A Focus On Nature

Advent Calendar

The Surrey Downs

The undergrowth crunches beneath my feet as I trek through the scrubland of the Surrey heath; the sun blazing down – a rare treat for an English summer. A basking adder appears, motionless at the foot of a gorse bush. The striking eyes piercing, almost threatening, defying me to make another step. I couldn’t help but marvel at the menacing beauty of the UK’s only poisonous snake. [Read More]

Advent Calendar

Making a Home for Nature in a City

When I first moved to a city from extremely rural Cumbria in early 2016, I was dubious about what I’d be able to do to help nature in my new home. My parent’s home in Cumbria was a nature haven – smack bang in the north Pennines, I’d watch kestrels hunting from my bedroom window, we had a resident sparrowhawk that sat round the back of the house and would hurtle around it to catch the birds feasting on the feeders at the front. Of course the feeders were always busy, house and hedge sparrows, many tit species – including long tailed tits, ever faithfully appeared in groups, the occasional family of great spotted woodpeckers, starlings, blackbirds, song thrushes – suffice to say it was awash with wildlife. [Read More]

Advent Calendar

Biological Recording

Biological recording has long been one of my favourite things to do: getting out and writing down what you see, and then sharing your observations with everyone. The value of recording is immense. Your data can be used by anyone, anywhere. People can use it to piece together details on locations, phenology, habitats and much more for a particular species.

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Advent Calendar

Acting for Red Squirrels

As a child growing up in semi-rural Northumberland, red squirrels were a figment of daily life. A prominent fixture of local nature reserves, nearby woodlands and, indeed, my very own garden, that brought me great joy during my youth. So much so, in fact, that I would not hesitate to list the russet rodents as one of the key instigators of my passion for the natural world. It is, after all, rather difficult to not depart elated after encountering a red squirrel: their vigorous courtship chases and endearing chattering are a true sight to behold.

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Advent Calendar

Conserving the High Brown Fritillary at Exmoor National Park

I think it’s safe to say that winter is most certainly here, and on these cooler, crisper, and increasingly shorter days, I look back fondly at the time I spent helping with local conservation efforts back in the middle of June. As part of my Gold DofE Residential, I chose to help out with butterfly habitat management at the expansive and diverse Holnicote Estate in Exmoor National Park, alongside the National Trust.

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Advent Calendar

Reinstating The Locals

“Surely that’s not one of ours?” I whispered disbelievingly to my colleague Jason Fathers, as we stood transfixed, gazing into a sky dashed with the first light of an August morning. We were rooted to the spot, watching as directly above us a gigantic white and brown bird soared and danced on the air, skilfully dodging the vicious dives of a closely pursuing peregrine falcon. It looked quite as though it had never known anything but life on the wing. [Read More]

Advent Calendar

The Essential Role of Bird Observatories: A Personal Perspective 

Bardsey Island is a wave-battered isle jutting off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula into the tumultuous Irish Sea – its jagged nose to the south-westerly swell and its humpback mountain affronting the mainland to the east. For ten years now, I’ve been lucky enough to call this remote Welsh jewel my home.

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Now for Nature

New Networks for Nature

Saturday, November 18th – Day Three. An inconspicuous looking town in Lincolnshire, at the time I could not help but think Stamford to be an odd choice for an event that had featured the illustrious Sir David Attenborough in November 2016. A frosty morning had greeted me at the platform, all the while following me until I found my way to the local Arts Centre. [Read More]

A Focus On Nature

Future Wildlife, Future Farming

On Saturday 4th November, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust hosted a first in conservation agriculture. Young Farmers and AFON members, from all realms of farming and conservation interests gathered under one roof to learn about and discuss issues surrounding the future of farming and wildlife in the UK. People from Exeter right up to the hills of Yorkshire gathered, and guided by the likes of Rob Yorke, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Federation for Young Farmers, and a few other innovative people in the farming industry, came up with some fantastic solutions to issues in conservation agriculture. [Read More]

A Focus On Nature

The University Mammal Challenge

Hi, mammal lovers! So, the University Mammal Challenge has come to an end, and we recently found out that our team won the prize for the most mammals recorded outside of bulk-capture methods. For this, we definitely have to thank the infamous rabbits of UEA (University of East Anglia) – so abundant on campus that they’ve become the university’s unofficial mascot – for providing us with no end of opportunistic mammal sightings.

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