Firstly, thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you find/found it interesting and/or useful, hopefully both. And thank you even more if you decide you liked what you saw and would like to follow my ramblings and subscribe to regular updates.
Watching nature has never been something I set out to do deliberately, it’s just what I do, how I am, a habit which is so embedded in my psyche I don’t even realise I’m doing it most of the time.
Growing up in the countryside in the 1950s and 60s nature was a normal part of childhood, and walking to school, playing outside, wandering around fields learning when and where to find wildflowers, birds nests, tadpoles and conkers was what we did to keep ourselves entertained. At school we had a Nature Table kept stocked with anything interesting we found that our teachers helped to identify and that was then labelled so we’d remember. We were taken out on Nature Walks when the weather was fine. In the late summer- early autumn we were asked to pick rosehips which we took into school in paper bags to be weighed and rewarded with cash, I seem to remember 6d (6 old pennies or 2½p) for 1lb (about 500g) that somehow then went off to be made into Rosehip syrup.
As life and I moved on and into a city, I became increasingly interested in the wildlife that shared our more urbanised gardens, parks and other restricted spaces and although on a different level, I realised that I didn’t have to be out in the countryside to see it. My perspective on wildlife took a different turn again during the 1970s when I was living in Leicester. I remember hundreds of Starlings descended into the city centre to roost each evening as I’m sure they must have been doing for years. I can’t remember what triggered it, but one year their autumn arrival seemed to cause mayhem and there were demands for them to be ‘dealt with’ as though they were a plague of biblical proportions. Actions were taken by the council, including I think trees in Abbey Park being netted to prevent them landing. Rather naively I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, they were only birds that would leave early in the morning, well before the shops opened. I was thinking back to when I was younger and each autumn a great flock of Starlings had displayed each evening coming in to roost in the copse on the field edge near our home, which I watched with fascination. This man v Starlings started me thinking that nature is ever-opportunistic, will at least try to take advantage of what we deliberately or inadvertently provide, and if given the slightest opportunity would take back what we have taken away. I realised that some wild things were considered desirable while others were ‘pests’ to be eradicated and that our claim to be a nation of nature lovers held up better as long as it stayed where it was supposed to be, out in the countryside.
Wherever my habit originated I’m grateful to have it and have absolutely no doubt that my instinct to get outside and absorb myself in nature, whether roaming around in woods and fields, gardening or often just spending time watching through windows has kept me absorbed through the ups and relatively sane during the downs of my life.
ABOUT THE BLOG
This blog was begun some time in 2011 as a record of the nature I was discovering on the exploratory walks I took when I first moved to live on the glorious North Wales coast. Over the intervening years I’ve enjoyed familiarising myself with my local area and although I feel that I’ve learnt a lot, I feel it would take more than one lifetime to get to know as much as I’d like to.
My main focus is on spaces in my adopted home county of Conwy that are easily accessed and open to us as the general public, and the wonderful array of everyday wildlife that can be found within them through the seasons. Although I have only been here for a few short years, I have noticed the number of people using these places, mainly Local Nature Reserves has increased significantly and although that can only be a good thing in terms of people engaging more with the ‘outdoors’, most are not large in area, so I wonder how that affects the wildlife and nature that they are intended to provide sanctuary for.
Officially ‘retired’ now, in common with many grandparents these days I’m in increasing demand as a baby-sitter and playmate for my still-growing tribe of grandchildren while their parents work. My family is the centre of my Universe, although scattered around England and Wales. This has necessarily curtailed some of my local activities, but it has also opened up opportunities to explore other areas and to note the wildlife, or sometimes its lack, within them.
MY IDEA OF A NATURE TRAIL
If you read my posts you may realise that my classification of a Nature Trail is very loose and by no means restricted to those marked out in Reserves. Depending on where I am and what my limitations are, I include under that heading: other people’s gardens, parks and public gardens when taking grandchildren out for walks or to play, walks to school/ nursery/shops, strolls along the Promenade, and when I am at home, the route between the rooms in my flat I nip around to watch birds and even insects from my windows. Nature is wonderfully adaptable and opportunistic and wherever I am, there’s always the potential of something to see, often much to see, especially if you’re in the habit of looking. I hope that by sharing my experiences and what I discover on my wanderings along any of these ‘Everyday Trails’, that others walking similar routes may see it with fresh eyes, or if they’re planning a visit they may get some idea of what they could hope to find.
MY STYLE OF WALKING
Although I can cover some distance when I’m out, the speed at which I meander along probably only qualifies as aerobic exercise in short bursts uphill. My aim has always been to see as much as possible of what’s out there and that’s not something I can do, or want to do at speed. Something like ‘slow wandering with a fair amount of hovering around, zig-zagging in pursuit of flighty insects and even standing still in a good spot to see what comes to me’, might describe it. At best I would say that taking a walk with me may turn into more of a meander with lots of stops to take photographs and I understand perfectly that this may, and sometimes does, cause impatience when walking with others, so for the most part I do prefer to roam alone.
When it comes to writing up a post, what I aim to do is to present a general impression of a place at the particular time I visit it, then to add in details within that space that caught my eye. No matter how many times I visit a place something will be different about it, if only the time of day, the season or the weather. I take a lot of photographs to use as a visual notebook and memory aid, and also to keep as records of my ‘spots’. In the post I generally put photos in first and then add words. Whilst my primary aim is to show the beauty and inform about the still-wonderful nature of places, I also want to show that not everything looks pretty all of the time. Locally it’s difficult to go anywhere where there is no evidence of the proximity of people and the placement of man-made installations and other interventions in our once-wild spaces. I think it’s important too for us to recognise how we impact on places and, in some places, to acknowledge the disturbance to wildlife that ever-increasing numbers of people can cause, no matter how well-intentioned we are.