Tuesday, 30 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 30

Today is the last day of the 30 days wild project and it coincides with my birthday so we have had a lovely day. I thought I would share some of the things we have been making for the wildlife this month to add to the ones we already have all over the garden.

This is one of the bee hotels we have made, we have a garden full of different types of bee house now, if you would like to make one my husband has written instructions for some different types here on his blog. If you build it they will come...

We have also made these garden charms, they look lovely hanging from the trees especially in the winter when the trees are bare.

We also make these pine cone bird feeders and if you would like to make the charms or pine cone feeders you will find them here.

Now the 30 days wild project has come to a close we would love to thank the 30 days wild team and the wild life trusts for bringing this challenge to us. Also a very big thank-you to everyone who has retweeted, favourited and liked our pages.

Monday, 29 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 29

On our nature walk today we found a ladybird emerging from it's pupa, as you can see when they first emerge they are yellow. It takes a little while for it's wing case to harden and develop it's finished colouring and pattern of spots.

We also spotted some rabbits, there were quite a few young ones but they ran too fast for photographs but we did spot this older one hiding beside a tree almost invisible if you are not really looking.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 28

Today the photographs were taken by my husband as I just wasn't quick enough, the very loud little wren was flitting between branches so fast you could barely see it.

He also captured some photographs of some of the members of the corvid family, one of my favourite group of birds.

The magpie keeping a close eye on us above and the carrion crow panting in the heat of the sun below.

We also spotted some of this beautiful purple toadflax growing in many places, I had only seen the yellow variety before.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 27

Only a couple of days left now until the end of the project so I thought I would bring you an update on the cinnabar caterpillars as so many of you have been interested in following their progress.

They are now 10 days old and as you can see they finally have their stripes, not quite as brightly striped as they eventually become but definitely striped now.

They have travelled quite a way up the ragwort plant as most of them are now situated right at the top amongst the flower buds.

We have spotted quite a few of these vapourer moth caterpillars on our nature walks all usually in the same area, although they often have very slight colour variations of the tufts on their backs.

We also got to creep up on this small tortoiseshell butterfly as it was feeding on a flower, very beautiful markings.

Friday, 26 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 26

Today we have been exploring decaying fallen trees to find some of the mini beasts that live in this habitat. Warning this post contains a photo of the creepiest fungus I have ever seen!

This is a fungus called dead man's fingers, it seemed quite a new growth on the decaying tree. It definitely looked like creepy fingers reaching out from under the branch... really quite chilling!

Some loose bark laying in the leaf litter had now become home to many different types of woodlice and pill millipedes.

 We also uncovered this leopard slug with it's markings clearly visible. Burrows of various beetles can also be seen in the wood.

This piece of bark has many slugs, a snail and lots of interesting patterns and markings from a bark burrowing beetles.

This is the pattern they leave on the tree trunk, it's a little faded from being exposed for quite a while but you can still clearly see the markings.

A few different types of millipede were spotted a white legged snake millipede above and a striped millipede below.

We also found a bracket fungus just starting to grow, this was on the same tree as the dead man's fingers.

The children have really been enjoying exploring all these different habitats and we have plans to make some mini murals picturing some of the things we have seen.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 25

Today we took a stroll around our local nature reserve on the broads and spent some time with the water wildlife.

Three different types of geese came to eat our corn duck food, the Canada goose, many greylag geese and right near the water line there are a couple of Egyptian geese.

My daughter stopped to feed this new mother duck, who seemed very hungry. She had four very young ducklings waiting nearby for her.

A little further along we found the spot on the broad where we often see a pike and luck was on our side today as we could clearly see it in the water.

We think it must have been at least two feet long, I forgot to take the camera filter to allow us to photograph under water through the glare but I think you can see it ok.

My husband even managed a close up of it's head so you can see it's eye and big teeth. We watched for quite a while it really was a huge fish.

This is an emperor dragonfly, it was found beside the road, I think it had been hit by a car but we picked it up and moved it to a safe place in case there was a chance it would recover. This is the largest dragonfly I have ever seen.

The last two photographs are of two different types of leaf gall, we found them all over the same tree.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

30 Days wild - day 24

Today we went for a woodland walk in one of our local woods, it also happens to be our wedding anniversary so it was a lovely day to spend with nature. I will write the usual wedding anniversary craft post as soon as the 30 days wild project has finished, in fact I have a number of nature craft posts planned.

As you can see the stinging nettles were out in force, tucked in between we found some hedge woundwort which looked really quite beautiful, as you can see below.

We found a number of interesting bugs but not all the photographs came out very clearly... below is an orange ladybird on a sycamore tree.

We spent quite a lot of time under a hole in an oak tree, we could hear baby birds in the hole and we stood back, hid and waited for the parent to return but it must have heard or seen us and didn't return while we were there. After listening to bird song on the internet and comparing the baby birdsong, we are almost certain it was a woodpecker.

We know these woods quite well and we have seen woodpeckers nesting here before, I have taken a photograph of another tree which has been well used by the woodpeckers.

Half way round the woods there is a clearing and we usually stop for a picnic or snack, there are often wild flowers around and butterflies, it's really quite lovely.
Today we saw a raggity red admiral and some beautiful red campion flowers every where we looked.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 23

Only a week left now of the 30 days wild project and today was a really cloudy day, threatening to rain all the time. So we have stayed close to home and mainly been on caterpillar watch. I did catch my youngest daughter wandering around the garden with a bucket of rat tailed maggots that she had fished out of the wildlife pond to get a closer look at.

These are the cinnabar caterpillars, they are 6 days old now and starting to go a slightly yellower colour and have lots of black spots. No stripes yet!

This is one of the rat tailed maggots my daughter was looking at, it is the larva of a drone fly.

Monday, 22 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 22

Today we went out for a nature walk but all the excitement was happening at home. I have mentioned before that the children keep chrysalises that they find whilst digging in the garden, most of them have hatched into yellow underwing moths already.

This morning we had a huge surprise in the chrysalis box, an Amblyteles armatorius, a type of Ichneumon wasp. There are over 3000 different types of Ichneumon wasp in Britain alone so exact identification is quite a challenge.

This is a parasitic wasp which lays it's eggs on moth caterpillars, the larva then feeds on it's host until it dies and the wasp larva then pupates to become the above wasp.

This wasp hatched from a chrysalis obviously made by the caterpillar as it looked exactly the same as the other chrysalises, so the wasp continued it's life cycle after the caterpillar pupated.

These are the chrysalis cases that a lesser yellow underwing moth hatched from, as you can see they have kind of been burst from.

This is the chrysalis case that the wasp came out of, as you can see the outer chrysalis is exactly the same as the ones above the only difference being the method of hatching. The wasp has chewed a neat circle all around the top and popped the lid off. Fascinating!

I'll leave you with a photograph of the Amblyteles armatorius warming itself in the sun outside after it was released.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 21

We have bravely ventured out on a night expedition to bring you this species of spider, as it only comes out after dark, the walnut orb weaver.

I find this spider oddly mesmerizing and quite beautiful, it is a spider that is capable of biting people. This one is living in one of our insect hotels and the one below is living on the chicken coop.

It is probably not well known due to the fact it only comes out after dark, so it is much harder to see and may go unnoticed by many people. Hopefully now you may notice this after dark hunter next time you are out late.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

30 Days wild - day 20

Today I bring you an update on the cinnabar caterpillars, they are now three days old and getting larger as you can see. The leaf they hatched on is now half gone.

They still haven't got their orange and black stripes yet, but we will keep you posted on their progress.

Caught this little bee feeding nearby just after the rain. We had seen hundreds of bees earlier at the allotment, there is a vacant plot near our plot and at the moment it is filled with poppies and bees. Wonderful to stand and watch!

At home later in the day, the children noticed that the rain had brought out many snails and decided to have a snail race. Snails are one of my daughter's garden favourites.

Friday, 19 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 19

While we were walking along the bottom of the cliffs we noticed something skimming along the top.

We decided to watch for a while and try to get a better look, what we found was a small nesting colony of sand martins. If you look closely in the photograph below you can see a row of nesting holes in the top of the cliff.

We watched the parent birds bringing in food for a while then as we were leaving down a small country lane we spotted the adult birds hunting for food, skimming the hedge rows. It was amazing to watch and at times they just passed above our heads. I took a short video clip to share with you here.