Saturday, 10 January 2015

About this blog

Sciurus vulgaris, Red Squirrel near my home
I thought I would start with a brief introduction as to what this blog is about and why I am doing it. I have added some of my favourite pictures on this page just as a start and to make it more interesting!
Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric - Loch Morlich, Scotland

I have just completed a Natural Sciences degree, which I studied with the Open University whilst continuing to work. It has always been one of my biggest regrets that I didn't follow my heart and study biology. I loved biology at school and I have always been interested in wildlife and nature. So I decided to rectify things and started studying. During this time, despite having been interested in wildlife for a long time, it became apparent that my species identification wasn't brilliant. In fact I was embarrassed about the lack ID skills I had for common birds and wildflowers.
Aglais io, Peacock butterfly taken near my home
So I began wandering around with my camera and taking pictures of local wildlife. I started with wildflowers as flowers are great - they don't run off or fly away when you try to photograph them! I then moved on to birds and insects including butterflies and dragonflies. It's kind of a little obsessive.....!
Ophrys apifera, Bee orchid - Clint's quarry nature reserve
I then started looking at fungi, lichens, mosses, trees, snails and soon realised how much fun you can have simply by going looking for nature. I attended workshops run by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and spent a lot of hours with my head buried in books! I began volunteering with the Wildlife Trust and my local RSPB group which is an great way to learn and share knowledge. I also helped to carry out shoresearch surveys with the wildlife trust and went rock pooling, which again opens up another world of amazing marine creatures.

Rockpool delights - Sandwood Bay, Scotland
I have also been very fortunate to travel and have seen some amazing wildlife particularly in the Galapagos Islands. I am going to do some posts on the different exotic creatures I have seen overseas, but my blog will mainly concentrate on wildlife in the United Kingdom.
Me with the Galapagos Giant Tortoises, Chelonoidis nigra - Galapagos Islands
I carry a small camera with me wherever I go and although I am not a brilliant wildlife photographer, I am a strong believer that there is a lot of luck involved with being in the right place at the right time. I also tend to visit wild places and spend a lot of time in the outdoors. But having said that I also have a lot of photos that have been taken locally within walking distance from home or on local nature reserves. It is amazing what you can find once you start looking. The other thing that I do to help with identification is to post my findings on a website called iSpot. A brilliant place to share nature and also very addictive - beware!
Lepus timidus, Mountain Hare - Cairngorm, Scotland

I have never been very keen on winter - I find the long dark days a bit depressing and I used to think that everything is either hibernating or dead! However, I have now begun to make the most of winter and get out there and see what I can find. I was very lucky one winter to find the mountain hare pictured above and this morning whilst out on a walk I found a snail tree!! That is not a scientific term by the way, but I was delighted to find a load of snails all snuggled into the crook of a tree!

Snails snuggling in a tree!

The snail tree
So it just goes to show nature is everywhere and it is a great way to get outdoors either on your own or with family and friends and see what you can find. And so the idea of this blog is to create a personal record of what I have found over the past few years and to share it with others to show what you can find out in the natural world. I hope that most of what I write is correct - I am by no means a nature expert and just want to share my finding. But please leave a comment if you think I am mistaken about anything. After all, that is one of the great things about the natural world - there is always something new to learn and it is great to share any knowledge.

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