Flower-filled meadows
By     |    Jun 28, 2013
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Flower-filled meadows

Izzy appears to have early-onset terrible twos. Her favourite phrases at the moment are “‘Bel do it,” and “Mummy wrong.” I figure that the best thing to do is to get both of us out of the house and get some fresh air, so we take a trip to Okehampton Castle. Unfortunately, this does nothing to stop the tantrums. Before leaving the car park there is a meltdown about climbing [...]

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Foraging for elderflowers
By     |    Jun 25, 2013
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Foraging for elderflowers

We wander down the road to where the Elder bush grows and as I pick them, Izzy counts the elderflower heads into the carrier bag “… six, sen-en, eight!” Back at home she stands on the chair at the kitchen table and ‘helps’ me to weigh out the sugar into a saucepan. I add water and boil them together to make a syrup. Meanwhile, we put the elderflowers in a [...]

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Carnivorous plants
By     |    Jun 16, 2013
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Carnivorous plants

Izzy thinks that the fluffy white things fluttering in the breeze are feathers, but they are actually the seedheads of Common Cotton-grass and they indicate that we are stepping onto boggy ground. Carefully, we pick our way through the mire, over cushions of Sphagnum moss, searching for an exotic-looking species called Round-leaved Sundew. Then, suddenly, we find ourselves surrounded by dozens of the plants, tiny, red-tinged rosettes with sticky leaves [...]

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Plants of limestone pavement
By     |    Jun 9, 2013
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Plants of limestone pavement

A train rumbles over Ribblehead Viaduct, a 400m stretch of valley-spanning railway line, as we set off on our mini adventure to Ingleborough NNR. Before long, Izzy, Ben and I have found the area of limestone pavement, which is a habitat I remember learning about at school, but which I have never before seen. We explore the clints and grikes, Izzy-sized mountains and gorges, noting the woodland plants that cling [...]

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A peaceful Bluebell wood
By     |    May 23, 2013
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A peaceful Bluebell wood

            We almost didn’t make it out today. Izzy threw the mother of all tantrums as we left the house and refused to sit in the car seat. But, I knew it boiled down to tiredness and that once she’d had a sleep in the car she would be fine, so IĀ perseveredĀ and now, sitting happily amongst a haze of Bluebells, the tantrum is easily forgotten. [...]

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A trail of ants
By     |    May 19, 2013
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A trail of ants

Izzy has had chicken pox, so this week we have mainly stayed indoors. Cabin fever had definitely set in and it feels good to be outside now. We follow a grassy path lined by Common Dog-violets and Bluebells. When Izzy stops to smell the flowers, I notice some Broom hiding amongst the golden Gorse. Izzy wants to touch a Black Slug and there are a few of those around at [...]

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Lizards in the dunes
By     |    May 6, 2013
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Lizards in the dunes

It is the bank holiday weekend and Dawlish Warren is teeming with tourists, but away from the dodgems and the fish and chip shops, a little bit of wilderness can be found. Between the golf course and the beach is a strip of sand dune habitat that few holiday makers ever reach. We trek from the car park through the nature reserve, passing a pond containing Canada Geese, Mute Swans [...]

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Springtime on the moor
By     |    Apr 26, 2013
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Springtime on the moor

On Dartmoor, the birds are singing. Meadow Pipits burst into the sky, pouring their hearts out, then parachute down to the ground again, whilst Skylarks belt out endless arias and Yellowhammers, perched in bare thorn bushes, chant ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’. I hold Izzy’s hand as we climb the hill, aware that this is Adder country and that it is sunbathing weather for snakes today. We [...]

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A churchyard rookery
By     |    Apr 6, 2013
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A churchyard rookery

It is Easter Saturday and we are outside Crediton Parish Church (otherwise snappily known as the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross and the Mother of Him who Hung Thereon), but we are not here for religious purposes; we are just here to watch the Rooks. Izzy, dressed in an Easter Bunny costume, is carrying a feather she has found on the newly mown grass and wandering happily amongst the [...]

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Red Kite feeding frenzy
By     |    Mar 28, 2013
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Red Kite feeding frenzy

There is a bitter wind howling through the forest, bending the trees like pipe-cleaners and ruffling the surface of the lake. Red Kites are circling, whistling to each other, waiting for the food to be delivered and below them, people are gathering, blowing on their frozen fingers, stamping frozen toes, to watch. An expectant calm falls over the place. Then, food is thrown down onto the ground and suddenly a [...]

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