Monday, 24 October 2011

What a brain; what a man; what a bird!

Firstly Autumnwatch has returned to our television screens.  Now, nothing beats getting out and about in nature except perhaps the delectable and divinely fascinating Chris Packham on your tellybox every Friday evening for a couple of months... or so I thought.

Saturday, 15th October 2011 was a day I never in my wildest dreams imagined would ever occur.  Well, obviously the date would occur but what happened on that day was totally fantastic.  I still haven't quite recovered.  Michelle and I attended the very first Wildlife Xpo at Alexandra Palace in London.  We were booked in to listen to three lectures; one of them given by the National Trust's Matthew Oates (butterfly guru and worshipper of HIM - His Imperial Majesty; the Purple Emperor) and the other two by none other than the man of the season Chris Packham.

It was a difficult task keeping my excitement under control.  However under control it remained and the photographic evidence is here for all to see.  (In case you can't spot me my hair is now short and red!)

Chris in action
Autograph signing

With Michelle and the girls from Hanningfield Reserve

So, there you have it.  A day to be remembered.  The best thing about it was listening to him talk about so many of the things we are learning at college and to feel really motivated to get out there and do it!

To add to that excitement, this weekend I was idly looking out the patio doors over the garden and paying particular attention to a row of four chubby little sparrows doing a spot of sunbathing when in swooped a whopping great (relatively speaking) sparrowhawk.  It landed on the bush on the other side of the fence and turned its head to give me a fantastic view of its yellow eye.  Spectacular.  And one of Chris' favourite birds I believe.  Picture below is from a BBC website as I was nowhere near ready with my camera!

The beautiful sparrowhawk

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Another busy week is almost past.  College has been interesting this week but work needs to start on all the assignments that are being doled out.  Work has been particularly manic this week but the train journey into London allowed me to finally read Lawton's 'Making Space for Nature' report which has been kicking about my study for months.  It is closely linked to the Landscape Ecology module I have just started so it makes for good background reading.

I met with some of the Living Landscapes team on Tuesday and Michelle and I have agreed to work on a few bits for the Hanningfield document.  I say a 'few' bits - we are hoping not to have bitten off more than we can chew!  I'll be looking at the geology, topograhy and hydrology section(!) and then we'll both be working together on key wildlife habitats and key species AND managing for biodiversity.  I'm actually very excited about it all.

This weekend sees the 2-year anniversary of my trip to La Brenne with EuCAN as a conservation volunteer... essentially what changed my career direction.  If you haven't heard about my trip (and I'd be surprised if you haven't!) then you can read about it here!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Hot, hot, hot and back to school!

The leaves on the trees have been turning and falling for a couple of weeks now - seemed very early this year.  To add to the confusion this week has seen temperatures in the south-east of England soar to 29 degrees celsius.  It's October for goodness' sake!  On the plus side it has given me some sunny weather to get out and cut down the widlflower meadow in the garden and to have a general tidy-up.  Still, I'm looking forward to autumn-proper when I can see the structure of the trees laid bare and the birds jumping about within the branches.  Leaves really do get in the way when you are trying to spot long-tailed tits...

I'm two weeks into my 2nd year at college. I'm excited to be back but also feeling quite a bit of pressure to do as well as last year. We hada very exciting and inspiring lecture last week and so I feel ready to dive head first in to the world of landscape ecology and mega-fauna!  But my part-time work is pretty hectic as well so it's fair to say I am not feeling very relaxed at the moment. Our first piece of formative work is due in a couple of days. We're doing a short presentation on fen habitats and looking at why they are declining and how and why they are protected.  Fortunately we can use our trip to Redgrave and Lopham Fen back in August as an example.

On Tuesday this week I'm off to a meeting at Hanningfield Reservoir to discuss how I can get involved with writing their Living Landscape document.

Anyway, more to follow soon on what I'm getting up to in and out of college - pertaining to nature, naturally!