11 articles Articles posted in Closer to Nature

Closer to Nature – Lens Flare

This week has been a bit of a washout, despite big plans and lots of Closer to Nature related opportunities. Sausage is on half-term at the moment, like most of the kids in the UK, and we had plans of mini-golf, beach combing, nature walks and lots more besides, but the weather has meant that we’ve had to be a bit more creative about what we’ve done instead, so it’s been a week of fashion shows, cake baking, painting and film afternoons.

We have had one or two days of sunshine in the last month and I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with lens-flare, so for this week’s Closer to Nature, I thought I’d show you some sunshine snaps to warm you up and remind you that we so have nice weather sometimes! I’m not sure of the exact physics of lens flare, but I know that if I stand under something, like a tree, and snap directly at the sun, I get pretty good results and these were just taken with the camera on my Nexus 4.

I also love this close-up I took of our neighbour’s wysteria plant. I was being dragged along by an impatient Chuck on our way out for a walk, so it’s not the most amazing shot, but I love it anyway!

And finally, Sausage and I went on a walk aroundthe grounds of a local church on Sunday, just to get some fresh air, and I took one of my ‘weird photos that only I like or understand’ of some yellow moss that was growing on a curbstone. I think I liked it because of the pattern and the vividness of the yellow.

Do you have any photos of anything nature-related on your blog this week? Link up below and grab the badge code from the sidebar.

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Closer to Nature – Meet the Robins

Something very exciting has been happening this week…we’ve just found out we’ve got babies! Baby robins, that is! Let me set the scene…

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone (probably to my Mum) and I was gazing out of our patio doors when I noticed a robin, standing INSIDE my garden shed.

“No”, I thought, “I must be hallucinating…” (like that was a FAR more reasonable explanation)

I put the thought out of my head until last week, Husband proclaimed “A robin just flew into our shed!”

“Aha!”, I thought, glad not to have been in the early stages of a psychotic break.

So, we’ve been watching two robins flying in and out of the shed for a couple of weeks, watching them frantically searching for food, knowing that there must be babies in there and on Monday, Husband managed to sneakily get this snap through the window:

Isn’t he a beauty? We’ve learned that robins don’t get their red breast until they reach maturity, although you can see the beginnings of orangey patched on this little dudes’ chest. He’s not alone either, we’re pretty sure there are two babies in there as we’ve seen them hopping around together. Mr. and Mrs. Robin work tirelessly to feed their young, we’ve sat and watched them for whole afternoons, zooming in and out, hopping through the hole above the shed door with worms and berries in their beaks.

On Monday, Husband and I decided that we’d help our lodgers along in their daily toil to feed their young and we bought a variety of bird food, which we’ve secreted in various locations around the garden. Suet pellets, mealworms, soaked raisins and robin museli have gone down a treat! We didn’t want to put a bird table up, as we’ve heard that they attract cats as we had to come up with some other, impromptu ways of dispensing the food. Husband came up with the great idea of getting a carton from a dozen eggs and cutting it into sections, which we then taped on windowsills and outside the shed, and we even hid one in our trough of strawberries!

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed observing the robins and getting a little bit closer to nature (did you see what I did there?!) and we’ll be sad when our babies fly the nest, something that we think isn’t far off, given the size of them. We’d love to see your nature photos too, so please get involved by linking up any recent nature-related posts and you can even stick one of our badges on there too, if you like. (code in sidebar)

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Learning is Fun: Animal Sizes

Since Sausage was old enough to hold her own head up, Husband has sat her on his lap at his desk and showed her pictures of animals on the computer. She’s always been fascinated by nature and as she grew we moved her learning on from visual-only stimulation to actually learning facts about animals and the natural world. The internet is an amazing resource and we love nothing more than when Sausage asks us about something and we’re able to sit and learn together using websites we love, such as Wikipedia and the National Geographic site.

One thing that can be quite hard to explain is the actual sizes of different animals. Most kids don’t have a concept of how big things are, so Husband and I started actually measuring things out with Sausage. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity as not only are you quantifying the knowledge you’re passing on about animals, you’re getting them involved with using numbers, tools such as tape measures and best of all, it fires the imagination like nobodies business!

Now that the weather is nicer, we’ve taken the game outdoors and have started marking things out in chalk, so whenever Sausage wants to know how tall or long something is, we mark it out on the patio. However, our patio is only so big, so we’re planning to take our tape measures to the park to measure out some of the larger creatures, like species of dinosaurs and whales!

What you’ll need.

All you need to do this at home is a patio, a tape measure, some chalk and the internet. Encourage your kids to think of different animals to look up, get them involved in measuring them out and drawing the lines. We’ve had hours of fun doing this and it’s free, educational and really fun if you get your imagination involved.

Starting left to right, the smallest line is Sausage’s height, for context. The next line is the wingspan of a golden eagle (Sausage was blown away that a bird could have wings wider than her height, which led to a conversation about other birds that are even bigger). The third line, in blue, is the average length of a bottle-nose dolphin and the longest line is the average length of a large species of crocodile!

This is a great activity for kids and you don’t even necessarily need good weather to play it (though it’s so nice to get some fresh air finally). We often measure the heights of things and I had fun standing on the arm of the sofa with Husband stopping me from falling off, to show Sausage how tall a particular species of pre-historic ape was! You can even get a stepladder involved to show the really tall things, just mind your head on the ceiling!

Another method of quantifying things for them is to weigh all of the members of the family and write them on a piece of paper (I recommend doing it in kilos as most animals weights are in kilos and it’ll save you having to do all of the conversions!). Using the “think of an animal…” starting point, get them to think of a creature, look up their weight and get the kids to work out how many times bigger than them the animal is, or how many times bigger than Mummy or Daddy, or Mummy plus Daddy, etc. It’ll get them exercising their maths skills and get the imaginations going even wilder!

Sunday

Closer to Nature – Moon Corner

Yesterday, I had to go and pay a cheque into the bank and as it’s only a ten minute walk and it was a nice day, I took a wander during my lunch hour. On my way, I spotted this little mosaic which was pretty run down and overgrown, but striking nonetheless. I loved the way that it looked as though the earth was reclaiming it again and there was something a bit spiritual about it, especially as I noticed it was called ‘Moon Corner’.

I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed it before and was excited to tell Husband about it when I got home. I barely got the word ‘mosaic’ out before he said “Yeah, that’s Moon Corner, it’s been there for years”. I did a quick Google search and didn’t come up with much info about it, other than one piece which said it had been made in collaboration with the Zimbabwean community, but I don’t know how true that is.

So, for my first ‘Closer to Nature’ in AGES, I give you Moon Corner, which may not be a natural occurrence but it certainly looks like nature is taking over once more.

 

 

So. I’ve shown you mine. Now it’s your turn to show me yours!

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Closer to Nature

This weeks Closer to Nature comes courtesy of a very industrious spider, a beautiful morning dew and the macro setting on my camera, which is my favourite setting to play with. I took a few photos which worked with varying degrees of success but I still couldn’t choose my overall best so I thought I’d show you them all:

If you have any wonderful photos of anything nature related, link up below. There’s badge code that you can grab in the sidebar too.

 

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Closer to Nature

I’ve not done a Closer to Nature post for ages, mostly because I’ve not been near much nature lately! Between the daily school runs, the nights drawing in and the colder weather, being outside has not been high on my list of priorities!

It’s been Half Term here this week and typically, Sausage has been poorly for most of it, which is a real bummer, but today she’s feeling a bit better so we decided to blow some of the cobwebs away and go for a walk along the beach. As we approached the seafront, the black clouds were gathering and the wind was whipping around, but we still managed half an hour of rambling around.

The sky was a real mix of different colours and while one part was black and foreboding, to the other side of me there was blue sky and sunshine! I remembered that I now have a panoramic function on my iPhone so I decided to try and capture it all – and I think it came out quite well! (click to enlarge)

If you’ve taken any vaguely nature related snaps in the last month or so, stick them in a post and link them up below. There’s badge code in the sidebar that you can grab too, if you like!

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Closer to Nature

Now that Sausage is at school, I’m getting back into the swing of regularly blogging, which includes putting the Closer to Nature linky on here in a timely fashion!

My photo this week was taken in my Mum’s garden on Sunday afternoon, and is actually capturing a scientific phenomena as we witnessed it! We called it a ‘rainbow cloud’, but it’s real name is a ‘circumhorizontal arc‘, and Wikipedia describes it as “A circumhorizontal arc is an optical phenomenon – an ice-halo formed by plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds.” The bizarre thing is, the sun isn’t supposed to be high enough in the sky for it to happen in the UK in late August, but it certainly seems to be one when compared with the pictures shown on their page.

My Mum’s dog Ralph had to be put to sleep recently, so she’s taking it as a gift from him from Rainbow Bridge.

So, now it’s your turn. If you have any photos from the last fortnight containing anything from nature, post it and link up below, we love looking at everyone else photos and they all get pinned to our ‘Closer to Nature’ Pinterest board.

Win a Personalised Canvas

The lovely folk at photo-canvas.com have been asking me for absolutely ages if I want to review one of their canvases and seeing as I love my lovely readers so much, I thought I’d turn it into a giveaway! I ordered my canvas yesterday, so I’ll give you my review when it arrives.

I’ve been doing a lot more photography lately and I’ve been trying to teach myself to be a bit better at it, especially since starting my Closer to Nature linky, as I really enjoy taking photos but there’s nothing worse than snapping something and thinking it’ll look a certain way, only to realise you’ve got your lighting and angles all wrong!

Yesterday, we visited Tropical Wings, which is a local attraction housing the most amazing selection of tropical butterflies, flowers, meerkats, birds of prey, wallabies and so much more, and I managed to take some incredible photos, some of which I’ll save for future Closer to Natures, but here’s a few you might like:

So, back to the giveaway. The prize is a personalised canvas, measuring 30cmx40cm. I was going to ask people to enter their fave photo and choose one, but to be honest I don’t want to have to be judge as I’ll find it too hard to choose, so  I’m just doing a straight-forward Rafflecopter form for everyone to fill in!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

Closer to Nature – Photo Linky

I’ve been totally slack with getting a Closer to Nature post up the past couple of weeks, so apologies to anyone who’s been patiently waiting to link up any nature photos! Here’s my photo for this week:

I took a photo of this moth, sitting on our living room wall, a couple of weeks ago and fiddled about with contrast and lighting in Picasa and I think it came out rather well! We’ve had something of a moth infestation this summer, but I read in the news that that’s happening because of their woodland habitats being levelled, so I didn’t begrudge them a place to sleep. I do have a couple of items of clothing with holes gnawed in them though, which takes the mickey a bit!

So, now it’s your turn, I want to see your nature snaps and you can use the widget below to link up. The rules and details are here if you need them.

 

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Closer to Nature – A Photography Linky

After I put this up two Tuesdays ago, I had a really healthy response to the idea and had 14 or 15 people link up, which I was completely thrilled with, so as promised I thought I’d do it again. Welcome to Closer to Nature!

As with last time, there are no real hard and fast rules other than your photo must be something nature related, but that leaves a heck of a lot of scope for your imagination to go wild (pardon the pun…!). Also, don’t forget to visit the others and leave some comment love, we all like a bit of that 🙂

There’s a linky widget below and button code in the sidebar, I can’t wait to see your photos, here’s mine:

Wild flowers.

This was taken on the day that Husband and I decided to take our daughter to Hadleigh Country Park, home of Hadleigh Castle and now the site of the Olympic Mountain Biking track. While we were there, there were loads of fenced off areas and mysterious portacabins dotted around the place, so I’ll be curious to see what it’s been left like after the Olympics. It’s been a site for mountain bikers for many, many years, Husband and his friends have spent many a happy hour hurtling down those hills, but apparently once the Olympics has buggered off, people will have to pay to ride the trails, which I think is a bit of a cynical move by the council, to be honest. Hopefully the flowers will all still be there to enjoy for free…

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