#30DaysWild: 18 – 21 Notebooks, botany, rain and magpies

Another multi-day catch up… see ‘take note’ for my excuses about not posting daily!

Take note

Who wants to be at their desk writing when they can be outside in nature and seeing all the fascinating plants and creatures going about their business? Which at this time of year is all about making new plants and creatures (although the actual mating will probably have been weeks or months ago).

It’s made me realise how much I need a better ‘birding’ notebook. The one I still use has tiny pages with just enough room for a list and barely that when I started adding notes. When I’m doing a nature writing job, I take a bigger book and I’ve realised it’s time to do the same whenever I walk. Some favour a notebook known as ‘The Alwych’ with its ‘all weather’ cover but I’ve found it a bit too chunky to fit in my pocket – which it needs to do when the weather is good enough not to have a coat on. I have two new types to try out. What do you make notes on when you are out ‘in the field’? (Feel free to comment below).

Better botany

As I wrote at the start of 30 Days Wild, it’s entirely possible simply to enjoy wild flowers without knowing what they are – but some get more enjoyment out of learning what they are looking at. I fall into that camp. I’m keen to truly get to know the local meadow (in regeneration – see my previous post in which I talk about the yellow rattle there). I’m aiming for a few species each time I go. Knapweed, rest-harrow and one of the bedstraws were my first haul – but from the bedstraw I’m learning that better botany takes time as I’m still not sure what kind it is. Hopefully there’ll still be some in flower on my next walk.

Knapweed

Rain

If you’re a gardener, or have an allotment, you know the value of rain for making the crops grow. Yet most of us spend a lot of time moaning about it and trying to avoid it. Inspired by Melissa Harrison’s book called Rain (subtitle: four walks in English weather – and which is a lovely read that I recommend) I decided my getting caught in a summer shower was an experience to savour rather than grumble about. I enjoyed the sound of the rain on the leaves and even pitter-pattering – yes that really was the sound it made – into my right ear. I was glad to get home and change out of my wet clothes but I wasn’t at all sorry at having got wet.

The bathing magpie

Some people have a massive downer on magpies but I find them delightful. Am I over-egging my feelings for them? No. I love the way they look like they’re wearing a white scooped neck t-shirt, the striking iridescence of some of their feathers and they way the walk – among other things. This week I added ‘the way they teach their young to wash’ to that list. My husband moved one of our birdbaths to the middle of lawn earlier this year which means we have a prime view of it from the kitchen window. From here we watched an adult magpie, observed by two of its young, get into the bath and then flap and splash to clean its feathers. But it was only a quick wash. It seemed to be showing the young how to do it. Each in turn took a go. The first standing in the water before gingerly splashing then getting out. The second going at it with more gusto before sitting on the edge dripping wet. If that isn’t delightful, I don’t know what is.

Pic credit: Magpie birdbath”IMG_0431″ by richardrichard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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