Blog

What I’m Doing Now

Thought I would give an update on what I’m doing now! So I decided school wasn’t right for me and after about a month into 5th year I decided I was going to leave and go to college. I got a place at SRUC Oatridge doing NC Countryside Management. I’ve been a few weeks now and am really enjoying it although keeping my eyes open for any jobs or apprenticeships that may pop up which are of interest to me.

I’ll keep my page updated with what I’m doing but for now I’m still on the course at college.

Self Isolation Projects

My idea of Easter holidays was to go around and show people the DNOMD (see: https://dnomd.com for info on project) project that I had helped set up. As a result from COVID-19 the project has been cancelled but there is a possibility it will start up again when safe to do so. It was through funding we managed to start it off and it was only meant to last a few months but with the feedback we got we felt it could be a permanent running project. The only barrier stopping us from doing that is time and enough volunteers to keep it going. The three project leaders (including myself) are all teenagers so with next years schoolwork we will be very busy and don’t know if we will be able too keep it going. We will keep everyone updated!

We have had to cancel nest monitoring at our local park to keep everyone safe. See https://friendsoflinnpark.com for more info on our nest monitoring. We do however have 15 boxes up in a housing estate which two residents are monitoring as the boxes are all in their grounds and they don’t make contact with people and can do it as part of their hours exercise so I’ll be busy uploading their records!

Anyway since self isolation started a few projects have risen. I’m going to redesign my garden a bit because there is too much cut grass and it’s not as wildlife friendly as it could be whilst still keeping my family happy. I’ll be doing a separate post with before and after images but i’ve already started working on the extension of the frog pond.

Just before Self Isolation started I managed to get 10 lengths of wood delivered which is enough to make about 40 bird boxes. In a few days I had it all cut and every box assembled. This time I sold boxes for £15 with £5 going towards the NHS to buy protective equipment. The way it worked was I would only deliver to people in my area so that I could leave a box at peoples front door (non contact) as part of my daily exercise. People would either do a bank transfer for money or leave an envelope out. Some people came past and picked up their own box.

More ideas will pop up but for now that’s what I have planned and have done!

Stay Safe

Mike

My Local Rewilding Journey

This is the first of two articles I’ve written about rewilding in my local area. Part 1 will concentrate on some projects in my garden, while part 2 will focus on my attempts to encourage my Local Council to embrace the rewilding agenda.

Part 1: My Garden

I’m 15 and have lived in the suburbs of Glasgow all my life. As my interest in the environment has grown over the years, I’ve become much more aware of the importance of doing everything I can to help wildlife flourish in the areas around me.

In my early years of primary school with the help of my brother and dad we built a pond in our garden (https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-pond).It was designed to be as natural as possible with various levels to support the growth of different pond plants. My grandparents gave us a selection of plants from their pond and a few buckets of water to help move things along.

Our Pond (Photo Credit: Kevin Sinclair)

As the pond matured, within a few years we had a thriving population of common frogs which were very vocal in the spring as the males were calling before mating took place.

Typically, in early April, we would wake up one morning to find clumps of spawn strategically laid in the same place every year to maximise the heat captured from the spring sunshine.  At that point our kitchen is turned into a tadpole nursery as we would retrieve some spawn and commandeer some plastic storage boxes as temporary amphibian nurseries! Why? Because it’s really interesting taking some spawn and watching it develop into tadpoles and froglets. It’s also a great talking point for friends visiting the house: those who are not too squeamish at the thought of sharing a kitchen with a few hundred tadpoles!!!  Due to the slightly higher temperature inside it takes about 3 – 4 weeks for the tadpoles become little froglets which are then released back into the pond to continue their development.

Of course, one pond led to two and we now have around 20 or so adult frogs each year! On mild evenings in late spring and early summer around midnight, the grass surrounding the pond is heaving with frogs on the hunt for slugs and worms. Many hours have been spent watching them hop round the lawn tracking down their prey. The spectacle has fascinated the neighbours so much that they’ve now built ponds too. The wider benefits? Fewer slugs, healthier plants, greater biodiversity and a garden ecosystem functioning as it should: chemical free, with wildlife doing what it does best. We’ve also had two hedgehogs which have also been regular visitors over the last 2 years.

Common Frog

With my ponds having been well-established for many years it was time to move on to plants and wildflowers. Wildflowers and wildflower-rich habitats provide pollinators (bees and other insects that pollinate plants) with food sources across the seasons.

In spring 2019 I embarked on a project to plant up my back garden with a range of plants designed to encourage a range of pollinators. In addition to natural wildflower seed mixes I also included some non-native plants from the Northern Hemisphere as recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society (https://wwwrhs.org.uk) to maximise the opportunities for pollinators. Plants that will flower at different times of the year were chosen. Now the hum of bees, wasps and hoverflies is a regular sound: indeed, we even have the odd damsel and dragonflies that stop off at the pond.

Garden with wildflowers up back left. I will be extending this area! (Photo Credit: Kevin Sinclair)

As a keen Moth’er (person who catches, studies and releases moths) I noticed a huge difference in the number and variety of moths caught in my garden.  For the first time in 2019 I caught species such as Swallow Prominent, Elephant and Poplar Hawk Moth which I’m sure were attracted by the greater variety of plants (https://ukmoths.org.uk).

Swallow-tailed Moth (Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair)
Elephant Hawk-moth (Photo Credit: Michael Sinclair)

The benefits of planning didn’t stop at summer! This winter has witnessed the largest flocks of goldfinch, (27) siskin (45) and lesser redpoll (16) visiting the garden to feed off the plant seed-heads.

There is still some cut grass in my back garden, but I’m working on a design that’s suitable for a family garden and one for nature to share. For example, the area around my pond isn’t cut to allow clover to flourish and also create a suitable hiding place for frogs leaving the pond. My garden isn’t huge, but with a bit of thought, planning and patience to let nature run its course it’s amazing what will appear!