#30Days Wild Days 24 to 30 – Flowers, water and more butterflies

The last week of #30DaysWild went by quickly with changing weather, lots of work commitments and attempts at home learning that were, well, variable in their success.

Flower PartsSome of the tasks sent home from their school helped in our daily challenge as our eldest was set the task of learning the names of some garden and wild plants, the parts of a flowering plant and identifying trees and the parts of a tree.

We vicariously enjoyed others’ natural adventures through the CBeebies programmes Down on the Farm and Let’s Go For A Walk.   A not incredibly successful attempt at getting our youngest to sleep one night led to a marathon binge watch of CBeebies Bedtime Stories and the discovery of a beautiful book called The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith that celebrates the water cycle flowing from a pool on a mountainside, through sparkling streams, over waterfalls, through rivers and into the open sea – and on to our ever-growing book wish list.

Creating butterflies in our arts and crafts projects has featured highly in our last two month’s activities – Day Six, Day Eight, Day Nine, Day 23 – so we couldn’t pass up another opportunity to make some more of the winged creatures when we read about The Butterfly Project the Different Light Collective is running in association with this year’s SO Festival.

TheButterflyProjectGiven the current Covid-19 situation, the SO Festival has cleverly rebranded itself as the SOfa Fest for 2020 as it goes online rather than on to the streets of Mabelthorpe and Skegness but it’s still keen to be as interactive as possible.

The Butterfly Project is a creative community engagement project asking people to design and send in their own butterflies which will become part of a short film by award-winning artist Barret Hodgson.

“The project is about being a small part of something big, something special that celebrates creativity, community, beauty, freedom and self-expression.  It reflects the idea of being trapped and eventually released, of going from caterpillar to butterfly and also represents the idea of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – one small action here can lead to a much bigger impact elsewhere.

The finished short film will show the butterfly images from individual members of the community gradually coming together to form one giant butterfly – a creative and beautiful expression and demonstration of how we really are all in this together of how when we all work together we’re stronger and can achieve more.”

Our own “small actions” saw Luke (a big fan of the recent The Great British Sewing Bee series) choosing to have his template cut out of felt so he could sew on different fabric remnants to decorate it whereas Willow headed straight to the glitter, glitter card, stickers and pompoms to design hers.

The PDF templates are available to download from Different Light’s website but be quick, the deadline for submission, which can be via email, is Sunday, July 12th at 4pm.

What a lovely colourful and collective way to round off our 2020 #30DaysWild experience.  We may not have managed something every day of June this year but then some days we did more than one thing and it’s certainly once again given us the chance to think about the importance and influence our wild world has on us and that we may have on it.  Here’s to 366 (ish) days wild.

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#30DaysWild Day 23 – Natural art

Taking advantage of the nice weather we headed into the back garden to do some art work.  Last time we got the paints out during lockdown the necessary clean up involved washing part of the sofa as well as showering minis number two and three so relocating to the patio area made much more sense today.

Using some of the things we collected on our walk in Greetwell Hollow, we did some leaf rubbing, used leaves to make prints and, adding some sticks into the mix, created more butterflies too.

I got my bonus point for it linking to home learning work set by their school and also took advantage of the time to complete an art task set a week or so ago when I was still refusing to get the paints out again.

Painting with bubbles definitely appealed to Willow, so much she says she wants to do it again soon.  Any ideas where I can hide the paint?

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#30DaysWild Day 22 – Colourful walk

Yesterday was all about daddy’s day (honestly he really did want to spend it clearing out the loft…) but today we managed to get out for a walk around our estate which gave us plenty of opportunity to enjoy the colourful fruits of our neighbours’ labour with all the beautiful flowers in full bloom gracing their front gardens.   

I didn’t have much opprtunity to take photos though as mini number two decided to take one of her favourite mermaid books out with her and needed reminding to look when crossing roads…

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#30DaysWild Day 20 – Greetwell Hollow

Not to be put off by yesterday’s less than successful attempt at discovering somewhere new we headed out today to try somewhere even more local that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time but it’s taken a pandemic lockdown for me to finally get there.

I’d assumed (correctly) that Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve just outside Lincoln wouldn’t be the best to investigate with a pushchair so it helps that Faith is now walking a bit more although the uneven terrain and heat meant that she was quite happy being carried for a lot of our stroll too.

The “interesting wildlife haven and geological” Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust site is a lot bigger than we first realised (13 hectares – there is a map available on the charity’s website for people who are better at planning than we are) so we only covered a very small area of it leaving plenty of reasons to go back again.

“The limestone grassland in the valley offers a wide range of wildflowers including bee orchid and the scrub offers great homes for wintering and nesting birds. The stream that flows through the centre of the reserve supports wetland plants and attracts wintering snipe, moorhen and heron.  In the rough limestone grassland with hawthorn scrub, traveller’s joy is a scarce plant in the area, and dwarf thistle and field scabious can be found.  Bullfinch is a characteristic bird.”

Mummy thought it would be a good place to collect some natural art supplies for a future project but the minis found out it was actually good for playing what’s the time Mr Wolf and, thanks to an impressive stick find, asking if there’s room on the broom.

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#30DaysWild Day 19 – Fiskerton Fen

Day 19After our new lockdown discoveries of Starmers Pit and Ashing Lane Nature Reserve we were feeling emboldened today and headed out in the car to pastures new once more.

And you can’t beat a personal recommendation can you?  So when my friend Rachel Eldridge suggested Fiskerton Fen is a lovely place to go with lots of wildlife the pin was placed firmly on the map.

Sadly it was only a metaphorical map and we drove, not only through two downpours, but also past the entrance of Fiskerton Fen twice before finding it.  Then we discovered there was a height barrier to the car park which we couldn’t get in with the roof rack on.  Not our most successful journey.

Thankfully Rachel took some photos of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s “wet feland landscape with open water and reedbeds” on her last visit so I can share what a lovely place it looks to be for those who travel without a permanent storage box on the top of their cars.

The Trust highlights that the reed-dependent animals “include some of our rarest species including the bittern and marsh harrier. Greater water parsnip, once common in Lincolnshire but now almost extinct, has also been introduced.”

And it could prove a perfect choice to visit during next week’s National Insect Week (June 22nd – 28th):

“Surrounding the wet fenland is grassland with thickets of blackthorn and hawthorn scrub. The wildflowers of the grassland such as field scabious, knapweed and St. John’s wort provide nectar for butterflies and a host of other insects. The scrub provides shelter and song posts for birds such as yellowhammer, corn bunting, linnet and tree sparrow.”

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#30DaysWild Day 16 – City explorers

Day 16The minis had a trip to Lincoln Arboretum with daddy this morning.

They particularly like to run around the small hedge maze and the bandstand and there are also signs to look out for by particular trees explaining what they are and where they’re from.

It was their third trip to the city park during lockdown but it’s important to pick your time as its central location can mean it can get quite busy.

After attending an appointment, I got to enjoy a walk home on my own taking in the greener side of the city roadside.

And, as we’re all about spirals at the moment, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of some I spotted to share with my five year old when we all returned home.

This evening my husband decided to have a look at whether we have any residets in our insect hotel and at least spotted this one spider.  Maybe Coronavirus has insects on lockdown in their own homes too.

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#30DaysWild Day 15 – Swirl by Swirl

Day 15We’ve been very grateful to post deliverers of all types during these last 12 weeks for adding a bit of unwrapping excitement, home learning opportunities and fun to the minis lockdown experience.

But the best deliveries have to be the new book days, don’t they?  (Well at least for mummy anyway, Willow might opt for when her new LOL watch arrived but let’s not test the theory…)

And when such a beautiful gem as Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes is left stood up on your doorstep, it’s a particularly special day.

SwirlBySwirl

The Newbery Honor (the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children) and Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children) winning team combine to provide a deceptively simple but beautifully rich tale, just like the shape itself.

It starts of small and cosy – “A spiral is a snuggling shape.  It fits neatly in small places.  Coiled tight, warm and safe, it waits…” – and uncoils and expands with examples growing in size, both flora and fauna, above ground and under the sea.

From the harvest mouse to merino sheep to the spiny sea horse, the sweet pea to the rose to the sunflower and through to whirlpools, tornadoes and galaxies – “spinning and sparkling, forever expanding” – spirals are shown to be safe and strong, defensive and explorative.

But it’s final pages bring you back to wanting to curl “up neat and small, warm and safe” alongside the eastern gray squirrel and harvest mouse “warm and safe”.

Two additional pages add definition and further details beyond the poem – “Spiral: a shape that curls around a center point” – also briefly mentioning the DNA helix and Fibonacci spiral.

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#30DaysWild Day 14 – Bird feeder

Day 14A simple and quick acitivity for us today saw Willow making a bird feeder for our back garden.

Fortunately bird seed is something you can put on an online shopping order (I’m hoping scrapbooks will soon be added to the list too), we already had peanut butter in and, as this is the time of the Coronavirus, we of course had a toilet roll cardboard tube available.

Spreading the peanut butter over the tube and rolling it through the bird seed to allow it to stick to it and cover it, we then just added string and headed out into the garden to find somewhere appropriate to hang it up.

Hopefully we’ll be welcoming a few more feathered friends to our garden in the next few days, as long as my 5-year-old’s keeness to meet them doesn’t result in them exercising their right to social distance that is.

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