If you live in a town or city, then you may not think that you have much wildlife to see around you. But in fact not all wildlife stays in the countryside; the intensive farming methods and the adaptability of the wild creatures around us means a lot of the wildlife has developed around the urban landscape. Much of the urban wildlife finds it's way into our towns via the 'natural motorways' (rivers, canals, railway lines, woodland strips) then they take up residence in the parks and wasteland. So if you can find what is called a 'local patch' that contains wildlife you are almost there.
Whether you live in the town or country, a suburb or a village you should be able to find your own local patch - a place that you can regularly visit throughout the year to get to know the wildlife. Urban parks are one of the best places as they offer a good era that is managed well and you can have free access to it all year round. You may well find that there are other people who think of it as their local patch and they will have knowledge on the species and behavior of the wildlife around you, so do ask questions, most naturalists are very happy to talk about what they have seen (but remember not to disturb them). If you do not have a park close by, get hold of an ordnance survey map at the library and look for patches of water and woodland, or make contact with your local wildlife trust. The library may also have information on wildlife surveys, local wildlife groups and societies, bird clubs and bat groups.
If you want to venture out of town, find your closest nature reserve. Take your binoculars and some good walking shoes, reserves are not zoos and you will have to go a few times and make quite an effort to find the wildlife in a large reserve. Hopefully there will be a viewing hide for birds and maybe an information center for you to visit first to find out what is about. Remember, patience is a virtue, and nothing is more true for watching out for wildlife
in a nature reserve, you know it is out there somewhere, but you have to simply wait before you can set eyes upon it. But be sure you will be successful and see your targeted species, it will happen, but you may have to visit a few times and vary the time of day you visit.
As you have gone to all this trouble now, you may want to keep some sort of record of your visits and what you have observed. Of course, this is entirely your own choice, but if you do want to keep notes you will be able to learn about what you have seen and identify the species later, you may even add a drawing to your notes, record the colour, or feathers or maybe a distinguishing mark. You can also record the time and place, then you will know when to return to stand the best chance of seeing the wildlife again. Another way is to take rough notes in the field and return home to enter them into your wildlife log. Making notes like this serves many purposes. if you record numbers then over the years you will see if the species in your local patch is increasing or decreasing, what is the first date each year that you see something? the first Snowdrops, Hawthorn leaves, primrose flower, the first Cuckoo
. The last date you saw the House Martins
and is it earlier or later than last year? what do other people think, and is it the same in other parts of the country. There you go, your visit to your local patch has stimulated your interest, increased your fitness, added knowledge and created social interaction with people who share your interest in wildlife.
In the next blog we will take a look at the sort of equipment you might need.