Adventures in Nature
I had been trying to catch sight of red squirrels in the wild for a few years. On trips to the Lakes or Scotland I had spent hours watching in woodlands to catch brief glimpses in the trees, but now in a woodland in my native Yorkshire they seemed to be everywhere, clambering up trees, scampering across logs and even running around my feet. The conifer woodland in Snaizeholme in Wensleydale is refuge for red squirrels who thrive there, thanks to its isolation and a conservation programme by local landowners. (more…)
I walked barefoot along the board walk early one summer morning, trying to creep up one of Britain’s rarest mammals. At this time of day, I had Malham Tarn to myself, so my ears were straining above the hum of insects and songs of birds, to hear a watery splash. That was what had alerted me to its presence when I visited the nature reserve last summer, but today the slow moving streams were almost silent. I peered into the clear water which runs into England’s highest freshwater lake, but only the underwater reeds were stirring. (more…)
We regularly meet badgers in children’s stories, usually as the wise old elder, (e.g. Wind in the Willows, Fanastic Mr Fox), or occasionally as a savage and cunning baddie (e.g. The Tale of Mr Tod, Watership Down), but either way, if there is an anthropomorphic tale set in a woodland, Mr Brock Badger will be there. Adopted as the symbol of the Wildlife Trusts and blamed for the spread of bovine TB, they seem equally loved and loathed and stand in the middle of the battleground of our attitudes towards nature. (more…)
Growing up hares seemed much more common a sight, hiding in the long grass or boxing in the fields. These days I rarely see them, but when I do they delight and transfix me, like the one last summer that appeared when I was lost down a country lane and lolloped along in front for several minutes, as if to guide me in the right direction.
For my Wild Encounters blog I researched where I might see some brown hares, and discovered that the Peak district has its own colony of mountain hares, whose coats turn Artic white in winter. Unlike brown hares, which arrived with the Romans, mountain hares are native to the UK, but only naturally in Scotland. They arrived in England probably thanks to introduction by landowners interested in increasing the variety of game to hunt. As with much wildlife, mountain hares are at risk due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting, but in the Peak District, the RSPB conservation work is helping the population of mountain hares to recover. (more…)
For my 2017 blog I want to seek out encounters with with some of the UK’s native animals and birds. Despite working outside in some beautiful Yorkshire woodlands, we rarely see much wildlife beyond birds, grey squirrels and the occasional startled deer. The time of day and the noise of children enjoying forest school has a lot to do with that. But significantly our chances of coming face to face with the wild are dwindling as many man-made factors such as development, pollution and climate change are causing nature to disappear at a disturbing rate. (more…)