This June I took part in the Wildlife Trust’s #30dayswild challenge to complete a Random Act of Wildness every day during June. This was my second year taking part in the campaign and if anything I have found this year an even better experience than last year.
I have found taking part in #30dayswild an inspiring, uplifting, affirming and positive experience. I’ve connected with a like minded community of people on Facebook and twitter and blogging. I’ve read about acts of wildness happening all over the UK and further afield in Sweden, Australia, America and the Middle East. I’ve seen amazing wildlife photographs, learnt about wildlife I’d never heard of or knew much about before, read some fantastic blog posts and have lots of ideas for more wildlife experiences and random acts of wildness both big and small.
Sometimes it can feel, as someone interested in nature and to protecting our wildlife, a little lonely, a little different, as you see things going on around you, hear conversations at work or out and about from people who don’t have a connection with the natural world, see it as a bit of a pain, a nuisance, something to be controlled, sometimes you can feel like an outsider.
This campaign has been a real antidote to that feeling. I now feel much more positive, inspired to make more of a difference, to keep plugging away, one small act at a time to improve things for wildlife. A couple of years ago, at work, our director put on a resilience course for staff, and one of the things from that course which has really stuck with me since was the message that, “small steps, done consistently, will get you there”, to your goal or target, they’ll get the job done.
It strikes me that this sentiment is just as true for nature, if we all do small steps consistently, whether that’s picking up litter, carrying out 2 minute beach cleans, taking action to improve the wildlife value of our gardens, feeding the birds, leaving parts of our lawns to grow long, planting pollinator friendly plants, ditching the disposables, writing to our MPs, getting involved in local conservation groups, joining our local Wildlife Trusts, donating some time to volunteer, recording our wildlife through the Bee Count, Butterfly Count, Big Garden Birdwatch and so on, or any of the myriad of other small green actions that we can take, then we will help to build a better environment, for ourselves, our wildlife and to pass on to future generations.
So, how did I get on with the challenge?
I carried out a random act of wildness every day during June. These ranged from bigger experiences like spending the weekend in the woods on a Nordic Crafts course, learning about mammals at the British Wildlife Centre for the day and a day in the Surrey Hills on a bushcraft course learning fire making techniques to smaller acts like dancing in a downpour, watching our garden birds and planting pots for pollinators.
Here’s the full list of all the random acts of wildness I completed this month:
1. Watched a wild webcam- actually I watched wild webcams quite a lot, I loved checking in with the Springwatch webcams to see how the stars of the show were getting on, from the stone curlews to the sparrowhawk, golden eagle, avocets and more. I’ve also tuned in to the Osprey Cam at the Dyfi Osprey project to see how Monty, Glesni and their pair of youngsters are getting on.
2. Watched the garden birds- during the month we’ve seen blue tits and great tits bring their fledglings to our sunflower heart feeder, a flock of starlings regularly descend into the garden, and woodpigeons, robins, magpies and a blackbird have also visited.
3. Recorded what we see from the window- we’ve kept a daily log of our garden wildlife
4. Take in a new perspective- I stopped looking down at my phone and looked at the birds high above, watching red kites circle and soar above my work
5. Googled wild facts, learning about hedgehogs across the world on the computer.
6. Minibeast mindfulness- relaxed after a busy day at work by taking a close look at the smaller creatures visiting the garden, bees, hoverflies, ladybird larvae and beetles.
7. Ditched the disposables- I bought two glass water bottles to keep in the fridge at home filled with tap water to replace the bottles of sparkling water we were in the habit of buying, used a china reusable coffee cup whenever I got a take away coffee and have got much better at carrying my plastic refillable water bottle with me, so I haven’t bought a disposable drink bottle all month.
8. Checked out the life in our compost bin-snails, worms, beetles, centipedes and slugs.
9. Visited a local park to see the water birds and their young- heron, ducks and ducklings, Egyptian geese, coots and cootlings, moorhens and moorchicks.
10. Searched for a rainbow in the wild with my Mum, it occurs to me that I never saved the pictures from this challenge, so here they are below.
11. Challenged my family to a wild quiz and learnt new wild facts while doing so, did you know that greater noctule bats hunt migrating birds?
12. Visited the National Trust’s Grey’s Court with my family, enjoying the beautiful gardens, watching damselflies mating and ovipositing and spotting Great Crested newts in the pond.
13. Snapped a blue photo of the beautiful damselflies.
14. Inspired a wild child, pointing out the Great crested newts to children in the garden.
15. Put up a solitary bee house in the garden
16. Watched the sunset
17. Sipped in the wild- drank coffee in the garden before work, watching bees buzz in the garden and starlings flash mob the feeder.
18. Ate lunch by the river watching the world go by, spotting a kingfisher and watching banded and beautiful demoiselles flutter.
19. Meditated in the wild, listening to the wild sounds of birds, the wind in the trees and the river flowing past.
20. Visited Braywick Park on the way from work to an evening meeting and watched wildlife in the sunshine and showers, enjoying the cool rain on my skin and the beauty of raindrops on the flowers
21. Thought eco-friendly when buying products, I’ve switched to organic, biodegradable shampoo and conditioner, and brought eco washing up liquid.
22. Took a macro look at the plants in my garden, with a new macro lens for my phone. I loved seeing the tiny detail of the flowers.
23. Read a wild book- Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham, which is wonderful.
24. Inhaled a wild scent of elderflowers in the park- my favourite smell of summer, sweat, heady and delicious.
25. Took a break in nature, eating my lunch in the park
26. Meandered by the river with a friend, watching the sunset, chatting and relaxing.
27. Visited a new (to us) wildlife trust reserve at Hothbury Heathlands in Kent, having lunch on a fallen oak tree, spotting a lizard, dragonflies, and, a new species for us, a poplar beetle.
28. Wild camped in the woods- slept in bivvy bags under a tarp, feeling the cool air on our faces and listening to owls and early morning bird song
29. Watched sparrows having a dust bath in a farm yard
30. Made a knife on a woodland forge
31. Carved a spoon from green wood
32. Took an early morning walk through the quiet woods on my own, enjoying the fresh early morning air.
33. Brewed a leafy tea from ground ivy and nettle leaves- delicious, sweet and slightly minty.
34. Checked our toiletries for microplastics and tweeted the companies whose products I found microplastics in to let them know I won’t be buying them again.
35. Submitted several Great British Bee Counts via the app, I’ve enjoyed watching the bees and this helped with my bee ID skills too.
36. Had a picnic with the birds, seeds, mealworms and cheese for the birds, watching them scrabble for the best position, the bird picnic soon gone, while we ate our lunch nearby.
37. Foraged for wild food in the garden and made garlic mustard flatbreads for lunch.
38. Planted wildflower seeds from Grow Wild in a wooden crate to make a mini wildflower meadow and planted up a pot for pollinators to improve the value of the garden for bees.
39. Added to our pollinator border that we created during last year’s 30dayswild to fill all the gaps with plants to attract the bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths and provide them with food.
40. Left our lawn to grow to see what plants grew and provide space for bees and other insects.
41. Read a wild magazine, or few, enjoying the BBC Wildlife Magazine, the Kew member’s magazine and our local badger group newsletter.
42. Had information put into our local badger group newsletter about #30dayswild to encourage others to get involved
43. Identified the wildflowers growing in the lawn we had left to grow wild
44. Wrote a wild poem inspired by the starlings visiting our garden.
45. Drew pictures of some of our regular visitors to the garden.
46. Danced in a downpour- wild, exhilarating, child like fun!
47. Visited the Heather Farm in Horsell, an amazing SANG (suitable alternative natural greenspace) recovered and rehabilitated from an industrial site to provide a space for dog walkers and recreation to take pressure off nearby heathlands and their ground nesting birds.
48. Built a garden bug hotel to provide habitat for minibeasts.
49. Found moments of wildness in a working day, at a local summer fair promoting recycling, I took time to have a quick wander round and meet owls and ferrets from local rescue organisations.
50. Spent an evening on Wildmoor Heath watching nightjars- I love that eerie, ethereal, otherwordly churring drifting across the heath.
51. Recorded the wild sound of nightjars churring.
52. Detected for bats while waiting for the nightjars to start displaying, watching a pipistrelle flying back and forth above our heads.
53. Spent a day in the Surrey Hills learning fire lighting techniques
54. Had a summer solstice celebration, had a candlelit evening in the garden with a fire blazing in the chiminea, enjoying a summer evening.
55. Created a wild work of art, making a pattern with petals fallen from flowers in the garden around the candles we were burning.
56. Watched the Strawberry Moon rise on the shortest night of the year, a rare event not before seen in either mine or my husband’s lifetimes.
57. Visited my local wild spots to collect elderflowers
58. Read about moths in a magazine and examined a dead bee
59. Made elderflower cordial
60. Raced a buzzard in a traffic jam
61. Spotted wildflowers growing at a tube station
62. Enjoyed cool raindrops on my skin after a very hot gig.
63. Watched lightning flash across the sky listened to huge claps of thunder rumble overhead and listened to the rain pounding on the roof- nature at its most wild.
64. Snatched moments of wildness in a very long day manning a poll station, stepping outside to listen to bird song and watch swifts scream overhead.
65. Smelt the damp earth’s petrichor and the scents of an evening garden, taking in the last light of day leaching from the sky.
66. Spotted a hummingbird hawk moth in the garden.
67. Added a butterfly roost to the garden.
68. Stayed positive with random acts of wildness after the sad EU Referendum result, enjoying the beauty of raindrops on flowers, the peace of the garden acting as a balm for my troubled mind.
69. Enjoyed a late night concert, listening to the dusk chorus.
70. Hunted for wild treasures, finding feathers, stones and shells.
71. Greened the fence, planting wildflowers in pocket planters.
72. Told wild stories, making up silly fireside tails about my favourite wild characters.
73. Drank wild cocktails, made with the elderflower cordial I had made.
74. Spotted shapes in the clouds, a deer with antlers racing across the sky.
75. Spent a day at Kew Gardens learning about bees in The Hive, following the bee trail around the gardens and watching a wet jay preening dry his feathers.
76. Rescued insects, a ladybird from a stream at Kew and a spider from a Homebase store, after it crawled out from a plant I was buying and terrified the checkout assistant.
77. Hugged one of my favourite trees, a huge old sweet chestnut at Kew Gardens.
78. Watched badgers at the Binfield Badger Sett, getting a glimpse of badgers and watching a beautiful muntjac deer feed in front of us.
79. Took part in National Unplugging Day, turning off all electronic gadgets and the TV and tuning into nature instead for the day.
80. Tickled toes in the wild, enjoying the feel of grass on my bare feet.
81. Searched for mini wildness, enjoying the beautiful mosses in the garden and lichens on trees at Grey’s Court.
82. Watched ladybird larvae transform on the honeysuckle
83. Had a mini bioblitz in our back garden, identifying all the wild flowers and spotting insects.
84. Cooked in the wild, barbequing on the lawn in the sunshine.
85. Made firelighters from recycled materials- an egg box, shredded wood packing material and the drips of wax from burnt down candles.
86. Organised a wild trip- we’ve booked to visit Suffolk in September, staying in a property with a deck over the river to explore all the wonderful nature reserves and coast in that area.
87. Needle felted a robin in homage to our garden visitors.
88. Destressed in the wild, indulging in a wild facemask- we made facemasks from honey, with mint and lemon balm collected from the garden, relaxing and moisturising for our skin.
89. Spotted a wild mammal, a fox slinking by the side of the road on his night time wanderings.
90. Followed a bumblebee around the garden, watching it buzz and settle on different plants, the catmint and penstemons particular favourites.
91. Stood up for nature by writing to my MP to let him know how much I value wildlife and to let him know my concerns about wildlife protection being continued or strengthened after EU laws no longer apply.
92. Increased my donations to the two wildlife trusts we are members of, Surrey Wildlife Trust and BBOWT (the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust) to help them in their work.
93. Enjoyed urban wildness on a walk to the shops, lime trees in bloom and a dragonfly zooming down the road.
94. Tweeted for the wild to share my wild adventures.
95. Checked out books for wild summer reading from the library.
96. Encouraged wild at work with a spot of guerrilla gardening, adding pollinator friendly plants to some unloved planters.
97. Learnt about mammals on a Surrey Wildlife Trust course, all about the different mammals found in the country and the tracks and signs that they are around.
98. Saw many of our native mammals at the British Wildlife Centre, amazing to see so many of these beautiful creatures up close and hear more about them from the keeper.
99. Blogged about my wild month
100. Shared wild moments with a whole new community in the 30dayswild group on Facebook.
101. Joined new groups, followed new pages on Facebook and twitter to keep me engaged with the wild and help me identify what I see to #staywild now the challenge is complete.
101 random acts of wildness in 30 days. Not a bad tally for a month. There were some things that I wanted to do during the month that I didn’t get round to or that couldn’t happen for some reason, checking out a local roadside nature reserve, taking a bat detector to the mill pond in late evening to see what bats there are, volunteering in nature, the event was cancelled, taking part in the Big Wildlife Count, which was cancelled due to flooding, but that’s just all the more reason to #staywild. Nature doesn’t stop at the end of June and nor does my enjoyment of it. I’m going to keep blogging about what I’ve been up to and sharing on social media while I stay wild.
My next blog post will be all about the ideas I have to stay wild for 365 days and beyond after the end of the challenge.
What have your highlights of #30dayswild been? Did you enjoy the challenge? How has it made you feel?