Today marks a year of going wild. A year of blogging. So, I wanted to do something a bit special. The kids stayed up after bedtime and we switched off the Leaders Debate to go up to the local community woodland, where we watched an unspectacular sunset, listening to Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, whilst Gulls and Geese flew back towards the estuary.
We ventured into the dark woods to see if we could spot any Foxes, which I am pretty sure live nearby. Despite tiptoeing, we nevertheless disturbed some Woodpigeons, which clapped into the sky. We heard what sounded like the bark of a fox, but saw nothing. We wandered back up to the grassland, where Slugs were coming out in force. E decided to go ‘fishing’ for them with a long grass stem, whilst Izzy scared the life out of B by tickling his ear with grass.
As the sky grew blacker, we switched the bat detector to 45KHz and headed home. I managed to pick up some chattering bats in a likely-looking tree, but I was starting to worry that we wouldn’t actually see any, when one suddenly zoomed over our heads. The kids were delighted. We saw quite a few bats (most likely Common Pipistrelles) as we walked home. There were 2 bats flittering around our house when we arrived and I wouldn’t be surprised if they roost in our roof. Another, bigger bat, probably a Brown Long-eared, joined them for a while. We stood and watched them, listening to their clicks and raspberries on the detector, before persuading the kids that it was time for bed.
Total wild time – about 1 hour 30 mins
We nipped up to the picnic site and whilst the kids shut their eyes, I hid some gold chocolate coins around the community woodland. They raced around, finding them all in no time at all. Ethan found some Fox poo and we watched a huge flock of white birds flying down the valley, towards the sea.
Total wild time – 25 mins
It was a big day today – E’s first morning at nursery school. He went in and started playing without a backward glance, but we had a phone call less than 2 hours later to say that he was upset, so I went to pick him up. He had clearly had a lovely time though and was on a high afterwards. Izzy was back at school, too, so wild time had to be fitted in between pick-up and dusk.
I managed to convince Izzy that the BSBI New Year’s Plant Hunt was just like Pokemon Go, but with flowering plants instead of monsters and so we went for a walk around Colyton’s picnic site and community woodland, recording any flowering plants we found using the BSBI app. We found a grand total of 3 species – Daisy being the most abundant, but also a single Dandelion and Annual Meadow-grass plant. I added these to the list of plants I recorded slightly earlier – Ivy-leaved toadflax, Hairy Bittercress and Groundsel. There may not have been many flowers to record, but the weather was mild, the sky turning pink and the kids had a lovely time pottering around. Izzy found a worm, which she relocated to a new home and a sprig of Ivy, which she thought was beautiful. E found a stick, which he used to bash things.
Total wild time – 55 mins
We slogged up the hill to Hillhead Picnic Site and battled against the wind to do some bark rubbings. We noticed the different patterns on the trunks of Beech, Cherry, Sycamore, White Poplar, Ash, Oak and Whitebeam trees. Izzy wanted to look through her binoculars and E wanted to run circles around the trees, then they both wanted to go into the community woodland for a look around. There, we found a Dark Bush Cricket and loads of apples ripe for picking, so we did a bit of foraging. I also picked some Rowan berries to make Rowan vodka. Back at home, I found a Shield Bug amongst the berries, which we released outdoors. Later, we cut up our bark rubbing patterns to create a collage.
Total wild time – 1 hour 35 mins
We dabbled in a bit of wild art today and visited the Woollen Woods project at Axmouth Community Woodland Orchard, where a host of knitted and felted creatures were waiting to be found amongst the trees. Izzy filled in the worksheet and decided that the animal she was most like was an owl, because she was clever (modest, too!)
Although the pond looked muddy and uninspiring, on closer inspection, we found it teeming with life – Water Boatmen, tadpoles, newts, Common Blue Damselflies, Large Red Damselflies and at least 5 Broad-bodied Chasers fighting for air-space. We were armed with sketch books and crayons, so Izzy drew a picture of the pond and its inhabitants. Then, we meandered back up the hill and the kids checked out a wonderful example of a willow dome and tunnel.
Afterwards (because it had been at least 10 minutes since we had last eaten) we had a picnic at Coronation Corner, overlooking the Axe Estuary, where plenty of ducks, gulls and swans, provided opportunities for more sketching.
Total Wild Time: 2 hours 30 mins (ish)