• Gordon MacLellan

Take a walk

Take a walk

A guest blog, today from Nimue Brown to remind us that meeting wildlife doesn’t need lots of expensive cameras, binoculars, footwear and stuff. It really just needs us to be aware

Treecreeper: just keep looking

Natural Magic

I turn my head without knowing why, and in the seconds when this happens, I see a deer moving through the undergrowth. Or a mouse running across the path. Or a buzzard swooping low through the trees, visible for a few seconds only to vanish from sight again. It happens a lot. After years of walking together, is also happens a lot for my son and husband. We’re alert to each other when walking so often when one person spots something, we all get to see it.

Some of this is about being present, paying attention and knowing where to look. There’s a knack to letting your eyes wander over your surroundings, not being too focused on anything, but being attentive enough to pick up movement and signs of life. There’s a knack to having your ears on alert for rustlings and other sounds, even when you are chatting. These are skills that anyone who has those senses available to them can develop with practice.

Some of it can be attributed to the way we are also sensitive to being watched. It’s not unusual to find the deer I notice were already watching me. But sometimes it isn’t that. A few nights ago, I crept up on an owl from behind – it was some time before it became aware of my presence. Said owl was perched on a fencepost in low light conditions and I only saw them because I was checking the lane for hedgehogs.

hoverfly....notice the beauty in small things

But, there’s also the magic thing. Turning your head before there was anything to see in your peripheral vision. Stopping at just the right moment. Being in the right place at the right time. Some creatures have timetables they follow and some don’t, so being on the path at the moment when a deer takes her fawn across it is unlikely, but that sort of thing happens to me quite a lot.

Wild things tend to have an awareness of what’s around them that enables them to avoid human contact. I’ve watched deer watching people. Stay on the path and act oblivious and the deer could be motionless and yards away and will keep still and remain invisible. If you see the deer and watch them in turn, they become alert to you in a totally different way – often more wary, sometimes fearful, sometimes curious. There is an awareness in wild creatures about who and what is around that humans have the potential for, but mostly don’t bother with. To be outside and a little bit more like a wild thing is to be in a different and more aware kind of relationship with everyone else.

Nimue Brown, 2019

a walk in a haymeadow, Upper Dove Valley, Staffordshire, 2018

Where could you go?

Thanks, Nimue, for those thoughts

It helps to be watchful! Don’t rush, don’t just concentrate on talking to the person you are out with (if anyone). Take time to look, to listen, to be present

Now that we are getting out a bit more, why not aim to visit somewhere new? The county Wildlife Trusts have nature reserves of one sort or another in every county. Just look up (your county name) wildlife Trust and you should find them

CelebrationEarth! is aiming for a big event in St Albans Cathedral in September (19, 20th all being well). The Trust associated with the St Albans is the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. This is what they have to say about their work:

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is the leading voice for wildlife conservation in Hertfordshire and Middlesex. Together with the support of its volunteers and members, the Trust takes practical action every day to help wildlife flourish. The Trust manages a network of nature reserves, covering nearly 2,000 acres, including woodlands, grasslands and wetlands as well as nationally rare habitats such as fen-meadows and patches of heath and orchard. Beyond this, the Trust is working towards a Living Landscape. In partnership with local councils, companies, landowners and local communities, it aims to improve urban and rural areas for wildlife and people. As one of 46 Wildlife Trusts across the UK – The Wildlife Trusts being the only charities working to protect the full range of UK wildlife and habitats on a local level – Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust gives wildlife a voice not only locally but also on a national level.


Thanks to Nimue Brown for her words!

Photos: Treecreeper and Hover fly c. Ian MacLellan (take a look at Ian's photostream, here)

Haymeadow, knapweed and montage: c. Gordon MacLellan (ie, me! You can see more of my work, here)

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