Sunday, 12 December 2021

A short Christmas break

Not really been into posting lately as I have been reflecting on the past year and ready to get on with the coming Spring but Last week I spent a few days at a cottage above Amlwch Harbour and with storms coming in I was glad to have booked a place with a view as I wanted a couple of walks as the coastal path was right outside the door. Enjoying a cup of tea and a fish supper with this wonderful view was a great way to enjoy a few days before the annoying start of a few weeks before 2021 ends and 2022 begin so life can resume ready for the spring. 

View from the living room into the kitchen and the rocky outcrops asbove the harbour

 Harbour view
A snowy garden before I left home for my break
 Thanks for reading

Mike

Sunday, 10 October 2021

A simple but wonderful walk in the Peak district

With Autumn upon us and the next stage of Nature taking on readying themselves for the blast of Winters cold with Jays and Squirrels burying nuts and myself buying new winter gear to keep me warm and comfy while out hiking and enjoying being out on the water. Yesterday with the weather looking good we decided on heading up into the Peak district to do our regular 3 hour walk. We got the bus from the Cat and fiddle pub down to Macclesfield taking rests to enjoy the silence and breath in the fresh air and the views but as we arrived the mist rolled in bringing the true beauty of the area to life. The Red Grouse were on form with flighty passovers and lots of calling going on, I can't explain how desolate and wonderful the small area near Shining tor can be especially in a white where it feels like your in Alaska with all the pine trees and snow upto your waist.

After a little breather and some tasty pork pies that seemed to taste even nicer in the fresh cool air of the Peaks, just before we headed down hill we spotted a large flock of waders disturbed from the mist by the noisy Red Grouse, there must have been over 20 Golden Plover and to see my first in the Peaks was equally perfect as they disapeered in and out of the mist.

I could not be sure but a blacker grouse shaped bird flew past me but could not be sure as it was so fast and as they blend in so well to the thick vegetation was it a Black Grouse or not I can't be 100% positive but would be great if it was after a bit of internet searches it be possible taht there around in small numbers. The one thing that was wonderful to see was a male Sparrow Hawk perched on a farmers fence post looking down onto Lamaload reservoir and for me one of the best views in the area.

 Thanks for visiting

Mike

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Book review -- The secret life of an Arable farm --

 This week I got sent a new book to review and it focuses on the wildlife that can be found in and around an Arable field showing the possible conservation and positives from this type of farming. An arable field is land that has been tilled and ploughed regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation. I had an 3 day weekend coming up and as the weather was wet and stormy plus I decided to cancel my wild camping plans in Wales it was the perfect time to relax and read this wonderful book written by Sophie McCallum.

The Field looks at the eco-system of an arable field, complete with photographs from crops, trees, hedgerows and wildflowers, to the wide variety of animals, farmland birds, insects, butterflies and moths that they support; and how they depend on each other; and are all vital for the wonderful environment we need to thrive and enjoy.

The book focuses on the relationship between these key species, how they work together and interact with their environment in order to survive. It is about the eco-system and how they all link together, and how every species, no matter how seemingly insignificant, plays a vital part in the food-chain and ultimate survival of all species. For every species referred there is a photograph detailing it, with over 120 colour images throughout the book.

The animals and birds that live within this habitat are reported on and the insects; including detailed analysis of bumblebees, honeybees and ants, as well as more hidden species such as the earthworm, are described in their role in life, with in-depth facts and photos. Wildlife, such as badgers, muntjacs, hedgehogs and fallow deer and their habits are detailed, along with birds that survive on farmland and are now sadly becoming rare. Included in this range are corn buntings, skylarks, goldfinches, kestrels, yellow wagtails and jackdaws, although there are many more. The main aim of this book is to give a detailed description of the private life of these creatures and show how they depend upon and work together in harmony, creating the environment that we are so adeptly eradicating. The Government have set out a package of reforms to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Our havens of nature are being destroyed and this book will examine, with photographs and text, what really makes the field a special place, both for wildlife and humans alike.

I really enjoyed learning about how special this type of farming can benefit the UK and its wildlife through creating a safe oasis for many different creatures. The book is a great companion to have when walking especially whenusing some of our public walking paths that passes through arable farmland, I am sure I'll find myself sitting on a style in the sun at the edge of some really beautiful countryside with my copy of The secret life of an Arable farmland in hand looking at what creatures I may see and hear.

You can buy this book here

 Thanks for reading

Mike

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Book review----The Science of Hope----by Dr. Wiebke Finkler and Scott Davis

With the current state of things in the world, from the Pandemic to extreme weather conditions and it makes it difficult for the world to remain unaffected by them and the effect on our mental health and everyday lifes. I think the real effect is felt by our planet is the habitats and creatures that depend on the perfect temperatures, certain foods or just being left undisturbed in the far courners of the world where now humanty in encroching even further into these once protected wildlife forests and our last surviving edens. It may seem hopeless for our planets wildlife as even I was once an optimist but after seeing so much destruction even on my local patch from Nature abundant wasteland being turned into unneeded warehouse space where there are already empty unused warehouses. I find its always Nature that pays the price to see areas normally packed with wild flowers, Butterflys and grass hoppers where many species fed and kept hidden safe from man now under concrete and car parks. I feel like the green spaces we all need and our world needs are decreasing at a rapid rate most days I ask myself if I am still hopeful for the future of the creatures and habitats I love so much and my answer back is regretfully no.
 
Seeing the destruction and bleak stories on social media have me really doubting change so after being asked to review a book about the Science of Hope exploring some of some of our worlds most threatened wildlife and the ways in which people are dedicating there lives to help protect and increase populations of many species from retsoring habitats to breeding programs and most important of all educating local people that have the power to change there part of the world for the good of the planet.
After reading The Science of Hope by Dr. Wiebke Finkler and Scott Davis I found it had restored some hope for the future of some of our planets most amazing creatures in really unique beautiful locations that some us will ever get to see but hopefully thanks to the effort of hard working caring locals and conservationists from around the world it may be easier through ecotourism.  The subject is an interesting topic discussed in the book and is a great way to help protect and promote these creatures around the world plus make an income and allow people to see, care and connect with the Nature that could be lost within a few years if we don't try. I took away from the book that its 50/50 50% Science and 50% hope as without hope and hard work then the results will be for nothing and will fail so maybe its more hope and a little bit of science that will be the difference between losing the Graceful Whales that keep our seas alive and healthy or our closest living relative the apes that have lost so much of there jungle homes.
After reading this wonderful book I ask myself again can we make a difference enough to protect and conserve our worlds creatures but my answer is still up in the air. One thing I am sure of is that I am more hopeful after reading The Science of Hope and seeing the stunning Nature photography inspires and blended with the conservation efforts mentioned shows that there is a chance and if we give the world and its creatures that then there will always be a tiny shining light in the dark we call hope backed up with the power of Science.
 
Thanks for reading

Mike

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Strengthening my connection with Nature through water

In my last blog I was having trouble with my new raft camping/floating hide idea and thanks to some old bits of heavy metal I have made some achors so I can lower into the water to keep each side of my raft into the mud so I wont float off in the night and now that I have a 2 door tent that I can access the front, back and sides of the tent for emergencys and mooring up in wild spots. With my raft ready to go for wild camps I have decided to use more over the winter more as theres more darkness, clearer skys and the countryside comes more alive under a winter sky on land and in water.

Hearing the tick tick of the Robin as the light falls and rises especially as the temperature falls

My only issue was that I may have to insulate abit more with a thicker sleeping bag and tent carpet to as the problem with camping on water is your losing heat from above as well as below but I'll get more into that another time. One of the things I decided I wanted to do more of was spend more time in water wild swimming or wild dipping if its especially cold and this year I have just done that from rivers, lakes and the sea.

 
It was so refreshing and life affirming to see Swans swimming by while in the water under the water through huge shoals of sand eels in clear blue seas that you would not believe was in the UK.

Having an hour and a flask of tea in a quiet bay on the Menai straits

Paddle boarding the river always ended with a dip in more secluded locations to cool down my body after being out on some really hot days watching large Barbel speeding about on the gravel river bed.

 

 
Under the water the Minnows seem to be in good number meaning healthy river providing food for the abundant Kingfishers that have done well from low rainfall meaning barely any floods in the breeding season. One thing I did notice was the Minnows seem to have developed the same appetite as the skin-nibbling, toothless carp that to be used in fish based pedicures which got banned to due health issues.

 
I have just received a couple of books to read & review which I'll post soon and as I have a long weekend off every month till February 2022 will mean I can get out and reconnect with the thing I love for the next 4 months so I'll be posting more when I get the chance to. The one thing that never changes for me is the feeling of being outdoors wearing my comfy outdoors clothing heading off camping with everything I need to survive in one back pack by the coast.
 
Thanks for reading

Mike

Stay wild and be free

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Connecting with Nature - Wildlife + camping = Wildlife camping with a twist

Earlier in the year during Winter and what felt like the 100th lockdown we have had I decided once that I had planned, booked and paid for all my holidays I wanted to do some creative unique things I have thought of but not seen people do as who wants to be like everybody else "Not me".
After kayaking and paddleboarding for many years and my love for camping this got me thinking and I wondered if I could combine the two things together. After many searches on camping on water including rafts and life rafts I found the perfect product which I bought straight away with much excitement. 
 
I enjoyed using 8by2 sturdy well made product in the spring of 2021 it was wonderful that unlike a sup board or kayak to have space and beable to hang my legs in the water on hot days while watching all the river wildlife. So I had the raft base now I needed a cheap tent from Argos that measured just right to place on the raft to test my theory and see what issues there maybe from camping on water whether a river, lake or canal each one brings its own challenges and positives but if it gave me unique moments with nature it was worth it.
With shallow rivers I can moor up to the banks by stepping out into the water with using a mooring pin or rope onto a tree as there are many isolated areas not accesible by land and only via water especially in this time of overgrown river banks my local river felt like a small piece of the Amazon making there even more of a reason to enjoy camping on the river. On canals and lakes I cannot just step out into the water so it makes the toilet situtation tricky but I solved that quite easily with common sense but thats not for this blog for two reasons. So first I camped alone on the lake and it was amazing no problems except abit wet under the tent from the heavy rain but I slept well and had a good night sleep with the door open I could see the geese and swans plus other various creatures moving in the darkness including bats feeding on the insects buzzing on the waters surface so a bat detector is a future purchase I really want to use while sleeping on the water.
Feeding swans from my comfy bed I even brought my bed pillows from home
With my first camp out of the way with a few small issues depending on weather I decided to try with another person in the tent as it was 2 man tent and the says it holds 3 adults and one child so 2 adults and gear for comfort and filming should equal below the maximum weight it can take. The 2 man attempt was on a dry clear night under the stars unlike the first this time we could hear the tawnys calling from the tall willow trees on the lakes edge. My main problem in windy weather is staying still and accesing the front and the boat of the raft for storage and mooring but I'll go into that in my next blog hopefully in the next few days.
Camp raft 2.0 on its way and in a more inconspicuous color

Thanks for reading

Mike

Stay wild and be free

Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Barn Owls are back and so am I!

With days getting shorter and the night coming in earlier the creatures of the night are venturing out into the meadows and woodland eadges much earlier as they know that that we are not around as nights get cooler and our attentions are else where. One evening last week I decided to lay back and relax soaking up all the sounds and smells of late summer from the calls of Grasshoppers to the sweet smell of the Bee and Butterfly filled Budelia being blown across the meadow.

 

I had a wonderful encounter a few years ago in this field so I decided on trying to recreate and guess what with a little whistle It happened again the Barn Owl hovered above for a second and took its perch up in a nearby Oak tree.

My secret escape hidden in the Cheshire countryside feels like a small peice of paradise

 
I'm getting sent a new book to review this week The Science of Hope: Eye to Eye with our World's Wildlife looks like an interesting read as Hope to me is more about faith than science but the title is very alluring to my pessimistic mind and I used to be such an optimist well some days I still am but as long as I can get to Wales I'll always have something to smile about.
My passion is slowly coming back and I hope to be sharing my wildlife watching and love of nature with you over the rest of the year and beyond...
My new wildlife watching craft the Aqua marina cascade and theres more adventures to come with it 
Regards

Mike