5th February 2017 – Where are all the birds?

IMG_0116Not sure where all the birds were at Seaton Wetlands this morning. It was much colder than I thought it would be there, with a bitter wind. E on his bike and Izzy on her scooter, raced around the paths. We were on a mission to find frogspawn, which has been recorded there according to their whiteboards, but we failed to spot any. We paused in the bird hide and saw some Blue Tits, a Pheasant, some Mallards, a Woodpigeon, a Moorhen and what I think was a Yellowhammer.

Later, I took Izzy out for a pony ride and there were signs of Spring everywhere, including a few flowering Barren Strawberry and Primrose plants.

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Total wild time – 35 mins (E), Izzy – 2 hours 35 mins

5th December 2016 – Birds

I took E and Bramble out and E pointed out each bird he saw. With no leaves on the trees, it seemed as though they were teaming with birds. We spotted Blackbirds, Robins, Crows, Rooks, Blue Tits and a Song Thrush. I managed to whack my leg on the buggy when it got stuck in a pothole on the lane, but otherwise, it was a nice wintery walk, with the smell of woodsmoke in the air and not too cold. When we got back, E helped me to refill the bird bath and feeders in the garden.

Total wild time – 1 hour (E), Izzy (0)

22nd September 2016 – Musbury Castle

IMG_20160922_160219999_HDRWalking to Musbury Castle was the perfect way to spend the afternoon this autumn equinox. We saw a Mistle Thrush and a couple of Wrens amongst the scrub, plus some Red Admirals and Speckled Woods. E enjoyed poking a stick in cow pats and Izzy pretended to be a superhero, with her cardigan tied around her shoulders. The panoramic views from the top were fantastic and unlike the previous time we visited, nobody fell in the nettles, so that was a bonus. We snacked on Blackberries and picked haws, which are now turning slowly into fruit leather in the dehydrator.

Total wild time – 1 hour 55 mins

2nd September 2016 – Corvids

We took the dog for a walk to the playground and as the kids played, a huge mixed flock of corvids flew over us in the grey sky. Afterwards, Izzy wanted to collect more conkers, so whilst she searched for those, I picked a few blackberries.

Update – All these blackberries were put to good use a few days later to make an apple and blackberry frozen layer cake

Total wild time – 25 mins

30th July 2016 – Feeling like a failure

I felt a bit of a failure today, as by the time I had finished giving E’s room a second coat of paint, it was almost dinner and too late for my planned trip to see some ancient trees (although earlier in the day whilst walking the dog with E, I did witness 2 Moorhens chasing a Black-headed Gull and then a Heron away from the river, which made me smile). Instead, we took some time to sit in the hammock in the garden and I managed to persuade both children to be quiet for a few minutes and listen. We heard a Blackbird scolding, the baby House Sparrows in the nest in our porch roof (must be the 3rd brood they’ve reared this year), a Pied Wagtail flying overhead, but mostly we heard buzzing bees. Izzy then pretended to put on make-up using flowers she found in the garden and made me watch a dancing/fashion show, which apparently I had to join in at the end

Total wild time – 30 mins or thereabouts

28th July 2016 – Colyford Common

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I had to take a deep breath as we arrived at Colyford Common, as Izzy was driving me a little bit crazy. We followed the path down towards the marsh and found a Slow-worm under a bit of corrugated roofing felt (obviously left there as a reptile refuge). There were loads of butterflies too – Gatekeepers, Speckled Woods and Red Admirals.

IMG_20160728_164312312_HDRIzzy raced ahead, totally ignoring any instructions from me, onto the boardwalk and towards the bird hide overlooking the tramline. We peered through our binoculars at the Herons and Little Egrets, but there was somebody else in there trying to do some serious birdwatching, so I thought I had better remove my noisy children as soon as possible. I checked the logbook and noticed that a juvenile Marsh Harrier had been spotted there earlier in the day. Back outside, I’m sure I spotted it perched on an overhead wire, but with the kids racing off in opposite directions, I had little chance to double check. We waved to passing trams and I tried to remember my marsh plant ID, as we followed the markers around the reedbed. We tried to guess what had made the footprints we found in the mud, Izzy guessing that they were made by owls, then, munching on banana chips to keep the hunger whinges away, we carried on, along the narrow path between the towering reeds, which rustled loudly in the breeze. Izzy was in her element, pretending she was in the jungle and singing a made up song.

Izzy then took it upon herself to rescue ‘drowning flies’ from a pool, using a feather to scoop the insects out. She also found the remains of a crab shell and insisted that she wanted to take it home to keep (luckily she lost it moments later).

Charging ahead again, she stung her legs on some Nettles. I found her some Dock leaves and she rubbed the stings, noting the little lumps that appeared.

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Total wild time – 1 hour 30 mins

8th July 2016 – Red Squirrels

DSC_0456 DSC_0458 DSC_0464 DSC_0467 I had a meeting at Escot today, so I took the family along, too and whilst I was busy, they explored the wetlands. Then, we met up back at the Red Squirrel enclosure, where we found the squirrels tucking into their breakfast. The children were absolutely enchanted by them (as were B and I!) as they ran along the rails of the walkway and up onto the feeding platforms. They are used to people and came up very close to us – one even climbed up my trouser leg (on the outside, I should probably clarify)! It was a good place to do a spot of bird-watching, too, with Nuthatches, Blackbirds, Robins and Chaffinches taking advantage of the free food.

Let’s hope that the Red Squirrel Project South West’s conservation efforts are successful and that one day, my kids will be able to see these beautiful creatures in the wild in Devon.

Total wild time: 1 hour

2nd July 2016 – Only a dog walk

It rained almost all day and we were busy watching Izzy do zumba at a school fete, making bunting and painting garden furniture. Also, E had a record 3 hour nap, all of which added up to it being hard to fit in wild time, today. I took E out for a dog walk and we headed towards Chantry Bridge, where we stopped to watch and listen to the birds. There were a couple of Grey Wagtails, some Swifts, Hedge Sparrows and more than one Goldcrest, doing a very good impression of a hummingbird. Apparently, they hover as they catch flying insects – something I’ve never seen before.

The heavens opened, but we carried on regardless and E said ‘Owl’ every time he heard a Woodpigeon. He’s only 21 months, so I’m not too disappointed that he can’t tell the difference, yet. Further along the river, we spotted a Heron, hunkering down in the rain, then headed home for a roast dinner.

Total Wild Time: E – 30 mins

2nd June 2016 – Seaton Wetlands

DSC_0256It was a breezy, beautiful afternoon at Seaton Wetlands. The tide was out and there was a strong smell of salt and mud. E on his Scuttlebug raced Izzy’s bike to the pond, where we paused to watch the damselflies and a Moorhen. Then, at Island Hide, we spotted four fluffy Shelduck ducklings (I tried to take a photo, but at that moment the children decided to leg it in opposite directions…)

Izzy DSC_0258collected a few flowers. E collected bits of gravel. Izzy called to me (now weighed down by a bag, camera, scuttlebug, cycle helmet and E) to show me a Fat-legged Flower Beetle on a Buttercup. She decided to cycle the rest of the way really slowly, so as not to scare any other beetles away. E lay down to enjoy the feel of the warm tarmac. Within sight of the car, Izzy decided that she couldn’t cycle any further and so I carried her and her bike, tooDSC_0271.

Total wild time: 1 hour 10 mins