New Knowledge in Nature

30 Days Wild banner

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.