It's already over a week into The Wildlife Trust's month long nature challenge, 30 Days Wild! This is one of my favourite wildlife campaigns and I couldn't wait to get started. To kick start the month myself and Lucy, the Wild Learning Officer for Ipswich, ran a night walk in Holywells Park. We had some brilliant wildlife encounters, starting with a lovely big splodgey female toad. If I had known we were going to encounter a further four toads in the night, I probably wouldn't have rummaged around in the nettle patch to retrieve her...but a lovely creature to say hello to none the less!! We ended the evening watching bats fly above the pond and water scorpions scuttling along the bottom of the stream.
Week 1 of 30 Days Wild - tadpole footspas and scuttling water scorpions!
Day 2 and we headed to a lovely stream for a paddle. We were surrounded by beautiful wildflowers buzzing with pollinators and tadpoles swam between our legs! The stream was full of lovely squelchy sediment, and it was great fun wading up through the wildnerness.
Day 3 - a peaceful hour spent on a stream bank as the sun set. Bats flew up and down the waterway, a water vole dove beneath the waters surface as we passed it, and this lovely frog came to say hi! I was even treated to a sighting of a fox as I cycled home through the park.
Day 4 - It was a bit of a damp evening but I decided to grab my waterproof and take a rainy walk in search of snails. Having found quite a few I started to think about how incredible they actually are. The snail secretes a substance that eases its movement across textured terrain, and they will often piggy back on the trails of other snails to save energy. The average garden snail might move around 25m in 24 hours, as revealed by an awesome study that involved attaching small LED lights to 450 garden snails to track their movements by time lapse camera. They found the fastest moving snail to move 1m per hour!
Day 5 - Whilst busy working away at my dining room table, I peered up from my laptop and noticed a stray cleaver growing across the patio window. I could see some dark spots on the cleaver, and on closer inspection realised it was a cluster of aphids being tended to by ants. Aphids and ants have a mutualistic relationship - aphids secrete a substance (honeydew), that ants eat, whilst ants provide protection to aphids from predators such as lacewing. I think this proves quite nicely that amazing wildlife interactions are all around us, you just need to look up and notice them!
Day 6 - we have a lovely goldfinch nest perched in a buddleia outside the office toilet. If you stand quietly by the window you can watch the adult perched patiently, or more recently, the chicks peering up and out from the nest. This has resulted in some amusing situations with colleagues cramming themselves into the toilet to peer into the bush. Today I peered through the window - the nest was bursting at its seams. The chicks are very nearly ready to take a leap into independence!
Day 7 - Today myself and Campaigns Manager Kerry were busy preparing for the Nature Summit. We spent some time dock dipping in search of sea creatures to fill a small pond outside Dance East. We wanted to demonstrate the amazing diversity of life that can be found just beneath the waters surface - and we certainly could - moon jellies, gooseberry jellies, prawns and crabs alongside lots of old plastic bottles and drinks cans. I then spent the evening helping run the summit with some brilliant talks and discussions about a wilder future for Suffolk. A great way to round off my first week of 30 Days Wild!
Remember it's not too late for you to get involved. You can download an electronic pack from our website here and follow along with the hashtag #30dayswild to join a growing community of nature lovers!