7 Days of Wild Christmas: Day 7 Wildflower Hunt

Today is the last day of the Wildlife Trusts 7 days of Wild Christmas. It has been fun blogging daily again about our wildlife experiences, but it is time consuming blogging each day. So while my engagement with nature won’t stop the daily blogs will.

Moon Gazing

The day started early with Alice up at six. She is sleeping through on her own now most night so while it was an early start at least we’re not being woken up several times a night. As soon as Alice got downstairs she checked out the window. She is currently a bit obsessed with looking for the moon but lately, it has been too cloudy. So she was very excited to see stars and the moon this morning. We’ll have to spend a bit more time on astronomy rather than our usual biology studies.

New Years Plant Hunt

Today Alice and I got out for a walk to leave Amy to get on with some of her teacher prep. I haven’t done my New Year Plant Hunt for the BSBI so I thought today was the day. Last year we were up at Robin Hood’s Bay, so we saw no end of gorse. We headed out through the local park initially.

Alice was in a cheeky mood.

In the park, we found daisies, groundsel, and a small white flower I need to check up.

Alice told me the birds were singing and we managed to find the source of the singing.

We walked through town spotting a good spread of Winter heliotrope, a form of forget-me-not, and Herb Robert. I’m going to have to dig out the wildflower key to check it up.

Then we headed for home back along the seafront spotting another patch of winter heliotrope.

Not a massive number of species, but not bad for a walk just through town. Before I took part in 30 days wild I wouldn’t have known the names of most of these or even probably noticed them. So the fact that I can now name some of them shows some progress. It’s a simple joy spotting and being able to name elements of our natural world. Then by submitting my sightings I help contribute to the BBSI knowledge of seasonal shifts.

#WaveofWhales

The author Nicola Davies has called for a protest on Japan’s decision to resume whaling. She is requesting people send pictures, paintings and drawings to the Japanese ambassador to show opposition to this backwards step. I talked to Alice about the news story that whales would be killed and her answer was “Why?” A question I can’t really answer. Should you want an activity to do during the holiday this seems like a good activity to do with children and teach them responsibility for our world. Alternatively a good task for teachers when we return to school.

Post to be sent to Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka, Embassy of Japan 101-104 Piccadilly London W1J 7JT

Alice reading the snail and the whale

I was considering making seedballs today as got all the components ready, but after our walk, Alice just wants to colour and watch some Fireman Sam. As ever, Norman Price caused havoc. It really is time to look at pre-empting the trouble and look at getting Norman into a young offenders institute. At the very least Dilys should be getting monitored by social services for irresponsible parenting. I may get round to making seedballs later in the week but for anyone who fancies it here is a guide.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my return to taking part in the acts of wild. The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days wild will return in June. While I won’t be blogging the same quantity enjoying the natural world will still continue. From taking part in 30 days wild taking joy from nature has become pretty ingrained in my daily practice.

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7 Days of Wild Christmas: Day 6 Field Guide to Fantastic Beasts

The seven days are going quickly. After writing about cutting down my environmental impact I saw this article on people who have gone that extra mile. While I don’t think Amy is ready to part with her electric toothbrush it is inspiring to read how other people have made the shift to reducing their waste.

Inspired by Alice’s love of stickman I thought I’d look at some other sources of mystical creatures outside. While the actual wildlife outside brings me a lot of joy I don’t mind adding a fantasy element to journeys outside. After the holiday I am going to be sharing the story Zog by Julia Donaldson. This is the story of a young dragon learning its school lessons. Alongside this, I have plans for setting up a few fantasy elements outside.

Here are three books I’ve found make for excellent inspiration for children’s imagination with the intention of searching for magic outside.

  • Fantastic Beasts and where to find them-J.K. Rowling
  • Arthur Spiderwick’s field guide- Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
  • The Lost Words-Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris

J.K. Rowling’s books are probably a bit above Alice’s level at 2 years old but for the five-year-olds at school, the odd entry will inspire some hunting outside I hope. The children have been finding lots of trolls under the bridge (climbing frame) and their interest in unicorns is still high. Hopefully introducing them to a few more beasts may develop their plots a bit further.

The lost words is a beautiful book for encouraging people to get out into nature. While this one doesn’t have the fantasy element the poems work as spells to summon the various entries. If you want to encourage writing in slightly older children this is an excellent source of inspiration. But for the younger children, there is plenty of enjoyment to be found in the gorgeous illustrations. Alongside this, I plan to use Jackie Morris Tell me a dragon for some furth inspiration. This, again, has beautiful illustrations for inspiration.

For parents and teachers wanting further ideas look on the John Muir Trust website.

The last of the three books, the field guide, is based on the Spiderwick Chronicles series of books. The field guide is another beautifully illustrated book with sketches and paintings of beasts to find and notes on where to look.

Then on top of the books, you need your beast hunting kit. A notebook for field notes. Binoculars and magnifying glasses come in use. Then a pocket wand is always useful. If you don’t own a pocket wand sticks are often available outside. Alice reminded me we need a camera as well to record our sightings.

We’ve got family visiting today but hopefully get out later to look for signs of beasts. Equipped with knowledge of what to look for and kitted up who knows what we’ll find. Hope you all enjoy the last few days of 2018.

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beast kit

7 Days of Wild Christmas Day 4

Today saw another early start with Alice up at 6. She wanted to watch the TV version of we’re going on a bear hunt. She hasn’t been that bothered for this story so far. She generally chooses Julia Donaldson stories or Burglar Bill for bedtime. But now she’s starting to enjoy bear hunt we can get out to enjoy some hunting. While not that wild watching TV she sat entranced by the snowman. It’s nice to see this nice gentle viewing still engages.

Second Hand Christmas

Much of Alice’s presents were bought second hand from eBay and Facebook marketplace. One of the main toys Alice likes is her trains. We managed to win several bundles giving her a really amazing train set now. Modern Christmas involves a lot of disposable commercialism. Presents people and particularly children will play with for one day and discard. These toys are good solid wood, metal and a small amount of plastic that should last and be able to be passed onto another child after Alice. She doesn’t know or care that someone else has played with it first. A little less waste at the busiest time of year for landfill.

Tree pruning

I put one of my Christmas presents to use and pruned the Acer today. I’ve spent most of the morning pruning and clearing away in some of the borders. I feel a lot better for the time outside and the garden looks a bit better for it.

The whole time I was working the birds were watching. The second I left they returned to the claim the fresh food put out.

Stickman

I saved a few branches to make Alice one of her favourite book characters. Two sticks, a few grooves cut in and some string and we had a stickman. She’s held onto tightly and has got annoyed with other people touching it. Not bad for an almost free creation.

News

This story in the Guardian caught my eye. It makes for quite interesting reading examining many beliefs about sustainable eating.

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/sep/05/ditch-the-almond-milk-why-everything-you-know-about-sustainable-eating-is-probably-wrong

 

7 Days of Wild Christmas Day 3: the mist descends

Bird watching

Day 3 of 7 days of Wild Christmas saw our last day staying at my parents. I relocated Alice’s binoculars which have been missing for a few weeks wrapped in a blanket. She watched out my parents window spotting a turtle, a door, birds and a lion.

There was a good variety out today. My favourite group was the charm of goldfinches that kept visiting through the day.

Mist

After a rather scrumptious lunch, we drove home. On the way home I had to stop and admire the mist for a minute as it floated eerily over the fields. The mist draining the colour from the outside world.

Bizarrely an urchin and group of crabs had been left in the ditch.

The mist over the mere was particularly stunning with the sunset coming down.

Swans and waders floated through the mist.

Local News

I returned home to a positive news story. My town has been awarded plastic-free communities status as local businesses have made pledges and taken action on cutting down single use plastic. A lot of hard work has gone into this inclusing community beach cleans and work with the local schools. The steering commitee has worked hard and I’m sure they are proud of what they’ve achieved so far.

Recharge

Having spent a few days at my dads with his many rechargeable batteries I felt I should dig mine out to power some of the Christmas lights rather than adding to the disposable culture issues. I dug out some I had and these are now powering a string of lights rather than ones that will end up thrown in a few weeks. While it might only be a small gesture every little bit of waste reduction helps.

Now I’m back home I’m looking forward to trying to get out in the garden and putting some of my new Christmas presents to good use and continuing my seven days of wildness.

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7 Days of Wild Christmas-Day 1 bird feeding

Merry Christmas nature and garden lovers. I hope you are having, have had or are about to have a good Christmas day. This Festive period I am taking part in the Wildlife Trusts 7 days of wild Christmas. For many the festive season is a fairly depressing time. The days are dark and long, for some Christmas brings reminders of things lost. I find with each year I feel more and more distant from Christmas. I dislike the commercial excess of Christmas and the abundance of selfishness that many people develop as they sulk over receiving unwanted presents. The time I manage to engage with nature, gardening and getting outside helps relieve my spirits in this darker periods of the year.

But even for those who enjoy Christmas time engaging with nature can still bring much joy. The great benefit of much of what nature offers is that it is free. At a time people are getting wrapped up in the price tags and worrying they haven’t spent enough on someone nature offers a free burst of happiness.

I gain a lot of pleasure from the birds in the garden. Much wildlife comes into the garden just for the fruits on the trees. I do like to put out a bit more though to encourage more in. During these darker colder days it really helps birds to have easy access to extra food. It’s easy to forget to feed during the excitement of Christmas. But a few options will last a few days.

The suet tends to go fast. This feeder can be emptied in a day but it offers a good energy burst to the birds.

The fat balls last a few days meaning I don’t need to be out all the time replacing.

The same goes for the suet blocks.

The bird seed goes in a day but is one of the most popular feeders bringing in a great variety of birds.

Then from feeding regularly I get rewards like the ones in these photos. These were taken yesterday at my dad’s house where they also leave out plenty for the birds all year.

These charming goldfinch have been visiting regularly and that burst of gold and red is enough to bring joy to even the coldest winter hearts.

The starlings, while noisy, offer a great deal of beauty with the iridescence of their feather.

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas days and still find a bit of time out to appreciate nature. We have family time ahead now. Alice is at an age where she understands a bit more of what is going on. So I’m sure we’ll have a nice, if somewhat tiring, day.

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An excited little girl