Nature Notes: August
The start of August brings the warmest (although normally not the driest) month of the year when the soil is warm, the vegetables are cropping and the fruit bushes are brimming with fruit. Our garden is full of blackbirds trying hard to reach the blackcurrants, whilst the sound of bumblebees fills the garden as they make the most of the catmint that has grown tall in the summer rain. The nights are getting slowly darker, reminding us that summer will not be around for much longer, but as I wander around my garden at dusk the sound of territorial hawkmoths and screeching swifts ready to make their way to Africa reminds me it is still summer for a little while yet. Wandering into the fields the grass has grown long and blows in the wind and birds foot trefoil, a low yellow flowering plant that gets its name from the three-pronged seed pods in the shape of a bird foot (hence the name!), hides at the bottom of the grass. It is that time of year to stop for a while on your dog walk or walk to the shops to admire the flowering plants in full bloom and the trees at their finest, and be happy to live in such a lovely place.
Environmental Tip of the Month: An eco-friendly phone contract
Phones are a huge part of our lives and use vital earth resources, so we need to bring environmental and ethical consideration to them too. You can do this by choosing the eco-friendly contract provider, Ecotalk, which is run in partnership with the RSPB. It uses its profit to buy land and then plants wildflower meadows on the land. Ecotalk uses the EE network and I’ve found I have signal everywhere I need it, and its prices are really competitive. If you’re looking for a new phone, have a look at Fairphone – a modular phone that you can replace bits in yourself, produced from recycled and ethically sourced materials, which is now just as good as any other phone that hasn’t got such great credentials – I just got mine from eBay as my old phone stopped keeping its charge, so not only is it eco-friendly but second-hand too (a great combination!). Fairphone will also take your old phone and recycle it too.
Nature Notes: June
And, just like that, we’re in Summer and the longest day is nearly here. Whilst we may have been a little distracted by being able to get out and do more, nature has been getting on with its most productive time of year – the breeding season. If you’ve woken up early and popped your head outside recently, you’ll have heard the most spectacular dawn chorus – birds of all shapes and sizes signing as loud as they can to attract attention from the females of their species. At our house we’ve been watching some busy blue tits and house sparrows making nests and then – both can have more than one brood of chicks per year and each brood takes around 3 weeks to fledge. Blue tit parents will be busy in those three weeks – an average sized brood of chicks needs around 10,000 caterpillars and other invertebrates to get it to fledgling age!
Wildflowers start to bloom this month – foxgloves, ragged robin and oxeye daisies will all appear this month, starting to fill any wild spaces with colour. It’s really important to try and leave some space to go wild at this time of year so wildflowers have a space – we need them to support our pollinators, including bees, moths and butterflies. Pollinators are in decline because of a lack of food, due to the use of weed killers and people’s keenness to mow the grass short. However, we really need them to pollinate flowers and crops, so try and be a bit less tidy this year and leave a space for wildlife to thrive.
Environmental tip of the month: Shop local After a year of staying in our houses we’re making the most of socialising and being outside. But barbeques and picnics can make a lot of waste – reusable barbeques, food in plastic, drinks in bottles. So, as well as buying yourself a reusable barbeque, why not make a trip to your local butcher for the meat on your barbeque – higher quality, supporting a local butcher, and now some butchers are happy for you to bring your own containers to put your purchases in.
Environmental tip of the month: Are you a ‘google-er’? Did you know that Google is one of the most power hungry organisations in the world, with huge buildings full of computers ready to find the name of that song or the date of that important event for you? Whilst Google are carbon neutral, you can go one better – Ecosia (www.ecosia.org) is a carbon negative search engine and plants trees every time you search. At the time of writing they had planted over 1.2 billion trees around the world. By using them you can do something about mitigating the effects of climate change without leaving your house – the easiest kind of climate action! I’ve used Ecosia for around 4 years now, and now honestly find Google garish and horrible to use, so give it a go and stick with it.