How To Protect Garden Wildlife This Winter

As the weather turns colder, the trees grow bare and frost lays on the ground, it is time to start thinking about how to protect the wildlife in our garden this winter. The main thing we can do is provide safe shelter and food. One of the simplest things that anyone can do is to let grass and hedges grow long and wild over winter. This provides a natural place for a variety of wildlife to hide. But there are also lots of other ways we can help too.

For example, we spotted this hedgehog hideaway at a local garden centre recently, which we thought was a great idea! However, if you do see a hedgehog out during winter when they should be hibernating, it is best to contact your local hedgehog hospital or other experts for advice.

garden centre, protecting wildlife, winter, Rattan Direct

Another popular idea is a bird house or feeder. Squiggle attempted her own DIY version; it is rather on the large side but a very interesting design and all her own work of course! She is going to try making a smaller feeder next, using a carton with entrance hole cut out and stick perch. I’ll post the results when it’s done! Remember to keep bird feeders away from anywhere that predators can easily reach them, but still near shelter if possible.

Bird feeder, protecting wildlife, winter, Rattan Direct

For our tiny members of wildlife, we have a couple of thick logs in an overgrown section of our garden. They provide a great place to hide during anytime of the year, but it is especially helpful in the winter months.

On the subject of wildlife, Rattan Direct are holding a wildlife photography competition and currently have a poll running to choose your favourite photograph from the final selection. There are some really interesting, and cute, pictures included. I have picked my favourite one, but I will let you look and decide for yourselves of course! The poll is here:

http://www.rattandirect.co.uk/blog/wildlife-competition-poll/

I’m looking forward to finding out the winner, it was a tough choice! In the meantime, remember those tips for keeping a wildlife-friendly garden this winter, and do let me know if you have any other suggestions too. Stay wild everyone!

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

Stay Wild: Fun Family Activities For Autumn

The evenings are getting darker and there is a crisp chill in the air. There is no doubt about it; autumn is well underway. So grab your coats and get outside to do these great autumn activities while you still can!

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1. Use the natural resources to create some temporary art. Be inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy and other artists who use nature to create temporary art. Autumn is the perfect time for this fun creative activity, because there is an abundance of natural items laying around ready to use. So just grab some natural resources and let your creative juices flow! This is a fun activity that can be as quick or long as you wish and is suitable for all ages.

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Nature art

2. Catch the falling leaves from the trees. A simple concept but challenging game that is best played on a windy day! It is harder than it looks, so time to get energetic; who will catch the most?

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Squiggle catching leaves

3. Go on a photography walk. Autumn has so many beautiful colours so why not grab a camera and take some seasonal shots. Even young family members can join in the fun with the help of an older sibling or parent/ guardian. Share your favourite pictures and make sure you tag me so I don’t miss it! I shared mine in a prevous blog post called Autumn colours.

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Autumn colours from my photography walk

4. Go on an autumn themed scavenger hunt. Autumn scavenger hunts are great fun because there are so many interesting things to find at this time of year. I created a free printable to download or you could make up your own!

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Squiggle on a scavenger hunt

5. Make a bug hotel. Bugs are much harder to spot at this time of year, but make a bug hotel and you will realise how many are still around!

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This wonderful bug hotel is at Littlesea Haven Holiday Park.

6. Make a DIY bird feeder. Let the local birds know where they can find food over the winter months by getting prepared now. Build or make your very own bird feeder; it can be as simple or advanced as suits you! Squiggle made a simple one from cardboard.

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Squiggle made this DIY bird feeder

7. Go on a bug hunt. Whilst the bug hunt I wrote about recently was an organised community event, the idea can easily be adapted to do in the garden or at a local park with family or friends. For inspiration of how to go about it, check out my Bug Hunt post. Another variation of this is to go on a real bug hunt of course, it is more difficult at this time of year but that can be part of the fun!

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Squiggle writing down what creatures she spotted on our autumn bug hunt.

Do you have your own favourite autumn activities? Share your ideas, we would love to try them!

Monkey and Mouse

Stay Wild: Bug Hunt

Last week, we went on a family bug hunt organised by Highfield Park Trust.

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It was a lovely morning; the hunt was well organised, fun, engaging and informative. We both learned lots of new things!

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There were 17 questions, which could be answered by finding the different information cards hidden around the park.

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For example, did you know ants use their head to block the entrance to their nest to keep intruders out?

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Squiggle found out that a male wasp is called a drone.

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I had no idea that a praying mantis only has one ear and Squiggle was very surprised that woodlice has 14 legs.

There were sweet prizes for everyone who completed the quiz, which Squiggle was very happy about! But not as excited as she was when she spotted that they had some of their delicious apple juice for sale, made locally from apples collected from the park orchard.

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She polished the bottle off very quickly!

The bug hunt also inspired her to create one of her own back at home, in the garden for her toys.

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Even a cat came to join in the fun and followed her around finding them all!
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Great family fun, big thumbs up from us.

Stay Wild everyone!

Stay Wild: Autumn Colours

I love all the gorgeous autumn colours, they are one of the main highlights of our nature walks at this time of year. Here is a collection of photos I have taken recently of the beautiful colours…

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Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature, Stay Wild, 30 days wild

Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature, Stay Wild, 30 days wild

Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature, Stay Wild, 30 days wild

Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature, Stay Wild, 30 days wild

Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature, Stay Wild, 30 days wild

Happy November everyone!

Sylvanian Families Trail, Hatchlands Park (Guildford, Surrey)

Recently we visited Hatchlands Park, which is a beautiful National Trust site in Guildford, Surrey. Being a huge fan of Sylvanian families, Squiggle was keen to do the Sylvanian Families nature trail, open until the end of this year.

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There is a small charge to enter the park, including the Sylvanian Families Trail, of £6 per adult and £3 per child, or £15 for a family ticket (these prices are for park only, cost to enter whole site including house is extra. Prices are on the website here). National Trust members get in free.

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The trail has a series of signs as you walk through the wood, each with nature questions and clues from members of woodland Sylvanian families. There is a more difficult question at each stop, making it fun and informative for all ages.

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We did get abit confused when we reached the end because there was no obvious finishing point. We probably should have realised from the number of clues but even so, a clear indication, such as a finish sign or message from one of the Sylvanian families, would have been a nice additional touch.

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Regardless, we really enjoyed the trail and the wooden sculptures were lovely. Squiggle got so excited each time she spotted one and loved cuddling them!

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For more information see their website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park/features/sylvanian-families-trail-at-hatchlands-park

Whilst we were there, we also went to Hatchlands Park playground. It has lovely natural play features, including a wonderful treehouse. Squiggle really enjoyed playing here and it fitted in beautifully with the surrounding natural environment.

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Treehouse
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Balancing
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Den seating
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Climbing

All in all, it was a fun day out!

Stay Wild: Changing Seasons

The season is changing. This past week we have spent some days on the beach, swimming in the sea, whilst other days we have been hunting for conkers and looking for signs of autumn.

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Day out at Southend-on-Sea beach

I love this time of year. It has an air of peace and tranquility about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like everything is shedding remains of the past and preparing to start afresh, hopeful for the future. Wonderful.

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Signs of autumn

Stay Wild: Ladybirds

During a nature walk, Squiggle and I were lucky enough to a spot lavae, pupa and adult ladybirds, including a mating pair, all on the same plant. Such a wonderful real life demonstration of the lifecycle of a ladybird! We studied them closely for quite sometime, fascinated by our exciting discovery. Squiggle was interested to know that the two ladybirds were making eggs that would then complete the lifecycle before us.

Ladybird lifecycle

If you look closely enough you will notice that nearly the entire lifecycle of a ladybird is captured in this one photo!

 

Ladybird lavae and pupa

A closer look at the lavae and pupa. 

 

Ladybirds mating

Ladybirds mating.

 

Stay Wild: Bird’s Nest

Whilst walking through a local woodland, I spotted on the path this beautiful bird’s nest… 

I looked around for any signs of distressed adult birds, babies or eggs, or any other indication there had been a disruption or predator attacks, but it was clear it had been naturally discarded. A quick google search suggested it was therefore fine to remove it as it would be disposed of anyway.

Squiggle held it and studied it carefully, then we discussed how it was made. Look closely at the way the twigs, moss and grass on the outside are woven together, very impressive! We agreed that would be a difficult challenge even with fingers, yet birds manage it with their beaks. It really is so incredibly clever!

I researched and concluded that this nest was made by a Song Thrush. It is similar to a Blackbird’s nest on the outside but, as you can see from the photo below, inside it is hard, which differs from the interior of a Blackbird nest. 

The female Song Thrush uses her chest to compact together mud, dung and rotten wood to form this hard interior. This technique is exclusive to this one type of native English bird. 

It was so interesting to stumble across this exciting find on our walk. Very fascinating! 

Stay Wild- Virtual Flashmob: A Rainbow of Colours

30 Days Wild by The Wildlife Trusts just announced a virtual ‘flashmob’ to help us all stay wild! Run outside right now, do something ‘wild’ and take a photo or video clip then share it online. So I grabbed my phone, went into the garden and looked for a rainbow of colours…

It didn’t take long at all; there are so many colours in our natural environment, even just in a small garden. The only struggle was blue; the british ‘summer’ let me down abit there, as there was practically all cloud and no blue sky, so I tried to get the tiny glimmer of blue there was and failed! But a fun challenge nonetheless! #StayWild