I am still wondering what I can do for 30 Days Wild this year. Summer has yet to arrive here in Orkney and it is difficult some days to find the will to be out and about. With our lives in a state of upheaval it is also difficult to find any time or space in which to focus. Later in the month we shall be going away, so any Sanday-focused daily projects are out of the question.
Today’s activities centre on ideas generation, building the foundations for a month of wildness perhaps. I have also begun taking notes on Species around the house.
Some Simple Wild Acts
- Start with the small
- I am going to change my desktop wallpaper daily. I have many photographs of my own that I can use but National Geographic offers an enormous choice of beautiful images of landscape and creatures from across the world. It is a chance to view aspects of Nature not revealed in our everyday lives.
- Why not stay small for a while? A micro-safari in the garden perhaps. An opportunity to try out my magnifying lenses on the camera
- Keeping things local, there are opportunities for cataloguing all the wild plants in the garden, perhaps the grasses too and ditto the bird and mammal life and insects. I am very keen to explore and see how many different types of lichen I can find, though I suspect we have just three. I should like to prove myself wrong about that.
- We have a weather station. If I record the weather each day it might reveal some patterns in what we see in the garden according to the weather.
- If we have bad weather I can sit out in the RV, using it as a weather shield and a hide. Who knows what I might see.
- On better days, and moving out into the bay, there are opportunities to research the shells I can find – how many, what species and so on.
- This year I plan to be brave and to look at seaweed – how many species, what are they. Perhaps dry some specimens and mount them – providing another bad weather activity.
- Going wider afield I can compare different locations on the island – which wild flowers grow where, what different types of shells can be found on the various beaches and so on.
- Track down an otter! They are here and may be seen. I have observed only one in the ten years I have been on the island. As we shall be leaving soon I should like to get a really good look at one before I go.
- Overall, take more time outside. Tea and coffee breaks, meals where possible, and do more spinning and knitting outdoors. Just to sit and listen to the Skylarks, spot the Hen Harriers, hear the waves, chill out.
- Make my experiences more personal – try to draw, write some poetry maybe. Take more photographs – better ones.
- Improve my 30 Days Wild blogging – try some audio recordings perhaps, make some videos, share my pathetic attempts at drawing maybe. Use this period for personal growth and try to match the pace of the garden – flourish as the Nettles do!
On my desktop today
Beach Mouse, Florida
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic
An endangered Choctawhatchee beach mouse, Peromyscus polionotus allophrys, has good reason to appear shy. The nocturnal herbivore faces the ongoing threat of development of the sand dune ecosystem it inhabits.
(From the National Geographic book Visions of Earth)
Today’s Weather at Noon
A cold grey day again. I was so cold in bed last night that I almost got out to find my bedsocks.
Temperature: 10.4 °C
Apparent Temperature 4.1 °C
Wind Speed (avg): 19 mph Beaufort F5 Fresh breeze
Wind Direction: 7° N
June 1st, going wild (but gently does it)
Today’s wildness began at 4 a.m. when, instead of turning over and going back to sleep, I lay awake listening to the swooping whistles, erratic chattering, clicking and whirrings of one of the Starlings that are nesting in the doocot not far from my bedroom ceiling. We have far fewer starlings this year than in previous years and I do not know if this is because numbers nationally have dropped so far or if it simply because we no longer have hens… and chicken feed to steal. Almost unbelievably, the Starling is now red-listed.
Later, when I was dressing, I sat as I always do, and looked out of the window to see what birds were about. A pair of Northern Wheatear were sitting on the fence. My eyes were too blurred to be able to identify the two birds sitting in the rose bush but by the time that I had fetched the binoculars, they were gone. I have set the binos by my bedside to facilitate identifications for the coming days.
My next wild act of the day is a bit of a cheat as it was broadcast last night but, as I have no TV set or licence, I used the BBC iPlayer to catch up with Springwatch’s visit to Sanday (skip to about 49/50 minutes in if you don’t have time for the whole programme.)
The film really does credit to the wild beauty of this island. It’s a fascinating and informative piece that focuses on the Kelp forest surrounding and protecting our island and serves only to fire up my ideas (above) about exploring the seaweeds and finding otters. See also Starlings, Sanderling and Turnstones in this footage and the awful, awful Kelp Flies! Ugh. They have their place in the grand scheme of things but oh my, I do hate them when I am out and about.
It is my habit to do another quick through-the-window survey while I am cooking lunch. There is generally time between stirrings in which to enjoy the view from the kitchen window and to see what birds are about at the front of the house. Today there was nothing! Not one bird in the garden. It must be the weather, surely. Perhaps it will be a better day tomorrow, with more going on to look at and to share.
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