We woke to a frosty morning and on the school run, made footprints in the grass. It was still frosty after lunch, when E and I took the dog out. We stamped on icy puddles, but only a few metres from the field gate, E found a patch of mud, where he spent a long time digging with a stick and drawing ‘tractor wheels’. I threw a stick for Bramble and let him do his thing, until told me that he needed his potty and we had to head home.
Total wild time – 50 mins (E), Izzy 0 mins
I spent a pleasant hour in Izzy’s classroom teaching the kids how to dissect an owl pellet and identify the contents. We examined the bones with a USB microscope. One pellet, which I had dissected the night before and rather clumsily mounted on card, contained the remains of 2 Bank Voles, 1 Field Vole, 1 Common Shrew and what I think were beetles. The other pellet we studied appeared to contain 1 Common Shrew and 1 Bank Vole.
Later, I took E for a walk and we saw a Heron crouched over a ditch next to the river.
Total wild time – about 1 hour (Izzy), E (about 30 mins)
Whilst walking the dog, E and I passed a farmer feeding his cows, so we stopped to watch them for a while. They crowded around, sticking their tongues out and breathing out clouds of hot breath.
Total wild time – about 40 mins (E), Izzy (0)
All full of cold, we stayed in as much as possible today.
Total wild time – 0 mins
Izzy’s class is learning about owls at the moment, so I thought I’d try to find some owl pellets they could dissect. Luckily, the lovely team at Seaton Wetlands were able to help, so we popped down to the Discovery Hut and picked up a bag of fresh Barn Owl pellets, some ID charts and the remains of one of the owl’s meals – a Starling wing. The volunteer there showed us the skull of a Snipe (complete with long, pointy beak) found in a pellet.
Total wild time – about 30 mins
I joined Izzy’s class for a welly walk to the field by Chantry Bridge, where the children found the biggest, muddiest puddle they could and jumped in it. A couple of children fell in, one lost their welly and some of the adults weren’t wearing appropriate footwear, but it was all good fun.
Total wild time – about 1 hour (Izzy), 0 mins (E)
I was expecting B to say ‘No’ when I asked him to go for a walk on the beach with E, the dog and me, but he agreed surprisingly readily. So, we hopped in the car and parked next to Seaton Boat Club. The sound of the wind amongst the masts was unbelievable – a shrieking, whistling, rattling kind of noise. E took his time plodding along, poking around in puddles of water on the wall, digging in the pebbles with a bit of driftwood, whereas B, wearing totally inappropriate clothing as usual, wanted to walk quickly before he froze to death. We breathed in the smell of the sea and watched a gull playing in the wind, skimming the surface of the water, then lifting effortlessly back into the sky. I found a crab on the strand line, still alive, which B threw back into the sea, hoping it would survive. B picked up E and carried him the rest of the way.
Total wild time – 25 mins (E) Izzy (0)
E and I took the dog for a walk along the River Coly, upstream from Chantry Bridge. The flood water had receded, but the whole area looked changed. There were piles of debris (mainly sticks) in the middle of the field, a tree trunk lodged against the bridge, the vegetation was all bent and the mud at the banks was scoured smooth and clean. We found the prints of birds, some large, like Heron and some small, like wagtails, on the beach, as well as dog prints of all sizes.
Total wild time – about 1 hour (E), Izzy 0 mins
This morning, at toddler group, E was fascinated by the huge number of gulls on the flooded playing field. Later, E and I took Bramble for a walk around the lanes. He remembered where the Badger runs were (although he did point to them and say ‘Hedgehog’). We saw a squirrel in an oak tree and then a flock of Fieldfare flew overhead.
Total wild time – 55 mins (E)
It was a disappointing kind of a day. A friend who was going to come over for a cuppa cancelled due to a poorly child, then my mum cancelled coming over because she was flooded in, which meant that zumba was cancelled, too. Then school closed and I had to pick up Izzy early. She didn’t fancy going for a walk, but Bramble hadn’t had a walk yet, so I dragged her and E out in their wellies. Several houses had sand bags outside their doors and water had forced open the drain cover on the main road.We stamped through puddles down to the river, where there was quite a crowd watching the flood water racing past. The rivers Coly and Umborne had merged to become one and the fields in-between were drowned under brown water. We were forced home when the heavens opened yet again.
Total wild time – about 30 mins