30 Days Wild: Day 17-Wetland walk

Alice was very keen to go and feed the ducks today but the main Mere access is currently closed, so we went for a walk across the fields around the mere. Hornsea Mere is the largest natural freshwater lake in Yorkshire and is surrounded by grassland and patches of woodland.

We can’t get close enough to feed the ducks this way but there was plenty of other wildlife even on a dull day. The grassland and buttercups were filled with buttercups and moths. I think these were chimney-sweepers, a day-flying moth. Very similar to the small blue butterfly which I think were also out.

And a number of these brown beetles around.

Alice was eager to get ahead.

The dog roses in flower along the edge of the field.

We made it across several fields but plenty of snacks were needed along the way.

I spotted a few orchids along the edge of the path. I’m not certain on ID, possibly a marsh orchid but it’s not something I’ve spent much time on.

Then we stopped off on the way back along the old railway track.

Alice was keen to look for the fairy doors placed along there last year.

A nice walk out. The chimney sweeper moths are a new discovery along with the orchids so that was quite exciting. Alice asked if we can take mummy another day so hopefully, she enjoyed our stroll. I was a bit grumpy on the way back as the council and local busybodies are starting to tidy areas up now lockdown is being eased. Several areas of town have had the mowing reduced during the lockdown and they’ve been stunning. Filled with poppies, daisies, grasses, buttercups and the bees and butterflies have been loving it. All gone now. All spaces no one walked through so no need to be mowed. Even in the middle of a mass extinction, people want tidiness over beauty. So sad. I don’t know how many more years I’ll get to enjoy the Mere before it gets ruined but I hope it gets left for many years.

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30 days of wild: day 28-log pile house

“Where are you going to little brown mouse, 

Come and have tea in my log pile house.”

Today has been a very wet, soggy day. The heavens opened as we set up the outdoor area at school and hasn’t really stopped. We’ve done some powder paint mixing in the puddles, which the kids have enjoyed. The kids have collected rain water in an assortment of pans from the mud kitchen. An awful lot of potions were made.

For nature I built up a small log pile in the garden area in the shade. I’d like more spots for beetles, woodlice, etc. Unfortunately with rain I forgot to take a photo.

I have however found quite a few moths sheltering under the canopy. I’ve been discussing the difference between moths and butterflies with the kids over the last few weeks since we released the butterflies. This moth kindly obliged staying still for me to discuss it with the kids.

So the kids could see the charteristic fur, club antennae and the wings out at the side.

On my journey home my audio book, Watership Downs, is almost finished. Its looking to reach an exciting conclusion in line with the end of the 30 days.

30 days of wild; day 25-garden watch and a wild drink

Today I have been sat working in the kitchen with the patio doors open working to check over my classes evidence for Local Authority moderation tomorrow. I decided while doing this I’d keep a tally of visible species. As with the RSPB gardenwatch I’ve only recorded the highest number seen at once.

The work I’ve done trying to make the garden more wildlife friendly over the last year is really showing.

Over a two hour period of putting my head up from my work every so often I’ve seen:


  • blackbirds 2
  • coal tit 1
  • starlings 6
  • common gull 1
  • sparrows 3
  • pigeon 3
  • jackdaws 3
  • collared dove 1
  • goldfinches 2
  • wren 1
  • long tailed tits 2

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    • Carder bee
    • White tailed bumblebee
    • red tailed bumblebee
    • carder bee
    • honey bee

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  • Speckled wood
  • Small tortoiseshell
  • Small white

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Now most of these species are fairly common to gardens. However these were spotted between about 10 and 11 in the morning. Not a prime time for birding. I wasn’t watching the whole time, so there is a chance there were other species. What this shows is from last year when I moved in the efforts I’ve made are working. Just a small amount of planting and providing homes and food for various wildlife has improved the biodiversity enormously. If everyone contributes that little bit in their garden it all comes together to allow us to coexist in our gardens alongside some spectacular wildlife.

To relax while checking over books I thought I’d try another wild act making a cup of nettle tea. I collected a mug of nettles from the wilderness behind the garden and boiled with 2 cups of water. Once boiled it loses its sting. Nettle tea apparently has many benefits for skin, health and urinary tracts. I can’t comment on that side yet, but it tasted pleasant enough.

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While collecting nettles I disturbed this rather interesting looking moth. I think it’s a small magpie, but the world of moth identification is a much bigger one than butterflies or birds, so may be wrong.

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Family day out

Yesterday saw me, Amy and Alice heading out into Hull. We rarely have a reason to go in now and it is a military operation getting Alice’s kit ready, but we needed to go into the bank. While in we checked out a few of the Hull city of culture events on offer.

First we went to check out “the blade“. The blade is a temporary art installation covering Queen Victoria Square. Siemens is set to be producing these from Hull.

Facts from the culture site:

  • The blade is 75 metres long, 3.5m in diameter at the root and weighs 25 tonnes.
  • It is the largest single-cast product in the world.
  • The blades are a composite of fibreglass, balsa wood and resin.
  • This blade is part of a turbine which stands 90 metres tall.
  • Over the course of 2017, hundreds of blades will be made in the new Siemens factory in Hull.
  • Blade bisects the square from Savile Street to Carr Lane, rising to a height of more than 5.5 metres at its tip, allowing double-decker buses to pass underneath.

It is rather impressive in nature coming up close to one of these blades that are now a common sight across the country. It is remaining until the 18th March when the mammoth task of transporting it out will begin. But for now a nice reminder of the cities links with renewable energy.




The birds seem to be enjoying settling on it and round it.

Still plenty of building works going on as they finish repaving the area. Shame it couldn’t be completed ready for the year of culture, but the areas done are looking much nicer.


It was a nice sunny day and the centre was looking really good. The completed areas are looking smart. The surviving older building in the square are lovely. It’s a shame monstrosities like Princess Quay were allowed to be built amongst the older architecture.

We took a walk along the quay to Ask for lunch. As we have rarely been into town we thought we’d treat ourselves to lunch. On the way we spotted another moth for Amy.



The quay was looking pleasant in the sunshine.




We had a nice meal at Ask. We shared a calzone and a tasty seafood ravioli and a honeycomb cheesecake for pudding. Alice was impeccably behaved. She sat talking, giggling then happily ate her own food.



After lunch we checked out the revamped Ferens Art Gallery. The gallery has secured a Francis Bacon exhibit for reopening. Pretty dreary, but a big name to relaunch with. They are also giving local talent exposure. Some good, some not so good.




I rather like these ceramic penguins, but had a high asking price.



There was a nice new sensory area with art activities for the children to do. Alice liked the light table and the colour discs. All in all a grand day out.

Quiet as the grave

Yesterday went for a little walk to the shops with Alice. We walked past Southgate Cemetery, which I haven’t investigated yet. Graveyards are usually excellent spots for wildlife, normally filled with birds and often squirrels and other small mammals. There is often an excellent variety of fungal activity with fairy rings being common. However yesterday it was obviously too cold for anything to want to move. Apart from the obligatory graveyard crow there was no sign of life, which believe it or not is actually unusual in a graveyard. Lots of bird song, but few visible.


There was however signs that wildlife is being provided for with a number of batboxes and bird boxes around the site.


Walking the graveyard reminded me of the Buddhist practise of reflecting on death, so it seemed like a good time to consider the five remembrances as detailed by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

What may seem like gloomy statements on first read actually bring much solace as understanding comes through reflection. Without an acceptance of our impermanence progress towards happiness would be hard.


Returning home Alice is really making progress with trying to stand. She is a very determined young lady. Doesn’t want help. She may well be off and walking before 9 months at the rate she’s going. She’s crawling, but doesn’t seems to consider it undignified, so is pushing for walking instead.

In the evening I released the first of the tiger moths we had been studying in school. We’ve seen them through from caterpillar to moth. I’m not convinced that their getting the sustenance they need from the suggested sugar water. They may not last long out in the wild this time of year, but they can at least have a taste of freedom.




A bigger moth for Amy

Earlier in the week I set up my moths for my classes work on Amy Johnson. However the classroom next door has decided to go with a larger variety. They have taken possession of 3 atlas moths cocoons. These beasts are a couple of inches long each.

The teacher ordering wasn’t aware how big the moths emerged as. She’s now a bit scared.



My garden moths has one caterpillar growing massive while the others are remaining small.

Tiger Moths

My classroom has had a new addition to go alongside my beetles.

As we are taking part in Hull City of Culture we are spending the year studying different aspects of Hull. This term we are looking at the history and will be covering Amy Johnson. Across the city giant moths have sprung up to celebrate Amy Johnson’s amazing life.


In order to add to the celebrations and indulge my love of the natural world we know have 10 tiger moth caterpillars. The caterpillars known as fuzzy bear caterpillars are supposed to be easy to rear eating most low lying green leaves: dandelions, nettles, brambles, etc. So hopefully over the year we will get to see them grow and eventually pupate.




So hopefully by next Summer we will of had some of these beauties.



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.


A lovely collection of roses.



The pond is full of mighty beasts in the depths.



Gandhi adds an element of calm to the garden.


Two of the residents at the museum.


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

Some more pollen beetles.


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