I often take the 40 minute walk to the shop at the weekend if I haven't got much else planned for that day. The walk starts at the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust reserve Byron's Pool, and then cuts across some scrubby grassland. It's not the world's most exciting walk, but not bad for a supermarket run and I'll often see a hare or two. Last weekend as I took to the edge of the grassy scrub, I was treated to my first skylark singing from up high. It was a wintry day, and I felt this photo of the week sent in by Nature's Home reader Susan Blagden sums it up perfectly.
Belting it out, and parachuting to the ground against a cold, grey sky in mid-February. Time for a little rest. (Photo: copyright Susan Blagden, www.contemplativecamera.org Twitter: @cameraprayer)
What have you begun to hear as spring creeps into view?
Those of us who took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch will have submitted our results by now (quick, do so here if you haven’t yet!)
But alongside the Big Garden Birdwatch, education establishments up and down the country have been counting the birds from their playgrounds and sports pitches, for the Big Schools Birdwatch. Here’s how it’s done.
If you’re a teacher or parent attached to a school that hasn’t joined in the fun yet, there’s still time to do so.
Get your school involved! (Photo: Eleanor Bentall, rspb-images.com)
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch helps provide important information about UK birds, and there are plenty of activities, resources and support on offer, from Early Years to 14-year-olds. Here’s just some of the things your class can do to get involved.
• Create edible artwork or crumble pastry maggots to attract birds to the school grounds
• Make Twirlywoos binoculars (Early Years)
• Be a wildlife detective on a secret mission
• Build homes for nature in the school grounds
There’s plenty more, besides. But at the heart of all of this is the bird count itself. A selection of identification sheets will help kids identify the different birds as they move around the school grounds. When you’ve all counted the different birds, your class will have learned about local wildlife, and their results will help the RSPB build a picture of how British birds are faring, and how best to help them.
Watch the video to see how it’s done… then Submit your results before 23 February to be part of the nation’s biggest citizen science project!
Share your experiences with us at Nature’s Home magazine.
“How should I express myself to the person I most admire this Valentine’s Day?”
The lucky among us will be considering just that in the run up to the day of lerrrve. For Nigel the gannet it was obvious: “Break out my best moves.”
I hear ya Nige!
He expressed himself in the only way he knew how, and persistently courted another gannet. Unfortunately, his love interest had a heart of stone, as it was in fact a decoy set up by conservation officers on the island of Mana, New Zealand. Nigel eventually died having never had his love reciprocated by his granite gal.
What is love? Nigel don't court me, don't court me, no more. (Photo: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com)
Were Nigel’s efforts in vain?
Climate change is the biggest threat facing humankind and everything we share our home with. In a time when so much feels wrong with the world, and the news is full of upsetting stories on a daily basis, what time or headspace is there left to give to a problem that sometimes feels so abstract?
Doing something as simple as sharing what you love is the perfect starting point. The biggest issues need everyone’s help to solve, and even by doing something that seems so small, like Tweeting #Showthelove with what you love that’s at risk to climate change, adds to the whole and begins to create progress. If everyone does a little, the result is a lot. The places we care about, or activities we like to do could be adversely affected by climate change – this is no longer abstract.
Climate change needs everyone’s steely determination
Two weeks before Nigel died, probably of a broken heart, three other gannets arrived on the little island off the coast of Wellington. These gannets had slightly better senses for suitable mates – or were less lovesick – and began courting in the usual way. Nigel stuck to his guns.
Many great things have only come about from the taking of that first uneasy step, or persisting with something when everything or everyone else is against you. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first general election in which (some) women could vote this year is a particularly poignant example, and the Representation of the People Act 1918 has led some significant progress. But there is a still a long way to go.
Would those other gannets have settled on the island without the presence of Nigel? To me it’s clear, and Nigel’s five year dedication to the colony led to something greater than himself: a future.
Taking the plunge for love. (Photo: Ed Marshall, rspb-images.com)
Nigel’s dating tips
Nigel has a lot to teach us. There are tonnes of tips out there for people looking for love, and the most important ones Nigel has in spades.
He courted the only way he knew how. Just be yourself!
He’s loyal. But let’s not dwell on that point…
And finally he’s willing to put himself out there and make the first move.
An important message
Somewhere amidst the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day is an important message to not take anything for granted and need a certain day to do or say something important. If you don’t #Showthelove this week, it might be too late. If you do, you’re contributing to something greater than yourself.
If you would like to find out more about climate change and The Climate Coalition’s #Showthelove campaign, follow this link. Or take a look at Anna's superb blog from last week. To add to Anna's blog and what everyone at Nature's Home wants to save from climate change, here's what I want to save.
I want to save hope. The biggest risk in the fight against the factors causing climate change is that people won't act soon enough, or will act and become disillusioned by what we're faced with today. If people lose faith in the change they can make, or the influence they can have on those with the power to make change, all hope is lost.