Second week of 30 Days Wild… after several Random Acts of Wildness last week, what have I planned this week – and done?

Gardenwatch – Bird Detective

gardenwatch bird detectiveAs explained last week, this is a citizen science project for BBC Springwatch in conjunction with the BTO and the Open University.

They are doing a huge citizen science survey of our garden spaces, even if it’s a balcony, looking for wildlife in four different missions: 1. Beyond the Backdoor, 2. Worm Detective, 3. Bird Detective and 4. Mammal Detective.  I’ll do one each week.

You can check for details at the BBC Springwatch site, or at their science partners, the BTO Gardenwatch site.

Days Wild 7-13

  • It was a nice sunny day to start with, if a bit windy, so I took some photos of my wildflower patch.
  • The marguerites (white ones) are in full flower.  It would be nice if they spread themselves over the whole patch, but other things are up the other end to come out later.
  • The bunch of pink flowers are valerian, and that’s where I sometimes see a humming-bird hawk moth (daytime nectar feeders). The other pink ones are red clover and knapweed; the mauve is scabious – one flower out rather early.
  • Yellow ones: tallest is cat’s ear, which is a dandelion family, also dandelion, bird’s foot trefoil, yellow rattle (a useful parasite of grass, so it keeps the grass sparse so the flowers can come through), and common buttercup.
  • Most of the damselflies are azure damselfly, but one picture has a male blue damselfly in the centre and a greyer immature azure damselfly in the bottom left corner (but it wouldn’t load here!). The two in these pictures are blue damselflies – and you can only tell blue and azure apart by the pattern of the second segment below their thorax – blue is a sort of spade (card suit) shape, and azure is like a beaker. Makes me wonder whether I have more blues than I think as I could only really tell from the photos enlarged several times.
  • The beetles are lovely, but I haven’t identified them.
  • Completed the Gardenwatch third mission ‘Bird Detective.’ It was a very wet day, so I could enter the data and stay in the house.
  • The mission involved watching what birds in my garden did, and recording it.  Since I do the BTO’s Garden Birdwatch, and have been doing so for over fifteen years, this was not difficult.
  • Unfortunately it was not a peak week for birds in my garden.  I had a lot of birds, but not a great variety of them. I think many of those nesting have got their babes out of the nest (i.e. fledged) and off into wilder spaces to teach them how to find good, nourishing food like caterpillars.
  • The main exception were the baby blue tits, as mentioned last week. They’ve been constant visitors to my fat-filled coconuts, and have been joined by the baby great tits. The blackbirds shoo them off and grab their beakfuls to take away, so I don’t think theirs have fledged yet (possibly a second brood already)
random acts of wildnessSunday
  • Still watching baby birds.  Went to the Fox pub in Lyng for dinner, and came home via the Owl Survey road from last autumn.  No owls, but a roe deer and a hare, as well as pheasants and partridges. And what could have been a juvenile partridge.
  • Stop Press: We spotted the wildflower patch’s first bee orchid of the year in the evening. Near the group from last year, but still about four feet away from them.
  • We now have baby blackbirds at the coconut feeder as well as blue tits and great tits.  It’s pouring with rain.  Bet they’re glad of the shelter of the wisteria leaves under the glass roof of the veranda
  • Took delivery of my new Toyota Yaris Hybrid today. The old one had a lifetime petrol use reading of 61.2 miles per gallon when I said goodbye to it.  It’ll be resold secondhand, low mileage, one careful owner 🙂  If you want it, it’s at SLM Toyota, Norwich.
  • Springwatch (BBC tv) reported excellent Gardenwatch Mission 1 figures, and good Birdwatch figures, but the 4th one, the Worm Detective, is very low. I’m leaving that till later in the month.
  • Still raining, but good weather for swans – the pair from the front have hatched six (I think) lovely cygnets and had them out for the first time (I’ve seen) along the dyke this morning. Note the one on Mum’s back – and the raindrops on the window!

  • I lit the wood-burning stove this morning. Just too cold and wet. Wood burners are considered carbon-neutral as the assumption is the currently growing wood takes carbon out of the atmosphere at about the same rate as burning a forty-year old tree puts it back.  On a global scale, forty years is a blink of an eye.  Compare with fossil fuels, where the trees that grew in a high-carbon atmosphere several hundred million years ago are emitting their carbon from deep storage, and it cannot be offset in any meaningful sense within our lifetimes.
  • Have been doing the Gardenwatch Mammal survey to the best of my ability.  Shame I haven’t been able to do a bat survey this week so far, although next weekend should be warmer and dry.  I definitely have squirrel and wood mouse in the garden at present, and I saw a bat last Thursday.
  • Realised the survey covered the last 12 months, so went back through my weekly Garden Birdwatch records to count muntjac (ate the bluebells and cowslip flowers!), as well as cats. Nothing else, though there have been suspicions of shrew and vole around. I’ve not had rats for over a year which is good. Fortunately the moles in the grass around here haven’t yet found their way into my garden.
'We now have baby blackbirds at the coconut feeder as well as blue tits and great tits. It's pouring with rain.' #30DaysWild #gardenwatch #UKbirds Share on X
  • Well, there was a burst of sun this morning… and then it started raining again. The baby birds are becoming more independent. I’ve checked the weather forecast and I should be able to get out for my Bird Survey on the coast on Sunday or Monday mornings.  Sunday will be very windy.  Monday’s wind forecast is not yet available.
  • I could fit in that pingo pond walk, but as I get soaked just walking to the seed feeder to fill it up…. I don’t fancy it.  It’s armchair #30DaysWild for me until Sunday.  Maybe I should make a bug hotel under the cover of the veranda?
  • I’ve planned my Gardenwatch Worm Detective strategy.

So… so far, so wet.

Next week I’ll try to do more photos for you, but the forecast is more rain.  My computer has been complaining it hadn’t got room for any more . I cleared a lot of stuff out but… I’ve now succumbed and bought more iCloud space.

#30DaysWild | 2 – fully-fledged Bird Detective
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