30 days of wild: Day 22-Great British Wildflower Hunt

To see a world in a grain of sand

And heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palms of your hand

And eternity in an hour.

William Blake

 

Naturalists love a survey and plantlife have launched their effort, The Great British Wildflower Survey. People have less contact with wildlflowers and know less about them. This survey aims to find out numbers in order to make sure they are still there for future generations.

In my area the police are doing census stops. They pull people over at random and ask questions and do a quick check over of the car. As I had gone through two census points and traffic was slow I stopped in a lay by for a minute to do a count of species spotted. I can identify a small handful of wildflowers, so I’m always happy for projects like this that will teach me more.

There was no shortage of cow parsley.

IMG_1203

Then patches of common ragwort.

IMG_1204

A few tufts of common knapweed covered in pollen beetles.

img_1208.jpg

Patches of herb robert sticking out here and there. This one complete with hoverfly.

IMG_1207

And plenty of white clover, thistles and nettles.

IMG_1209

On my commute I am still enjoying listening to Watership Downs. Nothing too tragic has happened to the main characters, but I feel it’s all about to go downhill for them. Here are some rabbits spotted today. You can just make them out as little dots as I only had my ipad and phone to hand for a photo.

IMG_1213

And a chaffinch that was singing away merrily. Again, sorry for the poor image quality.

IMG_1206

Then back home I’ve seen the goldfinches out lots. They’ve gone from being totally absent to everywhere.

_DSC1580

My results for the Great British Wildlfower Hunt are submitted, so I’ve done my bit for conservation today. Hopefully I’ll pick up the names of a few more species as I go on.

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 

IMG_1071

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.

IMG_1072

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

 

IMG_1070

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

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.

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.

51m1lldoojl-_sl300_

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.

 

Smoke on the water

We returned to the mere for the first time in a few months. With the cafe closed for the winter granddad has lost interest in taking Alice here.

On previous visits we’ve been past the field on the way in and watched the sheep, but it seems they’ve been relocated to further round the mere. The field was however full of one of my favourite collective nouns; a murder of crows.

_dsc0892

Several crows and magpies were scavenging over the fields along with a few pied wagtails pretending to be part of the crow family.

Alice seemed happy to be returning to the mere.

_dsc0893

Having just finished crow country I’m still finding myself keeping track of crows on our walks.

A group elegantly silhouetted in the trees on the approach to the mere.

_dsc0926

The mere itself had a fine layer of mist layered around the edges giving it something of an Arthurian Avalon feel with the Lady of the Lake ready to leap out and startle the bird watching group.

_dsc0902

_dsc0894

The bird watchers had come fully kitted with large telescopes. As far as I could tell they were watching the same ducks and swans that were swimming up to the shore, but maybe they could see something more exciting than my little binoculars. I suppose if you’ve brought big kit you’ve got to use it.

The gulls and ducks were swarming round the other side as several people fed them.

_dsc0917

_dsc0919

dsc_0914dsc_0915

dsc_0916

We left the mere to go back home by the railway track. Alice decided nothing of any more interest was going to happen and went to sleep.

_dsc0927

The track is looking pretty lifeless currently. Just a few gulls returning to sea.

A pretty grim day at the seafront with the sky and sea merging seamlessly into an endless wall of grey. The boundaries between sea and sky had disappeared.

_dsc0933

_dsc0934

_dsc0935

I made a start on Richard Fortey-the wood from the trees. After leaving the Natural History Museum he bought a section of woodland. In this book he chronicles the wood in the style of a museum of curiosities. Should be interesting.

Day 7-A new book and new listen

Today has been a busy day at work and with friends visiting hasn’t left much time for wildness. Alice has started to encounter the creatures of England through the stories of Beatrix Potter. My partner Amy has been reading these classic stories to settle her for bed. Next month marks what would of been the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter. Certainly a women worth celebrating. Her stories have delighted parents and children for many years. But more importantly for her work buying up large parts of the Lake District around her home to be preserved for years to come. The National Trust has a number of events to celebrate.

See here

19321

While Alice is starting a new series of books I have also started a new book-Richard Louv-Last child in the wood. I’m sure many of you will be familiar with this book detailing how children have lost touch with nature. This has been recommended for a long time, but I haven’t got round to it. But with a new child I want to make sure Alice gets the opportunities to enjoy nature. A chapter in I am enjoying this thoroughly.

I have also stated a new audiobook-The butterfly Isle by Patrick Barkham. Over a year Patrick tried to find all 59 species of British butterfly. So far covered 10 species, but I’ve a feeling it’s now going to start getting harder for him to find the other 49. An interesting challenge taken on by someone who states that they had become detached from a love of nature in their childhood.

Hopefully tomorrow will see a bit more wild as planning to take my class out to feel the grass under their feet.