Wow, June has been a complete whirlwind so far! At times it’s been a challenge finding the time to squeeze in wild acts every day. But I’ve also had some amazing and new wildlife experiences! Hence the late and full-packed second 30 Days Wild blog that I’ve got for you. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past two weeks.
We planted wildflower seeds and seed balls in the garden. The seeds are now growing into proper little plants, sadly the seed balls remain dormant.
I visited my parents and as they have a large and lovely garden, I took the opportunity to explore. I checked in on the baby oak tree we discovered had self-seeded itself a couple of Junes ago. It’s now nearly twice my height. I also spotted lots of bees in the flowerbeds.
This was hands down the best wild moment and day so far this month. My friend, who works at RSPB, heard about a nature reserve with nightjars so took us to see them. They are being very protective as its such a rare bird so I can’t divulge where this was. But we spent this Saturday evening in a beautiful reserve listening to the churring of the nightjar. I’m thrilled I also managed to glimpse it through my binoculars. The sound they make is so strange and haunting. It was such a magical moment, I will never forget it.
Perhaps this doesn’t quite count as wild, but when visiting friends, we played a nature-themed board game called Dominant Species. My animal group were the arachnids. We managed to spread across many habitats, we outcompeted the insects but were wiped out by the birds! A complicated but enjoyable game with a brilliant wild theme.
On this day my I-spy books arrived! I want to log all the species I see and I thought this would be a fun way to do so, even if they are designed for children (I’m a kid at heart). I sat in the garden reading my new books and ticked off all the species I’ve already seen.
Whilst going food shopping I checked out urban nature around me on my walk to the supermarket. There are so many wildflowers bursting from the sides of people’s gardens and along pavements. I love how green Stamford is.
I was asked to write a blog about being an osprey monitoring volunteer at Rutland Water Nature Reserve with the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. So on this evening I wrote it and tried some descriptive nature-writing. You can read it here.
All I managed on this day was admiring our painted lady butterfly chrysalides now that the caterpillars had cocooned themselves. I bought a kit for Alex for Christmas where you can send off for caterpillars then raise them into butterflies.
I didn’t manage anything wild as it was my last day working at the Woodland Trust so I spent both lunch and the evening with colleagues to say goodbye. They gave me lovely nature-themed presents though, including a cuddly Groot (well, he’s technically a tree!), a silver birch leaf necklace and some stunning tree art coasters for our new flat. A very sad emotional day, but I cannot wait to begin my new job with the Wildlife Trust!
I discovered wild strawberries growing on a path near my house (I’ve never seen wild ones before!) and I spotted a juvenile blackbird perched on a wall.
Alex and I spent the day in the wilds of Suffolk visiting his family on Fathers’ Day. Their farm is covered in trees, flowers and chickens so there was plenty of nature to enjoy. I helped his mum feed a juvenile collared dove she had rescued when it got hit by a strimmer. We also looked for newts which are now living in his grandparents’ old swimming pool. We identified some newt shaped shadows in the depths!
With time off work, we had a very wild day! First, we released our painted lady butterflies now that they had emerged from their chrysalises. Then we headed to a nature reserve I’d wanted to check out for a while. Barnack Hills and Holes surpassed expectations, it is a really beautiful unique placed filled with orchids, wildflowers and butterflies. Apparently, they have skylarks there which Alex may have glimpsed flying off from the grass. We saw meadow brown, ringlet, large skipper and marbled white butterflies, all firsts for us. There were also fragrant orchids, knapweed broomrape and pyramidal orchids, all plants I’ve never seen before.
We headed to Brampton Wood in the hope of seeing the rare Black Hairstreak butterfly which is known to be on site. We were in luck, we saw a pair flying around in a clearing that had been made accessible so visitors can see these rarities. They were too quick for a photo but we did glimpse one perched on a twig allowing us to see its black streak and orange features. Another first for us! This reserve is also a beautiful ancient woodland that I quickly fell in love with, I loved its wide open rides full of dragonflies, butterflies and orchids and the weaving paths into dense wild woodland. I’m keen to head back, perhaps on an evening to hear the resident nightingales.
I attended an all-day art class on drawing and painting feathers led by the very talented botanical artist Dawn Wright hosted at Rutland Water Nature Reserve. As I usually just dabble in wildlife art (without proper training), I learnt so much about detail and colour mixing and the best ways to use watercolour. And whilst I’m not 100% happy with my kestrel feather (it’s a bit fluffy rather than smooth), I’m excited to put the new techniques I’ve learned into practice. Time to start collecting feathers!
I worked on my laptop (on this blog) and read my book in the garden in the sunshine, surrounded by house sparrow and starling birdsong. We’re soon to be moving into a flat, I will really miss this garden and all its wildlife.
What interesting wild things have you spotted this month?