Tuesday, 14 June 2016

30 Days Wild 2016

A couple of months ago I decided to sign up to the Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild Challenge which asks: "This June can you do something wild every day for a month?" 

The idea is that many of us are so busy with our every day lives that we often forget to connect with nature. And yet nature is around us all the time, whether we live in the town or the countryside there are trees, birds, wildflowers (sometimes called weeds!), creepy-crawlies and other creatures.
It is a well-established fact that being outdoors and close to nature is good for our mental and physical wellbeing. Rather ironic then that on 1 June, Day 1 of the challenge, I found myself indoors looking at fish and other amazing sea creatures! The lumpsuckers at Anglesey Sea Zoo, the lobsters, jelly and star fish, conga eels and sea anenomes had our family party completely hooked on going wild straight at the off! The challenge was well and truly on!

I found out about the challenge originally a couple of months ago when browsing my copy of Natural World, the magazine of the Wildlife Trusts. Receiving this and a local roundup of news is one of the benefits of being a member of the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust which I have enjoyed for many years.

Just by chance, on the afternoon of Day 1, we spotted some clumps of sea spinach or sea beet (a distant relative of cultivated Swiss chard) on the beach by the Menai Strait. We picked some of the vivid green leaves and my niece Andrea later cooked up a delicious "Foraged spinach and filo pastry bake"!

Day 2. The first week started during half-term and we were on holiday with family at Trearddur Bay on Holyhead Island. What better place to start the challenge!

We spent the whole day on a virtually deserted beach on the north-west coast of Anglesey, flying kites, jumping off the dunes, rock pooling and paddling in the sea. Gabriel (11) and Daisy (8) then helped create this massive beach sculpture of a mermaid. Pebbles for the scales, seaweed for the hair, limpet shells for decency and even an old glove for a hand!

Before heading off on our holiday I had printed some of the 30 Days Wild random acts of wildness cards. Over breakfast we browsed these for ideas: not that we were short of inspiration on Anglesey. But great for Day 14 as I type this in the office and it pours down!

So, Day 3: time for a walk. The Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path beckoned. This long distance footpath covers much of the island's coast, and is one of my all-time favourites. Our short stretch along Holyhead Island took us up and down rocky outcrops overlooking the Irish Sea smothered in wild flowers such as sea thrift. Happy days!

Day 4 and sadly our week's stay on Anglesey was at an end. It was another baking day so we called in at Betws y Coed on the return home and dipped our feet in the River Llugwy before making footprints on the rocks.

I signed up for the challenge online, and as I type so have 27,386 people! Part of the fun comes from posting photographs of activities on social media and seeing what exciting and creative things other people have been up to. We used the hashtag #30DaysWild on Twitter to spread word of our involvement.

Luckily Day 5 was a Sunday! Chance to catch up at home before returning to work. And we were greeted on our arrival by the cheerful sight of 5 baby pied flycatchers in one of our bird boxes. The birdcam was a Christmas present three years ago and this is the first time any bird has nested in it. How did they know I'd signed up to 30 Days Wild?

Left: Daddy pied flycatcher pops in to check out the youngsters - probably just a couple of days old and snuggled up tight to keep warm.

I'll be honest - fitting in the challenge around work days is harder, but definitely not impossible. Day 6: back to the busy PAVO Mental Health Information Service... in my breaks I wondered what to choose for the day's challenge.

It was a lovely evening at home and I picked just a few wild flowers from the many in my garden - greater stitchwort, red clover and common vetch - to press under a pile of heavy books. Later I might use them to make cards for friends.

Day 7: the end of week one - we'd made it! I'd stayed in touch with Andrea and family who live in the South of England and they too were still really enjoying the challenge (still are on Day 14 where James Carter's poem "The Tree" is inspiring them).

At lunchtime on Day 7 I went for a walk on a short section of our local long distance walk - the Severn Way. Our office is just a few hundred yards away from the river in Newtown. I found some sycamore seeds (blown off early?) and just played, even when the rain poured down I was still sheltered by the leaf canopy.

That was a week ago now! And the challenge rolls on. We're having fun, being creative, and learning so much stuff - it's brilliant. If you've taken the 30 Days Wild challenge, tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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