You get an extra day in this one (for reasons that will become apparent by the end).
As you’ll know if you follow me on twitter, this June I’m aiming to complete the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature on a daily basis, and I’m already seeing the benefits of being more relaxed and grounded, so I’d definitely recommend joining in. I’m going to be doing a weekly round-up to keep you up to speed, and to give me the opportunity for some shameless self-promotion.
There was an unfortunate amount of rain today, which forced me to camp in the living room reading books and watching TV. I was fortunate enough to see a family of sparrows on the freshly-mown (and now entirely flower-free, unfortunately) lawn, with the adults teaching the fledglings what to feed on.
Took a detour on the way into town to see the canal – plenty of flowers growing on the banks including yellow flag irises, several umbellifers, and meadowsweet. All of the ducklings seem to have grown up and moulted into their adult plumage, though it’s getting difficult to tell if the males are youngsters or just going into eclipse plumage.
Living in an urban area can make it hard to find wildlife, but there is a surprising amount about if you know where to look for it. The edges of building sites are one good place – with the ground constantly being cleared and churned-up, species which reproduce a lot in a short span of time (r-selected species) are able to compete with the slower-growing but more permanent shrubs and trees (k-selected species). Red valerian, willowherb, ragwort, and toadflax all brightened up an otherwise drab day.
On the subject of nature establishing itself alongside humans, crows (family Corvidae) really have a knack for flourishing, courtesy of their large brains and problem-solving abilities. Jackdaws would normally nest in tree cavities and coastal cliffs, but their propensity for living off humanity’s leftovers has made them unnaturally common.
Honeysuckle is one of my favourite summer flowers – their soft yellow and pink tones, the heady scent that fills gardens and glades, and the subdued sweetness of the nectar if you dare to rob it. I’m lucky enough to have a garden full of the stuff at my student house, and it’s brilliant for attracting moths at night, which can make for quite the spectacle if the weather is right.
With the rain proving to be unrelenting, I only managed a brief trip outdoors today before being forced back inside by a downpour. Less deterred by the conditions were the snails, which suddenly seemed to be working their way down the walls from every cool, shaded crevice they’d taken refuge in. I suppose it helps when you carry your home on your back.
Another day of unrelenting rain kept me indoors for much of today as well. Fortunately, at dusk I stumbled across a swallow’s nest I’d never seen before – and, tucked up on top of a fire escape, I probably wouldn’t have seen it at all if not for one of the parents coming in to feed its offspring. The picture’s a little blurry thanks to a bad phone camera, poor lighting, and not wanting to disturb the chicks by getting too close – hopefully they will make it all the way to Africa in a few months’ time.
Day 29 – garden walk
Today was my last full day in my student house before the summer holidays, so I embraced a break in the weather to take one last stroll around the garden. Nascent apples and pears have already begun to form on the trees, hopefully enough for a wildlife-friendly windfall in late autumn. The roses have gone over, their petals scattered beneath them, leaving their hips to swell and turn red and be attacked by finches. It’s been a good month for the garden, and a good year.
I won’t be able to update the blog for the final day of #30DaysWild tomorrow, as I’m travelling to Scotland for a week-long field course in southern Caledonia. Hopes are I’ll get to see some of Highland’s speciality species such as ptarmigan, Scottish crossbill, crested tit, and the unique Arctic-Alpine plant communities that gild the high peaks. But I’m sure you’ll get an update for that once I’m back home.
Until next time,
Have you had any special wildlife experiences in the last week? Leave a comment down below!