30 days of wild: day 30-woodland stop

Today saw the rain hold off for some of the day. At breakfast I could see more of the birds venturing out again. The housemartins were swooping for bugs. The blue tits were hopping in the trees. Blackbirds were pecking in the wet soil. While I don’t mind being out in rain it brought a greater variety of life out for the last day of this years 30 days.

Today I wasn’t at school as I was attending training on Ofsted inspections. So I got a bit more time with Amy and Alice before heading out. On the way I caught up on the RSPB podcast. This months was discussing project puffin. The RSPB is looking for photos of puffins feeding to track what their eating.

The Ofsted training was a fairly unwild activity taking place in a sterile new build academy. The room we were in fitted the cream song.

In the white room with black curtains. 

It wasn’t the nicest room to spent a day, a featureless white expanse, but the training was useful. I am more prepared for the Ofsted menace. It did however finish early as we had a short dinner and few breaks.

As I was out early I stopped in one of the laybys for a quick pause to take in the wildlife. It is a nice spot I’ve walked properly before, but today just pulled in and took a minute to look round. There are a few picnic tables then a path made from the old railway line.

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The path is surrounded by trees with gaps every so often to see the fields.
 

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The path is lined by wildflowers. It’s remarkable how much life one flower can support. Just a single buttercup out on its own was supporting a wealth of pollen beetles.

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Cow parsley thistles were swarmed with bees and hoverflies and a range of snails around the leaves.

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Red admirals criss crossed the path. I struggled for a photo. They landed on my head, my shoulder and briefly on my hand, but couldn’t get a photo. With a little patience I managed a shot with the wings open and closed.

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Then returning to the car I spotted something amazing. Something from the land that time forgot. A beast at almost three inches. From the field guides I think it’s possible a common hawker. Although looking at I can’t say its something I see commonly. Damselflies I see regularly, but fantastic beasts of this size are not a daily occurrence. 

So thank you 30 days for this last currioisity. If it wasn’t for the 30 days I may not of stopped for a brief pause and seen these wonders. The lessons from 30 days, to continue to enjoy nature, will carry on through the year.

Mandela Gardens

On Wednesday I spent an afternoon at Hull Heritage Learning finding out more about their proposed Hull Curriculum. They have put together a set of resources on 20 Hull histories ready for Hulls year as the city of culture. Some wonderfully enthusiastic people leading the way.

The day was hosted in the cities museum quarter with a marque set up in the Mandela gardens. While only a small walled garden they are looking beautiful at this time of year. For those who haven’t ever been it’s a lovely secluded area in the old historic part of the city. You have the museum for William Wilberforce (top rate slave abolisher), the street-life museum (many old vehicles for the young uns to rampage on) and the history museum (giant woolly mammoth and super Roman Mosaics). Best of all it’s all free and I think we have a better collection than the York museum which charges a small fortune for a family day out.

We still have one of the Phillip Larkin toads on display.

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A lovely collection of roses.

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The pond is full of mighty beasts in the depths.

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Gandhi adds an element of calm to the garden.

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Two of the residents at the museum.

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A few of the vehicles on offer in the streetlife museum.

Some more pollen beetles.

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On the way home I tracked down another moth for Amy.

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Beetle update

The darkling beetles started back at day 15 are now reaching maturity and changing from the light brown to black. The children have enjoyed having them in the class immensely.

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On a side note we managed to capture our first photo with Alice smiling. She has been starting to smile the last few weeks, but changes to serious face when the camera is on her.

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And a less cheerful message, but worth watching, from Chris Packham.

A new garden

Me and my partner, Amy, are set to move house. While we’re very happy in our current house it just isn’t going to be big enough as Alice gets bigger. Amy has a house in Hornsea, a small seaside town on the North East Coast. It has been rented for the last few years while she was living in Indonesia and then at mine. Her tenant has now moved out and we are set to move next month. We went to check out the house today. I’m excited to get to work on the garden. The flower beds are a bit heavy on the dandelions. It needs a bit of love and attention to encourage a greater variety of wildlife than the mass number of slugs and snails currently.

It already has some lovely flowering bushes. A good collection of roses and a small apple tree.

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The roses are looking good.

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With a bit of love and attention maybe get enough apples for a crumble.

The back is a bit bare currently. We need a rail around the decking for when Alice is walking. A few pot plants will add some colour and get some wildlife closer to the house. I reckon one of the bird feeders can go up this end close to the house so I can see through the windows in the kitchen.

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There are two bays for vegetables at the side of the house, but there pretty shaded. Considering a mud kitchen for Alice.

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Various flowers.

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The shed has been overtaken by a rose currently. Unfortunately we need to replace the shed at some point so it will need cutting back but currently it is festooned with pollen beetles (identified thanks to the 30 days of wild facebook group)

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Being a wet grey day the snails were out in force.

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I’m looking forward to getting to work. We’ve got a good compost heap at the bottom which looks like it has some compost ready at the bottom for me to use. I’d like some trellis to put some more wildlife cover along the edge. The trees need a bit of care to encourage some upward growth. I’d like a small water area somewhere. I don’t want to go for the full pond while Alice is little, but can at least have a small water feature somewhere. I’m hopeful for a greater diversity of birds than my current garden gets. There is a nice passageway behind of hedges, so there is the possibility of hedgehogs or foxes. Within Hornsea there is a mere where bats sly, so may look at gettingĀ  a bat box up. A whole new world of wildlife possibilities.

Day 12-homes for wildlife

Today I am working on planning for school, so have limited time for anything major. I’m having a focus on feeding and homing wildlife in the garden.

In a corner of the garden near the shed I’ve added some more leaf matter and some twigs around my small log pile to help out the detrivores. Hopefully help out some of the beetles discussed yesterday.

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I’ve set up a bowl of over ripe fruit for the insect life in the garden. As my partner Amy is breastfeeding I think she’s finding peeling the bananas and oranges too much effort, since much of the time she only has one hand free. So I’m getting left with plenty of fruit for the garden. I was hoping to see a few butterflies, but mainly just seen blue bottles. But it’s all important wildlife.

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I’m hiding in a new bug house amongst one of the bushes. I’ve seen quite a lot of bees buzzing around this spot through the last two days. At one stage there were 8 bees just on this one bush. So hopefully it will serve a purpose.

The bird feeders have been topped up with a feast of seeds, nuts, meal worms, fat balls and suet blocks. I’ve also put a new jar of mealworm peanut butter in the wilco’s feeder. Thus feeder and jars is probably the most popular part of my bird feeder set up. It took the birds a while to get the idea of it, but now they snaffle it all up in a few days.

I’ve moved a few sunflowers into the flowerbeds that I’ve been cultivating inside on the windowsill the last month. Hopefully they will attract insects and later on the seeds will be a good source of food for the birds.

As we’ve had lots of visitors seeing baby Alice I’ve saved the tea bags and loose leaf tea to use for fertiliser in the garden. Ripping open the tea bags I’ve added the tea around the bases of several plants to put nutrientsĀ  back into the soil. I’ve been doing this over the Spring and have noticed a greater abundance of worms in my normally worm low clay soil. Apparently tea is also good for spreading around root vegetables for stopping maggot damage.