Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2016

CJ Wildlife Blackbird Nest Box

We are all familiar with our summer migrants the Swift, Swallow and the House Martin who come to Britain to breed and escape the harsh African, yet did you know that tens of millions of birds arrive in Autumn from their breeding grounds to escape the bitter cold weather and a shortage of food (hidden under ice or snow) to spend the winter in our mild climate. These birds travel large distances from the north and east (Scandinavia, Northern Europe and the Arctic) and include Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Brambling, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Bewick’s Swan, Whooper swan, many types of ducks, wading birds and geese including Pink Footed Geese who fly very high in a V-shaped formation called a ‘skein’.

Here are some amazing statistics about some of our Winter migrants:

Brent Goose – Over 120,000 arrive October onwards from the Canadian Arctic flying 19,000 miles to the UK, overwintering mainly in Ireland.

Bewick’s Swan – Over 7,000 arrive October onwards from Siberia flying 2,500 miles to the UK.

Fieldfare – Over 720,000 arrive October onwards from Scandinavia and North West Russia flying 1100 miles to the UK.

Many birds arrive on our shore hungry and exhausted, some make emergency stops on their journey and rest on oil rigs and boats out at sea (as seen in this year’s Waitrose Christmas advert).

Wildlife World Open Fronted Teapot Bird Nester and Nest Box

You might be surprised to hear that Robins, Blackbirds and Starlings are winter migrants as we see them throughout the year, in the UK we have our own resident populations but during the winter their numbers are boosted by birds escaping the extreme cold of Eastern Europe. These visiting birds act differently as they are not used to their new surroundings and having people nearby, they skulk in the undergrowth and near the feeders before darting out for food they are easily frightened unlike our residents that dive on the feeders, they will after time adjust to their new environment and become more confident.

We all know the importance of feeding the birds throughout the cold winter months, knowing that thousands of winter migrants are coming here to feed makes it even more important, if you haven’t got any birdfeeders in your garden now is a good time to invest in some, they are inexpensive and will provide many hours of pleasure for you and the birds! It is a good idea to put up different types of feeders that will hold a variety of bird food, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, mixed bird seed, fat balls and mealworms, different types of food will attract more species of birds. If you are fortunate to have an apple tree or maybe know someone who has, store any surplus apples now to put out later on for the ground feeding birds, this year has been a very good year for fruit. Some kitchen leftovers can be put out for the birds these include grated cheese, cooked potatoes, rice or pasta, porridge oats, fruit, biscuit and cake crumbs. Water is just as important as food, fresh water changed regularly will provide birds with drinking and bathing water.

For more information on feeding birds through the Winter click here or to see our range of bird feeders click here.

This weekend make time to put up some bird feeders in your garden.

Gill

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

bread

This Thursday 17 November is Homemade Bread Day, it is a day to celebrate and make our own homemade bread. Bread is a staple food using flour, water, yeast and sugar, usually it is oven baked but in some cuisines it can be steamed, fried or cooked on a skillet, there are many ingredients that can be added to bread to either make it sweet (sultanas, raisins, cherries, orange peel, cranberries, chocolate chips, bananas, apples, spices) or savoury (onions, pumpkin, herbs, nuts, cheese, seeds such as poppy and sunflower).

Bread is often referred to as the “Staff of life” and has been prepared for at least 30,000 years, there have been two major developments in the industrialization of bread-making the first was in 1912 when Otto Frederick Rohwedder began work inventing a machine that would slice bread, bakeries were reluctant to use it as they thought that sliced bread would go stale, later in 1928 it was re-developed to slice and wrap the bread, then in 1961 came the development of the Chorleywood Bread Process which used intense mechanical working of the dough this dramatically reduced the fermentation period and the time taken to produce the bread, this process is today used around the world in large factories.

White bread was once the preferred bread of the rich whilst the poor ate whole grain bread however in the late 20th Century in most western societies this was reversed as whole grain bread was found to have a higher nutritional value whilst white bread became associated with the lower class.

Homemade bread is far superior in taste, aroma, quality and appearance although it does have a shorter ‘shelf life’ which is not really a problem as it is usually eaten within hours of being made, if you want to have a go at making your own bread see below.

Charlotte’s guide to making delicious bread with children.

When bread making with the under 10’s we recommend preparing the dough in advance, up to step 7, and dividing the mixture into balls to make rolls.  Each child can then finish their own fairly easily.

Ingredients

  • Just over a pint of tepid water
  • 2 sachets of dried yeast
  • 1 dessert spoon of brown sugar
  • 5 cups of strong white bread flour (note our cup takes around 160g of flour
  • 2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oatmeal, wholemeal flour or granary flour (experiment to see which you prefer)
  • Handful of seeds – sunflower, poppy, sesame etc.

 

Method

  1. Add the dried yeast and the brown sugar to a jug containing the tepid water and whisk until the sugar has dissolved
  2. In a separate large deep bowl add the strong white flour and the 2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oat meal, wholemeal flour or granary flour (this will give the bread a little more texture) and mix together
  3. Add contents of the jug and stir and then with your hands form into a ball of dough
  4. If its too sticky add a little more flour but don’t add too much
  5. Work the dough by stretching, folding and kneading for 10 to 15 minutes
  6. Stand in a covered bowl in a slightly warm place until twice the size (about an hour)
  7. Knead for a second time for around 3 to 4 minutes
  8. At this stage you can add seeds of your choice (little hands love to prod them into the dough)
  9. Put into bread tins or make into roll shapes.  When making rolls with children you can be creative, try cobs, plaits and cottage rolls
  10. When the children have finished leave the dough to rise a second time, for around half an hour until it doubles in size
  11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for rolls.  For a loaf allow 30 – 35 minutes at Gas mark 4 to 5 or 180 C.
  12. When the bread is cooked, place on a rack until cool.  Store in a sealed tin or bag to keep the bread fresh for longer

 

Happy bread making

Gill

Read Full Post »

The days are shorter and the nights are colder, now is the time to think about our garden wildlife and give them a helping hand with a safe retreat to spend the winter months, why not enter our two free competitions on the Gardening With Children website for a chance to win Wildlife products for the Hedgehogs in your garden:

In the School Zone you could win a Hedgehog Pack containing:

Hogitat Hedgehog House

Wildlife World Hogitat Hedgehog House Habitat

Hedgehog Snack Bowl

Wildlife World Hedgehog Snack Feeding Bowl

220g pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

A field guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

To enter all you need to do is to find the hidden words in our Hedgehog Word Search the first correct entry drawn out of the hat will win.

For full details, The Hedgehog Word Search and an entry form click here, the closing date is Wednesday 30th November 2016.

 

In the Family Zone you could win a Hedgehog Pack containing:

An Igloo Hedgehog House

Wildlife World Hedgehog Igloo House Habitat Shelter

A Hedgehog Snack Bowl

Wildlife World Hedgehog Snack Feeding Bowl

220g pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

A field guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

To enter draw or paint a picture of a Hedgehog and give him/her a name and our favourite picture will win.

For full details and an entry form click here, the closing date is Wednesday 30th November 2016.

Good Luck

Gill

Read Full Post »

I hope that you all had a very enjoyable Halloween and now we look forward to Bonfire Night!

Penny for the Guy

When I was young I remember knocking on the doors of neighbours with my friends and asking them if they had any old wood that they didn’t want for our bonfire and also if they had a ‘Penny for the Guy’ who was sat in our wheelbarrow wearing our old clothes and stuffed with newspaper/leaves/straw, the money went towards fireworks, thinking about it now it does seem rather cheeky although I suppose it is not too different to trick or treating which seems to have taken over.

The ‘Guy’ represents Guy Fawkes who was a member of the conspiracy who intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5th November 1605, the Gunpowder plot was thwarted when he was caught the night before guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars beneath the House of Lords.

I can’t remember the last time I saw children’s asking for a ‘penny for the guy’ it is such a shame that this tradition has died out, it is harmless fun although not for the Guy who unfortunately takes pride of place at the top of the bonfire.

Bonfire Night is all about keeping warm by the bonfire, watching fireworks, eating delicious treats and having fun here are some tasty easy to eat snacks for you to try:

popcorn

Home-made Popcorn

Ingredients

  • Popcorn Kernels/Popping Corn
  • Flavouring of your choice: Icing Sugar, Salt, Honey, Butter

What you need to do

  1. Place the popcorn kernels in one layer on the bottom of a heavy-based, deep pan with a tight fitting lid.
  2. Place on the stove on a medium heat with the lid on.
  3. Stay nearby as you need to listen to the kernels as they pop, at the beginning they will pop vigorously, when it slows down to a second or two between the pops remove from the heat.
  4. Wait a few minutes for the popcorn to cool, carefully remove the lid and place in a bowl, whilst warm sprinkle over the sugar, salt, runny honey or melted butter and stir.

Johns Red Apple plot

Spicy Apple Crisps

Ingredients

  • 2 large red skinned eating apples
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg
  • Spray Oil

What you need to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Core and thinly slice the apples ideally with a mandolin (adults only) which will give even slices.
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spray lightly with oil.
  3. Lay the apple slices out on the tray so that they are not touching and sprinkle with the spices.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes turn over the slices and if required sprinkle again with the spices.
  5. Return to the oven for about 30 minutes, check regularly and remove any crisps that are golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool on a baking rack.

Edible Chocolate Sparklers

Ingredients

  • Bread Sticks
  • Chocolate
  • Syrup
  • Cake decorations (stars, edible glitter, hundreds and thousands)

What you need to do

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and add some syrup so that the chocolate doesn’t set too quickly.
  2. Spread or brush (with a silicone brush) the chocolate on one half of the bread stick, then sprinkle with your favourite cake decorations, why not also try popping candy, nuts, desiccated coconut or even Rice Krispies or Coco Pops.
  3. Leave to set then enjoy.

firework

Don’t forget Garden Wildlife on Bonfire Night

With all the excitement of bonfire night don’t forget about the wildlife in your garden.  Make sure the bonfire isn’t set up too far in advance, as hedgehogs, small mammals and frogs/toads will be looking for somewhere to hibernate at this time of year, and may find a pile of leaves and wood enticing.  Why not provide hedgehogs/frogs/toads with an alternative home such as a Hogitat or a Frogitat. Click here to see a large selection of Wildlife Habitats.

Place fireworks away from trees and hedges where birds may be roosting, when bonfire night is over remember that now is an excellent time to start feeding your garden birds.  Click here to have a look at our bird feeders and accessories.

Safety is paramount on Bonfire Night click here for a reminder of the rules and tips for a safe and enjoyable Bonfire Night.

Gill

Read Full Post »