#30DaysWIld - Patch Birding and Sowing Wildflowers

Each year I'm always caught off guard by the rapid greening of our landscape. After months of nothing but barren browns it's as if we wake one morning to discover that the decorators have paid a visit and given the whole place a fresh lick of paint, green the dominant colour of course but with details picked out here and there in pink, yellow and blue. Nowhere have I found this rapid transformation more impactful than on my own local patch, an area which I've visited significantly less often this year than I'd have liked. Last time we walked this way for instance, en-route to the fallen trig, there was still a cold wind blowing and our first Swallows had just arrived. Last night numbers had swelled considerably and joining the aerial display I was delighted to see a pair of Swifts passing high above, their screaming calls surely the sound of summer and one of my top wild experiences to seek out at this time of year. I just can't help but smile every time I hear them. Perhaps they too were enjoying this revitalised landscape.

P1150577 - Cwm Dulais

Over on Gopa Hill I paused for a while beneath the deep shade of ancient Beech trees to watch a Blue Tit dart amongst their great boughs, its beak stuffed with a plump green caterpillar. Its reluctance to travel very far must have meant that a nest was nearby so I moved on, ragged plumage a sure sign that this adult was already working hard enough as it was. Higher up a glimpsed Willow Warbler tried to tempt me into a chase but I've learnt the hard way that I'm no match for these crafty passerines and besides, it was far too hot anyway.

#30DaysWild - Mumbles for Kittiwakes and Chips

It was another gorgeous day today and if anything even hotter. Let's just say that it's been a very long time indeed since I last saw the car thermometer read thirty Celsius! Common sense said head to the coast and who were we to disagree.

#30DaysWild - Garden Birds and Three Cliffs Bay

We've had some old friends visiting this weekend and whilst waiting for their arrival on Saturday morning we took the opportunity to spend a little time in our garden. Over the last eight years or so we've slowly been turning this comparatively small patch of land into a wildlife oasis and, although that work still continues, the fruits of our labours are already clear to see and hear. As soon as you step outside for instance it's impossible not to notice the wealth of birdsong, nor indeed the variety of birds which visit and use the feeders here each day. From relative obscurity we now have at least one pair of Bullfinches virtually resident whilst Goldfinch numbers remain sufficiently high so as to be a constant danger of eating us out of house and home. Alas the same cannot be said for Greenfinches whose population remains in free fall. That one should choose this moment therefore to put in an appearance was more than well timed, the magic of 30 Days Wild already wending its way into our every day experiences.

#30DaysWild - New Month, New Challenge

#30DaysWild
There's something quite special about the first of the month. Whether psychologically or literally it offers an opportunity to draw a line under what's come before, take breath and, if necessary, change tack. And that's exactly where I find myself right now. The past few weeks, and indeed months if I'm being honest with myself, have seen a relentless push to try and get "everything done". Now any sensible person would recognise this as wholly unachievable but by god that hasn't stopped me trying. From painting skirting boards in the early hours to twelve hour days building a new set of garage doors, I've barely had chance to come up for breath and right now I'm shattered. Even so it feels as if it's been worth it and for the first time in years I think I'm finally on top of things. However, one area that has suffered throughout this period of intense productivity has been our wild time, the walks and trips which make this existence so rewarding. My sense of disconnect from nature's ebb and flow is palpable but the arrival of June offers a perfect opportunity to change all that and readdress the balance. How I hear you ask? Like this.

Today marks the start of the Wildlife Trust's 30 Days Wild challenge. It's premise is a simple one. Can each of us take just a little time out of every day in June to reconnect with nature through one random act of wildness. It doesn't have to be anything grandiose and could be as simple as admiring a view or taking the time to appreciate the beauty of a flower. Of course that's not to say that you can't go big if you want to as our exploits during last year's challenge show. We managed to squeeze in everything from an evening picnic to conducting cetacean surveys from the bridge of an Irish ferry not to mention travelling right across the length and breadth of the country. We found the whole experience so rewarding that we just had to take part again.

So what have we got planned? Not a lot as of yet if I'm being totally honest but rest assured that is not a situation which is likely to last very long. Already I've started to think about all the things we've neglected of late such as kayaking, walking and indeed birding. Then there's the chance for a first proper break in our camper van, mountains which are just begging to be climbed not to mention a host of things we'd like to do to our garden to improve its wildlife credentials. In fact I'm not sure a month is going to be anywhere near long enough.

For day one though I decided to keep things simple by going for a walk at lunchtime around a local nature reserve. As this was a work day that meant actually forcing myself to get up and leave the office which should be something I'm doing anyway but inevitably have been finding it all too easy to conjure excuses for why I shouldn't. Daft really as I know from personal experience just how beneficial even a brief spell outside can be both mentally and physically, as today has proved. I came back refreshed and launched into the afternoon with a vigour and sense of purpose which has been sorely lacking of late.

#30DaysWild

And what a glorious explore it was. Despite the sun having deserted us for what seems like the first time in weeks I found myself enveloped in a comforting blanket of Whitethroat song and heavily scented air. Since I last visited this city refuge has sprung into life to such an extent that what were once wide paths have become almost like secret passageways, their narrow winding a perfect excuse to slow down and take a closer look. Yellow Iris and Ragged Robin are immediately obvious but peering a little deeper I was rewarded with my first Orchids of the year. 

Elsewhere the family of Canada Geese which I've been keeping an eye on these last few weeks continues to go from strength to strength with all five gosling's doing well. They have however now reached that stage where early fluffy cuteness has been replaced with a sense of mismatched proportions, but I'm sure we've all had similar phases in our own lives. The lone Mallard duckling too is soldiering on, no mean feat with so many predators about.

And with that this year's 30 Days Wild challenge is well underway. I'm planning to blog our activities (almost) every day and can't wait to see what this month brings. 

If you want to get involved yourself then head over to the Wildlife Trust website, download the introduction pack and start making time for a little more wild in your own everyday life. Trust me, it's worth it.

A Belated Spring

P1140854 - Skylark
It's been a funny old spring this year. Somehow I just don't seem to have got a grip on or felt part of it, almost as if events have played out around me but I've never quite been able to tag along for the ride. Our fortnight on Mull undoubtedly had its part to play, leaving home just as the first migrants started to arrive only to find ourselves thrust back into the depths of winter before returning to a landscape literally dripping with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Even then spring migration continued to be a stuttering affair with things only really picking up towards the end of April, our limited spare time totally insufficient to get out and see even a percentage of what was going on. Clearly decisive action was needed so at the beginning of last month (where the hell has June come from!!) we put everything else aside and spent two days getting stuck into spring proper.

Van Conversion - Introduction and Plans

Van Plans

From small acorns grow big ideas and that’s my excuse for why there’s now a VW Transporter T6 sat outside. What initially started off as a couple of interesting YouTube videos documenting those who choose to live in their vans full time sparked something within me that has kick-started a whole new strand to our adventuring. Admittedly we won’t be eschewing the comforts of bricks and mortar any time soon but the chance to escape for weekends without the hassle of tents or the cost of hotels is something that appeals greatly and by summer, that’s exactly what we plan to be doing. Before that though there’s much work to be done with the conversion from base van to full on camper being undertaken by our own fair hands. This is going to be fun.
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