What is your local wildlife?
Many people travel far and wide to get closer to nature. It has taken big changes (including replacing my car with a bike, and moving to another country) for me to realise the value of “local” wildlife. To me local means on your door step, outside your kitchen window or on your walk to the local shop. The nature at our finger tips we rarely appreciate, but it is as fascinating as that in our favorite remote parts! Not only can we go out to experience this wildlife, but we can also make our gardens and homes more appealing to the life that surrounds us!
When I was feeling energetic in Taunton in Somerset last year I enjoyed early morning wanders to two areas managed as local nature reserves called Freeze Hill and Silk Mills. Five minutes away, across the train tracks and into the wilderness that lay tucked behind strings of houses as the town expanded. In the blue morning light I was usually alone (no people that is!) among the nibbling rabbits and beautiful birds that included kingfisher, woodpecker, reed bunting, wrens and robins to name but a few!
After some renovations in the garden on Taunton we managed to bring some wildlife back into a previously desolate spot. A raised bed was fixed up and we got planting. Within weeks there were green shoots appearing and soon we had an invasion of winged insects, butterflies, moths and birds (and cats, much to our distaste)!
It was amazing to see how quickly nature adapts, finds an opportunity and takes hold. A simple thing such as sprinkling some flower seeds in a sunny part of the garden can be so rewarding, bringing nature to your doorstep.
With a lot of time on my hands, and limited travel options I have been exploring my local area here in Denmark. As the seasons change the wildlife enjoyment opportunities move with them, and there is always something new and exciting to witness, very nearby! I’ve created a small map of my locality (thanks Google, click to enlarge!) and plotted some of the more memorable experiences I’ve had here (within about 500m of my bed!) over the last 3 months.
Although quite rare in Ireland, hares are very common here, and can be easily watched nibbling grass next to where we live, before bounding off to find shelter. Birds are everywhere, believe it or not! Along the main road you can see blackbird, song thrush and field fare feeding on cherries at the moment.
From my bed I get to watch great tits and blue tits arguing over our fat ball, hung outside the window. In the small wooded area to the south jays are commonly heard (rarely seen!) and I have even spotted a sparrow hawk out hunting!
One of our many fungi forays began among these same trees where we have gathered food (mushrooms, acorns and beech nuts) and stumbled across small unsuspecting mice under pieces of tin. The local trees, both along the roads and within the wooded areas offer many photo opportunities. In the autumn, I spent hours shuffling through the leaf litter trying to catch the beautiful colours on camera.
There is a small undeveloped area to the south east of our home (a real treasure!) where there are large piles of sand. It is a great spot to look for animal tracks, many of which are deer around here!
Nightfall has provided different opportunities to get close to nature. Earlier in the year, we spent a few nights prowling in the dark looking and listening for hedgehogs. We weren’t disappointed! Just north of home we were lucky enough to stumble upon a snuffling hedgehog foraging for food. Another night we made our own moth trap, but alas it was too cold and we caught nothing (maybe next summer!).
Nature is all around us, regardless of where we live. All you need to do is stop and get curious. Open your eyes and ears, bend down, turn things over and you will be amazed at what you find.