one person in the neighbourhood say they’ve ordered one having seen ours at the front which is great news.

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30 days of wild: day 13: read a wild book

Day 13 has seen me finish my car audiobook and start a new one. On my commute I like audiobooks. With a one year old my reading time is limited, so audiobooks offer me an alternative. I had been listening to the evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson’s book Half Earth. The concept of the book is rapidly gaining ground within conservation. It isn’t enough to just save single species. We need to put aside large sections of the Earth for us and biodiversity to have a future. It was an interesting listen, but I wish more ground was covered on how it could be implemented.

BBC podcast on Half Earth concept

E.O. Wilson on podcast 

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Having finished half Earth I decided to move onto another nature book, but this time fiction. I started Watership Downs. Only an hour in and I’m hooked. The introduction was interesting. Richard Adams discussed how the book started as a story to entertain his kids in the car. It was initially rejected as too complicated for the younger audience and older children wouldn’t want to read about rabbits. Time has shown that to be wrong, so there is a good lesson for aspiring children’s authors. Don’t talk down to children. The descriptions of the animals in the book show Richqrd Adams as someone who was a keen naturalist. I think I will enjoy this audiobook a lot.

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On kindle I’m reading Rob Cowen common ground. The book is covering Rob’s forays into edge lands. I’m enjoying it, but keep finding myself comparing it to other books that have covered the same ground.

I also just got Hattie Garlick’s book born to be wild. Hattie is a journalist who has written for the times, the guardian and independent. The book grew out of a blog free our kids. The idea is activities to do with kids that will be free or using common items in your house. It has some super ideas and I particularly like how it has ideas split by seasons. I first heard about it from the RSPB podcast, but only just got it. But just a quick flick makes me think I’ll use it lots.

RSPB podcast

 

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I hope you enjoyed my reading updates. What are you reading? Leave a comment.

30 days wild 2017: day 2 Bempton walk and book review

This afternoon was one of the bigger acts of wild we went for a wild walk. We headed in the car up to RSPB Bempton Cliffs. The Bempton reserve is one of the best places for seabirds. With many coming to nest at this time of year. There are a number of well built observation platforms along the cliff edge and along the cliff edge are fields of wild flowers. It was raining lightly on arrival, otherwise I imagine we’d of seen a lot more butterflies.

The cliffs were thronged with seabirds. Every crevice is taken. It’s amazing how they stay perched.

We we saw the gannets. Lovely looking birds with their long necks and pointed tails they are rather striking particularly in flight.

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We saw the guillemots. They just come to land to nest. The rest of their lives are spent at sea, so this is the best chance for most people to see up close.

There were plenty of razorbills. Similar to the guillemots in looks, the main difference for me is the beak. As with many of the species at Bempton they are under threat with risks to marine health quality, through pollution, fishing, and rising sea temperatures.

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As well as the seabirds I saw a fair few farmland birds: sparrows, corn buntings, a moor hen and a few pigeons trying to hustle in on he sea bird action.

The star of the show though at Bempton are the puffins, which we saw up close through one of the RSPB telescopes. Wonderful characterful birds, however my camera wasn’t up to the job. You can just make out the beak is a puffin hiding in a crevice.

As the day had warmed up and the rain subsided the bug life’s came out.


On the way back to the centre we took Alice out of the howdah for a walk back up the path.

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Back at centre we avoided buying any stuffed toys, but did have a hot drink. Amy had a slice of cake and I had a rather nice Stilton pork pie. While eating the jack daws were very obliging for photos, keen to pick up food scraps.

 

A lovely trip out despite a drab start. Another random act of wild achieved for 30 days. Hopefully the RSPB will be able to keep these birds safe for many more years to come, so Alice can enjoy them when she’s older.

We an add on to day one.

The end of yesterday saw the arrival of a new nature book for children. The national trusts-go wild in the woods. The national trusts 50 things to do before your 11 3/4 is a lovely book and this looked to be in the same vein.

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The quality of he book is lovely. It’s hard backed and has an elastic bookmark to seal the book or mark the page. The book acts like a junior SAS survival guide for children. It covers setting up a camp, building a shelter, tying knots, navigating, tracking, animal prints, food to avoid, finding water, drinking wee, a whole host of subjects to appeal to a mini adventurer. It is showing off a number of bushcraft skills in a good accessible way for children. I was expecting ideas of activities to do in the wood, whereas this is aimed a little older than I expected. But still a nice read. The younger children can enjoy the animal sections and get some den ideas, while the older child can look at developing skills. A nice addition to the National Trusts growing adventure books. If you have a budding bushcraft fan or forest school child they will probably enjoy this.

The nature principle-Richard Louv

I have just finished listening to Richard Louv-The nature principle on audible. Since Alice came along my reading time dropped, so I like listening to audio books on my journey to work. I’ve worked through a lot of nature books over the last year, so even with lack of time I’m still learning new things. I’ve reviewed Last child in the wood, Richard’s previous book. Last child is something of a modern classic for educators wanting to get children outside. The nature principle has more of a focus on adults and how connecting to nature can benefit us in many ways.

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It covered a lot of similar ground as last child in the woods, sometimes even falling back on the same research or giving further details of events mentioned in last child. So I wouldn’t recommend this without reading last child first, as you may find some of these references annoying. Unlike many nature writers covering the same topic I like Richard Louv as he concentrates on positive steps that can be taken to find a space in nature. Many nature books currently get stuck on the doom and gloom and stating that much of what has happened to the environment is irreversible. But Louv, while he does talk about places that have gone wrong, spends more time discussing what can be done to move forwards to create a better world. He has ideas for embracing both nature and technology. His work isn’t about just reclaiming a past we can’t go back to.

Louv argues for the benefits of time in nature. He covers research showing how recovery time in hospital is shortened in patients look out onto green space. Time in nature can boost creativity, increase immunity and help de-stress. While I’m already sold on the benefits of nature time it’s still nice to hear.

The narration is good. Rick Adamson, who narrates, has a clear voice. Many of the non-fiction audible books have narrators with no intonation suitable for putting you to sleep. Not suitable for me driving, but this was done well.

Having enjoyed this second book I’m now tempted with Louv’s more recent book Vitamin N. May be a future purchase.

 

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.

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Media coverage of the demise of climate

The removal of the climate change department by Theresa May potentially marks a big setback for tackling climate change. The department has been brought into a bigger department responsible for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The conservatives claim this will allow further progress to be made in tackling climate change. I would love to believe this, but given the lack of progress in the party that promised the greenest government ever (David Cameron “lets kill the green crap) I just don’t believe them. Business interests and protecting the environment have rarely gone hand in hand. To me the removal the department marks the conservatives downgrading the status of the issue of climate change. Thus why I am petitioning to restore the climate change department.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/161489

In this blog I am listing some of the press coverage of the decision to scrap the department to give people further context to decide whether to sign or not. If moved to sign, please share on facebook and twitter and with anyone else you think might care.

Press coverage

The Guardian-Abolition of Decc ‘major setback for UK’s climate change efforts’ (15.7.16)

The independent-Climate change department closed by Theresa May in ‘plain stupid’ and ‘deeply worrying’ move (14.6.16)

The Independent-Killing the climate change department could be Theresa May’s first and biggest mistake

The Huffington Post-Theresa May ‘Stupid’ To Abolish Department Of Energy And Climate Change

Nature World News

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The Express-Department of Energy and Climate Change scrapped as Greg Clark heads up new role

Environment analyst

Petition-climate change department

If you’ve been following the blog over the last week you will of seen that I have been trying to get a petition off the ground to fight Theresa May’s decision to remove the climate change department and merge it into a bigger business department. The new department will supposedly combine environmental issues and business in a sustainable way. However I don’t believe that the environmental issues will win over business interests in a largely self interested Tory government. My petition was rejected as another was being started on the subject, so please put your support behind it. Please sign, share, tweet, do whatever you can to support it. It has managed over 100 signatures in the first day, but it has a long way to go.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/161489