26th July 2016 – Clay decorations

IMG_20160726_093433193We had fun making hanging clay decorations (in theory, for the Christmas Tree), using natural materials to make interesting impressions. Shells, leaves such as Rosemary, Bay and Sage, plus grass flowers, made good prints. We had less success with feathers and other flowers. This was a really relaxing activity, that Izzy and I enjoyed doing (E just played with the clay and a snail I made for him) and the time we spent doing it was only limited by the amount of available clay we had.

We had heard that ‘the Mackerel were in’ , so later in the evening, we took a picnic dinner and a fishing rod to the beach to try our luck, but sadly caught nothing.

Total wild time – clay decorations – 35 mins, fishing – 1 hour 20 mins.

25th July 2016 – A walk in the woods

IMG_20160725_133230324My mum and I took E  and the dog out for a walk somewhere we hadn’t been in Colyton before. We walked through a lovely meadow at the top of Ridgway, then along Sand Pit Hill Lane, through a field of cows, past a hollow tree, then down through a very peaceful woodland, full of Enchanter’s Nightshade, Honeysuckle and Downy Birch, where E fell asleep.IMG_20160725_135400184

We got back home just in time to leave again to pick up Izzy from Holiday Club. At the Playing Field, we made a map, did some sketches and explored the river bank.

Total wild time – Dog walk (E) – 1 hour 30 mins, Map-making etc. (E & Izzy) – 45 mins

19th July 2016 – Trip to Bicton Park

IMG_20160719_115120758The weather was perfect for Izzy’s preschool trip to Bicton Park – hot, sunny and with a lovely breeze. We had a fantastic time exploring the park, which was full of huge trees and inviting shade. The children played on the tractors and playground, then we went on the train, chugging past Moorhens and Mallards on the lake and the tallest tree in the pinetum. Then, we did a loop around the Rose, Italian and Mediterranean gardens, pausing at the Shell House to admire the many different types on display. There were dozens of Common Blue Damselflies in mating wheels over the moat and quite a few dragonflies (mostly Southern Hawkers, I think, but also a Common Darter) buzzing about. We also spotted Whirligig beetles spinning circles on the water surface. After a picnic, more playing and some whingeing about the lack of ice cream, we went back to the stream garden and chilled out there for a while. Unsurprisingly, E fell fast asleep on the coach home (sitting upright – I had to lean across the aisle to prop him up!).

Total Wild Time: 4 hours (although, admittedly, much of that was spent in the playground!)

17th July 2016 – Big butterfly count

thumbnail_IMG_1699It was a scorching day and we mostly spent it lazing around in my parent’s garden, watching the Buzzards soaring overhead. The banks of wildflowers in the garden, filled with Oxeye Daisy, Musk Mallow, Wild Hedge Bedstraw and Common Knapweed, as well as chirping grasshoppers, seemed a good p 1ace to do the Big Butterfly Count, but in our 15 minutes we only counted 2 Meadow Brown and 1 Large White. Just after the count, a couple of Marbled Whites turned up, but I had been hoping to record a few more!

The kids did not really participate, as they were more interested in playing hide and seek with Uncle Adam, who had just returned from travelling, but they still had a good few hours of outdoor play in the sunshine, with or without butterflies.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to submit my results, as the website is down, but hopefully it will be up and running again soon.thumbnail_IMG_1689

Total Wild Time: About 2 hours

16th July 2016 – Natural Seaton Festival and sea-swimming

Bug hotelThe Natural Seaton Festival was just getting started when we arrived, but we saw Horace the Pliosaur, identified some birds’ eggs, (where I learned that Shelduck lay their eggs in rabbit burrows), then Izzy and E made a bug hotel, which we hung in our garden.

Later in the afternoon and trusting the weather forecast rather than the actual weather we were experiencing, we headed to the sea to swim. The water was cold, but bearable and the waves were choppy, but not too rough.  B held Izzy tightly whilst she swam and E splashed about in the shallows with me. B did some snorkelling, but didn’t see anything of interest and then I got a chance to swim on my own, whilst B watched the kids. We all left the beach feeling exhilarated and starving. It was almost 7 by the time we got home, so we had a very quick and easy dinner, before bath time and bed.Sea swimming

Total wild time: Festival – 30 mins, Sea swim – 1 hour 20 mins

15th July 2016 – Following the bees

We pottered around the garden following the bees we saw, watching them collect nectar from the Lavender and Purple Toadflax. We recorded Common Carder, Buff-tailed Bumblebees and Honeybees. And we have a nest of something like Mason Bees in our doorframe, which keep getting trapped on the wrong side of the door. I have tried in vain to identify them, so if anyone can enlighten me, I would be very grateful!

bees in the door

Izzy and E were meant to be drawing the bees we saw, but E had a meltdown because I was using the camera phone and didn’t want to give it to him and Izzy (dressed as Tinkerbell) rebelled by drawing flowers, instead. Then, E required a nappy change and we had to call it a day, anyway.

Total wild time: 35 mins

13th July 2016 – Seaton Jurassic

IMG_20160713_114042963 We took the bus to Seaton Jurassic, which we’ve been to several times before. However, we last visited a few months ago and the outside area had been extended with new exhibits since then. The wildlife garden had also grown up and was full of bees and birds.

IMG_20160713_112621046_HDRThe kids enjoyed stamping their booklets and Izzy did all the quizzes and brass rubbings. We hunted for prehistoric life, explored the giant rockpool, learned about the tides, dug for fossils, fished for magnetic crabs, created food webs and of course, waved at the passing trams.

Total wild time: 2 hours

12th July 2016 – Practising wildlife photography

IMG_20160712_151636861I gave Izzy her camera and E my camera phone for the journey to and from preschool and set them the challenge of photographing wildlife. E took a very thorough pictorial account of our journey as he saw it (mainly his feet, his thumb and the pavement) and filled my memory card, whilst Izzy was a little more selective, photographing the ferns we found growing on the town’s walls, noting that different species had different shaped sporangia, as well as the drops of water on the leaf of a Lady’s Mantle (which everyone knows are used to make fairy potions) and every flower, cloud and bird we passed. She strayed outside the brief to additionally photograph houses, cars and the fire station.

IMG_20160712_151621730Our usual 10 minute walk took 5 times as long, but the kids loved it.

Total wild time: 50 mins

9th July 2016 – Rockpooling at Seaton Hole

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Seaton Hole Beach was new to us and a lovely surprise – I didn’t know we had such amazing rock pools on our doorstep. We easily found dozens of crabs, including a stunning Velvet Swimming-crab with bright red eyes, as well as Beadlet and Snakelocks Anemones, Prawns and Cushion Stars. As we sat on the towel to dry our feet, four Peregrine Falcons flew around the cliffs above.

Total wild time: 2 hoursthumbnail_IMG_1634