We were supposed to be away in the South of Ireland this week, however, a full on outbreak of chicken pox amongst two sets of our friends children, meant that we have postponed. Our big girl starts nursery school on 2nd September and I didn’t want her missing the first days because she’d caught chicken pox .
So instead of a trip away we’ve just been out and about here doing as much as we can. We’ve done a spot of kite flying! Well ok, daddy flew the kite, but my little girl held the end of the string.
We’ve gone walking and said hello to the new batch of cows in our fields. We’ve sat on the wall and watched the farmer spraying the fields in his tractor.
We went exploring the depths of our spooky forest in search of the Gruffalo – or any other smaller creatures that live there. We managed to find a ladybird, much to our youngests delight, her favourite book is What the Ladybird Heard!
The ground around our little stream has become a bit overgrown lately. So while daddy strimmed and cut back the grass and weeds, we did a spot of pond dipping. The water table is a bit low and therefore the stream is much lower than normal too. However, we found lots of pond snails, freshwater shrimp and loads of beetles and water boatmen. The girls were fascinated and captivated by the little world that exists in our stream. The piece de resistance was when a big frog hopped right across their boots!
Pond dipping finished, we went to the orchard with a basket and gathered the first batch of Bramley apples, ready for some pie baking in the next few days. Hopefully the scores of Blackberries in the hedgerow will ripen in time to be added too.
So although this was not the week we had planned, it actually turned out to be pretty good. We still had lots of fun and discovered lots of new things. Pond dipping will become a regular feature I think.
I am of course linking up with the fabulous Fiona from Coombe mill for her Country Kids linky. Why not join in too and enjoy the great outdoors.
I have always been a bit fanatical about nature and the wildlife around us, so it thrills me that my 3 year old seems to have inherited this same love. We are very fortunate to live in the countryside and are surrounded by all manner of fascinating plants and animals.
We have our essential wildlife spotting kit. It comprises of a big white sheet (for viewing all the little creatures we gently shake from the hedges) binoculars, a spotting scope which is especially useful for watching the “Mad March Hares”, a magnifying glass, a bird book, a herb and plant book, a guide to British wildlife, a notebook and pencil/pen and of course a camera.
We have a quiet section at the bottom of our garden, affectionately known as our “spooky forest”. We have left it as wild as possible, fallen branches etc have been left to naturally rot away and are currently providing shelter to a hedgehog. We of course have a cheeky resident squirrel, unfortunately, he is a grey and not a native Red. He tends to raid the bird feeders and hazel nuts from our trees.
Together we have spent most of this year exploring and hunting out the wildlife around us. I have even given my eldest daughter her own camera as an experiment to see what she can snap for herself. Here are a few of her latest captures – considering that she is only 3, I think she got a couple of pretty decent shots, she took the Daisies and the, what I believe is a Hoverfly. Albeit the others had either a finger over the lens or were so close up they were completely blurred.
We have rooted out butterflies, the garden is awash with Speckled Wood and Cabbage Whites, but we have also spotted a few Orange tips too. The most noticeable absentee this year for me is the Painted Lady, I was really hoping to be able to show them to my girls, as they tend to sit still for quite a while and allow for great pictures, but I haven’t seen any at all.
However, there is an abundance of bees and we have gotten up close and personal to them. It delights me that both my daughters are actually learning so much from their own garden and the surrounding fields. They will gleefully point out the pollen sacs on the bees legs.
We have sat together watching the Jenny wrens flitting about furiously through the hedges (nearly impossible to photograph, I hasten to add!) We have listened to the beautiful song of the Blackbird that frequents our garden every day. We have watched the cheeky little Robin almost hop right up to us and of course we have lay on our backs on the grass and gazed at the aerial acrobatics of the swallows that nest in our barn.
We have uncovered slugs, snails and spiders. Marvelled at the hedgerow white and bursting with blossom that will fairly soon become an abundance of fat juicy Blackberries. She is waiting patiently for the berries on our Rowan tree to turn bright red, so that she can watch the Blackbirds swoop in to devour them. Our Horse Chestnut is covered in tiny little prickly bulbs all promising to become a brown shiny conker and the lane is full of thistles – guaranteed to bring us a few hungry Gold Finches. The Oak trees are full of the tiny beginnings of acorns.
Cuckoo Spit has become an endless source of fascination and an almost disappointed reaction when I explained that a Cuckoo wasn’t actually spitting in our garden!
On the wet days, we have put on our wellies and gone in search of animal tracks, desperate to find out, just who crosses our path in the dead of night. This inevitably leads to some jumping in muddy puddles too!
As we explore, we are ticking off all the things we have discovered. I show them the pictures in our book and read the information on each one that we find. The sheer enthusiasm that my eldest daughter shows towards nature is such an enormous joy for me and I am determined to nurture her love of nature in any way that I can. We are outdoors girls (ok, I personally may be stretching the girl title ever so slightly!) and lying in a field watching a beetle crawl up a blade of grass is just right up our street. Maybe one day one of my babies will become the female David Attenborough………A mother can but dream
Living in the countryside means our garden is a hive of wildlife activity. We have a multitude of bird life. Of course our chick, chick, chick, chick, chickens live there too. We also have at least one hedgehog, who we manage to glimpse occasionally. Foxes use it as their route into the adjoining fields. We have found badger tracks on several occasions. Rabbits, hares and even pheasants all grace us with their presence at some point throughout the year. We have just as much activity during the winter months as we do in spring/summer. We have several bird feeding stations and lots of berry rich trees and bushes, so there is a constant food supply.
We even had some very unexpected visitors, who managed to escape their cosy barn and come for a wander through our yard instead! I think they liked the look of our barn more.
Our latest visitor though appears to have taken up residence and if he isn’t stealing the chickens food, he’s raiding the bird feeders.
So here he is, the very cheeky Sammy squirrel! Unfortunately not a red one, although there is a small colony of them a few miles from our house, so I live in hope that one day we might get a little red fellow.