After visiting friends in the morning, we loaded the bikes into the car and headed to one of our favourite places – Seaton Wetlands. There, we followed the Rainbow Trail and did the activities, such as being quiet and listening to the sounds of the wild (wind in the trees, distant traffic and several different types of bird song), throwing leaves and stones into the stream to see whether they floated or sank and finding leaves of different shapes. There were a couple of Rabbits right next to the path (although I totally failed to get a photo), Oystercatchers and Shelducks on the marsh and Swallows zooming around in the sky. The hedges were filled with Roses.
Total wild time – 1 hour 30 mins
E and I spent most of the day in the garden, but we popped out for a walk around Colyton with Bramble. There were Swifts screaming overhead, House Martins building new mud homes and Swallows wheeling about, making it feel summery. We passed a Heron on the river and noticed several fish in the water. As E played on the slide, a Sparrowhawk dashed past, being chased by little birds. It was then mobbed by a seagull and afterwards, by a Crow, before eventually being driven out of sight.
Later, when Izzy was at zumba, we went to Borrow Pit to watch a Mute Swan reaching its long neck to the bottom of the pond and pulling out strings of weed. We also visited the bird hide overlooking the estuary, where a kind man told me not to shush E (who has verbal diarrhoea and a total inability to whisper), happy that he was ‘starting young’ with birdwatching. There weren’t many birds to see, but E was excited about seeing another Heron and a couple of Egrets.
Total wild time – E at least 1 hour, Izzy 0 mins
We explored Lower Bruckland Nature Reserve in the sunshine and it would have been peaceful without the kids! E shouted at the ducks, Izzy complained about wanting a drink, the scratchy grass, having tired legs… but that was all forgotten every time she spotted a butterfly. And there were Orange-tips, Peacocks, Speckled Woods and Brimstones fluttering about. We could hear a Tawny Owl hooting from somewhere nearby and I was very excited to see Swallows for the first time this year.
Total wild time – about 1.5 hours
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.
Total wild time – 1 hour 25 mins
The grasshoppers were singing at Seaton Wetlands this morning, as E on his scuttle-bug raced Izzy on her bike, whilst B held/rode the scooter for interchangeable wheelie action. Apart from seeing plenty of waterbirds, we rescued a hairy caterpillar, which was crossing the path at top speed, saw an Emperor Dragonfly skimming a pond alive with Whirligig Beetles and B and I had a close-up view of a Swallow feeding three hungry mouths (the kids had almost vanished out of view though at this point so I had to scurry after them). There were also three fish blowing bubbles in the pond by Reed Base and then to top it off, two miniature ponies from Munchkins on a lead rope walk, which we were kindly allowed to stroke.
Back in the garden, I suddenly realised that the kerfuffle in the corner was the dog harrassing a baby House Sparrow. It was clearly unable to fly and so we scooped it up in our sweep net and popped it onto the porch roof, next to its nest, with a cardboard box for shelter.
Late afternoon, we headed to Seaton Beach to try out Izzy’s early birthday present – a body board. Conditions were far from ideal – the waves were very choppy, but we had fun playing in the foamy water. We had a quick visit to the playground and the labyrinth, then we had a takeaway burger from Flipside, whilst watching the ocean.
Total wild time – 1 hour at the wetlands, about 3 hours on the beach.