Joint blogging with Matt Adam Williams for The Wildlife Trusts campaign

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Days Twenty & Twenty-one of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in western Scotland)

We’re in Scotland! And it is stunning here – dramatic landscapes and plenty of wildlife! The topography here reminds me a bit of Iceland, with steep sided U-shaped valleys. We had a stop-off point, where I was thrilled to find my first (for 2015) Orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) egg laid on Cuckooflower (also known as Lady’s Smock, Cardamine pratensis)!

After so much driving, it was a relief to get to the cottage. Once we had quickly unpacked, I was down by the shore. Almost literally sticking my nose into the rock pools to discover what was about, and calling to Matt whenever I found something cool. Considering that I find pretty much everything fascinating, he was being called over a lot! I also found some lovely otter spraint (again, sticking my nose in!) and Matt spotted a beetle which turned out to be a Two Banded Longhorn Beetle (Rhagium bifasciatum).

Matt (in Scotland)

We have arrived. And there couldn’t be a bigger contrast than there is between my last few weeks scarcely finding time to go wild, and sitting in this cottage in the shore of a Scottish loch where I can watch gannets fly past from an armchair, and admire Megan pootling about in rockpools finding strange and wonderful creatures.

My favourite wild moment today was holding my first ever crab, and feeling it walk from side to side in my hands.

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Day Nineteen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in Worcestershire)

Today was the first day of my holiday. But much of it has been spent working in front of a laptop.

That’s because today is Rainforest: Live day – a project I set up and ran today for the second year in a row.

Organisations across the world have been using social media to share live wildlife sightings from their jungles.

It provides a window into what it’s like to be in a rainforest and reminds us of the positive reasons to save these incredibly special places.

The other part of my day was spent visiting an old haunt – an abandoned quarry that I know is home to a pair of peregrines.

Sure enough they were there, along with a juvenile bird they have raised this year.

I ran through the flowers chasing butterflies I wanted to identify, listened to birdsong and watched peregrines soar overhead. Today truly has been a wild day.

In real life I’ve experienced some of the best of UK wildlife; via social media I’ve witnessed some of the best wildlife our planet has to offer.

Megan (in Worcestershire)

Yes, we are in the same place again! Always a very exciting occurrence when you’re in a long distance relationship with someone. And almost straight away we were out watching wildlife together, as Matt wanted to show me a peregrine site. I wasn’t going to say no – I have only seen one peregrine previously, and it was for about 1 1/2 seconds!

I loved the abandoned quarry immediately, it was alive with birdsong and bright wildflowers, whilst butterflies, bees and moths were buzzing and flitting about on their business. And guess what? We saw the peregrine! Actually, we saw (and heard) 3 of them!! Two adults and a juvenile! Our British wildlife really is fantastic!

In addition, I have been helping Matt a bit with the running of #rainforestlive. It is fascinating to see the wildlife being spotted in rainforests around the world today – do go and check it out!

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Day Eighteen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in some beautiful Dorset meadows)

I had a lovely time at Lorton Meadows today with a class from one of the local schools. We went pond dipping (where we admired the swooping acrobatics of a dragonfly), into the woods (great fun doing some bark rubbing and tree identification) and on a short walk around the reserve (admiring butterflies, moths, bees, flowers and more!).

The children were fantastically enthusiastic – many of them approaching me during the session to ask a variety of questions, from the identification of a flower to asking about butterflies.

It was a shame to see them leave, but hopefully today has helped to plant a love for nature in them which can be (again, hopefully) nurtured so that they grow up caring about their local wildlife and the wider environment. Which we need more than ever in our society!

Matt (on the train to Malvern)

Another day, another train journey.

I’m back in Malvern and off to Scotland with Megan and some other friends this weekend, which should provide a fantastic end to #30DaysWild.

And tomorrow’s edition should be especially exciting for other reasons.

But today was more tame, but no less interesting. Drifting through the South East corner of England I saw four red kites at different stages of my journey – is this species spreading even further? It feels so and I think that’s a good thing.

I also spotted a distant but probably cuckoo (I’m fairly sure having got my eye back in by seeing lots this Spring).

Trains are, as I say repeatedly, one of the best places to birdwatch, if you don’t fall asleep or get distracted by eavesdropping.

Day Seventeen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in London)

I’ve been in London all day at Speak Up For The Love Of, the largest ever climate lobby of Parliament and MPs.

Thousands of people came to speak to their MPs about climate change and the threat it poses to, among other things, wildlife.

As I stood chatting to RSPB supporters, a smart male blackbird walked around on the grass only a few inches from my feet. It was a beautiful reminder of why many of us were there today.

Better 30 Days Wild posts to follow soon!

Megan (in coastal Dorset)

A busy day at work, as per usual. Not much chance to get outside, even during my lunch break! But that doesn’t stop me from engaging with nature. I spoke to so many visitors at the Chesil Beach Centre today, and on a range of topics – butterflies, dragonflies, bumblebees, little terns, saltmarsh plants, the effect of litter, wildflowers and more!

I didn’t just talk about wildlife in person to people – I also did so via social media. I am co-ordinating the local Twitter account of Dorset Wildlife Trust, and each day we are tweeting a localised idea for #30DaysWild. I.e. random acts of wildness at Chesil Beach or Lorton Meadows.

Additionally today, I was responsible for the Dorset Wildlife Trust evening Facebook post about Chesil. What to write about? Well, in the light of the recent National Bird vote, and with the Little Tern chicks (Sternula albifrons) hatching, I decided that birds would be a good choice. Join the conversation, and let us know what your favourite bird to watch is and why!

CHARM AND CHARISMATell us your favourite bird to watch, and why!Whether it is a robin singing in the garden (our…

Posted by Dorset Wildlife Trust on Wednesday, 17 June 2015


Day Sixteen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in coastal Dorset, and in the sea a bit too)

Today was a revision session for me. It has been almost a year since I last led a school group at Chesil – due to 6 months in Wales / unemployment / spending most of my time at Lorton Meadows. So Marc kindly came into work on his day off to show me how it is done as I will be leading one very soon and needed a reminder of how this particular session is run. It was also good revision of what’s out there on the mudflats and in the shallow waters of the Fleet Lagoon, as there is an awful lot of wildlife! We saw crabs, limpets, beetles, seaweed, sea squirts, sponges, snails, fish and more! On the way back to the centre, I couldn’t resist doing a #2minutebeachclean (same as yesterday during my lunchbreak!) – unfortunately the round pot held mostly glass!

Matt (in Cambridge/Sandy)

Today felt truly Summery, and warm enough to hold some of my meetings outside in the garden, rather than cased within four white walls.

This allowed me to spot red admirals and common blue tailed damselflies, which certainly made my day wilder than it otherwise would have been.

June has been one of my busiest ever work months, and I promise that posts from Thursday onwards will involve more effort. Sorry nature, love Matt.

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Day Fifteen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in London)

Wild In Westminster

Between my four meetings in westminster today i went and sat in victoria tower gardens next to the palace of westminster and made a few calls. Watching the river flow past I spotted a peregrine flying west over the south bank.

There are few more poignant reminders of the importance of the people sitting in the palace of westminster taking action for nature, or of taking a few moments to stop and look for wildlife, even in the heart of london.

Megan (in coastal Dorset)

I wasn’t able to head out with the Pan-Species Listing Group when they went looking for a rare beetle on Chesil Beach on Friday, so attempted to look for it myself during lunch. I didn’t find it, but I did enjoy seeing what was out and about. The thrift (Armeria maritima) is beginning to go over, with many of the pink blooms losing their petals and becoming paper-like. An interesting-looking fly also caught my eye, and helpfully stayed in place for me to take a photo.

Being out on the beach, I just couldn’t walk past the litter that is strewn around (especially since one of my 2015 Wildlife Resolutions is to pick up litter!). It is a neverending job at Chesil, more litter is always being blown in from the sea or dropped by visitors. I did a #2minutebeachclean whilst looking for the wildlife.



That turned out not to be enough for me – after work I headed up to Portland Bill. I had seen Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon) butterflies there last year, and wondered if they were out yet. Turns out they aren’t (that I could find anyway), but it wasn’t a wasted trip. I saw around 25-30 butterflies – no lifers, but my first Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) and Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) butterflies of 2015. This takes my butterfly list of 2015 up to 25 for the year I think.

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Days Thirteen & Fourteen of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in various parts of Dorset)

Crikey, that was a weekend and a half! I don’t think we could have fitted in much more wildlife if we had tried! A trip over to Brownsea Island for Saturday morning was a brilliant start. I had volunteered my time to help with the Dorset Wildlife Trust side of the bioblitz. The warden had tempted me over with the promise of many moth traps, and he was true to his word! There were some fantastic moths to behold – both colourful ones and (many) ones that I hadn’t seen before. The highlights for me were the Privet Hawk-Moth (Sphinx ligustri) and the Common Cockchafer / Maybug (Melolontha melolontha), just look at the antennae on the latter!!

A quick (ish) stop by RSPB’s Radipole Lake reserve resulted in us failing to hear / see Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), but Matt saw his first (also, 2nd-6th) Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). He has taken some absolutely superb photos – I must get him to teach me how to improve my photography techniques!

A (very early) morning on the Isle of Portland meant more rummaging in moth traps at the Portland Bird Observatory, my first Little Owl (Athene noctua), plus my first Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) of 2015, as well as catching up with the Pan-species Listing group.

It was wonderful to go out and find wildlife with Matt – we first met through our love of nature and wanting to conserve it, so it feels right that going out into the natural world is a continuing theme in our relationship. After a busy week of work for the both of us, a weekend of connecting with nature in Dorset together was perfect timing.

Matt (in various parts of Dorset)

What can I say? This weekend has been so wild I haven’t had time to do any writing.

I spent the weekend with Megan in Dorset, visiting a string of wildlife sites and seeing a whole bunch of wildlife.

We were truly wild this weekend, waking up early both days to get out and see some nature.

Saturday took us to Brownsea island where I saw my first ever red squirrel in the UK, a longtime omission from my UK species list.

We also joined the bioblitz being run there and Megan worked her way through a myriad of moths.

Best of all for me was the chance to spend a couple of hours lying on my belly pointing my camera at squirrels. The results will follow soon.

The harbour between Poole and Brownsea was full of terns, gulls and even a diving gannet.

That afternoon we tried to track down a common rosefinch at Radipole Lake. Failing to find this rather dull first summer male we instead spent about an hour photographing bee orchids.

On Sunday we started even earlier to get ourselves over to one of the institutions of British birdwatching: Portland Bird Observeratory

Here, again, we peered into the many moth traps, before seeking out the little owl in the quarry and photographing pyramidal orchids in the meadow. Manx shearwaters and gannets sped by over the waves.

After a week during which work made it difficult to find time for wild, we made up for it in oodles this weekend.

Best of all it was all with my partner in crime and best friend.

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Day Twelve of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in London/Cambridge)

A tale of two halves

My twelfth day of going wild is split between last night and this morning. Last night I spoke at Parliamentaphobia, an event organised by the UK Youth Climate Coalition on how young people can engage with politics and their MPs.

I mentioned the importance of young people who care about nature speaking to their MPs and asking for a future rich in wildlife. It was a small and cosy event, and the discussion there (and in the pub afterwards) were thought-provoking.

Due to disruption at Kings X I didn’t get home until half past midnight, and so this morning when I woke up I felt less than prepared for work. The worst hayfever I’ve had in several years didn’t help either.

But my walk across the fields and through the wood behind my cottage gave me a burst of energy. Skylarks danced in the air above the fields and trilled away. Whitethroats coughed out their scratchy song and a distant willow warbler trilled down through the scales like a chorister warming up their vocal chords.

Best of all was a sound that I couldn’t miss, even with my headphones in – the purr of a turtle dove. These are the fastest declining birds in the UK, and every time I hear one I am left wondering whether that’s the last time I’ll encounter one in the UK.

There was one in the small wood a few weeks ago, but I thought it had moved on to where it hopes to breed. Perhaps it has and this is a new one, or perhaps it was just ranging widely but still nearby.

Either way, I will keep an eye, and an ear, on this one and look out for any signs that it might be breeding.

Megan (in coastal Dorset)

I’m not gonna lie, I am barely awake enough to write this post. We had such a busy day at Lorton today, with what felt like a million and one young children (and their parents) visiting.

Actually in reality, it was more like 80 or so people. We went pond dipping and minibeast hunting, made butterfly bunting and caterpillar palettes, and played a minibeast game. Of course, it was all great fun, but phew it was tiring!

I took a moment to identify at least one of the minibeasts – an orange and white ladybird – to species level. Rather nicely, it is one of those species that looks like its name – it’s an Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata)!

As you will see, I have tweeted about it – but I have also submitted it to the iRecord Ladybirds App, and thus contributed towards a citizen science project!

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Day Eleven of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in coastal Dorset)

It was another office day for me – spending much of the time glued to my laptop preparing for events and the like. I could hear the leaves rustling outside, and a Chiffchaff that was determined to make sure that everyone knew he was present in the area.

I decided to work downstairs at Lorton, rather than up out of the way in the office. A bit more sociable for talking to visitors, plus it lets me keep an eye on live kestrel camera.

By the time I managed to grab a late lunch, I needed to get outside so headed to the picnic benches to munch. Having attended a time management training session, I was reminded of how important it is to actually take a break. I am definitely guilty of having short breaks, and usually working whilst I eat too.

I have to say, it was a lovely break. A small fly popped by to say hello, I followed the fluttering adventures of a blue butterfly across the vegetation, read a little bit of my book and generally basked in the sun. Must take such lunch breaks more often!

Matt (in Cambridge/Sandy)

June is not just one of my wildest ever months but also one of my busiest.

Even though I was working at home today I felt the stress of several projects crunching together at the same time.

This is a short blog post, but it’s dedicated to the immense power of nature to calm and soothe us.

At my most stressed moment today I stepped out into my garden and noticed a blue-tailed dameslfly flitting about delicately near my tiny garden pond.

Among the huge poppies and oxeye daisies in my back garden this moment of quiet contemplation calmed me down and set me up for a few more hours’ work.

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Day Ten of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in Cambridge/Sandy)


On a day spent entirely at my desk, I have to get my wildlife where I can. Most days, that’s during my regular carpool lift to work.

Not only does my 35 minute lift to work give me a chance to spot swallows, kestrels, buzzards and occasionally red kites or barn owls; it’s also when I chat to colleagues and friends at the RSPB about the projects they’re working on – migrants, waders, bees, UK overseas territories, UK woodlands and more.

My daily lift to and from work helps me make sure I spend part of each day going wild.

Megan (in mid and coastal Dorset)

Continuing Matt’s theme of wildlife on the road, much of my connection with nature today came whilst I was driving. I did take some Cub and Beaver Scouts out in the evening for pond dipping and minibeast hunting, but I particularly noticed the nature whilst driving.

I had to go up to Brooklands Farm for the morning, which meant driving along the Weymouth Relief Road whose verges have been created as butterfly habitat. It has worked – 22 species of butterfly have been recorded there so far! I saw a few of them a couple of weeks ago.

I drove across Ferrybridge as I headed back to the Chesil Beach Centre and was awed by the vista that is Chesil Beach and the shining gem of the Fleet Lagoon.

Back up to Lorton for the early evening, and oxeye daisies were bobbing their flower heads in the breeze.