Category Archives: wildlife

A Dales Camping Trip. 30 Days Wild ~Days 23 to 25.Β 

Day 23 ~ Set up Camp.  Less than a week to go now, of the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild challenge. It is becoming a challenge to find new things to do in the wild, but a camping trip can surely help with that.  However looking back to my wild moments of 2015 , I can see we went camping then too. And to the same place! Still, you can’t go wrong with a firm favourite, and Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales is somewhere we have returned to again and again.  Howgill Lodge Campsite is a 30 minutes walk along the river from the village, and is a great little site, popular with families and walkers. And it’s dog friendly too. πŸ™‚

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The chickens usually arrive whilst camp is being set up. πŸ™‚
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And bunnies play their part at keeping the grass short.

Howgill Lodge tries to do its bit for the environment and encourage wildlife. There are bird boxes around the site, wildflower areas, and solar panels for water, heating and lighting in the shower blocks.

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There is a Wildlife Board near the site entrance.

After setting up camp in the Yorkshire drizzle, we walked along the River Wharfe and ended up in one of the pubs in Appletreewick for a few drinks. Then we got comfy , the rain got worse, so we stopped for tea and more liquid refreshment! If you find yourself in the area I can definitely recommend the Craven Arms and Cruck Barn  for real ales, ciders and amazing food, adorned with wildflowers. πŸ™‚

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Pan-fried Cod with Mussels. Spot the cornflower.

And the walk along the river is always beautiful, even in the rain. Some things reassuringly never change. Lots of glorious Common spotted orchids in bloom and a young Wild Swimmer, forever immortalised by a poignant plaque, as the Wharfe winds it’s way  through the woodland.

Day 24 ~ Wildlife along the River Wharfe.  As is tradition when we visit these parts, we decided to walk to Bolton Abbey and back.  With a lunch break, and me forever stopping to take pictures ( much to the annoyance of my other half, tee hee) , we were probably out walking for about 6 hours. Anyone else would be much quicker!  Here are a few million photos from the day.

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Giant Bellflower.
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You don’t need a wrist watch on this walk.
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Common Sandpiper.
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Not sure about this striking blue flower, maybe a garden escape.
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A lesser spotted Hugo.
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Nuthatch.
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Bolton Abbey.
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Grey Heron.  
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Goosander.
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Great Tits.
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Betony.
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Willow Warbler.
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Hugo has a Wild moment !
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Skippers on Scabious.

Day 25 ~ More from the Riverside.  Before heading home we took Hugo a walk from nearby Burnsall village to Hebden.  There is a choice of wibbly wobbly suspension bridge or stepping stones to cross the river.  Which would you choose?

And look out for these beautiful yellow flowers that adorn the river bank. I have seen them on previous visits, but only just managed to Id them.

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Mimulus aka Monkey Flower.

How is 30 Days Wild going for you? Thanks for joining me in the Dales. πŸ™‚

30 Days Wild ~ Days 17 to 22. Swan babies and water for bees.

These past few days have been pretty hot weather-wise, with temperatures even hitting thirty degrees,  here in the North West. Here are my latest ‘Wild Moments.’ πŸ™‚

Day 17 ~  Bonnie Babies.  On a shopping trip in Skipton , I came across these beautiful babies. πŸ™‚ Four gorgeous silvery cygnets with their proud parents. Talk about adorable. The Mute Swan pair didn’t seem threatened by the humans gathered at the canal side. Maybe they were showing off their bundles of joy. πŸ™‚ It is said that Mute Swans mate for life and usually have one brood a year, between March and June.


Day 18 ~ Breakfast with the Birds….and Squirrels.  This morning I decided to take my breakfast to the castle grounds ( a drink and a cereal bar, no less! ) and sit near where some kind soul leaves bird seed for the park’s population. I counted 2 Jackdaw, 1 Wood Pigeon, 3 Dunnock, 2 House Sparrow, a Robin, 2 Bluetits, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Blackbirds and three Grey Squirrels, in the half hour I was there. Here in the Ribble Valley, as in most of the country, it is the Grey Squirrel that has taken precidence , over our native Reds. In fact the Grey’s carry a disease that will destroy any Red Squirrels, they come into contact with. 😦 Later in the week I read an article about a ‘Gun toting Granny’ in Cumbria , who shoots Grey Squirrels from her car window. I hope someday soon , a vaccine can be developed to protect the tufty reds..

 

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Harlequin Hatchling.

Day 19 ~ I D an Insect.  Another HOt Hot day.      Saw quite a few of these unusual looking insects with orange markings. They were sat on the leaves of some garden escape forget-me-nots, near where I live.  Anyway after a quick look online, I found out that they are the larvae of the Harlequin ladybird.  Harlequins are apparently an invasive ( yikes, more invaders! )ladybird species originally from Japan, first turning up on our shores in 2004. The larvae like to gollop up not only aphids, but insects too, including other ladybirds larvae. So maybe not so happily co-existing with our native species. 😦

Day 20 ~ Water for the Bees.  Bees and other insects need  a fresh water supply , especially in hot weather.  Taking inspiration from a few other #30dayswilders , I filled a saucer with marbles and stones and poured in some water. Bees can rest on the marbles whilst taking a sip and there is less danger of them drowning, than if I just simply put a saucer of water out.

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Day 21 ~Fledgling Visitors.  Until today my only visitor to our bird feeders, has been a solitary bluetit. This morning she brought two fledglings along!  A happy moment. There was lots of chirping as she tried to persuade her two offspring to investigate the half coconut shell. Eventually one of her babies had a go. Hopefully they will all continue visiting. πŸ™‚

 

Day 22 ~ Blissed Out. A very grey drizzley morning. But look who loves the weather! I must admit I felt a bit fed up as we started our daily venture into the fields. But just seeing how Hugo embraces the outdoors, always makes me smile. πŸ™‚

 

0ff camping tommorrow, so fingers crossed that the sunshine reappears. β™‘

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Wild ~ Days 10 to 16. Wild-rose petal jam and a walk in the centre of Britain.Β 

Back to my own neck of the woods  now, the lovely Ribble Valley in Lancashire. Here are my wild moments from the last seven days. πŸ™‚

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Day 10 ~ The Running Hare. I have started reading this charming book by John Lewis Stempel. It is  the story of how a farmer attempts to transform a bare ,almost barren meadow , into a haven for the kind of wildlife that would frequent a field, if it wasn’t for the intensive farming methods used  today. This book takes me back to my own childhood, growing up on a farm, when  hare and partridges, lapwing and field mice were much more commonplace  than they are today. I hope he succeeds…

 

Day 11 ~ Wild Rose-Petal Jam. The hedgerows are full of fragrant Wild Rose shrubs , so I thought I would follow this recipe and make Rose- Petal Jam.

2 Cups Wild Rose Petals.

2 Cups Caster Sugar.

1 tbsp Orange juice.

1 tbsp Lemon juice.

Half a cup of Water.

Dissolve two cups of caster sugar in half a cup of water mixed with one tablespoon each of lemon juice and orange juice. Stir in the rose petals and put the pan over a very low heat. Stir continuously for 30 minutes, or until the petals have ‘melted’. Cool the mixture and pour into a small glass jar and seal. Rose-Petal jam is popular in the Middle East , especially with yoghurt.

The recipe worked, though took an awful lot of stirring. Also the jam is incredibly sweet, so I think if I make it again, I would lessen the amount of sugar used.


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Day 12 ~  Feeding the Birds.  Wil very kindly made this hanger for the bird feeders at the weekend. Much less precarious than having them swing about on the washing line! One visitor has taken to the Coconut shell filled with cooked fat and seeds.A bluetit ! Hopefully more will follow. πŸ™‚

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Meadow Cranesbill.

Day 13 ~  Wildflower Count. My blogger pal  Christine has posted on Facebook about an online Wildflower survey organized by Plantlife  , so I thought I would give it a go on today’s dog walk. Hugo and I followed Mearley Brook through the fields and then on to the River Ribble. I ticked off only 7 of the suggested flowers, which  was a little disappointing . But there were a few I spotted that were not on the list, such as Red Campion, Crosswort, Silverweed and Water Forget-me-not. I also saw the shiny copper coloured beetle below. Let me if know you take part…


 

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Possibly a Garden Chafer.

Day 14 ~ Meadow Grasses.  Flowers are beautiful, but have you ever noticed how pretty wild grasses are?  On an early morning walk with Hugo, I passed through a farmer’s field, which I think is waiting to be mown. Here are just a few of the different grasses that I very quickly took pictures of with my phone. Hugo loves racing trails through this meadow. We ended up soaked with dew and covered in grass seeds. πŸ™‚

 

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Day 15 ~ Wildflower Seedlings. It looks like the seeds I received in my #30dayswild pack from The Wildlife Trusts are sprouting in my flower bed. Either that or a variety of weeds. I am intrigued to see what we end up with!

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Day 16 ~  A walk in the centre of the Kingdom.  Did you know the exact Centre of the UK is in Lancashire?  National Grid reference SD63770 56550 Hanging Stones , to be exact!  The nearest village is the pretty Bowland settlement of Dunsop Bridge. We parked our car in the village car park and walked up the track adjacent PuddleDuck Tearooms, past the playground and into the Dunsop Valley. Here are a few photos of the wildlife we saw on our walk.

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A Willow warbler, I think.
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Thistle.
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Heath Bedstraw.
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Pied Wagtail.
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Mallards.
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Elderflower.
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Common Spotted Orchids.
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Grey Wagtail.
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Foxglove.
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Eyebright.
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Mistle Thrush, I think !

After our ramble we had earned coffee and cake at Puddleducks!  A tearoom complete with ducks on the Village Green. πŸ™‚

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Puddleducks , Dunsop Bridge.

Whoo I think that means we are just over halfway through ’30 Days Wild’ now. I just need to think of some ideas for the next 14 days!  All suggestions welcome. πŸ™‚
 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Wild ~ Days 7 to 9. Seaside fun.

I am pretty fortunate that my holidays fell at the beginning of Thirty Days Wild , so  I don’t need to think too hard about what to post. I was staying on the wildlife rich  Norfolk coast.  πŸ™‚

Day Seven.  Rock Pools and Sea Holly.  Today we decided to walk along the North Norfolk Coastal Path, from Hunstanton, where we were staying , to Thornham. About six miles or so. The beach at Hunstanton is full of rock pools, so I was hoping to see a starfish perhaps…or maybe a crab. No such luck!  I think these guys had got their spoils before we even set off.

I loved the rocky beach at Hunstanton. I suspect If we had hunted more thoroughly we may have found more, but with a bouncy labrador sniffing out sea creatures, we couldn’t linger for too long.

As we neared the next village along the coast ‘Old Hunstanton’, the scenery changed to a perfect sandy beach, amongst the sand dunes.

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Hugo amongst the dunes.
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The Strandline is a beautiful gift shop in Old Hunstanton. The owner, an artist,is inspired to create by the scenery, seasons and nature here.

I posted pictures of the many beautiful flowers growing between Old Hunstanton and neighboring Holme Next The Sea, in my last 30 Days Wild Post ,but here are a few more on the way to Thornham. πŸ™‚

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Sea Holly.
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An orchid I believe.
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Any ideas? Maybe Annual Sea Blite.

Approaching the village of Thornham, we came across a welcome coffee stop at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s base at Holme Dunes. A wooden walkway over the marshes then led us to the village, where we caught a handy Coast Hopper Bus back to Hunstanton.

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Shelduck.

Day Eight.  Beach Huts and a Bee.  I posted a separate post about today’s fantastic trip to see The Seals at Blakeney Point.  Before that we had a lovely walk along the beach at Wells Next The Sea. A sudden short shower sent us fleeing to the porch of a vacant Beach Hut to shelter, and weather watch.

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Beach Huts at Wells.
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Sheltering with Hugo.
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The sun came out again so here’s a Bumble Bee on a Viper’s Bugloss.

 

Day Nine.  Our last day in lovely Norfolk. Sob!  A quick early morning walk along the beach at Hunstanton, and I find a Heart shaped Pebble. I think this sums up our stay. We will return. X

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Thanks for dropping by. X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seals at Blakeney Point.

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The National Trust Building at Morston Quay.

One of the things I  looked forward to on our trip to North Norfolk, was a boat trip I had booked, to see the seals at Blakeney Point. Blakeney has the largest seal colony in England.  There are hundreds of  these inquisitive mammals, either bobbing in the water or basking on the point.  As the best way to view them is on a specially organized boat trip, we chose Temples ,who are based at nearby Morston. Typically the day that we had chosen ended up incredibly windy!  But phew, we were able to reschedule for the following day, the last of our holiday. πŸ™‚

After collecting our tickets from The Anchor pub, we were directed to the Quay and boarded ‘The Four Sisters’, one of  Temple’s red and white purpose built boats.

 

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It wasn’t too long before we saw our first seals. There are both Grey and Common Seals at Blakeney Point. Common Seals arrive here in the summer to have their pups , whilst the Greys tend to give birth in November and December.

 

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The boat got up pretty close to the seals, but they didn’t seem to bothered by our clicking cameras.  How beautiful are they! Of course we didn’t outstay our welcome and the skipper turned the boat, to view more groups relaxing in the shallows.

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The Lifeboat House.
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A Grey Seal hanging out with the commoners. πŸ˜‰

 

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The trip includes a stop off at the point if you wish, where you can walk up to the Old Lighthouse building and watch the various seabirds that nest there.  The boat’s crew pointed out Sandwich, Common, Little and Arctic Terns flying above us.

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Of course me being me, I was just as excited at meeting some particular members of the crew! Three generations of the same  labrador family were on hand for strokes and to snuffle for spare biscuits. Meet Tide, Bella and Gillie. πŸ™‚

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The boat trip with Temple’s was certainly a fun and informative outing. Seabirds, Seals and a canine crew. What more do you need. πŸ™‚

Prices. Β£12 per adult. Β£6 per child. Dogs free ( keep on a lead). Tel.01263740791.

 

30 Days Wild ~ Days 2 to 6. I β™‘ Norfolk.Β 

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A hastily arranged ‘Wild’ of Fir Cones.

Having recently arrived home from a holiday in Norfolk, thrown some washing in, greeted the cat and waved off my Other Half to the pub, I thought I had better do some catching up on blog posts. πŸ™‚ Firstly it’s time to update my progress on #30dayswild, which The Wildlife Trusts have organized to challenge people to experience 30 random acts of wildness in June.  On Day One I made Wild Watermint Tea here  and since then I have been staying on the coast in Hunstanton , aka Sunny Hunny. πŸ™‚ Here are some Wild Moments!

Day Two.  Red Striped Cliffs and Nesting Fulmars. As soon as had we settled into our accommodation , we headed to the beach with Hugo. The first thing we noticed was the extraordinary red and white striped cliffs. The red chalk is due to iron staining. They are certainly a stunning sight.

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Red and white striped cliffs.

The tide was out and below is our view toward the Sea. Rock pools have formed in between the boulders. Hugo is out there somewhere!  We did not find even a solitary crab in the pools, but they do have rather a lot of predators. Looking up to the cliffs once again , we couldn’t fail to see ( and hear ) hundreds of pairs of Fulmar, nesting in the craggy rock face.

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Rocky pools.

Fulmars look like Gulls but are apparently members of the Petrel family.  They are able to drink sea-water and have ”tube-noses” enabling them to excrete excess salt through their nostrils. You learn something new every day!  We wish our labrador had a Tube Nose, he does tend to take the odd sea sip, when he thinks we are not looking….

Day Three.  Coastal Butterflies & Wildflowers.  On a walk along the Norfolk Coastal Path from Hunstanton to Holme , here are some of the plants and butterflies that we spotted. Now despite studying a couple of Collins Guides , I’m not confident with all my IDs. So if you know better, please let me know. πŸ™‚

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 Vipers Bugloss 
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Orange Hawkweed.
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Pink Valerian.
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Painted Lady in Holme.
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Sea Bindweed.
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Saw lots of tiny blue butterflies fluttering around. Possibly Small Blues.
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Maybe a Tree Mallow.
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Lots of these tiny red moths. Possibly Cinnabar.
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Phacelia.

This walk was a dream for me. Some of these flowers and insects, I have never seen before. I just couldn’t stop smiling. πŸ™‚

Day Four.  Eating Lavender.  Norfolk Lavender is one of the country’s largest Lavender Farms and as it was only down the road from us at Heacham , I persuaded Wil that we needed to try their Lavender Cake!  Lavender has been used since Roman times ( indeed it was the Roman’s who probably brought this fragrant flowering herb over to our shores) in medicines, lotions and potions. I for one had never tried it in cake….. or in Lemonade.

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Cake!

The cake was quite nice ( in a fragrant flowery way) but even though Wil and I shared it, we couldn’t finish it. Now that wouldn’t happen with Chocolate Cake!  The lemonade was refreshing but very very fizzy, so I couldn’t drink all of that either. Most disappointing was the fact that about ninety percent of the lavender isn’t in bloom yet, so if you are planning a visit, wait a few more weeks.

Day Five. Collected Shells on Brancaster Beach.   On Day Five we took Hugo for a walk On Brancaster Beach.  Norfolk is great for Pet Friendly Beaches and Brancaster is just one of many lovely stretches of sand. Our walk was incredibly windy so we got somewhat sandblasted.  I’m not sure my photo really does the conditions any justice!

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Brancaster Beach.
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Sea Campions.
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Shells.

I probably gave up collecting shells after about five minutes , so my little collection is a bit sad. What you can see are a couple of oyster shells, a razor shell, a couple of cockle shells, pebbles and a couple of trough shells. I think they are all quite common on British Beaches.

Day Six. Rainy Walk In a Country Park.  This day was wet and windy so we decided to have a wander round nearby Sandringham Country Park. The canopy from the woodland offered some protection from the elements.  At this time of year the Royal retreat is adorned with flowering Rhododendrons and Foxgloves. We spied a Roe Deer, several squirrels and a couple of cheeky Jays. They were all very camera shy. So here are some facts about foxgloves. πŸ™‚

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Dead Man’s Bells and Witches Gloves. 

Other names for Foxgloves include Fairy Thimbles, Floppydocks and Goblin Gloves.

The  name Ffion is Welsh for Foxglove.

Foxgloves , though highly toxic, are used in Heart Medicines.

Plant Foxgloves in your garden and you will attract fairies.

The White Spots in each bell are marks left by fairies.

Fairies apparently taught foxes to ring the bells, warning other foxes of hunters in the area.

Bad fairies told foxes to wear the flowers on their paws ( like slippers) so the hens in the hen house wouldn’t hear them coming.

In mythology the Roman Goddess Flora touched a foxglove to Juno’s belly, so she could conceive a child with Jupiter.

Thanks for reading my update. More to follow in a few days. πŸ™‚

 

#30dayswild:)

Water Mint by Mearley Brook.
A refreshing Mint Tea !

Hey there, I thought I would do one quick #30dayswild post before I go on my jollies to Norfolk tommorrow. Its a bit of a cheat because I actually collected the mint yesterday afternoon. But I did make the tea this morning. I had a refreshing wild moment. πŸ™‚

All I did was steep the leaves in hot ( not boiling) water for about 5 minutes and pour into a teacup. I don’t like my mint tea to sweet so didn’t add sugar. Water Mint tea has a pepperminty taste and I must say, I really enjoyed it. 

Look out for Water Mint by streams. You will probably smell it’s minty fragrance first!  At the moment you can identify Water Mint by its green leaves tinted with purple. From July there will be lilac flowers to admire too. πŸ™‚

If you haven’t heard about The Wildlife Trusts #30dayswild yet, check out their website. They are challenging everyone to get involved , by doing something Wild every day in June. This could be anything, from taking the dog  on a different walk route, sowing a patch of wild flower seeds, eating a picnic up a tree or identifying a bird call…..

As I’m off to the Norfolk Coast tommorrow, I am really looking forward to spotting  wildlife there that I don’t get to see in Lancashire. I look forward to updating my blog and reading everybody elses Wild posts on my return. πŸ™‚

Bye for now.x