30 Days Wild - Making, Baking, Exploring and Learning, by Gemma Paul

Ladybird in child's hand © Gemma Paul/HIWWT

Gemma and her little boy had a great time taking part in 30 Days Wild this year. Read about their highlights and how they plan to stay wild.

We really enjoyed taking part in the 30 Days Wild challenge again this year. There was a lot of fun to be had enjoying the outdoors and wonderful wildlife as well as making, baking, exploring and learning along the way.

Somehow (despite the addition of a newborn this year) we managed to do 30+ activities and random acts of wildness over the 30 days.

It was a great motivation to get out and about with my 4 year old son (with his baby brother in tow), spending quality time together talking, laughing and playing.

Beach activities 30 Days Wild © Gemma Paul/HIWWT

Seaside Exploration © Gemma Paul

We ran through wildflower meadows and fields, picked and ate fresh fruit, climbed trees, splashed in woodland streams, found jellyfish on the shore and caught crabs from a pontoon.

Our favourite part of 30 days wild is always the unexpected wildlife encounters. This year did not disappoint! There was an exciting moment when a female roe deer burst across the meadow we were in, an adorable procession of fluffy baby swans and our very first live stag beetle encounter.

We also got to see and hold all manner of minibeasts when we spent time exploring three of our local nature reserves. We helped with a Bioblitz survey at Peartree Green nature reserve where we had a lovely encounter with a snail and found an interesting assortment of insects.

At Swanwick Lakes nature reserve we celebrated their 25th anniversary and enjoyed the family day activities, pond dipping and sweeping nets through the meadow to catch crickets, grasshoppers and beetles.

 

Minibeast hunt at Swanwick Lakes 25th Birthday © Gemma Paul/HIWWT

Minibeast hunt at Swanwick Lakes © Gemma Paul

At Millers Pond nature reserve we litter picked together as part of the conservation work day. I also went round on another day taking habitat reference photos and was lucky enough to get close to a dragonfly munching nosily on a bumble bee.

On days when we couldn’t go further afield, we had fun exploring nature at home or encouraging wildlife in the garden. We made slow worm and hedgehog shelters, insect houses and bird feeder bunting as well as creating wildflower seeds bombs, natural perfume and sun catchers.

On other days we used the fruit and herbs we had picked to bake rosemary biscuits and make milkshakes, strawberry jam, fruit ice lollies and a rhubarb crumble (which unfortunately got cremated when I forgot to turn the oven timer on).

As my son gets older his understanding of the world is growing, and we are able to explore things in more depth. This year we did an experiment to demonstrate decomposition to him so he could understand the role insects, weather and time play in breaking things down. We always talk about what we are doing so we learn and share as we go.

Some of the activities we started for 30 Days Wild are ongoing. We are watching and waiting as some caterpillars transform into beautiful red cinnabar moths, Our giant sunflower is growing taller by the day and our Triops are merrily swimming round their tank.

We plan to stay wild and enjoy exploring nature and the wild world around us throughout the year until it’s time to start thinking up fun things to do for next year’s 30 days wild.

I highly recommend taking part yourselves (if you haven’t been already). It’s fun, free and you will be surprised at all the things you discover along the way; new places to explore, simple activities to enjoy, wonderful wildlife and hopefully lots of memories and adventures of your own.

Here is a list of all the activities we did for 30 days wild.

1. Made a slowworm shelter in the garden.
2. Explored the shore and found jellyfish, crabs and winkles. We also visited a local pond and saw some baby swans.
3. Catching crabs and tree climbing.
4. Making cress seed caterpillars.
5. Homemade natural perfume.
6. Sunprint nature shapes on photographic paper
7. Baked rosemary biscuits and went on a wild walk
8. We set up an antarium to observe ants and made banana milkshakes
9. Went to the National Oceanography centre open day and picked strawberries and peas
10. We painted rocks to hide for others to find.
11. We grew a mushroom and made bird feeder bunting and a footprint tracker
12. We made strawberry ice lollies and a hedgehog house.
13. Learning about decomposition and making an insect house we also encountered a Stag beetle.
14. Exploring a woodland park and feeding the ducks.
15. We made ice decorations and went strawberry picking
16 We helped with a Bioblitz at Peartree nature reserve
17. We celebrated Swanwick Lakes 25th birthday and enjoyed the family day activities
18. We sowed some wildflower seeds and supported our local nature reserves
19. We made strawberry jam, took habitat reference photos and spotted a dragonfly
20. We made wildflower seed bombs
21. We picked Rhubarb and ran wild in the fields, meadow and on the shore.
22. We enjoyed flowers and tried to help out the bees
23. Raising caterpillars and looking for minibeasts
24. Litterpicking, nature watch and making tree spirits
25. We made sun catchers and checked on our caterpillars
26. Raising Triops
27. We went on a rainbow nature hunt and made cloud binoculars
28. Den building and a teddy bears tea party
29. We played nature games
30. We picked blackberries and spotted butterflies