3rd September 2016 – Sea creature dress-up

The storm clouds were brewing as we enjoyed the lovely nature-themed playground in Seaton, which is complete with sculptures of fossils and microscopic life. The wind was rustling the leaves of the Poplar trees and E lay on the basket swing, looking at the sky, confused by the complete cloud cover.

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In the Jurassic Centre, we had a great time looking for prehistoric animals in the time machine, trying on all the sea creature costumes, playing the magnetic fishing game and making waves. In the wildlife garden, we found a cool, hairy caterpillar (which I have yet to identify).IMG_1955

Total wild time – 1 hour 45 mins

1st September 2016 – Colaton Raleigh Common

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It was lovely and peaceful up on Colaton Raleigh Common, with just the sound of Swallows skimming the heath. The Gorse and Heather were in full bloom and there were loads of Blackberries ripe for the picking, which proved a wonderful incentive for walking. E decided to pick up stones from the track and dig with his hands in the dirt. When Izzy saw how filthy he was, she joined in, so they were both in dire need of a bath by the end of the walk. An unexpected view of the sea was a bonus.

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Total wild time – 1 hour 25 mins

 

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

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

10th July 2016 – A return to Trinity Hill

thumbnail_IMG_1637 thumbnail_IMG_1642 thumbnail_IMG_1639After a lovely evening searching for Nightjars and stars at Trinity Hill, I decided to take the family back there to walk the dog. We followed the bridlepaths through the conifer plantation to the heath and walked along its edge, where there was loads of wildlife to be seen – Large Skippers, a Burying Beetle, Wolf Spiders, Labyrinth Spiders and Scorpion Flies.

 

Total wild time: 1 hour 20 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

5th July 2016 Part 2 – Nightjars and stars

IMG_20160705_212033203_HDRIn the evening, I left the kids in B’s capable hands and went with my parents to an East Devon District Council Countryside event at Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve.

As Yellowhammers sang nearby, we met the Exmoor ponies whose job it was to reduce the amount of Purple Moor-grass on the heath. Then, in front of a spectacular sunset, the very knowledgable ranger, Nathan, talked to the group about Nightjar identification and behaviour. At dusk, we set off on a transect across the reserve and almost straight away, at the ecotone between heath and conifer plantation, we heard the exotic churring of a male Nightjar. He flew overhead, his white markings obvious even in the fading light.

Moving on a bit further into the reserve, we were treated to a spectacular display by 3 Nightjars, which were assumed to be a pair and their fledgling. They hawked for moths, perched in the trees, clapped wings and called to each other, whilst in the distance, another churring male indicated the presence of another pair. As we stood and watched the birds, I caught sight of a shooting star.

Leaving the Nightjars to it, we joined David from the Norman Lockyer Observatory who showed us Jupiter and 4 of its moons, Mars and Saturn, complete with rings, through his huge telescope.

I can’t wait to introduce the kids to Nightjars, when they are old enough!

24th June 2016 – Picnic tea on the beach

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We did our weekly Tesco shop in Seaton and bought some instant picnic bits, but when we left the store, it started hammering down. Undeterred, we hopped over the road to the beach. With the sun being so bright and the rain drops so huge, it looked quite magical. We headed for the only bench under cover, next to the toilets, but luckily, as we got there, the rain cleared and we were able to sit at a much more pleasant table overlooking the beach. We ate our salad and sandwiches, listening to the sound of the waves on the pebbly shore, then we went for a stroll. I picked up some holey stones, which I am hoping to make use of another day and then found a stone that looked uncannily like a face, which I proudly took back to show Izzy and B (not sure how impressed they were to be honest!). We paddled in the water and then Izzy and I had a fight with some leathery, washed-up kelp. It was a lovely way for the kids to let off steam before bed (especially compared to their usual after-bath game ‘towelly’, which involves them racing around the house shrieking and naked with towels over their heads).

Total Wild Time: 1 hour

23rd June 2016 – Walking the dog

IMG_20160623_134309246Izzy went on her weekly pre-school welly walk (and came home sockless after getting wet feet catching fish in the river), so I just took E out to walk the dog. I made an effort to slow down and enjoy the sound of the breeze in the trees, to notice the pattern the leaves made overhead and to smell the Honeysuckle. As usual, E took it all in, wanting to smell every flower we passed.

Total wild time: 55 mins