So we are already two weeks into #Springwatch 2015, and 5 days into the #30DaysWild Challenge. Time does fly when you're having fun (well, forgetting about my GCSE's that is!)
Like many of you will know The Wildlife Trusts started a challenge at the beginning of the month: to do something wild every day in June. Even though I do this anyway, I wanted to show my support and join in with the campaign. Rather than just do pointless acts of wildness, I wanted to make sure that the majority of the activities I did had a positive affect on our wildlife, at the same time has having fun! On the 1st day I used foraged mint from our garden to make a cup of herbal tea. Once I had collected the leaves I checked them for any insects before I washed them. The tea was surprisingly nice, even without a heap of sugar!
For the 2nd day I wanted to do something to help my garden hedgehogs which make regular visits. I already had a hedgehog bridge to get out of the pond, but what about the patio?? If a hedgehog managed to find itself on this lowered area with a high border surrounding it would it be able to get out?? To make sure this never happened I constructed a ramp to allow for easy exiting. I collected branches from the garden and cut them to size. I then nailed them to a small wooden beam, using some hot glue to secure them in place. I attached the ramp to the wooden border and bob's your uncle! In less than 10 minutes I had a fully functional hedgehog escalator!
On the 3rd day I was wondering what to do. After my morning GCSE exam I took a stroll around the campus in the sunshine and got this unusual picture while resting under a tree. It's the unplanned things that can sometimes be the best!
After watching #Springwatch the previous night I though that I should clean out my bird feeders, as dirty ones can spread diseases between the visiting birds (especially greenfinches - they can get a disease called Trichomonosis.) I decided to wash all my feeders in soapy water to hopefully prevent this from happening to any of my local birds. It was quite tricky to clean the inside of the feeder as I couldn't take it apart, but I did my best.
The 4th day was one the best yet. Whilst in the garden I spotted a semi-circle of small mushrooms in the grass. As I didn't want our dog to eat them (I didn't know if they were edible or not) I collected them and brought them inside. As it's very tricky to get eye-level shots of mushrooms I took the opportunity to set up a macro studio on my kitchen table!
I got a black cape from our fancy dress box and draped it over a pile of books to create the black backdrop. I then brought in some moss, leaves, soil and flowers from the garden to arrange in the studio. It took quite a while to position them all as I wanted, as when one mushroom fell down it was like dominoes! Eventually I got the magical scene I wanted. Using a LED desk light I got the right lighting…and I was ready to go! First I tried out the macro lens I'm borrowing, but I didn't get the intended affect as it only has a short focal range. I ended up using my 55-250 lens to get the shots I wanted! Not a typically up-close range but it worked.
I spent around 30 minutes snapping away, positioning flowers in different places and moving the light around. Here are just a few of the images to give you a taster of what I captured!
And today, on the 5th day of the #30DaysWild challenge, I cleared out my hedgehog hole to allow for easy access to my wildlife garden. It may look a little precarious with all the relatively heavy slate, but I can assure you, I secured everything really well. I've had the main structure of the hedgehog hole for about a year now and it has worked a treat, with hedgehogs regularly visiting the garden.
In fact my Dad saw one just two days ago, down at the bottom of the garden, at around 10 O'clock while putting the chickens away. They are such great little characters, hence why it's such a shame that they are declining the way they are. If you want to help, do these things: make a hedgehog hole in your fence, wall or hedge to connect our gardens; provide a ramp to get out of your garden pond; if you see one in the daytime put out food and water as daytime-seen hedgehogs are often unweight…and if you really want to push the boat out you can even make a hedgehog box like the one I made below. It doesn't have to be as elaborate…substance over style!
So get outside and get active for nature. Join the #30DaysWild challenge and see what amazing thing you can do for your local wildlife!