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: 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…

Living life our way, autumn colours, nature photography, seasonal pictures, photographer, natural environment, our world, autumn, seasons, colourful, art, photography, nature

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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!

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Treehouse
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Balancing
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Den seating
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Climbing

All in all, it was a fun day out!

FREE PRINTABLES: Autumn Scavenger Hunt

Autumn is a great time of year to get outside and spend time in nature,  I have created a fun autumn activity to download and print off. So grab your coat and a pencil, and enjoy doing this kids autumn scavenger hunt with your little ones!

Nature activity sheet, nature hunt, home education, resources

Download it here…
Autumn Scavenger Hunt

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.

Seaside, autumn, childhood unplugged, outdoor life
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.

Changing season, nature, outdoor life, get outside
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

Stay Wild: Den Building (and Yellow Meadow Ants!)

Squiggle specifically asked me to write this post, as she is very proud of her first attempt at building her own den and wanted to share her excitement!


Here is a video clip of her building the den…

She also collected sticks to make her Sylvanian Families their own den in the garden…

Under the bricks she moved to support her den, she found some yellow meadow ants, which we observed…

And Squiggle (very carefully of course!) held some too…

Another great day spent outdoors!