New Knowledge in Nature

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Volunteer Emily Dodd tells us about her 30 Days Wild experience

My goodness, how time has flown by!

We’re now moving into the third week of #30DaysWild and we have already achieved so much.

I have been inspired every day to do Random Acts of Wildness, simply from seeing the pure enthusiasm of other individuals across the country.

This past week, I have witnessed enormous smiles as kids create astonishing artwork with nature. So, I decided to get creative with some artsy leaf designs (whilst refreshing my memory with some tree identification) - what’s stopping adults from joining in with the fun stuff too?

I have also been greeting new visitors in my garden, especially the bees who seem to have taken a good liking to it!

The grey skies didn’t stop me from wandering the wetlands at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve this week either – and I’m glad – I discovered so many new plant species like cat’s-ear, bogbean, and cuckoo flowers; whilst catching sight of small pearl-bordered fritillaries, tiny tormentil, wild thyme, ragged robins, and lots of orchids.

Common spotted orchid

Common spotted orchid
© Emily Dodd

The following day, I travelled to Ambleside to meet the team at the Freshwater Biological Association to learn about Freshwater Pearl Mussels. The tour was organised by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, and I can’t be more grateful – my brain is full of information, and I haven’t stopped nattering on about the species for days! There’s good reason for it though, because you might not know that…

  • They are rare and globally threatened (and extremely vulnerable to water pollution)
  • They can live for 140 years and reach 17cm in length
  • An adult can filter up to 50 litres of water per day
  • Their pearls are not the essence of beauty... Those pearls are formed when an irritant enters the inside of the shell - the mussels then protect themselves by coating the foreign subject with iridescent nacre (mother of pearl)
Photo of someone looking down a microscope

Inspecting glochidia larvae at Freshwater Biological Association
© Emily Dodd

In Mungrisedale, Stuart Colgate from Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre spent a day teaching us handy tips and tricks to identify wildflowers. I found it amazing to discover a few of the tiniest of details that distinguish different plants - such as the shape of a leaf, or the arrangement of microscopic hairs on a stem for instance. The diversity of wildlife may be overwhelming, but I think that I’ve found a new subject of interest!

This week has been full of new knowledge, and I can’t wait to learn even more.