Insects and Pondlife ~Days 21-25

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We are taking part in The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild project and to mark National Insect Week, we have been trying to spot insects and think about how we can encourage more wildlife into our garden.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_21We started off National Insect Week by visiting a pond on Day Twenty-One just up the road from us. We pass by here every week but didn’t know it existed until a friend told us about it as it is masked by plants and grasses. What a discovery! I think it would have looked amazing with all the flowers out a couple of weeks ago but we saw lots of beautiful little blue damselflies, bees on the clover, butterflies and some slugs. The highlight has to be the tiniest little frog though! My son has seen plenty of tadpoles but this was his first frog and we were both delighted!

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_22On Day Twenty-Two we had a wonderful walk with my Mum at Seaton Valley Nature Reserve. My son and I have been to the beach here plenty of times but we’ve never made it past the duck pond. We have been saying we’d like to do the walk up to the dragonfly pond for a long time and so 30 Days Wild felt like the perfect time to do it!

We were delighted to find that the first pond we came to had fish in it! And bright blue damselflies darting at the water’s edge. There were lots of lily pads and I also saw my first common spotted orchid!

We carried on walking along the path which followed a tiny stream, admiring the wildflowers and thistles and little wild strawberries.

As we walked onto the little jetty of the dragonfly pond the most amazing deep blue dragonfly with black wings flew over us and up into a tree. And we saw more damselflies, different this time.

Earlier in the week, we had hoped to see the Solstice-Strawberry moon but it had been too cloudy. As I looked into the pond here, the reflection of the sun almost looked like a full moon! (It hasn’t photographed as perfectly round as it was).  We saw a moorhen and her chick scampering about on the lily-pads (we wished we could too!) And a fish flopped up onto one. As the dragonflies darted about, I couldn’t help but wonder is Jeremy Fisher was about somewhere…

On the way back we visited the fish pond again. My son found the perfect fishing rod and his Granny tied on some grasses to make a line. If the horseflies had left us alone, I’m sure we could have whiled away the afternoon ‘fishing’. Instead, we headed back for a play on the beach and a fish and chip dinner in the outdoor café. A perfect end to a wonderful day in nature.

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TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_23After pond dipping at Forest School on Day Twenty-Three, we had an impromptu walk on the moors. We hoped to find some dragonflies in the reeds like we did last year but instead we were excited to find some tadpoles in the little pools! A quick trip home to get his jar and a picnic dinner and we were all set for a spot of pond dipping. As well as the tadpoles, we found tiny froglets and a dragonfly nymph. I was most impressed by the diving beetle nymph we found -it looked as if it was smiling at us! I’d never seen one before so it was great to go back and look it up at home. And my son, of course, loved it all. He also made little ‘boats’ and floated them on the pools. There is something so wonderful about diving into a little world that is quite alien to us. I think this was one of my favourite days. Shared excitement at new discoveries and memories of my own childhood playing in our ponds and stream as I held the little frog in my hand. The joy at being able to experience it all over again with my own son.

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TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_24If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably have seen a fair few pictures of my son’s rainbow wellies! He was very reluctant to part with them when he needed new ones  (but luckily we found some more in a bigger size) so on Day Twenty-Four we ‘took steps’ to attract more bees and other insects to our garden and planted up his old ones with bee friendly flowers!

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Inspired by all the ponds these last few days I thought it would be lovely to make our own mini pond! So on Day Twenty-Five we were both so eager to get started. First was a trip to the garden centre which my son loved. He stopped to ‘ooh’ at almost every flower! I love the water forget-me-nots we bought, especially as we saw these at the pond near us at the start of the week. We found a suitable spot for our tub and began to dig. I’m pretty sure he would have happily kept on digging for a couple of days! Even though we are unlikely to attract any pondlife for quite some time, the plants we have chosen have already been of benefit to the insects and the bees love the purple loosestrife. I will write a post with how the pond is progressing soon…

This has been such an inspiring week. Getting out there and really connecting with nature. Some of our Random Acts of Wildness have involved simply noticing the beauty of nature or playing in or with it. It felt good to make the effort to discover and learn about creatures and make a conscious decision to make changes in our garden to benefit them.

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