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Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly..

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Mar 31 2016 01:00AM

We can probably all agree that throwing 6 million loaves of bread into our lakes and rivers doesn’t sound like a great idea. And yet apparently that’s what we - the great British public - do every year.

That startling statistic has been produced by the Canal and Rivers Trust (CRT) – a charity that looks after our inland water ways. OK, it's well-intentioned and a good proportion, in fact most, of those loaves are eaten by ducks and other water birds. But there’s a double problem here. First, the uneaten bread promotes algal growth which spreads disease, kills fish and clog up the canals. Secondly, bread just isn’t that great for ducks. It is filling and carbohydrate-heavy but not nutritious – it’s duck junk food.

Regular over-feeding leads to obese ducks who can’t fly properly (meaning they won’t be able to migrate in the cold weather and might be easy prey for foxes) and too many ducks flocking to regular feeding spots causes additional problems with overcrowding and excess bird droppings.

So, the CRT is on a mission to reduce the amount of food we feed our ducks and to make sure it’s the right kind of duck food. No one is suggesting we don’t feed the ducks - it’s rewarding family fun - we’re just talking about a bit or portion control and a slightly healthier diet.

Instead of soggy bread, try seeds, porridge oat and lettuce scraps. Other suggestions include seedless grapes (cut in half), peas and sweetcorn.

As this season’s ducklings begin to hatch and make their way onto the water, let’s resolve to feed them properly. You can find more advice and a free duck "Quack Snack" pouch for your duck food from the duck section on the CRT website.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Aug 31 2015 10:00AM

We've been talking a lot about food recently but as you know, this blog is about more than just seasonal food. it's about seasonal living. So we're going to try to redress the balance a bit, with a few more non-food pieces....like this:

It's always with a tinge of sadness that we acknowledge we're coming towards the end of Summer. Hopefully we've got several weeks of good weather still to come but, as we head into September and on into October, we'll definitely be seeing wetter and cooler weather.

BUT, without doubt, autumn is one of the best times to be out and about in the countryside. The hedgerows are bursting with food to forage and the cooler weather means we can hike for miles without collapsing in a heat-exhausted pile.

The wetter conditions also mean softer ground and the opportunity to collect animal track casts - one of our favourite past times with children and a great way to spend the last few weeks of the school holidays.

How to Make Animal Track Casts

You will need:

A 1kg tub of plaster of Paris (try any art supplies shop)

A 1 litre bottle of tap water

An old medium-sized mixing bowl or plastic container

A wooden spoon

An old 2L plastic bottle, cut into sections about two inches thick

Some old newspaper

Plastic bags (for the messy bowl and spoon)

Vaseline or other petroleum jelly.

First, find your tracks. Look on soft ground near to shelter or food and water sources – under trees or near streams in woodland or field edges. Once you find a good print, clear away any loose twigs and stones so the print is as clear as possible. Smear a thin layer of the petroleum jelly around one of the plastic rings (this will make it easier to remove later), then press into the ground around the print, making sure the print is centred. Press the ring a couple of centimetres into the ground so that, when you pour the plaster in, it will not leak out. Now mix your plaster in the bowl. Follow the directions on the packet to get the right plaster to water ratio (usually about 1.5 to 1). The mixture will get hot as you mix it. You should have a glossy liquid, similar in texture to double cream or pancake batter. Once mixed, leave for a minute or two and gently tap the mixing bowl to ensure any air bubbles float to the top (trapped air bubbles will weaken your cast). Now pour the plaster into the plastic circle, filling to just below the rim. Don't pour the plaster directly onto the print but off to the side, letting it run into the impression. You now need to leave the cast to set for at least half an hour. Mark your spot with a tall stick (so you can find it again!) and hunt for more prints or go for a circular walk. When you are ready to remove the cast, very carefully lift it (including the plastic collar) and wrap it in the newspaper. Don't worry at this stage about cleaning any mud off - it is still very fragile. Leave to dry for another full day at home. The cast will then be properly set and you can cut off the collar and rinse off any mud. You can paint the cast to highlight the footprint if you want to, or varnish it to give it extra strength. Be sure to label it with the species you have identified and the location you found it. As you add to your collection you will learn quickly gather more information about the animals and their behaviour. What sort of woodland do deer like to live in? What do wild board like to eat? It's a fascinating way to learn more about the animals that live in our countryside. Incidentally, if you're lucky enough to find larger animal casts, such as a badger's, you can also use long strips of card, secured with paper clips to surround the print, instead of the plastic rings.

And five points to the first person who can identify this print....

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