A huge thank you to Zach (@nerdboy386)—our youngest guest blogger to date—for this fabulous blog entry. He's currently documenting his 'Year of Nature' on his own blog (yearofnature.blogspot.co.uk) and kindly agreed to write a post for The Wild Network. We feature on Day 252, and here it is: 

Hey everybody today's Day 252 and I have recently been asked to write a post for The Wild Network and I thought it would be good to post it here as well. The post I was asked to write, as I am sure you know from the title, is about My Five Favourite, Free, Wild Things.

So, here they are:

5. Listening to Bird Song.

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This is one of the best things about going out into the countryside or being in the garden or park. I'm getting better at recognising different bird songs and calls and know quite a lot already, and like learning new ones particularly unusual or distinctive ones like the Cetti's Warbler, a Jay's mating call, Chiff-chaff, etc. We have a CD by Geoff Sample which we listen to in the car which helps us learn them.  Sometimes in the forest we hear rooks in their nests, sometimes they sound as if they are fighting something off and once we saw why - a huge raptor flew off.  We also often hear Tawny Owls there as wells as lots of Wood Pigeons, Tits and Finches to name but a few. A few weeks ago my dad and I went camping at How Stean Gorge and for the first time I was woken up by the most spectacular dawn chorus at about 4 am! We just sat and listened to it though, it was amazing.  One of the nicest songs is the blackbird's, simple but lovely to listen to.

4. Rock-pooling.  

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This is something else that can be enjoyed by people of all ages! One of our favourite places to go to for rock-pooling is Sandsend near to Whitby, another is Craster in Northumberland. I've found crabs, sea anemones, star fish, molluscs and small fish.  There are also all sorts of sea plants and seaweeds. It's also great fun climbing over the rocks - but keep an eye out for the tide coming in!  Once Dad and I cut it a bit fine and almost got cut off, we had to scramble up the rocks to get back up to the car park, my Mum was not impressed when we told her!  It's also a good opportunity while you`re on the beach to do a quick 2 minute beach-clean. If everyone did this every time they went to the beach, the beaches would be much clearer of rubbish, and less harmful stuff such as plastic bags and old fishing lines and hooks would go back out to sea and hurt sea life. Just remember to have a big bag and some rubber gloves with you.

3. Going for a nice walk in the Countryside.

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What I love about this is that it's very easy to do for people of all ages and abilities, and all you have to think about is what you can see and hear around you. It's great for just calming you down after a hard day at Work/School etcetera and the wildlife around you, if you're quiet, is great to watch. It's such an amazing thing to do without having to pay anything, of course you can go to places that charge you, but places like Woodland Trust & Wildlife Trust areas are incredible places to visit without paying penny. Scientists have proved that when you walk in a forest, or places with trees, it helps with breathing if you have asthma or a cough etc, and actually increases positive brainwaves, making you feel happier. The exercise itself is good for your whole body and helps your muscles, heart, lungs, all of you in fact.  The colour green is also meant to be very calming and healing, and green is all around you in the country.  Listening to the birds, a stream or the wind rustling trees and plants is a lovely way to relax. And it's all just around the corner in our wonderful countryside - most people don`t live too far away from a park, recreation area or canal if you live in urban areas too.

2. Bug Hunting. 

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When you're out anywhere whether it's in the country or on paths or by roads or in a park, school playing field or even the beach, there are always bugs around if you look closely!  This is really good to do as a) if you are a little bit scared of bugs it helps you out, b) it's great for learning about all of the bugs and c) it's a great hobby - I can get pictures of them and write blogs to learn about them even more and also share what I've found out with you! It is also quite fun to hunt for bugs as you can find them in the verges, on flowers, in leaf litter and even just on the path in front of  you. In one of our favourite places, Silton Forest, it's amazing how many species we can spot just in one small area.  We can also see trends, whether it`s a whole load of bees, saw flies, beetles or chimney sweep moths, we can soon learn that there are obviously plants in a particular area that attract them.  And that helps us to learn even more. Some of the more unusual bugs I've spotted recently are the Agapata Harmana Moth - a bright yellow moth which had a smiley face on its back (!) a Hummingbird Moth, in our garden, Tansy Beetles at Rawcliff Meadows in York.  Like I said in a) by studying them and watching their behaviour it has helped me overcome my fear of some bugs such as bees - and I'm getting better with wasps... So next time you're out and about, rather than just going for a walk, slow right down, look down at the ground and the verges, and see what you can spot!

1. Bird Spotting/Birding.

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This is my absolute favourite thing to do, and of course can be done while also doing items 2 and 3 above!  I have learnt so much since I started being interested in birds.  I think it started for me seriously when we visited RSPB Titchwell Marsh in North Norfolk as I was amazed at the number of species of birds of all different types and sizes and colours that could be found in one relatively small area! We were lucky enough to spot some really special birds like the Marsh Harrier, Spotted Crake, Collared Pratincole, Bearded Tit, to name but a few and from then on I was hooked!  One of my favourite places to go to is on the outskirts of York where we know two reserves that are great Barn-owl hunting areas and on one particular evening in the autumn last year there were four hunting together right in front of us which was just amazing! I've also been lucky enough to see the Montagu`s Harrier at Blacktoft Sands a couple of months ago, which is one of the UK`s rarest birds. I still haven't managed to see or hear a Bittern which is one of my ambitions. I feel such a sense of achievement when I've spotted something different or really special that I haven't see before - I don't think I`ll ever get tired of spotting Owls or Kingfishers because they are some of my favourite birds.  

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I haven't been able to travel abroad to see the birds that are native in other countries yet but hope to one day, and hope to see a Hoopoe or Bee-eater for example!  But until then, I am quite happy spending my time in the countryside or in a reserve, looking at the wonderful birds the UK has to offer, researching facts about them and sharing them in my blog. This is my favourite thing as some of you will know and I find it incredibly calming to do. It's fun too and you can do it from your own home, while walking or driving to School or Work or even while Bug Spotting. You don't even have to look at the birds (although that is largely the point) you can just listen to their songs, although some don't sing... and the ones that do might not...and you might not be able to  identify it... and when they see you they might stop singing, apart from all of that you can just listen for them. I love watching them fly and feed, this is why I love taking so many photos of them.

~

Hope you enjoyed,

Z.


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