Thursday, 1 January 2015

Nature: Top Tips for 2015

Hello there! How are you feeling? A little sensitive after last night's exuberance, or optimistic and raring to go for another year? 

Either way, there is the perfect answer - Nature. 

Wherever you live there will be some form of nature within a short distance of your home, whether its the pavement trees that clean the traffic-polluted air, the buddleia bushes that have conquered the derelict factory site. It could be a city park, or endless wilderness of high moorland, or a pebbly beach beside where the ferris wheel turns. It could be the glimpse of the sunset behind the hedge on your daily commute home from work, or the collared dove that sits on the TV aerial outside your attic window. 
Whatever and where ever it is, it is there, waiting for you. 
Re-discover, explore, develop a new obsession. 

I am looking forward to watching my Local Patch and reporting on and sharing with you each new sighting and memorable moment, but for now here's my "Top Three Things" to do or look out for over the coming months. 
Why not give one (or two or three!) a go yourself?

Join in some Citizen Science!

24th-25th January, the RSPB will be running their annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey.
Just pick an hour over the weekend, put your feet up with a cup of tea, write down any birds you see in your garden, and send in the results when you're done! And don't worry if you don't see many, or even any birds, because knowing what is not there is just as useful to the science as knowing what is there!
For more details, how to take part, and why it is important, go to : 

Phenology: or in other words, studying the seasons and nature's cycles. 
Did the oak leaves burst before the ash leaves last year, or are the primroses on the bank by the bus stop seeming to flower earlier with every spring?
Recording flowering times and leaf bud bust, arrival of migrant birds, the first butterflies, tadpoles in your pond or birds nesting, is a great way to help scientists understand what is happening to local, and global climate and wildlife. 

The Woodland Trust collect this data every year, and all the information on what to look out for and where to record your sightings at the click of a button, is available on their
Nature's Calendar website:

Pick a 'Patch'

Why not adopt your own local patch?
What and where you choose is of course up to you, but top tips are:
  1. Choose somewhere close to home, perhaps within walking distance, or on your route to/from work, school/college or uni. 
  2. Choose somewhere with a circular walk if possible, it can be boring doubling back on yourself.
  3. Decide on the boundaries, big enough for variety, but doesn't take all day to visit.
  4. Visit as often as possible - at least every week if you can!

Learn something new

(Photos: left - male orange tip butterfly, right - nightingale)

It is never too late, or too soon, to learn something new! 
Perhaps you are expert at identifying birds - try transferring those skills to wildflowers! 
Can you tell dragonflies apart in flight in seconds? Try shutting your eyes and deciphering bird songs!

Maybe you are new to nature and want to learn more? 
Don't try to tackle everything at once! Instead, try picking a specific group and focusing on learning how to identify those, and then go from there.
Butterflies are a great place to start - there are not so many species as birds and most are very distinctive and often come to gardens!

Look, listen, and most importantly, keep asking questions!

Whatever you do this year, I hope you will continue to join me in explorations of nature on this local patch. 

Please feel free to join in the conversation, or share your own discoveries. Leave a comment on the blog or on the BBC Wildlife Magazine forum Local Patch reporter's discussion board (on the The Oak By The Rife topic if for my attention) at

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. "Re-discover, explore, develop a new obsession"....something that I am doing once more. I was very passionate about photography back in 2005, as well as motorcycles since 1987. For a few years recently I felt I had "lost my way", I wasn't in a position to be riding motorbikes and I had sold my SLR camera gear a few years earlier.

    I needed something to do that wasn't the same old, same old. So I started to walk again, up my local hills. It's now becoming my passion, exploring hidden places that you just cannot see from the windows of a car.

    Even more amazing is that people (as you know) enjoy reading about walks and wildlife.


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