Get Active: volunteer, experience, connect with the natural world

 


Get Active: volunteer, experience, connect with the natural world and put animal magic into your life! 

 RSS Feed

  1. This year, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on connecting with Nature.

    There are many benefits of having contact with nature, whether you spend time in the garden looking at the sky or growing flowers and planting vegetables, or go on a walk through woods or up hills, or have a weekend glamping  or forest bathing!

    Do some Mindfulness Meditation in Nature for Two in Kent
    Do some Mindfulness Meditation for two in Kent, from BuyaGift
    Use the code 15AHW2021 and get 15% off!**
    Plus we will make a donation to the Woodland Trust  


    Spending time with nature can have many benefits:

    1. You can meet other people especially if you volunteer for a conservation charity
    2. You can improve your physical health by going on walks or being physically active through gardening
    3. Volunteering for a nature charity can really give you a feel-good feeling – you’ve made a difference and can meet like-minded people who want to do the same
    4. You could end up going where people don’t always go – sort of getting behind the scenes with nature!

      Enjoy a Two Night Break in The Nest Tree House, Devon
      Enjoy a Two Night Break in The Nest Tree House, Devon, from Red Letter Days
      Use the code AHW2021RED and get 15% off!** Plus we will make a  donation to the Woodland Trust  


    5. There are some amazing nature experiences you can enjoy
    6. Nature can help you reduce stress  and help you relax
    7. Nature can help you escape from everyday life – you really can get away from it all
    8. You could do an activity that you don’t normally do, such as forest bathing or walking with an alpaca or llama!


      Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm Entry with Alpaca Walk for Two Adults and Two Children

      Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm Entry with Alpaca Walk
      for Two Adults and Two Children from BuyaGift
      Use the code 15AHW2021 and get 15% off!**
      Plus we will make a donation to the Woodland Trust  

    9. You can see some amazing wildlife.
    10. You can also enjoy nature on the water, so to speak, with some time on a boat!
    11. You can combine being social, having exercise, getting fresh air, helping nature and escaping from the day’s routine all in one go!


      Go Forest Bathing in Sussex
      Go Forest Bathing in Sussex
      Use the code AHW2021RED and get 15% off!** Plus we will make a donation to the Woodland Trust  

    12. Enjoy a holiday with nature at its heart – you could go glamping in the UK or spend time on a farm in Devon!


      Go stargazing in Wales
      Go stargazing in Wales!
      Use the code AHW2021RED and get 15% off!** Plus we will make a donation to the Woodland Trust   

    13. Look up at the sky!  Spend an hour stargazing and be in awe of the beautiful stars in the sky. 
    14. You can exercise your senses if you listen to the sounds of nature, look closely at its colours and detail, smell the scent of nature, taste vegetables and fruit and hug a tree! 

     Enjoy the natural world and improve your wellbeing!  


    Buy an experience from Red Letter Days or Buy A Gift
    and we will make a donation to the Woodland Trust!


    **Codes are valid until 31 December 2021.  Non-discounted products do not apply  apart from that, the codes are site wide!

  2. Those lovely folk Garden Wildlife Direct are dedicated to making caring for wildlife an affordable interest for everyone.

    They've got a big selection of foods, feeders and habitats at great prices, so they are particularly great if you are just starting out on feeding our feathered friends. 

    They've got straight, seed mixed and suet foods; as well as a range of accessories and wildlife related products that will be sure to bring any garden to life.

    Starting out...keep it simple

    Now before I go any further, I will say that when we started out on feeding our feathered friends, we didn't make all this complicated at all.  (I don't do complicated.)  

    We just gave our birds wild bird seed to start with, and now we've added fat balls (which they love) and peanuts.   Oh, and they've got a couple of bird baths dotted about the garden.  Nothing grand, nothing fancy, but they absolutely love it!

    Keep your birds cool and hydrated this summer

     

    From feathered friends to hedgehogs...

    Our German Shepherd (who sadly is no longer with us) brought us a hedgehog one night.   His find inspired us, and so within 48 hours, we'd installed a hedgehog house (we call it the Hedgehog Hilton), a water bowl (the Hedgehog Bar, please note you just need to give them water, not milk) and now we've put in a very small pond with slopes so that the wildlife can get out easily.  We call it the Hedgehog Leisure Centre.  

    So fly off here and take a look at Garden Wildlife Direct.  They often have weekend offers, but they have lots of offers around the week.   

    Keep your bird food fresh!


    The Joy of Helping our Garden Birds

    We get lots of pleasure from watching our feathered friends in the garden - it's like having your own nature show but you can get away from the ipad, TV, laptop, computer, phone etc etc etc - and just enjoy watching them out of the window.  Our garden isn't big, you don't need acres and acres to look after our feathered friends.   Only this morning, I woke up and lay in bed listening to the tweet, tweet, tweet out of the window.  It was lovely - the birds sounded so cheerful!

    Our knowledge of which bird is which has improved a lot, and I've started to draw birds from a bird book I bought as a little hobby.   Some of the birds are even starting to look like birds, somewhat to my amazement. 

    Get feeding them and happy birdwatching!   

    Tweet tweet for now!  Keep well and safe xx

     

  3.  

    International Dawn Chorus Day is on Sunday 2 May 2021 

    I woke up at 4:30 this morning and lay in bed listening to the birds as they sang outside the bedroom window and thought how wonderful it must be to have such a glorious chorus every day to be so happy! 

    Listening to birdsong is a great way to start the day!

    In fact, I’ve been waking up a lot recently at about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, and I find I just love lying in bed, listening to the birdsong.  It’s such a lovely start to the day!   OK, sometimes I do drift off back to sleep, but the birdsong is both soothing and motivating at the same time – I let my mood take me where it feels.  It’s a wonderful way to empty your head of everything and just listen to our feathered friends.  I find it very therapeutic.

    Sunday 2 May is International Dawn Chorus Day

    Anyway, the first Sunday of May (the 2nd May in 2021) is International Dawn Chorus Day.  Would you believe that the event started out in the 1980s in Birmingham and now, people in over 80 countries take part!

    It’s a worldwide celebration of the dawn chorus and people all over the world will be waking up in time to put the kettle on and just listen to our beautiful birds, whilst sipping a cup of tea, or perhaps they’ll just lie in bed and listen.

    Take part – just listen to birdsong!

    All you have to do to take part is listen!  Who might you hear? The song thrush, the blackbird, or robin or blackcap or chiffchaff?  

    The Wildlife Trusts have lots of birdsong on their website to help you identify who you’re listening to.  You could hear the song beforehand so that you can work out which bird is singing which song as you’re lying in bed, or you could listen to it afterwards to try to identify which bird you heard.

    Fly off here to the Wildlife Trusts’ website to hear some great birdsong!

    Peckish Complete Seed and Nut Mix No Mess from Garden Wildlife Direct
    Peckish Complete Seed and Nut Mix No Mess
    from Garden Wildlife Direct

     

  4. May is normally Walk in the Woods month.

    It’s organised by the Tree Council, and it’s a time when people across the country get out into the woods, walk in a local park or simply appreciate a street lined with trees.

    But of course this year, things are different. 

    Knowing that time in nature has never been so important to our wellbeing, and that nature can be found everywhere, the Tree Council are making this May “Walk Where You May” month.

    Here’s how to get involved:

    1. Visit and appreciate one tree on your daily exercise – this could include a hedgerow, a street tree, the trees in your local park or woodland.
    2. Share it in a tweet, a photo or video using #WalkWhereYouMay to inspire others and share nature with others.
    3. Tag three followers to encourage them to take part as well!

    Instead of "Walk in the Woods" Month, in 2021 the Tree Council is having "Walk Where You May" Month

    The Tree Council emphasise that we must all observe the latest government social distancing guidelines, even if/when lockdown starts to ease.  #WalkWhereYouMay is subject to change based on the government health guidelines.

    As they point out, not all green spaces are open at the moment so check before you go and don’t travel by transport to visit green spaces.  Go on foot to visit your tree.

    Wild Your Garden
    Wild Your Garden, 
    A practical guide to rewilding your outdoor space
    from the National Trust Online Shop


    By the way, the Tree Council are always looking for Tree Wardens!   A tree warden is a volunteer who plants, looks after and stands up for trees in their patch!  It's a great way to get your hands in the earth and plant trees, to raise awareness in your local community and be the eyes, ears and voice for the trees in your street!

    Visit the Tree Council here.

    PS Watch out for National Hedgerow Week from 29 May to 6 June 2021! 

  5.  The 24th April is Save the Frogs Day.

    It’s a chance to raise awareness of the plight of frogs around the world and also to show ways in which you can help frogs and toads!

    The charity Froglife.org.uk has lots of ways you can help frogs and toads, as does the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, so here are some of these ways:

    Become a toad patroller!

    A Toad Patrol is a group of volunteers who monitor a stretch of road that toads have to cross to reach their breeding pond in the spring. 

    Join the Wildlife Tunnel Campaign

    Wildlife Tunnels are tunnels built under our roads so that amphibians and reptiles can cross the roads safely.  They are invaluable in linking up important wildlife habitats and lessening the negative impacts our demands for infrastructure are having on British wildlife.  Join Froglife's campaign for Wildlife Tunnels. 

    Join Froglife's campagin for Wildlife Trunnels - please sign their petition
    Please sign Froglife's petition for Wildlife Tunnels


    Build a wildlife pond!

    It doesn’t need to be enormous or complicated – take a look at this PDF from Froglife!  Ponds are really important to wildlife – and it’s estimated that over a third of ponds have vanished in the last 30 years or so which has had a terrible effect on wildlife and especially amphibians.   Frogs, toads and needs need ponds to breed – so if there are no ponds, there will be no frogs, toads and newts.  And there’s nothing like enjoying the sight of your pond, however big or small it is.

    Here are some more wildlife gardening ideas to help frogs and toads

    Treat yourself to an animal experience!

    Buy an animal experience from BuyaGift.co.uk
    and get 15% off** with the code 15AHW2021.   
    Plus we'll make a donation to Froglife!

    Become a friend of Froglife

    From £18 a year, become a friend of Froglife and help them conserve frogs and toads!

    Go wildlife spotting and record your sightings!

    When you’re out and about, spot wildlife and let Froglife know what you’ve seen!  Froglife has the Dragon Finder App – a free app for Android and iPhone, with a mobile website version for other devices. You can identify amphibians and reptiles in the field and record what you see by letting Froglife know about your sightings whilst you’re out and about.  They’ve got an online free guide to the sorts of animals you might see here.

    Take part in Garden Dragon Watch 2021

    The information collected will help the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust find out more about the reptiles and amphibians we all find in our gardens, and the habitats that they like.  In turn, this will help ARC with its conservation work.  

    Volunteer for ARC!

    Volunteer for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust  - they have many reserves around the UK and it’s a great way to get out and about and to meet like-minded people whilst helping conservation at the same time!  Help on their nature reserves or on specific projects.

    Treat yourself to an animal experience!

    Buy an animal experience from BuyaGift.co.uk
    and get 15% off** with the code 15AHW2021.   
    Plus we'll make a donation to Froglife!

    Sponsor one of ARC’s appeals

    There are a number, such as sponsoring an adder or a smooth snake or a natterjack toad or a pool frog and more!

    Visit Froglife

    Visit the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

    ** This code is valid until 31 December 2021 and does not include non-discounted products

  6.  

    Do you love plants and making a difference?

    Great British Wildflower Hunt 

    Plantlife have emailed to say that the Great British Wildflower Hunt is back for 2021!

    Get involved in the Great British Wildflower Hunt 2021!


    There are 42 common species feature on it, including wild garlic, Germander speedwell and primrose, bluebells and cuckooflower.

    We’ve seen quite a few primroses in the woods near us in Sussex and they look such a pretty sight, dotted in glorious pale yellow here and there.

    It’s a great way to get to know our wild flowers better – and over this spring and summer, there will be four different hunts covering over 70 different flowers!

    This is for all ages, and it’s organised Plantlife

    There are two ways to take part – you can download the app or print off spotter sheets to take with you and then report back online to the Great British Wildflower Hunt when you get home.

    Your first step is to register – it’s free, quick and easy to do!

    Visit the Great British Wildflower Hunt here


    Plantlife's surveys are a great way to improve your knowledge of our beautiful wild flowers


    National Plant Monitoring Scheme

    You may also be interested in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.  It’s carried out by volunteer surveyors around the country.   They collect data and send it in to the scheme and that data collectively shows any changes in the abundance and diversity of plants.  It really helps assess the health of our habitats.  Find out more here.

    Cowslip survey

    Love nature and getting out into the countryside?

    Well, here’s a survey for you to get involved in – Plantlife’s Cowslip survey!

    Cowslips are important flowers.   They often appear along banks in the months of April and May, giving a glorious blaze of yellow. They are important flowers because they can tell us a lot about the health of the grassy places we can find them in.

     Take part in Plantlife's Cowslip Survey

    Take part in Plantlife's Cowslip Survey

    Now, the thing is that there are two types of cowslip.

    In one, the flower is the S-morph – the male parts are easy to spot.

    In the other, the flower is the L-morph – just the top of the female part (known as the sigma) can be seen.

    It’s importance that there is a balance of male and female flowers because the 50:50 ratio falls out of balance if the cowslips fall in number because their habitat has been lost, or agricultural practices change.

    So the ratios help us discover all about the quality of the grasslands.

    What do you need to do?

    • Download Plantlife’s Cowslip recording app – there are details on how to do this here
    • Visit the site you’ve chosen to look at the cowslips.  Cowslips seem to prefer dry, chalky soils.  They can usually be found in pastures, meadows, hillsides or a nature reserve and they tend to flower between April and May.
    • Take a look at the cowslip plants and record whether they are the S-type or L-type on the app.

    The app has the instructions you need to do this survey and the results are going to be analysed later this year – Plantlife will let us know what they are in the autumn.

    Watch out for Every Flower Counts:  

    On 1 May, go for #NoMowMay – put your lawnmower away and let the grass do its own thing for the rest of the month (ish).  Then from the 22-31 May, you can count the number of flowers on your lawn to see how many bees and butterflies you can help by providing nectar for them through those flowers.  You don’t have to count every flower – Plantlife ask you to count those flowers in a section of it.  Watch their website for more information.

    Why not become a member of Plantlife and support their work?

    All images on this blog are ©Plantlife

  7. There are lots of programmes on farming on the television at the moment and the end of March sees a new one.

    There's a new documentary series on More4 starting on Wednesday 31 March 2021 at 9pm.  

    It's called Our Farm in the Dales, and it features Matt Baker and his family.

    Matt's mum has an accident and so Matt and his family come to his folks' rescue at this farm in the Durham hills.

    Visit the programme's website here


    Fancy a farm experience?  Buyagift.co.uk have a number to choose from
    Fancy a farm experience?  Buyagift.co.uk have a number to choose from
    Until 31/12/21 you can get 15% off with the code 15AHW2021.
    (This code does not apply to non-discounted gifts).

  8. Want to make a difference to wildlife?

    One way to do this is to take part in surveys.   They give conservation charities a really good idea of what is happening across the country – so the more people who join in the better.  You don’t need to be an expert, just to take part.

    Building up a picture of wildlife on our doorsteps help us tell if a species is in trouble and needs help.   For example, thousands of wildlife watchers have helped identify the loss of hedgehogs over 20 years.  Like the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, which has run for over 40 years now, surveys give a lot of local information which give great value to wildlife conservation because of the picture they build up.

    It’s time for the PTES Living with Mammals Survey!

    The 29th March 2021 saw the launch of this year’s Living With Mammals survey.  All you need to do is to record the mammals you see every week and any signs they leave behind, such as footprints or droppings.

    Spotting wild mammals, a PDF from the PTES
    Spotting wild mammals, a PDF from the PTES
    image © PTES

    You can choose any green space to survey.

    It could be a garden, an allotment, a local park or any other area that’s convenient to spend a little time in each week.   The site must be within 200 metres of a building.

    You can share your photos online using #LivingwithMammals

    PTES who run the survey aren’t asking people to survey public areas, but to survey in gardens and other private land.  If you’re not sure about whether to take part in surveys during COVID-19, check government guidelines and then decide if it is right and proper and safe for you to take part.

    Register here (it’s free to do this and there’s the most gorgeous picture of a fox waiting for you)

    Survey tips and hints are here such as when and where to look, tracking signs so you can work out who is who, a note on wildlife cameras and more.   Mammals are typically more active at sunrise and suntset.   Check walls, hedges, fences, grass verges and field margins – they all provide cover for mammals.

    There are mammal fact files here.   Doing a survey is a great way to find out more about wildlife!

    You can see the results of past surveys here – Living with Mammals started in 2003!

    Visit the PTES website for more information


    Give local wildlife their own wildlife corridors

    PTES point out that connecting our gardens and patches of green such as grass verges and local parks enable animals to move between different features.  Make a CD sized hole in the bottom of a fence can really help them journey from one place to another – their own sort of motorway network, a wildlife corridor, if you like.  These can certainly help animals such as hedgehogs.   Visit Hedgehog Street, a campaign run by PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for more information..

  9. The Turtle Dove is in trouble.

    They are vulnerable to global extinction and on the IUCV Red List of Endangered species.  Since 1995, they have suffered a catastrophic 94% UK population decline and since 1980, a 78% decline in Europe.

    Reasons why is the turtle dove in such trouble are

    • the loss of habitat on UK breeding grounds, which means that there are food shortages as well.  
    • the disease trichomoniasis
    • in the EU member states, hunting has killed 2 to 3 million birds, though this number is from old figures. 
    • In the birds’ winter homes in Africa, many habitats have been turned over to agriculture and livestock don’t help because they overgraze and so cause damage.

    They now tend to be seen in the south and east of England, though they do head further north and west as well. 

    Have you seen a turtle dove?
    Find out more about turtle doves here.

    We need to help them before they become extinct  Enter Operation Turtle Dove.

    About Operation Turtle Dove

    This is an urgent mission to reverse the fortunes of this beautiful bird.   The RSPB is asking us all to save them.

    Operation Turtle Dove is a partnership conservation project between the RSPB, Conservation Grade, Natural England and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.  It was started in the spring of 2012 and it aimed to identify the primary causes of the turtle dove decline and develop and deploy urgent practical solutions. 

    6 ways to get involved in Operation Turtle Dove

    1. Create turtle dove habitat, whether you are at home, own land or farm.   The website has information – just look for the heading Create Turtle Dove Habitat and choose the option that’s most relevant to you.  Gardens and green spaces are useful habitats for turtle doves so make them  welcome and hopefully they will come.  Farms are helping turtle doves so if you’re a farmer, take a look at these videos to be inspired!
    2. Find out how to identify a turtle dove and then let the RSPB know if you see one with their Report a Turtle Dove Sighting page.  Then they can better idea of how to help turtle doves.
    3. Take a look at the year of a turtle dove so you can better understand the bird 
    4. Donate to Operation Turtle Dove 
    5. Spread the word through your community and on social media and ask people to help
    6. Find out what is being done to help these incredible birds and see what else you can do to help

    Visit Operation Turtle Dove’s website

    Buy an RSPB singing turtle dove soft toy and support conservation
    Buy an RSPB singing turtle dove soft toy and support conservation

  10.  

    Love donkeys and horses?   

    If you do, just take a moment to imagine them walking mile after mile, every day. 

    That’s the reality for many working horses, donkeys and mules who work tirelessly, around the world. 

    The Brooke reach over 1.5 million working horses, donkeys and mules across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and help them.  

    Step in their Shoes and raise funds for the Brooke so that they can help hardworking horses, donkeys and mules

    If you do and want to do your bit to help them, please take a look at The Brooke's Step in their Shoes Challenge and take on the 100 mile challenge to raise essential funds to support the working animals they care for every day. 

    The Brooke is asking us all to walk 100 miles (not in one go!) at some stage this year. 

    There is no set time limit for the challenge;  you can do the 100 miles however you like – walking, wheeling, running or cycling, whatever!  If you have a dog, you could include your daily dog walking in your 100 miles!

    Register, and a fundraising page will be set up for you - you just need then to share the link with your family and friends and ask for donations.  The Brooke is asking us to raise £100 or as much as you can. 

    If you can't do the challenge, why not donate or sponsor someone? 

    Visit Step in their Shoes' website here