Nature Notes: December

The trees are bare, and the vegetation has died back, but there are still a few wildflowers clinging on in our garden providing a little burst of colour. The starlings are back, demolishing the bird food before 11 am, but also showing off their oily wings and joining the Gwyddgrug murmuration as the sun sets each evening. We have had a family of jays at our bird table this week too – a bird with a bad (unfounded) reputation, but ever so beautiful to admire. We have had the first frost, but generally autumn has been warm this year – a true sign that climate change is happening now, not in the future.

However, despite the warm temperatures, winter brings its own beauty, with deep orange sunset that illuminate the sky, a clearness to the night sky that means the milky way is visible, and just enough of a crispness in the air on our morning dog walks to wake you up. The transition from autumn to winter is my favourite time of year and our little part of Wales does it particularly well.

Environmental tip of the month As I write this, COP26 has filled the news over the past few weeks, reiterating the importance of mitigating climate change. Whilst big businesses and governments need to make the major changes we can all do our bit, by considering where we shop for food, buying less and fixing more, driving less and making conscious choices to help the environment. Using the new electric community car is a great way to do this, whilst also making use of a fantastic resource!

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.

Morgan Jones