16th August 2016 – Bike riding and body boarding

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The grasshoppers were singing at Seaton Wetlands this morning, as E on his scuttle-bug raced Izzy on her bike, whilst B held/rode the scooter for interchangeable wheelie action. Apart from seeing plenty of waterbirds, we rescued a hairy caterpillar, which was crossing the path at top speed, saw an Emperor Dragonfly skimming a pond alive with Whirligig Beetles and B and I had a close-up view of a Swallow feeding three hungry mouths (the kids had almost vanished out of view though at this point so I had to scurry after them). There were also three fish blowing bubbles in the pond by Reed Base and then to top it off, two miniature ponies from Munchkins on a lead rope walk, which we were kindly allowed to stroke.IMG_20160816_163624628

Back in the garden, I suddenly realised that the kerfuffle in the corner was the dog harrassing a baby House Sparrow. It was clearly unable to fly and so we scooped it up in our sweep net and popped it onto the porch roof, next to its nest, with a cardboard box for shelter.

Late afternoon, we headed to Seaton Beach to try out Izzy’s early birthday present – a body board. Conditions were far from ideal – the waves were very choppy, but we had fun playing in the foamy water. We had a quick visit to the playground and the labyrinth, then we had a takeaway burger from Flipside, whilst watching the ocean.IMG_20160816_162513129

Total wild time – 1 hour at the wetlands, about 3 hours on the beach.

15th August 2016 – Sketching birds and using a key

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We read the Nature Project Book, which is a book I have had since childhood, in the garden and practised using the key in it to identify a Woodlouse, Fly, Slug and Moth. Izzy sketched a House Sparrow, which morphed into a ‘Princess Bird’. She also used her glue gun to stick a load of previously-collected, random, natural materials together to make a ‘bug hotel’.

Later, we went to the beach for an ice-cream. The sea was rough and we enjoyed feeling the spray from the waves hitting our faces.

IMG_20160815_111950355Total wild time – can’t remember but about an hour in total

14th August 2016 – A walk in the woods

DSC_0577We took the dog for a walk in a new place today – a Forestry Commission woodland at Parehayne Hill. It was cool and almost silent under the trees, where a few gnarled, old,
Sweet Chestnut, Beech and Oak could be found amongst the conifers. Emerging back out into the sunshine, Common Fleabane, Betony and Common Knapweed provided a splash of colour along the roadside. DSC_0579

Total wild time – 45 minsDSC_0575

13th August 2016 – Deptford Pink Day

DSC_0567I organised an event on behalf of The Species Recovery Trust today, to celebrate the presence of the rare plant Deptford Pink in Buckfastleigh and teach people a little more about it. The group toured some of the places it grows, on road verges and at The Vincent Wildlife Trust’s Rock Farm Reserve, where as a bonus, we watched roosting Greater Horseshoes on the bat cam.

Whilst I was working, B was looking after the kids. He took them to the playground but they didn’t do anything ‘wild’.

Total wild time – Kids – 0 mins, me – 2.5 hours

12th August 2016 – Shooting stars and garden picnic

B woke Izzy at 1am to lie out in the hammock and watch the Perseid meteor shower, whilst I stayed in bed with E. It was a clear night and Izzy stayed awake long enough to spot half a dozen shooting stars. She told me all about it in great detail in the morning.

Later, we visited friends at their holiday cottage in Kilmington and had a picnic dinner in the garden, where there was a pond with Dragonflies and Water Boatmen. The kids stayed up way past their bedtime and were delighted to see the moon make an appearance. Jackdaws and Rooks flew home to roost overhead as the sky darkened and just as we were about to return home, we saw a bat.

Total wild time –  30 mins watching meteoroids (Izzy) and 3 hours having a picnic (Izzy and E).

11th August 2016 – Beer Regatta

IMG_1771We got to Beer early and there was not much happening in terms of the Regatta, but we coloured in some dinosaur pictures and painted some plaster fossils (E also painted 2 stones he had found and his hair).

We had neglected to pack swimming gear, but Izzy and E got around that small problem by stripping naked and diving straight in to the sea. The water was warm, clear and calm, so I was a bit upset that I couldn’t join them.

After a pasty lunch on the beach, we visited the little heritage centre, which contained three fish tanks with local rockpool wildlife, including Blennies, Prawns, various species of Anemones, as well as Edible Crabs and a Lobster. There were also some displays about different types of fishing and local geology.

In terms of the Regatta, there didn’t seem to be a lot happening and then a boat capsized (nobody was hurt) and apparently that signalled the end of any races. Things were getting a bit more rowdy as we left, with rafts, including one that was an ‘Ice Palace’ and another that was a whale, lining up in the street, their crews hurling water bombs and eggs at each other.

Total wild time – 3 hours

10th August 2016 – Southleigh Country Fayre

IMG_1758OK, not wild, but definitely rural. In a beautiful spot, this was a proper country fayre, with tractor trailer rides (E’s highlight), sheep shearing, bouncy castle and stalls full of tat (sorry, bric-a-brac). Time flew as we pottered around, doing the quiz, which included a scavenger hunt for Oak and Clover leaves and watching a show involving a Peregrine Falcon flying through the legs of the horse from the Lloyds TSB advert. We were all impressed by the speed of the birds (and also the enormous aircraft flying past, presumably on their way to Dunkeswell).

Total wild time – Over 2 hours

9th August 2016 – In search of a view

DSC_0554We left the house at 7pm, which is normally bedtime, but it was a gorgeous evening and we decided to trial a later bedtime tonight. We went for a scenic drive, through Sidford, squeezing past a tractor in a farmyard, and ended up parking up at White Cross, where there was an amazing view. It was, however, freezing, due to a fierce wind, which shook the leaves of the huge, old Beech Trees, so we didn’t stop for long. We drove on, through beautiful countryside below Fire Beacon Hill, keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife. We spotted two pairs of distant Rabbit ears and a Grey Squirrel, but sadly no Deer and no Owls, which was what E really wanted to see. We arrived home just as the sun was starting to set and the sky was turning pink.

Total wild time – 1 hour

7th August 2016 – Dead Man’s Fingers fungus

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Our plans scuppered by a cancelled bus, we went instead into Lyme Regis and sat on the beach eating our lunch. We searched for stones with holes in and were shown how to blow into them to make a whistling sound.

We walked up through the scented gardens and woodland, then back at the car park, we rested in the shade, waiting for the daddies, who had gone for a sneaky beer or two at Cellar 59. When I investigated the stump the boys were bashing with sticks, I found it was covered in Dead Man’s Fingers fungus. There were also some lovely leaf and Sycamore helicopter skeletons lying around. We threw helicopters into the air and watched them spiral to the ground.

Back at home, the kids made a hanging garden decoration with the stones they’d collected, threaded onto twine. Then, the dog found a Frog, which we relocated to the log pile, out of its reach.

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Total wild time – About 1 hour 30 mins