Ecological concern · nature

Moth Night

My wonderful husband made me a moth trap for my birthday (as requested!) mostly re-purposing bits of wood and using some egg boxes a neighbour no longer wanted (one of the good things to have come out of the pandemic is our road’s WhatsApp group where people often give away items).

Moth trap

Moth Night 2020 runs from 27th August to 29th August and so we used it last night for the first time. This morning I was surprised by how many moths were trapped but also disheartened as they all looked so similar. There are many more moth species than butterflies!

After looking through the Concise Guide to Moths and discovering the incredibly helpful What’s Flying Tonight? website, I had a good idea about some of them and then checked online with a Facebook group. Pleased that the ones I had identified, I had identified correctly, it was nice to know the names of the ones I had struggled with.

So we have: Square Spot Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Pale Mottled Willow, Silver Y and Straw Underwing.

Our new wildflower area in our front garden is very popular with moths: mint moths during the day and I’ve spotted moths at night – just need to find out which ones now!

Wildflower Garden with mint moths
Wildflower Garden
allotment · Ecological concern · mental health · nature

Summer Harvest

I’ve not had the inclination, energy or time to write much here since the pandemic began. For weeks, I struggled to even read and reading for me is almost like breathing. Like many I was juggling work, homeschooling and housework. My experience was easier than for many as I did have childcare for most of my working hours (I’m a key worker) and Small Boy returned to school in mid-June. It was still incredibly challenging though and I need to reflect more on my personal coronavirus experience, especially the emotions: fear, anger, grief, loneliness, and a yearning to lament. At times, my mental health wasn’t great. I’ve isolated myself (more than was necessary!). There were some scary days.


Taking my daily nature photo was incredibly helpful, especially on days when I didn’t feel like it. Our garden, allotment and local nature reserve all provided solace, space and serenity.


So what’s been growing?

At the allotment, we’ve had courgettes (so many courgettes!), potatoes, onions, beetroot, radishes, spring onions, and four majestic sunflowers. Fruit trees have been planted but no fruit yet. Half of the plot is covered over and we hope by next spring to be able to make use of all our space.

At home, tomatoes and green beans are growing in our homemade wooden planters (and eaten daily) with pumpkins and squash looking good for an autumn harvest.

At the beginning of this year, Mr P began to remove all the concrete from one section of our front garden. A laborious process involving drilling and digging. Rubble collected and topsoil added, we planted some seeds for pollinators, added cuttings of californian poppies, alyssum, nasturtiums and lavender, and transferred some dahlias I’d planted from seed (as a lockdown activity). There is also Small Boy’s sunflower from Beavers (which elicited a wonderful conversation with the postman who proudly showed me a photo of his nephew’s lofty sunflower).


Our front garden (or at least this section of it) has been transformed from boring and barren to bright and buzzing with insects.

(Sadly, as we were adding soil, five other houses on our road were removing it and having new drives laid.)


If you’re interested in creating a wildlife garden, I’d recommend The Garden Jungle and Wildlife Gardening for Everyone and Everything.

I’m hoping the transformation process can be repeated in a different part next year!

30 Days Wild · haiku · nature

Haiku

Inspired by a walk the children and I took on Monday and my brief encounter with a butterfly on Tuesday, I had at go at writing haiku (as suggested in an email from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust).

Sitting by the pond.
Tadpoles swim, dragonflies speed.
Quick snacks for the ducks.

Pink blossom now brown.
Goose-grass crown stuck to my hair.
A sparkling moment.

Cow parsley flowers.
You run down the small green hill.
I am eight years old.

Secret wild meadow.
Branches and blossom our roof.
My ideal home – tea?

Holly blue, surprise!
Too fast for my camera.
Butterfly catcher.

Ecological concern · mental health · nature

Nature Photos 3

Each day during lockdown, I am aiming to take at least one nature photo (I think I have missed one day). We’ve noticed more avian activity in our garden over this last month: starlings, blue tits, robins, blackbirds, pigeons, magpies and goldfinches have all visited. I’ve also seen a few new-to-me species when out walking or running: chiffchaff, greenfinch, wren, mistle thrush and (new to Small Boy) a woodpecker. We’ve enjoyed finding tadpoles, butterflies, caterpillars, and seeing our first dragonfly of the year.

Here are some of my recent favourites either taken in our small garden or in the community where we live. Little legs can’t walk far!

Starling
Robin

I’m not finding lock-down easy but it’s easier because of the natural beauty around me.

books

What’s in my book bag?

The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Me from The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me enjoyed World Book Day which they celebrated by staying up late looking at books. They know I find it hard to tell them off for reading!

At the start of the year, I found two canvas shopping bags – one for me and one for the children – so that I could always find our bedtime books following many frustrating searches for The Enchanted Wood. Surprisingly our Bedtime Book Bags have worked incredibly well and we have read from a chapter book every night as well as a daily poem from I am the Seed That Grew the Tree and a small section of the Bible using Topz.

I then purchased some ‘real’ bedtime book bags for both the children and me created by For Joy by Kathryn Jane. Small Boy, Little Miss and I now have beautiful, personalised organic cotton bags (which came in reused packaging). Bedtime is now a little bit more organised, we are a little bit tidier and bedtime books have become even more special.

Personalised Toy Bags  Organic Cotton image 0

Currently in Small Boy’s bag is A Comet in Moominland; I’ve started a collection of the Moomin books published by Puffin Books in the 1970s which are rather stunning.


And in my bag…The Starless Sea by Erin Morgansten (The Night Circus was one of my favourite books from 2018 and I am enjoying this magical tale) and Defiant by Kelley Nikondeha.

What’s not in my bag is The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. I’m practicing patience by waiting for my library reservation. I’m 18 out of 144!

Ecological concern · nature

A Surprise Visitor

A sparrowhawk landed in the garden this afternoon! She fleetingly sat on our pile of pallets (destined for the allotment) before disappearing. I read recently how an apex predator is a sign of a healthy ecosystem – it means there are enough plants for the caterpillars, enough caterpillars for the little birds, and enough little birds for the big bird. A friend had seen one in her nearby garden and I hoped I would too one day.

Image by rubep from Pixabay

books · Christian · community · Ethical living · Social justice

International Book Giving Day, Lent and my ‘new’ unfair-phone

14th February is now International Book Giving Day as well as Valentine’s Day. Unsurprisingly, I love this idea and celebrated by making a donation to Give a Book, a charity which gives books to schools with high levels of deprivation, prisons and community organisations. I was also the grateful recipient of Red Sixty Seven – a book about the 67 red-listed birds published by the British Trust for Ornithology and I bought Mr P The Planets by Brian Cox.

Since seeing Venus and Saturn shining brightly in the sky on holiday in Suffolk, there has been a growing interest in astronomy in our house. Mr P and I went to a Valentine’s Day star-gazing evening run by the National Trust at Dunstable Downs but sadly due to Storm Dennis we couldn’t go outside! Instead we lay, listening to the wind and the rain, in a mobile inflatable planetarium and enjoyed learning about some of the stars and planets. I was surprised at how much I had picked up from reading children’s books about the solar system!

Image by 024-657-834 from Pixabay

He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the LORD is his name.” Amos 5:8


Last year, we saw our first butterfly on 23 February. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see our first of 2020. In the meantime, I am re-reading The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham. Winter is almost over. There are splashes of colour in our garden and it won’t be long before we start planting in the allotment.


Sadly, I have had to replace my FairPhone with the next best thing: a second-hand iPhone from Envirofone.

I’m pleased I tried the FairPhone (I had the FairPhone 2) but the microphone kept breaking and I was unable to make or receive calls except via WhatsApp. Maybe the FairPhone 3 is better but right now I need a phone I can rely on.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Lent begins on 26 February and I will be reading the archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book for 2020: Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valerio. Will you be doing anything?