Thursday, 3 December 2015

Winter Jewels

Come on. Pull on your boots, let's get out for a walk. 

I often think it is amazing how something a simple as a walk can lift the mood, re-balance the body and revitalise the mind. Just escaping the restricting confines of walls and ceiling, breathing fresh cool air, and the rhythm of placing one foot in front of the other, can be a cure-all for many of life's worries and strains. 

It has been a little while since we followed Pitsham Lane across the farm. The mild damp weather we have been trudging through during the past few months has left the track claggy with mud; a good chance to 'dirty up' my new wellies (sensible 'country green' ones, for those days when my bright red wellingtons, although fun, may not be entirely suitable!). Despite the day starting off as another mild one, the wind has grown increasingly chilled and blustery this afternoon, blowing ahead of a band of rain forecast for later this evening. I wish I had worn my wooly hat. 

The harsh twigs where we picked sloes earlier in the mellow autumn, are leafless now and a tangled mass of thorn. The remaining berries, ignored by the birds in the prolonged mild weather, are wrinkled and shrinking, decaying on the stem. The stems themselves are encrusted with lichen in shades of gold and silver. 

Cattle have been in the fields for some weeks now, poaching and churning the mud around their feeders and troughs to a thick noisy gloop. Curious, they huff through their hairy, tongue-wet noses at us over the fence. 

Pied wagtails take alarm, launching into the air with a characteristic "Chissick" call, looping across the field as though struggling to keep their long tails from weighing them down, 'bottom-heavy'. In the corner oak, another bird seems to have no problem at all with being tail-heavy. The long tailed tit is one of an extensive flock, some two dozen or so individual birds strong, flitting throughout the oak's branches and spilling out into the adjoining hedgerow. One by one they pile across the track, directly over our heads, none wanting to be the last left behind. 

The light drops quickly at this time of year, especially when diffused through the clouds that seem to constantly cover the sky recently. 

A flock of chaffinches, falls upwards - moving as one from mud to branches at our approach, nervous and flighty. Something interesting across the field turns out to be nothing more than a clump of browned and withered dock stems or similar plant, once focused on through the binoculars. 

Turning for home, it is not long before we are back on the concrete road through the industrial estate; the streetlight at the entrance to the estate already glowing. A decade ago, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, post-christmas but not long after New Year, a new tree arrived in the industrial estate. I don't know who planted it, but one day the grass bank was just an ordinary grass bank, the next day there was a tree, its triangular shape suggesting its origins may have involved tinsel, baubles and fairy-lights. We grew together that tree and I, as I passed it by each day too and fro, until it overtook me and now reaches somewhere between twice and three times my height. I am always tempted each December to remind the tree of its sparkly and colourful past, but today it had no need for such artificial adornment; nature had provided the decorations. Between the dark, needle-soft branches of the fir, a tiny bird flitted; round as a bauble, a flash of colour. A goldcrest, one of nature's winter jewels. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Moving Mountains

This autumn has been a very mild one with temperatures frequently in double figures until a cold snap descended over the weekend, bringing a thick frost. 
Did you hear the clockwork calls of pheasants repeating along the woodland edge in the early morning?
The night before, a barn owl crossed my path, a moments apparition from the dark illuminated in headlight beams. A few miles away (off the patch) another had been perched on a fencepost. A pale shape turned, crouched, prepared; flight was close.

Tuesday morning however dawned mild once more, and damp. The weakened sun struggled to draw back a curtain of heavy drizzle. 
By mid morning the sun had eked out a small victory, and so I decided to walk to work across my patch. 
I have been busy, and have not had opportunity to walk the route I took yesterday for at least several days if not a couple of weeks, so it was good to catch up, see what changes the weather and ever-turning seasons had wrought. 
I certainly wasn't expecting to encounter a waft of golden summer! But my nose didn't lie and there in the hedgerow, beside the fire station, was indeed a tendril of honeysuckle complete with a couple of sweetly-scented clotted-cream-coloured clusters of flowers! 
Another unseasonable flower beamed at me from the bog alongside Jubilee Path. Unreachable, out in the muddied and waterlogged reaches at the edge of the snippet of woodland was a bright yellow kingcup or marsh marigold, bold as brass, cheered by on the the calls of a tit flock in the branches above. 
The tit flock was mixed, including the great tit in black bowler hat & tie and blue tits the colours of Spring flowers beneath Spring sky.

For the first time this year, I found that attempting to walk the path alongside the Rother and skirting the edge of Cowdray meadows required me to pick my steps carefully and stick to the grass where the vegetation bound the mud tightly. Squirrels chattered to one another in the branches, and the ever alert blackbird took panicked flight as I approached the corner of the path. He had been feasting on windfalls from a feral apple tree at the edge of the meadow, beyond the old iron gate at the foot of St Anne's Hill. 
Mistle thrushes guard clumps of mistletoe in the tops of the linden trees, a high view point from where they mark the progress of any threat to their living winter food store. 
The moles had moved their mountains up the bank. beneath the rushes the flood meadows are becoming waterlogged; a sure sign winter is coming. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Autumn winds

Off to the far west of the patch, out over the atlantic, multiple low pressure systems spiral in, queueing up so that as the winds of one blow themselves eastwards, another can pile in behind it with successive waves of squally rain and gusts.  The wind is vicious, tearing the last of the autumn tinted leaves from the trees and sending birds scudding sideways from their flight paths. 

The fieldfares and redwings have arrived in good numbers during a break in the weather, forced to take refuge in the face of the oncoming storm. The redwings move in squadrons seeking berries, whilst the fieldfares argue agitatedly with the wind from the top of the buffeted linden trees. 

In those Linden trees clumps of mistletoe hang, already heavy with berries, and in the nearby churchyard holly and yew berries light up the damp gloom. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

My Patch on Film

Well, here we are in November! Can you believe it? BBC's 'Autumnwatch' has been on our screens all week, the winds and rains have arrived and the leaves are now falling fast. 

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you have enjoyed our explorations over the past months; perhaps you have learnt a few things, been inspired to look at your own local area with new eyes, or perhaps have adopted a 'patch' of your own? 
Whether you have only recently discovered my ramblings about my local patch, have popped over from my other blog at, or have been following the blog since the very beginning, it is fantastic to be able to share this area that I love so much, and its wildlife, with you all.  
I always welcome comments, either here or on Twitter (@OakByTheRife) so do let me know your thoughts. 

It is with slight amazement that I write that The Oak By The Rife Blog is approaching it's 1st birthday! I started this project 11th December 2014, and so we have nearly completed a full year cycle together, and will soon be heading into our second winter. 

As a little celebration of that upcoming anniversary, I decided that it was time for something a bit different. So this week, I have stepped out from my usual position behind the camera, to show you some of my favourite places on The Oak By The Rife Patch in person....

As I typed on that first local patch blog post: "Let's go for a walk"!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Autumn Alchemy

What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions 'autumn'? Berries? Hearty stews? Quite possibly it's coloured leaves adorning every tree in a display of reds, golds, and yellows. 
This year has been fantastic for autumn colour on The Oak by the Rife patch. I recently drove south from the centre of the patch and out over the Downs, and was amazed by the glowing burnished woodlands and individual field-centre oaks in the afternoon sun. 

Today however, we wake after a day and a night of rain and many gusts of wind, to a bedraggled tree-scape.  The colours have been abandoned by the sun; they seem to have lost their light, their once bright hues washed out and muddied. 
Once the rain stops falling, and molten pewter clouds disperse, once the puddles drain there will be the pleasure of piles of leaves to jump in and rustle through, but these will be brown, earthed, not alive with the alchemic magic of before. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

A kestrel on the wire

Today, Sunday lunch was followed by a stroll across the farm in the afternoon sun. Last night, the clocks stopped, and in that suspended hour the first frosts formed, they were forgotten by now but the shadows retained a chill. This autumn is turning into one of the best for spectacular autumn colour I have seen for some years, and the woodland edges and lone oaks are gilded in all shades of gold and copper. One oak on the Cocking road glows red. 
In another shade of red come the holly berries, round and ripe, adorning the hedgerow alongside the fizz of ivy flowers and dark glossy leaves. 

A blackbird plundered the sloes and a flock of house sparrows were audibly cracking the seeds from the withering brambles. A separate flock of house sparrows filled the barnyard with chirps; pied wagtails taking up perches upon the roof peaks as if in order to be heard above the rabble. Old mans beard scrambled over the rubble pile, a clump of mayweed bloomed unseasonably beside the track and starlings flocked in mini murmurations around the cattle feeders, dropping down between the beasts' large heads to raid the fodder.
Is it just me or do starlings always sound like they are playing 'Star Wars'? Stop and listen next time you're near some!)

A kestrel on the wire overhead, a silhouette, hunter. 

Sun lowered, kestrel dropped. A robin sang, warmth followed the sun leaving fingers and noses to be nipped by the evening chill. Long shadows led the slow way home.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Buzzards to bees, and the first winter thrushes will be pleased.

As Winnie the Pooh would say it's "a rather blustery day today". A north or north-easterly wind has been gusting, sending the spiky cases of the chestnuts crashing down, and scattering the ground with acorns and autumnal leaves. Despite the grey skies I headed out onto my patch in search of some moments with nature. 

A pair of buzzards were calling and circling over the Chichester Road, as I made my way around South Pond. Remembering days from my childhood holidays when buzzards wouldn't appear in the skies until we reached the foggy-heights of Dartmoor, I still love to see these wide-winged soaring birds-of-prey which are now plentiful in Sussex. 

A couple of shaggy inkcap toadstools had popped up under the bench at the north corner of South Pond. I wonder if anyone eating their lunch-time sandwiches noticed? 

The horse chestnut tree beside the bridge at the end of the wharf has turned a muddy shade of brown and I found possibly the largest conker ever discovered, just beside the wall of the bridge (what's that? oh yes, of course, I put it in my pocket!). 

I was pleased to spot the pair of roe deer which can regularly be found browsing amongst the trees of the small wet copse in the middle of Cowdray Causeway flood meadows. As I paused for a few minutes to watch them, another causeway meadow regular, a stonechat, popped up into view perching on the top of an old dock stem. 

Yew trees, holly bushes and rowan trees alike already seem to be laden with ripe berries. The thrushes will be pleased, but is it a sign of a particularly cold winter on its way? 

A party of redwings were my first winter migrants of the year, their 'seep' 'seeep' calls filling the air as the made their way through the tree tops above the River Rother. 

As the wind began to chill and my legs tire, nature had one final treat for me. An ivy bee was resting on an ivy flower at perfect viewing level at the corner of the primary school playing field. Each detail was clear; the furry thorax, the neat sandy coloured stripes on her abdomen, the glossy black eyes and the stacks of pale ivy pollen on her back legs. She posed for a few photos, until a cup of tea began calling me home.

Close to town

I stood at the edge of the path, feet planted amongst the rank grasses and binoculars held slightly shakily to my eyes. I had been gazing across the meadows for a while and my arms were beginning to ache, but I had a smile on my face. 
Behind me, across the river, Cowdray Ruins slumbered under the grey sky whilst the bank-side alder and willow trees were buffeted by a blustery north-east wind. Even without looking diagonally across the flood meadows to the gap in the trees in the far corner I could tell the road was there, the stream of vehicle noise was a constant presence, punctuated occasionally by the rumble of a bus pulling up in the bus-stand at the end of the causeway. My view of the bus-stand and the rest of the town, except for a few rooftops, was interrupted by a small, scrubby, thin copse of willows. Their presence is the result of a patch of boggy ground which has always been too wet to mow or graze, beside the squat bridge roughly half way along the causeway. Rushes grow in thick tussocks and a snippet of open water after wet weather often hosts one or two mallards. Water rails squealed here in the cold of last winter. Today a stonechat clung to the topmost point of a bent dock seedhead, swaying in the wind, partway between myself and the copse. But he was not the main focus of my watch. Beyond the multi-trunked trees, in a space of weak sunlight, a roe doe was grazing. I glimpsed her mate as I arrived,  slipping quietly out of view, but the doe remained, picking at the herbage and from time to time, raising a wary head to watch or listen to a dog walker using the river path. The path was a busy one; a border terrier went one way, a rottweiler went the other, followed by a whippet. Joggers, shoppers, bored lunchtime strollers; not one looked up. And yet I stood, watching every ear-flick, muscle-twitch, and nose-lick of a wild creature, so close to town. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

An afternoon walk - the road to Bepton

My work pattern has altered recently, now allowing for an afternoon walk. I headed out onto the Bepton Road. The Downs slumbered in the distance ahead, indistinct with mist and low sun glare, their tree-covered northern slopes a myriad of texture and shade. 

I have noticed in past few mornings when heading out to work that overnight temperatures have significantly dropped; no frost yet, but fog and heavy dew and a chill in the air. The trees have obviously noticed too as autumnal colour is becoming very apparent along the woodland edges, not just in the fruits and nuts, but the leaves too. Beech trees always seem to be the first to turn, but even the oaks are taking on a golden hue and the road to Bepton, including the pastures which stretch either side, is punctuated by great old oaks, remnants of lost hedgerows like loose stitches from the fabric of the fields

A gateway suggested a place to gaze out over an everyday landscape, an ever changing yet timelessly familiar view. The village was not in sight from here, nor any other scattered habitation, yet more subtle evidence of people living off the land was everywhere, even if one ignored the marching line of telegraph poles. The field had been harvested, sheep allowed in to strip-graze the remaining stubble, pheasants paraded at the margins, tyre tracks  were imprinted in the mud where a farm vehicle had passed sometime earlier. 

Along the lane, the hedgerow was studded every few yards with jewel like clumps of berries from the rose and trailing bryony. Here and there, a few brave sprigs of yarrow, red clover and even bush vetch attempted in vain a final flowering.  On the opposite side of the hedge, a motley gathered group of tups picked at their grazing lazily, waiting for their turn with the ewes. A flock of finches overhead was a swirl of flight and twittering. 

A crow dropped into the top of the bushes, carrying in its beak the body of a vole, probably stolen from a harassed kestrel or other bird of prey after being snatched unsuspecting from the long tussocky grass; light then dark. 

After an awkward transition, autumn undoubtably has the countryside firmly in its grasp. There is the rumour of a hard winter to come. The berries on the holly are already red, reports are coming in from across the country of migrant birds arriving ahead of our own unnaturally imposed schedule, a chill wind blows from a cold north-eastern continent.  I wonder how the patch will cope with a winter freeze, what wildlife will be forced to venture down from the hills or the north, seeking survival? The crow will use his intelligence to survive, the voles will be insulated in a tunnel-world beneath the snow, the bright hedgerow berries will be a finite food source. 

This afternoon I was grateful for the sun, as it seemed to bathe all in a delightful golden light and warmed my face when turned away from the stiffening breeze. A comma butterfly was just as grateful, fluttering up from the hedgerow to bask on an oak leaf, as if showing its host tree an example of colour to aim for. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

On Conkers, Kingfishers and Noticing Things (plus a few chips)

I went for a walk yesterday to the post office. Well, I went out with the intention of going to the post office, but it took me rather longer to get there that one would expect, and by the time I was turning for home, a visit to the chip shop was required for a paper-wrapped parcel of fuel to propel me up the hill! 

This week a high pressure system has settled over the UK, bringing a period of fine, bright and dry weather. Clear skies overnight mean temperatures drop, but once the morning mist rises and dew burns off, the uninterrupted sun sheds layers of jumpers and coats buy early-afternoon. We are now past the autumn equinox however, and the days are shortening, so the echo of summer doesn't last long, rapidly chilling as the sun sinks towards the western horizon.

This weather pattern, and the decrease in daylight hours, has triggered the first hints of copper and gold in the trees as they prepare to shed their leaves for winter. We will have to wait for the frosts before the full autumn colour change happens. It is not only the leaves which are responding. Amongst the branches of the horse chestnut, the tough spiky cases that protect the conkers are beginning to split open, spilling their polished treasures into the damp grass below. Do children still collect conkers these days; competing for the largest ones or the shiniest ones, and going home with school-trouser-pockets bulging? 

The horse chestnuts here have been hit hard this year by a leaf-mining moth, and already look as brown and shrivelled as though we were nearing the end of autumn not the beginning. 

My walk took me along the river path, and gazing down to the fast flowing waters I could easily dream of views of otter playing and fishing on the sandy banks, green weeded rivulets and singing tumbles and eddies. In the end it was a kingfisher that brought a moment of magic to the scene, bolting downstream in characteristic angular flight. A few seconds earlier and it would have found itself flying down the middle of my camera viewfinder, alas, that shot was not to be this day. 

I ate my paper-parcel dinner on a bench beside South Pond, watching a number of mallard ducks on the water. The males outnumbered the females substantially, as tends to be the way on this particular pond, possibly as a result of over feeding (unfortunately mostly with bread which is actually bad for the ducks' health) causing over population in past years. There was a mixture of activity; some were feeding 'bottoms up', others were preening and bathing, and some, predictably, were keeping a sharp eye on me incase I might be the sort to throw them a few chips. 
It had been a while since I had had chance to simply sit and watch their antics. I was puzzled by a strange whistle call, which seemed to be coming from the mallards. It was very different from the usual 'quacking' calls I am familiar with. I eventually tracked it down to one or two drakes (male mallards) and found that it appeared to be accompanied by an odd head bobbing movement. This call and 'display' reminded me distinctly of the behaviours of wigeon, a duck species that often crowds onto the wetlands in this area (RSPB Pulborough Brooks is a good example) over the winter, having migrated from lands to the north. This is the first time I have noticed it in mallards, I wonder if it is recognised behaviour for this species? 

Chips demolished, I left the ducks to their whistling and turned for home. Low sunlight streamed through the trees along Jubilee Path, highlighting spider's webs and their occupants with shimmers of gold. I noted that the yew tree was now bearing bright red berries between the forest-green needles, and reminded myself to keep an eye open for thrushes here, when the cold weather sets in.  

A multitude of squeaking calls in the bushes marked the progress and activity of a flock of tits. The sight of a blue tit making its way off through the twigs, holding in its beak a sprig of two elderberries (from a clump of berries on which it had been feeding), each bigger then its own eye, was certainly another sight I had never seen before. 

It is amazing what you notice, when you take the time to pause and watch those little everyday things that perhaps we all normally take for granted. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

September Spiders

Are you a fan of the spider? 
Even if these eight legged invertebrates don't make you recoil in horror, you may perhaps have not ever paused to study one too closely. 

Autumn is a fabulous time to seek out a close encounter with spiders; damp misty mornings or heavy dew highlight countless silken threads in gardens and hedgerows, or in shimmering tapestries across the grass. 

The confusion of brambles and scrub along the roadside through the industrial estate near my home, provides the perfect tethering point for the complex webs of orb web spiders; those 'traditional' spider-webs that we are all so familiar with. I lost count of the number of spiders I spied, waiting in ambush for unwary insects along the stretch of just a few hundred metres hedgerow this morning. Each web was an intricate construction, unique and seemingly intelligently designed. Looking closely each spider was equally unique with its own design of patterns across its body. 

Each of these spiders is of the species Araneus diadematus (or 'Garden Cross Spider' to you and me!) They vary hugely in colour, but have a characteristic pattern of pale golden spots which form a cross on their backs, hence their common name, and are one of our largest spider species in the UK. (The Buglife organisation's website has some more information:

Spiders will continue to to be very obvious in our gardens, parks and countryside throughout the autumn. These Garden Cross Spiders in particular are active until November. Even if you find these eight-legged marvels 'creepy' or intimidating, I am sure you cannot deny they are fascinating creatures or that the sparkle of dew on their cobwebs adds a seasonal beauty to our landscape. Why not take a closer look yourself next time you are out and about? 

(Don't forget, you can share your photos or sightings on the new patch Twitter-feed @OakByTheRife!)

Industrial Nature

This week I have been noticing nature close to home. My back garden and those of my neighbours, and the short stretch of road from my front door through the small industrial estate, have provided a number of autumnal moments and even a new species! 

The road follows the route of a disused railway line, closed in the early 1950s, which emerges through a gateway opposite my house where it has been running along an embankment above the rife. Most of the industrial estate road is lined with pine trees; a mixture of Scotts Pines and Douglas Fir, beneath which is a mass of bramble and scrub on one side of the road and a wide grassy slope on the other. The soil is dry and sandy, trampled daily by countless factory-workers, dog-walkers, and to-school-or-the-shops-walkers, as buses, tractors, lorries and cars rumble past on the concrete road. 
Not the most productive wildlife watching spot you might think? might be surprised!

A tawny owl was calling at 4.30 am a few days ago. Yesterday morning a flock of tits visited the garden; Coal Tits taking turns to visit the bird feeder, Great Tits investigating the wild hop that climbs the fence and picking out spiders around the nest boxes, Blue Tits tumbling through my neighbour's shrubs. The Robin sat atop the washing line, flicking his tail in consternation at this multitude of birds invading the garden he has so recently re-claimed. The Wood Pigeons have produced yet another set of squabs from the rafters of the car ports. I think the few House Martins that have been lingering at the rooftop of the house at the end of the terrace, have taken the chattering of the starling flock, gathering on a dead branch that sticks out of a pine at the entrance of the industrial estate, as their cue to leave. 

Just beside the speed bumps, beneath that tree where the starlings have been flocking, a mass of ivy is bursting its buds. Flowering late in the year from now well into early winter, ivy is a favourite and invaluable food source for late flying insects, and often the last port-of-call for butterflies such as Red Admirals for a final nectar drink before hibernation. 
In warm early afternoon sunshine on Thursday, a number of small insects were checking on the ivy's progress to full flowering; hoverflies, wasps, and a slim, perfectly striped, little bee. There were a couple of these small bees feeding on the blooms, and they clearly were not honey bees or the red mason bees I see in my garden in the spring. I didn't have long to hang around and study them so snapped a photo and promised myself I'd look them up. 

 Record shots of Ivy Bee (Collete hederae), Holmbush Way Midhurst West Sussex, Thursday 17th September 2015

With the help of some friendly folk over on Twitter, it turns out that these bees on the ivy are in fact the aptly named Ivy Bee (or Colletes hederae if you want the scientific name!). Ivy bees are a recent coloniser in the UK, from Europe and have been spreading across the southern counties of England. They feed almost exclusively on ivy, as they are active September to November, and the females use the pollen and nectar of the ivy to supply the chambers of her nest burrow, found in soft warm soil. Although a solitary bee, many burrows may be found in close proximity. 

Dark cloud and a cool drizzly morning hampered my efforts to re-find these intriguing insects today, or indeed any ivertebrates on the ivy save for a few wasps and spiders, and so instead I turned to the Industrial Estate's other autumn speciality: fungi. 

I had noticed that a scattering of toadstools had sprung up across the grassy area beneath the Scotts Pines  whilst driving past on my way home from work yesterday. A distinctive and instantly recognisable Fly Agaric was the first to catch my eye, but as I wandered (probably raising a few eyebrows in the factory windows as I stood about staring into bushes or at the ground!) I came across numerous others. Sadly many had been uprooted, whether by passing boots of bored dog walkers or by the clumsy foraging of foxes I couldn't tell. The foxes had clearly been there last night, as there were several pointed snout holes and scrapes in the grass. I am yet to identify all the species that were pushing their way up though the soil, but they certainly made interesting photography subjects.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Launching the new "The Oak By The Rife Local Patch" Twitter feed!

Do you use Twitter? 

There is now an easy way to keep up-to-date with The Oak By The Rife blog, and no excuse to miss a link, or an exciting wildlife moment! Just pop onto Twitter and give the new Oak By The Rife Twitter-feed a follow at "@OakByTheRife"!  Share in wildlife sightings direct from the patch, a daily (hopefully!) photo and of course, the links to every new blog post.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I find enormous pleasure and fascination in watching wildlife on my local patch. Nature is a passion of mine, but I find much of that pleasure comes from being able to share my experiences with others and inspire them to find similar awe and intrigue in the natural world around them, where ever they are. 
So of course, it isn't all about me, or even all about my blog. I'd love to hear from you, whether you share my patch or part of it, or live many miles away. Have you had similar moments in nature, or experienced something that amazed, baffled or entertained you? Please do share it! 

I have learnt much of my knowledge of nature from other people and continue to do so every day, and I am more than happy to share what I know with anyone who asks questions - and I know I will be asking many questions myself!

Some of you may already be familiar with my long running Twitter-feed "@SophiEcoWild", don't worry, it's not going anywhere! This new twittering is simply linked more directly with the nature of The Oak By The Rife patch. 

At "@OakByTheRife" I plan to share a daily(ish!) photo from the patch, inspired by previous Twitter challenges such as #100DaysofNature and #30DaysWild, and most of these will be taken either on a pocket compact camera or my smart phone (occasionally my SLR) as I want to capture what could be anyone's #EverydayNature.

If you are not a Twitter user, please do not panic, I will certainly continue to share my blogposts in all the usual places including the BBC Magazine's Local Patch Reporter's forum at 

I hope you will be able to join me and follow @OakByTheRife in this new adventure; see you there!

About Me

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Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis