#ThePeoplesWalkForWildlife

poster

“Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined … of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction … this suggests that we are among the most nature-depleted countries in the world.” – A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife

Saturday 22nd September 2018 – a date we will remember.  The date when for the first time in British history people came together to show their concern for our wildlife.  The date of The People’s Walk for Wildlife – an independent march in central London organised by conservationist, TV presenter and photographer Chris Packham.  Starting in Hyde Park, the walk passed through central London to Downing Street where Chris and some young Ministers delivered ‘A Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife’ to Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The manifesto has been written to be accessible to everyone with an interest in the health of our countryside and a respect for the species that live there” and it is available for all to download for free.  I will certainly be reading it this weekend and encourage you to do the same – we must all become aware of the truth to realise what has actually been destroyed and with that shared knowledge, work together to make a positive difference!  Whilst I couldn’t be at the walk itself, I did in fact follow the live tweets and videos of the momentous event and felt incredibly happy to see so many people there, particularly the enthusiastic young people; the next generation who will continue to work together to find solutions, make effective changes and maintain a world where wildlife flourishes for the future!

Thank you Chris for your continuous passion, dedication and hard work for wildlife!

Advertisements

Big Butterfly Count 2018

If you didn’t know already, the Big Butterfly Count is once again running this month until the 12th August.

I have noticed a lot more butterflies (particularly whites) flying around this summer compared to last year, so thought the count would be a great way of noting and identifying what I see.  I chose to do my fifteen minute count on a walk around my local cemetery, which I have written about numerous times!  It is a lovely old grade II listed site, which is no longer used for new burials but is open all year round for visitors to walk around the 12+ hectares and admire the wildflower areas which are there to “maintain and protect a decreasing inner-city habitat and monitor native flora and fauna within the cemetery”.  I therefore thought that this would be an ideal area for counting butterflies!

The idea behind the survey is that you count the highest number of one species you see at the same time (if you are in one spot like a garden) or if on a walk like I was, then to add up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.  I started by heading towards a large patch of lavender as I knew there would be several there and as anticipated there were quite a few, but not as many as the bees – of which there must have been at least 70!  It was a wonderful sight to see, after having seen so many struggling in the heat this year.

Anyway, the first butterfly I saw was a pretty little Common Blue, followed quickly by many Whites (my ID skills led me to settle on 14x Large and 8x Small).  These were mainly in pairs.  I then walked back via a shaded area to see what else I could count and I managed to spot 6x Speckled Wood butterflies and a further two orangey-brown medium butterflies fluttering in a spiral together, but they were too quick to identify so I did not log those.

It is a really enjoyable activity to do on your own or with others, whether it be during your lunch break, on the way to work and when you are out and about at the weekend.  City or countryside, it doesn’t matter – all you need is the free app or the handy identification chart and something to note down your sightings to log online.  If you would like to take part, you can find out more about the project here.  In the meantime, why not check out my post about last year’s results!

#30DaysWild Days 21-30

Well hasn’t it been a fantastic #30DaysWild?  I have really enjoyed taking the time to recognise how I connect with nature on a daily basis and pushing myself to do more.  The final ten days presented us with some lovely weather, and although at times it has been ‘too hot to handle’, I made the most of it for my final random acts of wildness…
21

21.  The summer solstice meant that it was the longest day of the year.  At around 10pm it was still really light outside, but I noticed the moon was bright and beautiful.  I therefore grabbed my binoculars and did some moon-gazing.  Even with a pair of binoculars you can see craters and the distinctive ‘seas’.

22. I spent some time at my Grandma’s house in the afternoon before going for afternoon tea with her, my mum and sister.  Whilst I was there, we watched her garden birds and I topped up her new bird table with seeds and mealworms (which had all gone when we returned from our tea).

23. Saturday was spent at my in-laws house.  They had blue tits nesting in one of their birdhouses this year for the first time, and throughout May their eggs hatched and we could hear the chicks chirping as the adults went back and forth with little green caterpillars.  They hoped they would see them fledge before they went away on holiday at the beginning of June, but unfortunately they didn’t time it right.  We discussed the birds, when and how the fledging would have happened and are now hoping more nest there next year for us all to see!

24. It was my mum’s 60th birthday, so we had planned a lovely garden gathering to celebrate the day.  We literally spent all day outside relaxing in the wonderful sun (protected of course).  It was a very nice day indeed.

25. About two months ago, I was gardening and found a moth pupa under an upside down plant pot that I moved.  I left the pupa where it was and found it the next day half buried in the soil.  I kept checking on it, where it remained in the soil for weeks.  I couldn’t identify it so had no idea how long it was meant to be there for or if I would ever find out what sort of moth is was…

Then, last Monday evening (25th June) I went outside to see if it was okay in the heat and noticed the pupa now on top of the soil.  I hoped a cat hadn’t fatally dug it up… but then something caught my eye on the fence about 40cm away from the case!  A beautiful olive and pink Elephant Hawk-moth!!!  It stayed still for a few minutes and then it’s wings began to vibrate (which I managed to record).  I stayed and watched it until it flew off to start it’s new life as a moth.

IMG_20180625_195008588_2

© Elephant Hawk-moth, June 2018 – the Green & the Wild

26. It was a very busy day at work, but I made sure I left the office and had some time outside.  I walked to the park during my lunch hour and sat in the shade for a bit, watching the trees moving lightly in the breeze.

27. I planted a few sunflower seeds back in May, but as soon as the shoots started appearing, they were eaten by slugs!  A few weeks ago I read about a clever ‘hack’ and thought I would give it a go.  I found a recycled plastic bottle, cut it in half around the middle, added some holes and then covered one of the remaining seedlings with it.  The idea was that over the next couple of weeks this would act as a little ‘greenhouse’ as well as keeping pests away… and it actually worked!  I was able to remove it on the 27th as the plant had reached the top and another had also started to grow with it.  I separated these to avoid competition, so hopefully I will have at least one sunflower by the end of summer.

28. I have a half an hour walk each way to and from work every day, which is great for my fitness but can easily become repetitive and not pleasant when there is a lot of traffic and noise on the roads next to me.  On the 28th I had the opportunity to walk in from a different direction, across a sun-dappled park and enjoyed the peace and quiet very much!

29. Another thing I noticed on my usual route home (near the main roads) was just how much litter there was hidden in the long grass alongside the pavement!  My attention was drawn to it as a teenager was kicking a plastic bottle along the floor and instead of picking it up, decided to do a final big kick into the grass.  As soon as I got home, I looked online for local litter picking groups I could join and found the #LitterHeroes via Keep Britain Tidy where you can find events in your area, get advice and support on organising your own litter-pick and access Keep Britain Tidy resources.  I have signed up and will keep my eye open for local events.

30. My back yard is canopied by a lovely big tree, so I was able to comfortably keep out of the sun and spend some of the morning doing a bit of gardening and generally neatening up the outside area.

30

#30DaysWild Days 11-20

Another ten days of #30DaysWild have been and gone, and I have continued to stay wild throughout.  I have been enjoying the steady weather and as it gets warmer this coming week, I expect that a lot of people will do some lovely outdoor random acts of wildness to complete the challenge!  So what have I been up to?…
11

11. I have noticed again this year that there are several swifts flying around my area, which is fantastic as swifts are an amber-listed species since their breeding numbers decreased by 51% in the UK between 1995 and 2015!  I love to hear their distinctive screaming call in the mornings and evenings, and it was particularly noticeable on the 11th along with house sparrow songs and calls.  On my way to work, I paid close attention, listened to them for longer than usual and spotted a lot of the sparrows flying into their nests in local house eaves and guttering!

12. A simple but calming act was getting some fresh air by going on a lunchtime walk to break up my day.

13. My partner and I strolled around our favourite local cemetery and played ‘name that bird’ to test our bird call knowledge.  We also saw a cute baby squirrel and some awesome fungi growing on a tree.

14. To help further reduce my plastic usage, I bought a lunch bag made from recycled plastic bottles (to use when I don’t use my bento box) along with a fantastic picnic bag and large shopping bag also made from recycled plastic bottles!

15. After booking the day off work, my partner and I were happy to wake up to a warm day, perfect for a trip to Hunstanton or ‘sunny Hunny’.  It was just lovely to relax outdoors and walk along the beach.

16. I took action and ordered myself a vegan, biodegradable bamboo toothbrush (which has since arrived and is great)!  In the evening I went on a Wildlife Weekend Bat Walk hosted by Leicestershire & Rutland Bat Group and Bradgate Park Trust.  Led by local specialists, we had an informative walk around Bradgate Park and actually detected quite a few bats – which like last year were common pipistrelles, soprano pipistrelles and Daubenton’s.

17. After treating my dad to breakfast for Father’s Day, we visited good old Leicester Botanic Garden for a walk and of course to take some photographs of the wonderful array of plants.  I also discovered #wildflowerhour which encourages people to share photos between 8-9pm every Sunday of the flowers they have found growing wild in Britain and Ireland during the week.

18. My partner and I extended our weekend even more with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon where we went rowing down the river and saw lots of beautiful creatures including moorhens, coots, ducks, swans, geese and stunning damselflies (possibly ‘beautiful demoiselles’).

19. Having seen a lot of articles about National Insect Week I was happy to read that the 2018 Photography Competition is now open.  “To take part, all you have to do is to take photographs of an insect or a group of insects and submit the images using the online submission form”.  I better get looking through my photographs!

20. I was pleased to learn that the Leicester juvenile peregrines had successfully fledged on the 15th and 16th June, so I took a couple of my friends to the cathedral to see if we could spot them.  There was definitely a peregrine falcon perched near the top of the spire, and from the size and colouring I could see, I think it may have actually been one of the youngsters.

20

#30DaysWild Days 1-10: Flower Power

The first ten days of #30DaysWild have been lovely.  My random acts of wildness have been gentle, calming and have allowed me to slow down and take time for myself.  Flowers have been prevalent during this first third of the challenge, as well as personal learning, which I believe is very important.

1

1. To begin the month, I planted the #30DaysWild biodegradable paper flowers which are full of wildflower seeds, in my garden.  I am looking forward to seeing what grows.

2. On my walk home from work I spotted some eye-catching flowers growing at the edge of the pavement across the street.  They were pink and yellow and reminded me of rhubarb and custard sweets.  I took some photographs on my phone and then did some investigating and was able to ID them as Snapdragons!  This has inspired me to start learning how to identify flowers, I would love to be able to walk along and name the different flowers I see.

IMG_20180601_172116607_3© Snapdragons – the Green & the Wild

3. We had been planning for a while to take my grandma to Leicester Botanic Garden, as she had not been there for years.  Finally the weather was ideal enough for a visit, so my grandma, mum, boyfriend and I spent the afternoon there taking photographs, admiring the insects and of course, beautiful array of flowers.

4. To help with my flower ID mission and also relax me in the evenings, I bought a Kew Gardens dot-to-dot book.  It is based on original artworks and includes colour plates to help learn and accurately colour in the final drawings.

5. I have been out in my yard a few times with my bat detector this season, but have failed to pick up any echolocation signals.  I decided to try again on the 5th, but still nothing!  Last year I detected some pipistrelles flying above my house and the tree in my garden, but not very frequently so perhaps it’s simply down to timing.

6. After seeing puffins for the first time on Skomer Island back in May, I have fallen in love with them and keep seeing fantastic photos and learning things about them online.  Some of the information I read encouraged me to do my own research and three of my favourite puffin facts are:

  • Puffins usually pair up with the same partner every breeding season and may be together for 20 years!
  • In winter, puffins orange feet fade and they shed their outer colourful bills, leaving smaller, duller ones behind.  The colour grows back and returns ready for the next breeding season.
  • When it is not breeding season, puffins live out at sea for the rest of the year – floating on the waves, swimming and diving for small fish.

7. I decided to get learning again and do some more online environmental courses, so signed up to three on Futurelearn:

  • Unleash Your Potential: Sustainable Futures with the University of Bristol.  Through this I will learn about the sustainability challenges of the modern world, and ways in which I can make a positive contribution to society.
  • Citizen Science: Living Soils, Growing Food with the University of Dundee.  Through this I will learn about approaches to food growing that can help regenerate soil and solve environmental issues.
  • And in August I will start Concepts in Sustainable Development: An Introduction to the Key Issues with the University of Leicester, which will enable me to explore some of the key issues in sustainability, tackling the big questions with examples from around the world.

8. I ordered a free Guide to Animal Kindness from the RSPCA.  It is full of inspiration and ideas of how to be and encourage others to be #AnimalKind, such as picking up litter to prevent injuries or making your garden wildlife friendly.

9. I sowed a virtual seed with Grow Wild to pledge my support and help raise awareness of the importance of wild flowers and their impact on our wellbeing.  This year my seed ended up being a Ribwort Plantain.  Join me and sow a virtual seed too – you will be able to view the map and see how many other people have taken action to transform your area as well as the rest of the UK.

10. A splendid Sunday morning called for an outdoor stroll.  We thought it would be nice to have a walk around Thornton reservoir, but upon arrival realised that everyone else thought that too which meant there was nowhere to park!  We continued driving until we found a nice park, small woods and old village where we were able to get some fresh air!

10

The Great British Bee Count

If you are buzzing about the start of #30DaysWild tomorrow, then here is something you can begin with!  Friends of the Earth are once again running their bee survey until the end of June, so you have 30 days to get involved.

All you have to do is download the free app, which is really easy to find, and then simply follow the steps:

  1. Wherever you are, whenever you spot a bee, open the app and click ‘submit a bee sighting’
  2. If possible, take a photo of the bee
  3. Use the ID guide in the app to find out which species of bee you have seen
  4. Record the weather and habitat that the bee is in
  5. Enter your postcode or GPS location
  6. Submit your sighting

There is clear evidence that bees are still declining, after a loss of 13 bee species in the UK since 1900!  Taking part in the Great British Bee Count can help build a detailed picture of the bee species around the country to inform the government, local authorities and researchers to make decisions and take the vital steps needed to hopefully reverse the decline.  I think this is a brilliant bit of citizen science, which not only helps wildlife, but also encourages learning and improves our identification skills and knowledge.

I have downloaded the app and will be recording my sightings throughout the #30DaysWild month.  Will you do the same?

Curb @Furygodmother_preview

 

Unleash Your Wild Side For #30DaysWild

sky @happy hippy d_preview

After enjoying a ‘wild’ week in Wales, exploring the nature of Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire (which I will be blogging about soon), I am feeling more inspired than ever to “make room for nature this June” for The Wildlife Trusts’ #30DaysWild challenge.  I have been writing about my random acts of wildness for the last two years during June and will be doing so again this year.  I signed up at the beginning of May and have received my pack, which has definitely given me motivation… so much so that I already have some ideas of what I will be doing.  I am really looking forward to getting started and recognising the simple and bold ways in which I decide to make nature part of my life each day.

To give you some ideas and hopefully inspire you to sign up too, here are 30 ways in which you could be wild this June:

1. Sketch / paint / draw an outdoor landscape

2. Read a book about nature / wildlife

3. Create a rainbow collage using pressed flowers and leaves

4. Write a poem inspired by nature

5. Practice patience by trying the art of stone balancing

6. Make a bumblebee nest (I love the teapot idea!)

7. Build an insect hotel

8. Design with plants

9. Try your hand at foraging

10. Open your eyes to nature through photography

11. Create some unique bark and outdoor texture rubbings

12. “Treat yo’self” and help a wildlife charity at the same time – upgrade your binoculars, buy something for your home, even adopt a species!

13. Go for a walk at lunchtime

14. Try outdoor yoga and / or meditation

15. Make your workplace green with plants and photos of wildlife to improve productivity

16. Explore a rock pool or shallow stream

17. Go bird watching

18. Do a butterfly count

19. Watch a wild webcam

20. Reduce your plastic usage to help save our oceans

21. Get up early to watch the sunrise, or stay out to watch the sunset

22. Eat your lunch / have a picnic in the great outdoors

23. Hunt for animal tracks

24. Learn to whistle with a blade of grass

25. Use homegrown herbs and flowers to make beauty products

26. Swim in the sea (if you are lucky enough to live near the coast or go on holiday)

27. Go on an ‘urban safari’ around your neighbourhood and look out for often overlooked wildlife

28. Do some environmental volunteering

29. Find a way to encounter a species you have never seen before

30. Literally “stop and smell the roses” or any other flower that takes your fancy – lilac is a favourite of mine!

If you like some of these ideas and are ready to join me and the 41,762 others (at the time of writing) who have signed up so far to take on the wild challenge, then click here to order your pack!  You will receive a brilliant wall-chart to track your acts as well as some lovely stickers and lots of ideas for the 30 days.  You can take part on your own, with your friends and family, colleagues or classmates – however you want to do it, be wild and have fun!

30DAYSWILD_ID2 lightorange_preview

Year Of The Bird

Did you know that it is the Year of the Bird?  To mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, why not join the celebration by being part of Global Big Day on the 5th May, this Saturday!  This is a worldwide 24 hour ‘birdwatch’ in which you commit as much time as you like to counting the birds you see.  You can stay in one spot like a garden, or even go for a walk and travel around – all you need is a free eBird account.  If you took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch then I am sure you will enjoy this too!

What I find exciting about Global Big Day is the fact that the stats will be updated in real-time, meaning everyone involved will be able to see sightings from over 150 countries and make comparisons based on location or climate, for example, whilst actually taking part.  Last year 6,659 species were reported during Global Big Day, which was a new record.  I wonder whether that number will be beaten on Saturday?

Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – Results!

At the end of January, the RSPB held their 39th Big Garden Birdwatch, and for the third year running I took part.  Although my watch wasn’t particularly inspiring, 420,489 results were submitted across the UK and a fantastic 6,764,475 birds were counted in total!

The overall results have been published and the 2018 top 10 garden birds are:

  1. House sparrow (non-mover)
  2. Starling (non-mover)
  3. Blue tit (up one place)
  4. Blackbird (down one place)
  5. Woodpigeon (non-mover)
  6. Goldfinch (non-mover)
  7. Great tit (up one place)
  8. Robin (down one place)
  9. Long-tailed tit (up one place)
  10. Chaffinch (down one place)

This is another great year of results for the RSPB to use along with previous data to determine which species need help, and which species are thriving.

Next year will be the Big Garden Birdwatch’s 40th anniversary, so I am hoping for big things and another big count!

What did I see?

Last weekend was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and I chose Saturday to do my count.  Unintentionally, I always seem to pick the day with the worst weather and this year was no exception – drizzly and windy!  As planned though, this year’s count was done in my grandma’s garden (2016 was at my mum’s and last year was at my in-law’s) as I am very interested to see the results from different locations.

rspb© the Green & the Wild

My grandma has been putting food out over winter, so after ensuring there was plenty on the grass and in the feeder, I sat in her conservatory between 11:30am – 12:30pm expecting to at least see my grandma’s regular garden visitors (2 woodpigeons and 2 magpies), but all I counted in the whole hour was a fleeting visit from a single blackbird and one woodpigeon!

As it is just as important to record no birds as it is many birds, I wasn’t disappointed but my grandma was keen for me to see the regulars, so later that afternoon once the weather had cleared up, we had another ‘birdwatch’ and would you believe it, within five minutes the lawn was crowded with two blackbirds, one of the two regular magpies and three woodpigeons, one of which was a juvenile which I found very sweet as the whole family was out for dinner together!

I didn’t manage to take any photographs of the birds this year, so instead I thought I would take part in the RSPB #ShareHowYouWear

shyw© My RSPB and some of my other wildlife charities pin badges.  I usually pick a species that represents the RSPB reserve I buy it from or is a bird that I have seen there.

Did you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this year?  If so, please share with us what you counted and of course, don’t forget to submit your results!