'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

If comments are proving difficult to do, please email me; sleepysparrow@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 14 June 2015

3 Wild Days - Continuing with The Wildlife Trusts #30 Days Wild challenge...

 Day 11
I saw this thistle in the local garden centre, it was covered in bees, so I bought it and planted it in the garden. Bees came very quickly.

Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'

Day 12

Alerted by the shrill squeaking of baby birds, I went into the garden and saw newly fledged bluetits being fed from the fat cake hanging in my tree.

Day 13

I cut Charlie's hair outside. His lovely salt and pepper locks made ideal slug deterrents around the courgettes. No need for the blue pellets of death!

Monday, 8 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 8 - HapBee Birthday

Today is my lovely sister's birthday.  As part of her present I adopted a bee, a queen bee of course, from http://www.planbeeltd.com/adopt-a-bee/

Each bee purchase goes towards helping the honey bee population recover and supporting honey-bee related initiatives throughout the UK.
I gave the bee the name of Jenny, after my sister and she proudly took the adoption certificate to work to show her students.

A bee has just left this poppy!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 7 - Sparrow Poem

Today, in between putting broken egg shells around the base of my courgette seedlings and sheep wool pellets around the tiny pea shoots (to persuade the slugs to go elsewhere), I spent some time on the garden bench jotting down poems. Here's one I wrote earlier...

Passer domesticus
Scruffy urchins of the bird world
street-wise, cock-sure
surviving by your wits

and your hard-faced cheek,
like 'Angels with Dirty Faces.'

In your crop-eating-outlaw days
you had a price on your head,
were picked off for pennies
by persecuting posses.
Then you learned which side 
your bread was buttered 
and muscled in on small town gardens.

You were chased away from feeders
by people who preferred
the glamour of goldfinches
the bally-hoo of blue tits.
But now you're rather rare
and they want you back,
will gladly sacrifice
their finely tilled seed beds
to your early evening dust bath.

30 Days Wild - Day Six - Celebrating Sparrows

Sparrows have lived alongside humans longer than any other wild bird.  But we haven't always tolerated them. During WW1, Rat and Sparrow clubs were formed in order to 'save food for human consumption.' Hundreds of thousands were killed.  3d was paid for a fully fledged bird, 2d for an unfledged bird and 1d for an egg.  Their decline has continued and now they are on the Conservation Red List, meaning they are a species in need of urgent action.

Thankfully, they seem to be doing well in my garden. They're my favourites.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Day Five - 30 Days Wild - 'if you build it they will come.'

We built a small pond in January and have been waiting since then for the wildlife to come.  Every day I performed the pond gazing ritual, bending low and staring into the water, searching for life.

I wasn't expecting newts or frogs, just a humble pond skater to come and walk on the water on its long lean legs.  Well, today I got my wish.  A pond skater was in our pond, or rather on our pond.  I've christened it Torville because of its skating prowess. I watched it through my close focus binoculars and it was mesmerizing.
Torville the pond skater

Apparently, they are aggressive predators, pouncing on insects that land on the water's surface.  They are very agile and can jump to evade a predator.  

But how did it get in my pond?  Well, it flew here. They hibernate through the winter and then re-emerge in spring.

They are also known as water striders, water skimmers and my favourite, Jesus bugs. So far there's only one and it's fairly safe as their main predators are frogs, toads, fish and newts and there aren't any of those in the pond yet.  

However, birds eat them too and there are rather a lot of them in my garden. So from now on, birds are no longer allowed to drink from the pond steps (built to allow hedgehogs to escape) only from the birdbath. I think it's going to be quite time consuming being a pond skater's body guard.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Day Four - 30 Days Wild - Bay Watch

Appreciating a proper beach day, at last!

Enjoying the colours, man-made and natural.  

I kept an eye open for the slice of a dolphin's fin breaking the surface of the sea or the smooth curve of a porpoise.  

I'll be taking part in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch from 25 July to 2 August.


Last year I stood on the end of Llandudno Pier for three hours peering through my binoculars.  Eventually I saw a porpoise and while I was distracted, a herring gull, who had had his beady eye on me for some time, swooped in and snatched my cheese and pickle sandwich out of my hand!

Volunteers are always needed to help with the survey.  The web site will tell you how to get involved.  But watch out for sneaky sea gulls!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day Three - Berry Watching

Today I have been mostly watching fruit!  
I took some time to appreciate the different stages of development.
It never ceases to amaze me how delicate pinky-white apple blossom turns into tiny fruit and then into mouthwatering red apples.

Developing apple



Blueberry Flowers

I have a blackbird who loves my strawberries too.  Even when I net them, she manages to sneak under and take the ones at the edge of the bed.  I sit and watch her doing it, she watches me, watching her.  I've planted three large clumps of wild strawberries especially for her but I think she enjoys the challenge of getting under the net and taking mine.  
The ancient Romans believed that strawberries alleviated the symptoms of melancholy.  Me and my blackbird agree.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Wild Wind - Day Two of #30 Days Wild

In my lunch hour today I stood out in the wild wind among a little group of trees and reveled in their movement and sound. 
I leaned against the trunk of one tree and felt like I was on a tall ship with the foresail billowing and the mast creaking and the deck swaying beneath my feet.
Above all the noise of leaves and branches I could hear a blackbird singing, bright and lively as a sailor's hornpipe. I tilted my head and watched the thin tops of the trees swaying madly.  After all this time 'at sea' I felt quite dizzy and when I finally went back indoors I knocked into a desk or two before I eventually got my land legs back!

Monday, 1 June 2015

30 Days Wild...and Slow - Day One

Here's a great SLOW thing to do this month.  

Join me and thousands of others and do something wild everyday.  

Take up the challenge set by The Wildlife Trusts and;

'Make room for nature this June, no matter where you live or how busy you are.'

So, here goes... Day One

Stroke some lichens - very gently - It's impossible to just look at them. Shut your eyes.  What do they feel like?  The ones in the photo were hairy and crusty and springy, like cornflakes and porridge and my Uncle's beard!

Things to like about Lichens -
They are actually a partnership of two organisms, a fungus and an alga.
There are more than 1,700 species in Britain.
They are very sensitive to atmospheric pollution.There are very few around industrial cities.  Search your local churchyard (a good place for lichens) and you'll get an idea of how good the air quality is where you live. (I vaguely remember looking for lichens around our school during a particularly interesting biology lesson about air pollution).
They used to be important sources of dyes for cloth, different lichens give different colours.

#30 Days Wild