Saturday, 8 July 2017

More plants!

As part of 30 Days Wild I added some more plants to the garden (as if I need any excuse!) specifically bee and butterfly friendly.  I appear to have added some more!

My girls had bought me tickets to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for my birthday and on Thursday, after sitting in horrendous traffic and with the mercury edging over 30, I found myself overwhelmed with what to purchase next!

Whilst looking at the great gardens on show my eyes were drawn to the hot purples, reds and orange planting - colours I wouldn't normally go for, preferring the pinks and mauves of cottage flowers. This I decided would be ideal for my south facing front garden. Since removing the old huge lavender bushes from the front I have planted a few bits and piece but hadn't really got a grasp on where I wanted this garden to go but now I have in mind tall agapanthus and globular alliums with dark lavender, sea holly, ladybird poppies and hot pink echinacea. A riot of sexy, deep shades and textures.

Well that's the plan!

It was a little too hot to spend lots of time pursuing the stalls but I have photographed the ideas I like and will plant it up gradually. In the meantime I did managed to buy the sea holly (it was covered with bees!), echinacea and a poppy to get going and remind me of a fabulous day. I will definitely go back hopefully on a slightly cooler day!

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Fen Drayton/Swavesey Lakes

This Sunday's walk was a good 5 miler around RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes. This is our local RSPB reserve and we have walked here many times before. It is full of bird life in the winter and has some fabulous landscapes on a misty frosty morning. We tend to avoid it in the spring due to the gnats! 

The river Great Ouse runs through it (along with Cambridge's Guided Bus!) and there are walks of various lengths. 

We got there about 7.30am and started off round the Fen Drayton side where we immediately spotted a family of Greater-spotted woodpeckers in a tree a little way off - time to again test my new lens to it's limit!

The river itself was quiet although the banks were buzzing with butterflies and damselflies. We checked out  the main hide, and were wondering why the door had been removed when we saw a sign had been put up. Sad that this is necessary but had to chuckle at the wording.

We decided to carry on around the Swavesey lake also, spotting herons, grebes, kestrels, butterflies and demoiselles. We just caught sight of the face of a lovely fox watching us through the reeds but he had gone before I had chance to raise the camera.

A beautiful morning walk.

Friday, 30 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 30 - The Last Hurrah!

It's the last day of 30 Days Wild! One more Random Act of Wildness to write about but also a time to look back over the past month and to think ahead.

Although I managed a RAoW each day and posted about it (very pleased with that!) I didn't do quite as many active activities as I would have hoped. I haven't got the wildlife pond sorted yet, although I have researched it and it will definitely be done soon. I didn't get my granddaughter as involved as I wanted as it turned out we didn't have her as much as I thought we would, and then when we did it was so very hot! The times we did include her though were special and she is only just beginning her journey of discovery.

It was too hot to get out much to walk which was a shame, but we walk most weekends normally and will continue to spot and photograph as much wildlife we can while we walk - and blog about it.

I still have spaces in the garden for more plants - an ever continuing project - and as many of these as possible will be bee and/or butterfly friendly.

The trail cam will go back out over the summer to catch up with the hedgehog and there's a great meteor shower in August that you absolutely do not need a telescope to watch.

So much to remember, so much more to enjoy. I have loved reading the other 30 Days Wild blogs and I hope some of them have enjoyed mine. If you are reading this please drop me a comment to say hi, and do pop back soon. You can also find me, and my photographs, on:

TDP Website

And what of Day 30? Well there's only one 30 Days Wild Random Act left to do really - join my local Wildlife Trust!

I hope you will continue to drop by The Nest throughout the year but definitely hope to see you back here in June 2018!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 29 - What's the difference..

... between a grasshopper and a cricket?

This was my task for today's 30 Days Wild.  We found this one at Wicken Fen the other day - in fact I very nearly stood on it! I immediately said a cricket, my husband said grasshopper.  Grasshoppers are green aren't they he said? No it's something to do with their antennae I replied. No surely it's more than that he wanted to know.


according to the Amateur Entomologists' Society (AES):

"One of the commonest questions asked about grasshoppers and crickets is how to tell them apart. There are a number of ways to tell if you're looking at a grasshopper or cricket:
  • The main difference between a grasshopper and a cricket is that crickets tend to have long antennae, grasshoppers have short antennae.
  • Crickets stridulate ("sing") by rubbing their wings together, while grasshoppers stridulate by rubbing their long hind legs against their wings.
  • Grasshoppers detect sound by means of little 'ears' at the base of their abdomen; in crickets these are on the front legs. 
  • Most crickets are crepuscular (which means they come out at dusk) whereas grasshoppers tend to be out and about during the day. 
  • Grasshoppers mostly eat grass, but crickets are partial to animal matter aswell."
Okay well ours wasn't eating or singing and I couldn't see any ears. It was out during the day so could be a grasshopper but its antennae were definitely of the longer variety so I'm right cricket...?

Actually having researched it a bit more and compared my photo with others online I have decided it could be a Roesel's Bush-Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) but if you think otherwise please feel free to enlighten me! 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 28 - Reminiscing

I've been reminiscing a bit today for 30 Days Wild.

Someone posted a photo of some old Ladybird fairy story books on Twitter which reminded me of the i-Spy books I had as a child of the 70s!

I remember going shopping in Saffron Walden and my treat would be a visit to the book shop that sold these small pocket books. Then the hunt would be on. Birds, insects, shells, even not so wild London landmarks and car journeys featured!

My interest in nature was caught earlier than the i-Spy books though by a story called The Children of Cherry Tree Farm by Enid Blyton. These sickly city children get sent off to stay at their Aunt and Uncle's Farm where they befriend a 'wild man' in the woods who teaches them about wildlife. I remember so desperately wanting to be those kids as the fox came and sat by the fire to hide from the hunt. I downloaded it recently to read again. Still loved it!


Another favourite, although it scared and worried me equally, was the much loved Watership Down. I also had a nature handbook. I've been trawling the web to see if I can find a photo of it but nothing so far. It might still be on the book shelf at my mum's house so I'll have to have a look next time I visit. This handbook and going on a Saturday morning to a nature club got me hooked. Unfortunately it didn't last long though. The mid 70s saw me off to secondary school and all those wishes to conform. We had the long hot summer of '76, Elvis died, Grease was at the cinema and nature wasn't cool anymore.

In fact it didn't really feature in my life again until fairly recently. Having a digital camera and the freedom to fail when a bird took off before I pressed the shutter helped. Finding happiness in walking or just being outside is a big factor.

You can still buy i-Spy books I've found out so they will be a part of my granddaughter's Christmas stocking or shopping treats in a few years time, although I've yet to figure out how i-Spy Dinosaurs will work!

(Images from Google Images)

30 Days Wild - Day 27 - Snail Trail

And then the rain came!  After our heatwave of last week where I couldn't move for sweating today the drips are coming from the skies!

Some people may not enjoy the rain but my garden is crying out for it! My water butt is on empty and the grass is curling at the edges. So welcome the rain! It is forecast to continue for a couple of days, which it needs to soak through - the initial downpours just running off the hard earth.

Today in the office, we saw the lightning light up the dark oppressive sky and we jumped as the crack of thunder came immediately behind. The gutter leaked under the deluge with a waterfall outside the door.

Then the snails came out. Outside one of the office windows the foliage has not been cut back for a while and is covering the glass. Three snails made their way across the windowsill to the tender shoots on the other side. My 30 Days Wild act for today was to encourage my colleagues to put down their pens and stop looking at their screens for a few minutes and come to the window to see the snails. They may have thought I was mad but they came and we watched and we chatted about the rain and the snails and how not a ripple could be seen as they slid over the glass.

A nature break without leaving the office.

Monday, 26 June 2017

30 Days Wild - Day 26 - Curious Creatures

After a heavy day at work I was sitting eating my dinner this evening, half wondering how I was going to fit in a Random Act of Wildness for 30 Days Wild before I fell asleep on the sofa, and I idly flicked on the TV.

Onto BBC Two and there were Kate Humble, Chris Packham, Lucy Cooke with guests for the new wildlife quiz programme Curious Creatures! What a timely tea-time treat!

So, I have now learnt:

  • The most poisonous animal on the planet is a frog and the only predator it has is a snake.
  • Some (herrings) fish fart to communicate.
  • The narwhal's 'tusk' is actually a tooth, and...
  • The capybara is "bigger than a chicken"'and is actually the largest rodent in the world.

Not a bad fact cache for a meal time! 

PS - below is a frog from my garden not a golden poisonous dart frog (in case you didn't guess!)