The 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.
Total wild time: Festival – 30 mins, Sea swim – 1 hour 20 mins
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!
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
I had been ill since last night and accepted that we wouldn’t be having any wild time today. I didn’t expect the wild to find us…
I took E to the toddler’s playground in Seaton, only to find that the strip of uninspiring soil next to the climbing frames had been transformed into a tiny urban meadow, full of Yarrow, Poppies and Corn Marigolds and buzzing with bees, which E rather unwisely tried to catch in his hands. We also checked out the Cactus house and he was fascinated by the huge Koi Carp in the pond there.
Back in the garden, I had a cuppa whilst the kids played on the swing. Then, before I had fully grasped what was happening, a Sparrowhawk crashed down into the hedge and bolted past us in a flurry of feathers, with what I assume was a House Sparrow in its talons. As amazing and dramatic as it was to witness, it is quite likely that the unfortunate prey was one of the parents or fledglings from the nest in our porch, so it was a little too close for comfort.
Total wild time: Probably only 10 mins of really ‘wild time’
We set off for the allotment with a plastic tub and the hope of a delicious summer pudding … after picking a measly 4 strawberries (in the pouring rain), we lifted the weed-suppressing carpet to see what wildlife we could find. A couple of beautiful metallic Slow-worms squirmed away and a nest of Red Ants busily moved their eggs about. There were more than a few big, fat slugs, an earthworm or two and a centipede. We picked an onion and some flowers and returned home, drenched.
(Disclaminer: I can not vouch for the quality of this post, it having been written post-consumption of a raspberry vodka cocktail)
Total Wild Time – 1 hour 15 mins
We spent a happy few moments making Daisy chains in the garden – a crown for Izzy and a bangle for E, but we were forced indoors when it started to thunder. Izzy was very excited as lightning has been a bit of an obsession of hers for years, despite never having seen it before. So, we watched the storm rage from the comfort of our conservatory/junk room (whilst I mentally re-decorated it). We listened to the rain hammering down (B and I trying to ignore the fact that our guttering is clearly leaking onto the conservatory roof), watched for the flash and then counted the seconds until the thunder rumbled (10 seconds = 2 miles away). Then, when the storm moved on, we googled thunderstorms to learn about the science behind them.
Total wild time: 1 hour (near enough)
We did a bit of good ol’ fashioned puddle-jumping today. We went to watch the patterns made on the surface of the river by the rain. Izzy wanted to stomp around in the sticky, stinky mud on the river beach and from there we spotted dozens of fish fry in the water. E freaked out a bit when his boot came off in the mud and his trouser leg got soaked, but Izzy had no qualms about getting muddy.
Total wild time: 45 mins
Izzy wanted to go bug hunting in the garden again today, so I let her and E loose with collecting jars and magnifying glasses. The highlight of the search was a Seven-spot Ladybird. The hunt turned into a rain dance and then descended into fighting over the pink, unicorn-adorned umbrella.
Later, whilst walking the dog, I picked a few elderflowers (not ideal weather for it, but hey ho) and for pudding we had Elderflower Scotch Pancakes (from a recipe in the Forager’s Kitchen), which B, E and I loved, but Izzy didn’t like (but then, she doesn’t really like any food unless it is in ice-cream form).
Total wild time: 1 hour 15 mins
Izzy and E captured minibeasts from the garden in collecting jars and then we examined them under the digital microscope (a Veho VMS-004 400x USB microscope to be precise). We looked at a Two-spot Ladybird, a Pill Woodlouse, a feather, an ant, a couple of snails and various plants. I think they probably enjoyed the hunt more than seeing things in close-up, but it kept them amused for almost an hour, before E got tired and we had to call it a day.
Total Wild Time: 50 mins
Once the torrential rain cleared, we set off from Branscombe village to the beach – a very pleasant walk along the valley, past fields of Sheep and Rabbits. We set up camp on the pebbles and pottered about, splashing barefoot in the waves, digging sand and making pictures with different coloured stones. Then Izzy and Grandad made an impressive sculpture together, out of
seaweed, driftwood and other bits and bobs they found washed up on the shore (which I totally failed to photograph, sadly).
Total wild time: 2 hours 20 mins