Cabin fever

Today and the next couple of days we are having our hallway plastered. So the house is a little bit topsy turvy. So with little space for Alice to go back and forth we headed out for a walk to prevent cabin fever.

I discovered a new picnic area has been put together with a display showing what wildlife we might see

The spot overlooks part of the mere.

At the moment we have a scarecrow trail around town. At this new picnic spot I discovered one, an actual scary-crow scarecrow.

From there we walked around to the mere’s edge. The mere is a large body of fresh water. It has an abundance of bird life. Within the habitats available it attracts wetland, farm and sea birds. Even on a grey rainy day like today I still saw more variety than many trips to nature reserves.

There were lots of Canadian Geese.

I saw a good number of ducks. Some mallards and some I don’t know.

The jackdaws were hopping in and out of the other birds. As discussed before I like corvids and particularly jackdaws. I know some people consider them evil looking, but I rather like the blue eyes and apparent intelligence.

Alice thought the ducks and geese were hilarious, but they didn’t seem as keen on her.

We saw a number of types of gull. Springwatch released an article last week pointing out that there is no such thing as a seagull. So with that in mind here are black headed gulls and a herring gull.

Within the thistles and cow parsley goldfinches and pied wagtails flitted about. The goldfinch was slightly rude refusing to turn so I could take a photo of its better side.

The thistles were still seeing quite a few visitors despite the colder weather.

After the mere, we walked along the seafront home where we saw the lesser spotted sea pigeons.

Before heading home I gave Alice a quick run around outside the Floral Hall.

The Floral Hall is a community run venture with a cafe and hall. They put on live music, club nights, theatre shows and cinema nights. The flower displays are always lovely. The bug hotel they built this year is looking good and with plenty of teasel around it should see some visitors. Teasel is high on the list of flowers I would like to get growing in the garden next year. It is loved by pollinators and the birds will eat the seed heads.

Not a bad way to fill time staying away from the plastering in the house.

New Naturalist Library

Just a quick mention that a number of the Collins New Naturalist Library series are selling for 99p on Kindle currently. The New Naturalist series covers a wide range of Natural History. They are lovely in there hardback forms, but can be pricey. So 99p is a bargain as the quality and content of the few I’ve read has been excellent.

Woodlands-Oliver Rackham

The Isles of Sicilly-Rosemary Parslow

Yorkshire Dales-John Lee

Gower-Jonathon Mullard

Nature in towns and cities-David Goode

Shallow Seas-Peter Haywood

Brecon Beacons-Jonathon Mullard

They are usually fairly hefty tomes, so I won’t get through them quickly with my limited reading time. But as several are covering my area of the country I’m interested to read.

 

 

30 days of wild: day 17-rainbow hunt

Today I decided to go with an act I didn’t do last year; the rainbow hunt. I thought it was too much of a hassle, but today through my garden, walking to the Floral Hall, the beach and the park I have kept my eyes peeled for colours.

Richard (red and pink).

Of (orange).

York (yellow)

Gave (green).

Battle (blue).

In vain (indigo and violet).

I hope you like my kaleidoscope of colours. Alice’s had a nice potter in the park along the way. The rainbow hunt was a nice activity. Next year when I’ve got more planted I might try it in school.

 

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30 days wild 2017: Day 10-Back in time

Today started off with some digital acts of wild. I caught up on springwatch and gardener’s world. Alice was not too bothered for Springwatch, but wanted to sit with me for gardener’s world.

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Then did the wild act to share wild news. BBC earth shared the news that bees are not only at risk from pesticides, but also fungicides that were thought safe for bees. The more people aware of this news the better, so please share.

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After Alice’s nap and lunch we headed out for, not one, but two vintage events. First a vintage fair inside at the Floral Hall. Then out to the Hornsea Museum for a vintage tea party.

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Hornsea Museum is in the centre of town. The museum was originally the Burn’s family farm in the 18th century until 1978 when it became a museum of Hornsea life. It has an old school room, relics from the farm, Hornsea pottery and clay industry (clay bricks were once made in the area), model railway and war relics. This may not sound all that exciting, but they put on nice events regularly including craft sessions for children. The courtyard is very pleasant with a nice variety of planting.

Alice wanted to be out using her new walking skills straight away.

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Today was a vintage tea party. Lots of people were dressed up and tea, cake and sandwiches were available. So I ticked off enjoying a cuppa outside with the sound of birds around the courtyard. Sparrows on the roof and blackbirds on the trees.

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They have a miniature beach hut set up currently as an ice cream shop. Alice loved this and spent most of her time going back and forth choosing new ice creams.

The house martins were busy overhead dashing back and forth.

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Interestingly they have local apple trees grown from seed in the courtyard including details about the variety.

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The planting is pretty good for wildlife with cuckoo spit on the fennel and a variety of bees amongst the flowers.

We listened to a few golden oldies from the singers before heading off.

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As Alice had enjoyed the ice cream shop so much we ended up buying her the kitchen toy from the shop. It was a bargain though for a mini wooden kitchen including pans for a tenner. On the way back we stopped in at one of Amy’s sisters. Then went back by the seafront. We were going to have fish and chips but I forgot we’d spent the cash we had on the kitchen set. Alice was getting tired though by the sea, so we went home. Too much longer out before tea and I think she would of got seriously grumpy. A nice day out back immediately time.

I’ll finish with a quick shout out to how good the new 30 days wild school pack is. It has a handful of ideas of activities for teaching linked to key stages. There is a pack of stickers, a wild teacher badge, and a calendar poster with the 30 days on. There is also a large set of the wild acts cards. These are lovely and could easily be marketed to raise more money for the wildlife trust. I’m sure these sets will be very popular.

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30 days of wild 2017: 9- wild haiku

Watching this evening out of the window I could see and hear a blackbird silhouetted on a tree branch. For me the blackbird is the quintessential garden bird. Always close by. I was taken by the bird, so wrote my wild poem in the form of a haiku.

Shadow on the branch

singing softly up above

brings much joy below.

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In my garden the hanging basket of sweet peas are flowering. It’s the weekend now, so hopefully manage some bigger wild acts over the weekend. Wish me luck.

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30 days wild 2017: day 8-2 minute beach clean

Today has been a busy day for social media with the UK election. So after putting Alice to bed I headed down to our polling station on the sea front at the Floral Hall. Whichever way you lean politically I hope you had you right say by placing your vote. As it is World Oceans Day I decided I would do a quick stroll along the sea front. I couldn’t make it to an ocean, so the North Sea was my substitute.

_DSC1142Not wanting to waste an opportunity for another wild act I came prepared with litter picker and bin bag to do a 2 minute beach clean. The concept of the beach clean is simple. After a series of storms beaches were left scattered with rubbish. Beach cleans were organised to remove it. Just two minutes gives you time to pick up a remarkable amount of rubbish. If this rubbish isn’t removed it can cause an horrendous amount of damage to marine life. But safety first. Don’t forget to use a litter picker and gloves if handling rubbish. The website offers more safety tips.

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All I did was walk from one set of steps down to the next. Some of the rubbish was literally a few metres from bins. They will of passed the bin to get off the beach where they’ve thrown it. I found polystyrene, a can of cider, plastic wrappers and tin foil left from someone’s picnic.

But for just a quick stroll I cleared a good chunk of rubbish, filled a bin bag and can feel happy with myself for helping on World Ocean Day. The official website are working on an app to share your waste, literally a rubbish idea pardon the pun. Although I’m sure it will actually be quite interesting to see people’s finds.

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Walking home I noticed the clouds were looking particularly attractive. House martins were swooping in large numbers over the road and I felt a great sense of calm from my little nature excursion.

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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.

A year in review

So it is time to start 30 days wild again and a year on from starting he blog. Alice is now one and a lot has happened over the year. Alice has grown, we moved house and I’ve changed schools for a promotion. So as I get set to start 30 days wild again I’m going to use this blog to look back on the amazing events of the last year.

For the first 30 days I was taking part in the 30 days wild, so every day had some activity. Each day had something good, but here are a few highlights.

My class getting beetles was popular with the children.

The Great British Bee hunt was great fun with the class.

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Setting up the trail camera at school brought some great footage that amazed the kids.

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After the 30 days were up my wilding still continued.

By August we had moved home and I’d started the RSPB homes for nature. Amongst the most exciting thing to come from this was the discovery of a visiting hedgehog in the garden.

September saw speckled wood butterflies, giant moths and a moth for Amy.

October saw us take Alice up to Robin Hoods Bay to Alice’s grandads house and a walk down to the seafront.

December saw the garden frosted over and some nice crisp walks and my Christmas present the baby howdah.

January began with people throwing themselves in the cold North Sea. The big garden birdwatch saw a good variety in the garden. We even had a few days of sun to go to the park.

February saw a trip to see the blade, a giant instalment part of the Hull City of culture. Through the month we saw lots of signs of Spring being round the corner.

March saw my birthday, the garden starting to come together and a visit to the wildlife photographer of the year exhibit.

April was a busy month with walks out to the seafront, blossom on trees, lots of butterfly sightings, trips on the North Yorkshire Moors railway and finally starting at my new school with its outdoor area to develop.

April also saw lots of Robins.

May has seen me get stuck into improving my school outdoor classroom.

My own garden is really coming into its own now with lots blooming or set to.

We finished the month with a lovely trip to Wassand Hall where I was happy to photograph rabbits and a fox.

Most exciting of all the year has ended with Alice turning one and learning to walk, opening up a whole new world of adventures.

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Taking part in 30 days wild set much of this in motion and I’m glad I took part. It taught me to appreciate many daily little pleasures nature provides. That nature contact also enlivens all other areas of life teaching me to appreciate my life, my family, friends and everything I have going for me. I look forward to the next 30 days.

Bank Holiday Stroll

Yesterday saw a family walk down to Hornsea Freeport shopping village. This clocked up a good few miles there and back. 

We took the walk along the old railway line. I was expecting lots of butterflies and bees, but there were few out. There was however lots of hoverflies, interesting in there own right. I’ve written about the mimicry of these cunning little insects before, but still remarkable insects.

We went through the graveyard, where the blossom is still looking good both on the trees and carpeting the path.

A robin was singing away in the trees.

On the way back saw a wren settled on a wire. I can never resist snapping a bird on a wire for the Leonard Cohen reference.

Then back by the seafront. The tide was out a long way. Families were drifting away having come for their Bank Holiday beach visits. It was time for them to head for fish and chips. With Sullivan’s still closed the other chippies are doing well.

It was rather nice having the three day weekend. Normally they fall in the school holiday so I don’t gain. Good to have the extra family time. 

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.