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21-day challenge – how did it go?

magpie looking at its reflection

The challenge was this:

Find one species of bird or plant each day.

Attempt to identify it by name and then look up one fact about it that you didn’t already know and that you find personally interesting.

This was a challenge in more ways than one as I am not very nature savvy but thanks to this I now have a number of facts about birds and plants that seem to be sticking in my mind. Some are not only fascinating but also funny. I also realise that this could be quite handy should I ever take part in a nature quiz!

For example did you know:

Magpies recognise themselves in mirrors. Unlike what a Skipton Building Society employee found out about a chaffinch in her garden that was continually flying into the window pane and seemed to be doing it on purpose. She looked it and found that male birds do this at this time of year, mistaking their reflection for another male in their territory.

Birch sap is used in the manufacture of wine and beer in the northern Europe, Russia and China. It can also serve as a substitute for sugar. Birch syrup, made of birch sap, is used as a dressing for pancakes.

Rabbits, gophers and squirrels like to eat tulips.

Most of all I have consciously had to take a few minutes out of my day to completely change gear and notice things around me. Even though the challenge has finished I find myself doing this still. I might not know the bird and the plants I am looking at, and I might not try to find facts about them, but I am doing something that is changing my state of consciousness and I rather like it. It refreshes me and calms me at the same time. This aligns with what others who have taken the challenge are telling me. It is good to focus your mind away from everyday work or life even if it’s just for a few minutes.

So if doing something for 21 days in a row changes your thinking and adds something positive to your life, I want to try this again. Something different that supports my resilience and wellbeing. It could be going for that walk every day after work that I keep promising myself, getting better acquainted with digital communication for work or learning a new phrase in another language each day.

Look out for the next 21 day challenge from us in June. I suggest that you try it – you might be surprised how it makes a difference to your wellbeing and resilience.

Other fun and interesting facts:

Daffodil bulbs contain a compound called narciclasine. Scientists have discovered this substance may actually be effective in treating brain cancer!

Ancient Greeks believed that Rosemary was a magical plant that could strengthen memory.

During the First World War a pigeon named Cher Ami (dear friend) saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. Cher Ami was shot in the chest and the leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the 25-minute flight avoiding shrapnel and poison gas to get the message home. Cher Ami was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ medal for heroic service.