A Focus On Nature

David McGrath

David McGrath“I’ve been interested in wildlife all my life and in my early years spent a lot of time roaming the fields and woods of my uncle’s farm looking for water voles in the ditches, lapwings and skylarks in the fields and the then very rare in our area great spotted woodpeckers in the woods, of course there was a lot more to find as well and being near the coast just north of Liverpool the sea, dunes and shoreline were always worth exploring.

I was lucky to be ‘mentored’ by an older birder who had access to a tower over looking the local heronry from which he took photos which I thought were awesome but were probably dreadful by today’s standards. He also took me further afield, on our bikes, to places like the recently opened Martin Mere WWT.

I studied Biological Sciences at UEA majoring in Ecology. Norfolk gave incredible opportunities. My dissertation was on Moorhens and had me spending many freezing hours on what is now Buckenham Marshes RSPB reserve discovering that Moorhens like eating but don’t like being eaten!

After uni I couldn’t get a job in anything biological so I went to work in a kitchen at an outward bound school in the Lake District which was great fun but left to do tarmacing in the family business – better money; different type of experience altogether but still great fun.

My big career break came when I was able to join the Sefton Coast Management Scheme on the dunes at Formby Point as their first Ranger. This involved lots of leading of volunteer groups and guided walks.

Thanks to this experience I moved to Preston to become Lancashire Field Officer for the BTCV in the mid 80’s (now The Conservation Volunteers – TCV) with whom I am now working on a large project with as part of my role in BEAT (Blackpool Environmental Action Team).

In 1990 I was appointed as Blackpool Council’s Warden at Marton Mere LNR. A small but extremely valuable and diverse nature reserve on the inland fringe of Blackpool.

Managing the site on a tiny budget was difficult but much was achieved thanks to a network of dedicated volunteers.

From there I was ’promoted’ into my current post which covers a much broader environmental syllabus including sustainability, energy, renewables, climate change, natural resource management, healthy life styles as well as biodiversity.

I spent a summer at University in Israel based in Haifa working on a variety of ecological projects and got around the whole country even being able to vist Sharm el Sheik long before the hotels were thought of.

I’ve been to Borneo on a Orang Utan conservation trip and am the UK representative and committee member of  Maroo Wildlife Refuge in Western Australia where last September I held a 24hr bioblitz for the local community to get involved with.. I got involved with them after joining a conservation working holiday at SharkBay following the release of critically endangered native animals in to a (non-native) predator free reserve.

More locally I have been a regular participant in the Sea Watch Foundation’s National Whale & Dolphin Watch here in Blackpool and have done several ferry based surveys across the Irish Sea for MARINElife.

I have a wide network of contacts which huge experiences of the natural world in all manner of disciplines from ID of various groups of animals and plants to art and photography. Through my blog I try to express the emotion of interacting with wildlife and connection with the wider environment from that.

I have written a short children’s story, aimed at younger children, about adventures with wildlife http://www.lalows.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-monster-week-our-e-book-available.html

I try to use the wonders of the natural world to encourage people to look at their environment. If they can’t associate with it and learn how we fit in to it, how will they protect it?

As my wife says The magic of nature is all around us – we just need to learn how to see it.”