BLOG: Be a Green Hero at Home

10 November 2020

For week 2 of Greater Manchester Tree Month, we're celebrating Greater Manchester's Green Heroes. However with lockdown affecting 'in-person' volunteering activity we've come up with 11 ideas of how you can be a green hero at home.

Luckily for all of us, Greater Manchester is full of woodland, outdoor spaces and parks, so whatever the weather, we can all get kitted up and get outdoors. Remember the old adage, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

November is a fascinating time to be exploring the outdoors, with brilliant autumn colour to be seen on the trees, and if you’re lucky, a bright cloudless day. A frosty misty morning can often give way to a stunning beautiful autumn day before long. 

Check out our 11 ideas below, many fun for the whole friendly, and include both indoor and outdoor activities! Let us know if you’ve enjoyed any of these activities with the hashtag #GMTreeMonth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

1. Become a citizen scientist with iNaturalist

iNaturalist is a joint project between the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic. Download the app, then take photos on your mobile phone of an organism such as a plant, flower, tree or insect. The app will generate identity suggestions based on your location and the photo, which are later verified by other users.

Your observations and photographs allow scientists to build a huge data bank of wildlife in every area around the world. You can also see what other people have found in your area too, verify other people’s findings and discuss your findings on the app.

You can find the iNaturalist app on the iPhone App store or the Google Play store.

 

2. Build a bug hotel

Insect and pollinators’ habitats are declining rapidly, so by building a bug hotel, you can create a safe habitat for mini-beasts such as lacewings, woodlice or solitary bees.

In the summer, they can create nesting spaces for moths, butterflies and ladybirds – all of which are important creatures for our gardens and eco-system.

You can download our guide to building a bug hotelon our website or watch the YouTube video.

 

3. Make a carton bird feeder

This is a brilliant activity to get children interested in garden birds and to be able to start identifying them. Making a bird feeder out of an empty milk or juice carton is really easy and can be decorated with paint or natural materials.

The winter can be hard for birds because the ground can be too hard to dig for worms and other beetles and bugs are well hidden away. Sparrows and finches in particular will enjoy mixed seed, but if it doesn’t get eaten, make sure you tidy the seed away as mouldy seed can be harmful to birds. 

Download the full instructions here.

 

4. Walk one of our tree trails

During lockdown 2, we are allowed unlimited outdoor exercise with the people you live with, your support bubble or with just one other person outside your household or bubble.

We know that vitamin D from the sun can help your immune system fight viruses, including COVID-19, so make the most of getting outside for a walk whenever you can.

We have put together a brilliant list of tree trails across Greater Manchester, which enable to you go out and explore a woodland area and enjoy the autumnal colour. 

 

5. Help out a hedgehog

Hedgehogs hibernate from around November to March and it is really easy to build them a luxurious garden abode.

The number of hedgehogs has plummeted in the UK from around 1.5 million in 1995 to less than 500,000. It’s also beneficial to have a compost heap and a log pile in the same area as your hog house too, as they will provide plenty of nesting material, as well as delicious bugs to eat.

You can find out more information on The Wildlife Trust's website. If you’re not handy with a hammer and nails, then try this easier version with a plastic container.

 

6. Get to know a tree

The Woodland Trust has developed a brilliant app to help you identify common native and non-native trees while out and about on a woodland walk. You can use bark, twigs, buds, leaves, fruit and flowers to identify each tree, meaning you can still use it whatever the season.

You can also use the app to map your favourite trees and find thousands of ancient trees nationwide.

The British Tree identification app is available on the iPhone App store or the Google Play store. Why not also take part in our weekly Tuesday Tree ID on facebook, twitter and instagram #TuesdayTreeID.

 

7. Go green at school

Do you know a local school which might benefit from some tree-planting sessions with us? We will provide the trees, tools and the expertise.

All we need from the school is somewhere to plant the trees and some enthusiastic young helpers! It doesn’t cost anything for the school, and we will complete a site assessment to decide how many trees and which type could be planted. 

Find out more about our Trees for Learning programme.

 

8. Try foraging this autumn

Many people think that there would be nothing to forage during the autumn – but they would be wrong! Our blog post from Dave Winnard from Discover the Wild talks about how to find and identify hawthorn berries, burdock and oyster mushrooms, all of which are easily available during November.

Remember to make sure you take the time to properly identify anything that you forage before deciding to eat it.

Check out the November blog.

 

9. Look out for Barn Owls

The Barn Owl Trust is currently running a survey to log any sightings of these stunning creatures across the UK. Young Barn Owls usually leave the nest (called dispersal) from mid-September to the end of November.

The ongoing data has been used to create an online map, showing Barn Owl distribution across the UK.

Log sightings online at - https://www.barnowlsurvey.org.uk/

 

10. Help our fundraising with morning mindfulness or an an afternoon of fitness and yoga

On Saturday, November 14, Soma Yoga are running an online afternoon of fitness and yoga, from 1-3pm. Alyesha and Cavan f will be taking us through a fun afternoon in return for a donation to City of Trees. You could always ask people to sponsor you as well!

On Friday 20 November we're running a morning mindfulness session with Claire from Wild Awake Mindfulness. This event is free but we are asking for a donation if you are able to. 

Our supporters also raise money for our important work from quiz nights, cake sales or sponsored runs – but really you can do absolutely anything! If you could like some inspiration email Carly@cityoftrees.org.uk.

 

11. Plant a fruit tree in your garden

Fruit trees are brilliant for wildlife in your garden, as well as providing healthy fresh fruit for your household to eat. The pollen provides food for pollinators, the fruit is a tasty treat for birds and the tree provides a habitat for insects too.

There are also many types of eating apple, crab apple, pear, cherry and plum trees that are suitable for a garden and won’t grow too large. November is the perfect time to plant a tree in your garden because the tree is dormant and will have time to settle in before spring comes along.

Check out our guide to planting a fruit tree.