30 Days Wild - 15, 16, 17

15 November 2020

So... This kinda got away from me a bit.

A combination of trying to do too much and being overwhelmed by our wreck of a garden.

I was going to write the rest in retrospect, but then it got to the 15th of November so I figured I might as well pick up here.

#15 Watch a sunrise or sunset

In the summer, the sun rises and sets behind the steep woods behind us. In the winter it rises and sets in front, and it's lower trajectory means it comes right in the windows. It's an absolute delight to wake up to and for early evening walks.

#16 Find the colours of the rainbow in your garden

I think there's more colour in my garden now than in the summer. 

For a some rambling writing attached to each of these follow the following Instagram links: RedOrangeYellowGreenBlue.

And, less delightfully...

#17 Take photos of something wild

We live opposite an MOD test site. There's a lot of land there left to itself. Occasionally some sheep or cows pass through, which is good for it. I've heard pheasants and owls and a cuckoo over there, and seen a sea of yellow ragwort, and a delicate drift of pink orchids. (Lady orchid I think, I need to check my pictures.)

This seasonal pond beneath a tree appeared in September and just looks so peaceful.

30 Days Wild - 11, 12, 13, 14

22 June 2020

The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild continues. This week it's the photography, not the writing, slowing me down.

#11 Connect with nature this lunch time

I've been taking most of my lunches inside, as a reprieve from the heat, or occasionally the rain. We have however enjoyed many evening meals on the step outside the front door. I love the fresh air. The song of crickets and grasshoppers in the long grass. The clouds looming with rain then turning inland before they reach us. The gulls crossing overhead. They don't bother us for food, but I have watched one trying to swallow a flat fish on our roof.

Burger, salad, and coleslaw all from our local food market, and all delicious. Shop local, folks!

#12 Identify a wildflower

We have many wildflowers in our unmown garden, and many more popping up in any areas I've tried to clear. These are three of my favourites at the moment. I took some better close ups but I preferred the more to-scale pictures.

i) Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) Appearing in lots of places in our garden at the moment! It's a perennial herb. From The Wildlife Trusts' website: Selfheal is a low-growing, creeping plant that likes the short turf of grasslands, roadside verges or even lawns. Its clusters of violet flowers appear in summer.

ii) Common bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) Currently only living next to my compost bins, it's been stomped on a bit but doesn't seem to mind. From The Wildlife Trusts' website: Common bird's-foot-trefoil has a variety of names that conjure up some interesting images: 'Eggs and Bacon', for instance! Its small, yellow, slipper-like flowers can be seen in all kinds of grassy places.

iii) Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) It's everywhere! It's one of my favourites at the moment and was my first choice for today's challenge. I've read the book too, just never thought to look up the flower. From The Wildlife Trusts' website: Once considered a weed of cornfields, the Scarlet pimpernel is now in decline due to intensive agricultural practices. It can be found in arable fields, on roadside verges and waste ground, and on coastal cliffs.

#13 Build a pond

Ooh, this is going to take a bit more than a day! I've got a place picked out, next to my designated wild area, that is itself pretty wild at the moment. I considered a small container pond in the interim but in the current endless sun I don't expect it would last long. We've already seen a toad and a huge dragonfly in the garden so my hopes are way up for its eventual success.

I popped out to take a picture of the irises and they've all gone to seed.

I'll be following The Wildlife Trusts' How to build a pond guide, including choosing some of their recommended plants. Yellow irises aren't on the list but they grow in profusion down the road along with reeds - I love they way they turn fluffy when they go to seed.

This part caught my interest as I would definitely not have waited: Step 6 Plants can be introduced to your pond approximately 1-2 weeks after the initial filling with water. Carefully selected native species (see below) will support your local wildlife.

#14 Make a home for wildlife

I made my first bee hotel over a month ago and for a month it sat empty. I thought the holes were wrong, the position, the wood. Then since the brambles I couldn't be bothered to cut back - and many that I did - bloomed and drew the bees back, it has filled up, even the holes I thought were too small. I've just added a second, it's not as neat, and I am preparing a third. It was such a magical moment seeing the first bees in there!

A pile of sticks in a quiet corner would work well as a home for beetles. I'm avoiding this at the moment as we have bit of a flatworm infestation - they're currently munching through my worms and have started on the strawberries. Turns out they love any sheltered damp places, hay, straw, leaves, wood, even plastic compost bags. I have made them a lot of homes.

30 Days Wild - 8, 9, 10

17 June 2020

I'm still catching up on The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild. Got the bird feeder up at last and am trying to be patient - while eyeing up a spot in the front garden for another.

#8 Protect Our Sea

Oh gosh, everything is so important. Bees, insects, trees, mental health, a thousand other things, and our oceans. I think it's good to have days like World Ocean Day. Taking care of our environment and our neighbours needs to be a daily responsibility - chore, habit, duty, pick one - but it's also good to take a day and remember why.

The oceans absorb and store more carbon than trees or grass and are precious ecosystems that, if nothing else, we need to protect in order to keep ourselves alive.

Image by Creature Candy, used with permission

Education is one of the keys to saving our oceans and our world. I've just come across the Scottish Seabird Centre, a charity dedicated to inspiring people to care for wildlife and the natural environment. Alas, it was through a Crowdfunder being run by Creature Candy. Like so, so many, they too are struggling right now.

It was all too easy to buy the £15 limited edition puffin print - above - £5 of which goes to the Scottish Seabird Centre. I adore the artwork and the bird. I may also have lined up a bit of a wishlist of items from Creature Candy - they sell beautiful stationary, soaps, and homewares, and donate 10% of all profits to associated wildlife charities, as well as using their art to raise awareness of threatened species in the UK. It's so gorgeous and such a good idea.


#9 Pledge a patch to butterflies

Some butterflies need grass, not flowers, I learned only this year. We've let a lot of our garden grass go to seed as it was easier than maintaining the whole lot, and now there are butterflies all over it. So I'm pledging the top of our long, narrow, steep garden as a dedicated wild area - with a couple of paths winding through for exploring. I'll be saving and adding any butterfly - and bee - friendly flowers and seeds I find. One tip from Nick Baker on his morning chats was to visit a garden centre once a month to see what was flowering - and what had the most insects attracted to it - and buy those for a continuously flowering, bug friendly garden!

I'll point again to the British Wildflower Meadow Seeds website for locally sourced seeds that are even sold by area. Not all seeds, including wildflower seeds, come from the UK, and not all are suited to your patch. This is a great way to ensure both!

#10 Feel the grass between your toes

As often as I can.

This post was not sponsored in any way.

30 Days Wild - 4, 5, 6, 7

12 June 2020

Writing takes me a long, long time. Whole days are passing while I move words around...

The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild continues, and I'm happily following along, enjoying having a bit of direction to my activities and writings. I'm very out of sync now.

#4 Hug a tree

Many, many moons ago I 'rescued' and oak tree. It was an acorn lying on the ground that had sprouted a leaf and a root. I took it home and my mum has looked after it ever since, even bringing it with us when we moved from Carlisle to Carmarthen. Last year it produced its first acorns. She planted all nine of them and all nine grew, and now I have nine baby oak trees. I'm potting them up individually. One we'll keep to go in the garden - I have a spot at the back where it will have room to grow to full size. The rest I will give away, or find a bit of ground to put them in, when they're a bit older. 

Anyone need an oak tree?

#5 Listen to a bird song

I loved following Nina Constable's Wild World Doorstep Discoveries series. Each of the seven episodes featured a quick birdsong lesson from Lucy Hodson. I could usually hear the song echoed outside while I watched. Last Sunday's featured a wood pigeon and collared dove and today I listened to them calling on either side of the garden. I'd always assumed they were all doves but it turns out there's a easy and unforgettable distinction, which I can no longer not hear!

Check it out below.

#6 Follow a bee

I built a very basic bee house last month. A wood off-cut with holes drilled in it (half of them, it turns out, are too small) and a piece of an old plank for the roof, popped in a sunny spot. I didn't think it would work, I'd used hard wood, not soft, and suddenly all the bees had cleared off. Well, they're back now, thanks to copious amounts of bramble blossom and it absolutely made my day to see two little faces in there yesterday! So I spent quite a bit of time watching them today.

If you can't make one, here are some good places to buy them:

#7 Do your exercise outdoors

Does digging count?

This post was not sponsored in any way.

30 Days Wild - 1, 2, 3

03 June 2020

June has begun and with it The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild challenge to do something wild every day this month. It's open to anyone and anything goes. I thought I would try their daily suggestions.

I can't do a blog post every day, though, as I'll end up never getting out. So here's a few at once.

#1 Plants for pollinators

Most of our garden is wild, at present, but that doesn't mean I can't plant even more for our pollinators. I've found myself paying attention our smallest creatures lately, learning about them, and discovering just how important - and threatened - they are.

We have a patch of dead 'lawn' where the felled branches of some nasty overgrown shrubs sat for too long. Rather than reseeding it with grass I will be sowing clover. Great for pollinators and I never have to mow - also great for pollinators! I had planned to gradually convert the whole area to clover, but the long grass stuffed full of chirpy, bouncy grasshoppers is just too much fun so I guess it will be both.

Try to source true native wildflower seeds or plants. British Wild Flower Seeds sells packets by local area, collected from actual meadows around the country. I haven't tried them yet because the Welsh ones are sold out, but they come highly recommended.

#2 Sketch outdoors

Go outside with a pencil or a pen and some paper and draw something. It's not about making art and it definitely does not need to be any good. The point is look at and see things differently, to watch something for a while, whether a leaf or a ladybird or a long-tailed tit.


Rather than only snapping pictures, take the time to really study your subject. To notice how the leaves of sorrel wrap around the stem and the leaves of dock don't. Or that the ant you would normally squish is in fact marching back home with an aphid carried aloft.

Ally Isbella (allybella5) first introduced me to this concept on one of Nick Baker's (nick_bug_baker) morning chats. Follow Ally's account above for sketching inspirations. Check in with Nick at 9am every weekday morning for wonderful rambling chats, questions answered, and tangents about nature.

#3 Feed the birds in your garden

I put a bird feeder stand up back in March and even had a couple of birds visiting before next door's bramble-garden was cleared, in the middle of nesting season... Since then, nothing. For today I'll be taking it all down, cleaning everything - bird feeders should be cleaned regularly anyway to prevent the spread of disease - and relocating the lot. I'll also be looking at The Wildlife Trusts' tips and advice here to see if I can do it better this time, and will finally get around to putting some water out for them too.

Living With Birds sells quality bird seed and their famous 'chunky dumplings' and 'flutter butter' peanut butter alternatives, all which I've heard good things about. Another thing I'm recommending without having tried, but I'll be ordering a few treats tonight.

I definitely recommend doing things smaller than this, especially if you plan on doing anything else with your day! Have fun getting outside whatever you choose to do, and whatever the weather.

This post was not sponsored in any way.