30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 11 – 15

Day 11 – June 11th was #2minutebeachclean and #2minutelitterpickup day run by beachclean.net. I headed out to a nearby road to do a bit of a tidy up, I took two bags with me thinking there wouldn’t be too much litter to pick up. I should have taken more! I cleaned a half mile stretch; there were cans, crisp packets, napkins, fast food boxes, bottles, car parts, sweet rappers etc I know some litter escapes from peoples bins etc but the majority of litter is dropped.  I wish everyone could understand the damage litter causes to nature.  How much effort does it really take to dispose of it responsibly.  I was talking to a friend about how much I had collected, when she was at school a fair few years ago they used to take it in turns go out on litter duty, I wonder if schools still do that today and if they do, does it make their students more aware of their surroundings?

Day 12 – was a wild day in a different sense. A day out at Longleat Safari Park! Seeing I have an extremely busy time at work coming up a couple of days holiday beforehand was required.  If I can get a day or two off then I always plan to do something a little different to keep my spirits up! It was a lovely sunny day at Longleat, warm but nothing like we have seen this week, which was a blessing as the A/C in my car is broken!  It was quite quiet too which meant starting the drive through at 10am was great as I could walk around the Wallaby’s and Lemur’s easily.  I decided to give the monkey’s a miss as I wanted to keep my car in one piece! Driving through and feeding the Red Deer was lovely, they are so friendly, although one did make me jump when she put her head in the window while I was looking the other way! They seem to understand ‘sorry I don’t have any food left!’.  I had a closer encounter than I was expecting with a Tiger, it wandered straight towards the car 🙂 Today was the first time I had ever seen the Hippo’s in the lake, on other visits they have been hiding in their field/mud hole.  

Day 13 – I had to take the car for its annual service.  I was planning to spend some time on the way back in Bath to try and see the Bath Peregrines.  I had meant to go and see them last year though I don’t go towards Bath very often.  The Hawk and Owl Trust installed a nesting box at St John’s Roman Catholic Church in 2005 where they have hatched young ever season since.   I had looked up on the website the location to view them from and headed to the opposite side of the river from Riverside Walk.  I had been watching them for a while when a crow caught my eye, it was carrying something but it wasn’t nesting material – it landed in a tree a few meters away, it was half a rat! A gentleman asked if I had seen a Peregrine, he worked for the Hawk and Owl Trust and was on the lookout for a fledgling that they had temporarily lost track of; they have been testing their flying capability and they are keeping an eye on them.  He was kind enough to tell me where one of the others was sitting, so I could get a closer view. It was lovely to watch a while, unfortunately I couldn’t stay longer as I had to head home.

Day 14 – Today was one of those ‘busy’ days.  Once I had left work I stopped by my patch for a short while and watched the sun setting.

Day 15 – I headed out for a walk/drive in the countryside.  I wanted to go to a Wildflower meadow to see how it was progressing this year, it is located amongst farmers fields so I have to drive as close as I can down one of the tracks and then walk the rest of the way.  I passed Goldfinches in a rape field feeding and then as I turned the corner towards the meadow a Badger ran across my path.  I must have startled it as it ran off very quickly which was such a shame as it would have been lovely to have watched from a far.  It was good to know it was there though, as a previous year I found what I thought was Badger latrines in a nearby field so hopefully they still have a sett nearby.  I will have to try and find it in the winter as I don’t think I would have much luck at the moment in the Maze fields!  The Meadow at the moment is predominantly grasses, I think it was later in the year that it flowered last year so I will have to keep checking on it.  I saw a bird fly over and although unsure of what it was, I think it was a Hobby.  On my route home I took a detour to the location I saw the Hare on Day 1, I was surprise to find one in the same field, I felt rather lucky 🙂

30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 6 – 10

Day 6 – Birdwatching at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Whelford Pools. I visit Whelford Pools every now and then; I knew a Swan had nested and I wanted to go back as see how they had got on. I didn’t manage to get a photograph as they were across the other side of the lake but as far as I can tell it looks as though they have 5 Cygnets. There were quite a few birds with young, including Cormorants, Coots and Great Crested Grebes 🙂

My sightings were: 4 Coot, pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets, 25 Cormorants, 2 Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Grey Heron, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 4 chicks, Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, 3 Carrion Crows, 7 Black-headed Gulls, Egyptian Goose, Swallows

Day 7 – Exploring Bampton Cemetery for the nature within. As soon as I walked into the Cemetery I saw a Song Thrush sitting on one of the grave stones so I sat for a while letting the birds get used to me being there. The Song Thrush had moved to the other end of the site but slowly moved closer hopping from stone to stone using them as a vantage point looking down in search of food. The Robins were doing the same, hopping around the stones. Also present were Blackbirds, Goldfinch and Woodpigeon. I took a closer look around me and found Daisy’s and Herb robert growing in the grassed areas. I was pleased to spot a Ladybird larve, the first time I had actually seen any. 

Day 8 – Today Plantlife launched their Great British Wildflower Hunt. I really like the spotter sheets you can download from their website to identify the plants, they are super helpful. I took a walk down the track that runs alongside my patch, there are crops and trees on one side and a hedgerow on the other. I was surprised at the amount of Wildflowers I found – 9 in total (Cow Parsley, Oxeye Daisy, Common Poppy, Dandelion, Shepherd’s Purse, Creeping buttercup, Bramble, White Clover and Meadow buttercup). There was a mix of Country and Town species and some not listed on the spotter sheets. I’ve loaded my findings to the Plantlife website for a Country search – a score of 5. I really liked learning what was next to my patch, I need to do a proper survey on other areas of it now 🙂

Day 9 – I was watching the garden birds wondering what to do for 30 Days Wild when unusual movement in the flower bed caught my eye. I had my binoculars to hand and quickly realised it was a mouse. I ran off to grab my camera hoping that it would come back. Thankfully it did. It’s a Wood Mouse and was eating the grain that the birds drop on the floor from the feeders 🙂

Day 10 – I went out specifically looking for Dippers on By Brook; I didn’t find any this time but I did come across a very cute family of Mute Swans and a female Mallard with her 5 ducklings 🙂 Along my route I also saw Carrion Crows, Swallows, Magpie, Woodpigeon and a heard of Cows! Next time I am going to walk south along the brook in the hope I can find the Dippers. 

30 Days Wild 2017 – Days 1 – 5

This year I want to blog about 30 Days Wild more regularly. I’m planning to post a blog every 5 days, I will do my best to keep to the schedule but it might change and adapt as we move through the month. I take my hat off to the amazing bloggers that manage to post everyday. I am Tweeting everyday so if you want to follow along there, as well, you can find me @_HannahBaker  

Day 1 – ‘Spot a wild mammal’ – I decided to go out and look for rabbits to photograph. I drove down the farmers tracks along side my patch, so I could cover a bit of ground. I did find a couple of rabbits but they were out in the open on the track itself. I walked towards them but they were very skittish and ran off very quickly. I went to another nearby field where out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a Pheasant, but reversed to have a better look. I was so please to see a Brown Hare. It was far enough away that I could get out of the car and get a little closer. It was sat eating either crop or actually I think it was eating the grass growing along the edge of the crop. It didn’t seem bothered by me so I took a few photos and watched it for a while. I drove further down the track and disturbed another Hare that darted into the crop but then came back out. I again was far enough away to be able to get out of the car but as it was closer this time I was very weary not to spook it. I moved extremely slowly round the car.  Again it didn’t seem to mind me being there. I didn’t want to disturb it too much so took a few photographs and moved on. I hope to go back another day to see if they are there regularly. 

Day 2 – 30 Days Wild was a complete surprise. I was driving to work when a bird caught my eye. It wasn’t obvious to me what it was so I pulled over to look properly, it took me a few seconds to realise it was indeed a Barn Owl. I sat watching it and only when it was flying away did i think to grab my phone to take a photo. I so wish I had had my camera with me!

Day 3 – Today I decided to ‘Read a wild book’.  Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel has been on the book shelf for a little while now, a present from my Mum.  Today it was calling to me and I’m glad it did.  I am two chapters in and am finding it a very interesting read.  I was excited to learn about Tithe Maps which were drawn up between 1836 and 1852 and they are a great source of information if you are interested in field names.  I wonder if ‘my patch’ has a name other than being referred to as ‘the field’?

Day 4 – We put a TrailCam out the in garden every few days to check on the night time garden visitors.  We regularly see two to three Hedgehogs, a Mouse and we think we have two different Foxes that visit (one seems bigger than the other).  Last night we had two Hedgehogs, a Fox and a Mouse.  Generally the Mouse is just seen as two little eyes shining out of the flower border; so far the neighbourhood cats have been unsuccessful at catching it thankfully. The Hedgehog and Fox seem happy to feed together although the Fox did seem a little jumpy and moved away from the Hedgehog to start with.  

Day 5 – All it has done today is rain! The garden however is now covered in Slugs and Snails.  We never put down any repellent because of the Hedgehogs, we let them tidy up the garden; they will have a good meal tonight 🙂