Tuesday, 31 December 2013

One touch of nature: 50 wildlife resolutions for 2014

 David North, Head of People and Wildlife

There’s learning about nature and then there is learning from nature. Two very different things I think. Learning about nature can be done from books, from television programmes, from websites and of course from other people. Most importantly it can also be achieved by spending time outside simply observing. Learning about nature is great. I take great pleasure in identifying birds, plants, mammals and a rather small number of invertebrates and fungi. My ignorance is massive. So much to learn! Knowledge of nature and natural processes is of course crucial when it comes to conservation. We can’t protect species or habitats without this kind of knowledge. There are of course lots of opportunities to learn about nature with Norfolk Wildlife Trust during 2014 so why not come on one of our many events?

Trees, photo by Brendan Joyce

For me, and perhaps for anyone who draws inspiration from the natural world, there is another kind of learning, a more personal approach. When we talk about reconnecting with nature, for me this is more about learning from nature than learning about nature. Learning from nature can’t be done from books or television screens - it comes from personal direct experience of the natural world and what we learn is primarily about ourselves; our place in this amazing interconnected world. Learning from nature is primarily about self knowledge, a personal sense of perspective, how the changes I observe in nature are part of the same processes of change in myself. Heady stuff perhaps, and not to be taken over-seriously, but with a light touch and a sense of fun, adventure and discovery. The quest of self-knowledge, like all good quests, demands an adventurous spirit and an open heart.

I have put together a list of 50 challenges for myself in 2014. Ways to directly experience nature and hopefully ways to learn from nature, though I’m sure during the course of trying these things out there will be lots of learning about nature too. Many of the things on my list are not that original but it’s the doing that counts! So here is my personal list of 50 challenges for 2014. Ways of connecting to the natural world. Why not make your own list but be sure to stay safe and only take on challenges you feel comfortable with.
  1. Sleep outside under the stars
  2. Swim in a river, a lake and the sea (quite tricky in Norfolk!)
  3. Take a night walk along the sea-shore (on a full moon night)
  4. Spot a shooting star
  5. Take a long barefoot walk
  6. Make a bush fire and cook a meal outside on wood I have gathered
  7. Listen to a nightingale
  8. Feed a wild bird by hand
  9. Watch the moon rise
  10. Watch the sun rise
    Evening sun on Heigham Sound, photo by Craig Humphries
  11. Watch the sun set
  12. Lie on a spring woodland floor and really look at the leaf canopy and its colours
  13. Lie against the wind in a storm
  14. Drink from a spring
  15. Shower under a waterfall
  16. Hug a tree (the old ones are the best!)
  17. Listen to a dawn chorus at dawn on my own
  18. Listen to the wind in tree tops
  19. Lie on my back and cloud watch
  20. Watch the wind – observing wind patterns in crops or long grass
  21. Watch cloud shadows moving across the landscape from a high vantage point
  22. Find silence and listen to it
  23. Listen to waves breaking on shingle
  24. Watch a rough sea and breaking waves
  25. Watch soaring birds
  26. Find a spider’s web covered in dew
  27. Explore a natural place with my eyes shut
  28. Watch swifts screaming
  29. Sit by a pond
  30. Paddle in a stream
  31. Smell honeysuckle or jasmine on a warm summer night – night smells
  32. Go beachcombing
  33. Walk in mist – and watch mist form as evening falls
  34. Watch migrating geese
  35. Celebrate each season 
  36. Watch a spider make a web
    Spider's web, photo by Richard Osbourne
  37. Listen to the wind in reeds – whispering reeds
  38. Find a natural seat in a tree and sit there for one hour
  39. Reveal a conker, hold and polish it
  40. Collect sweet chestnuts and roast them
  41. Hear an owl and answer it
  42. Swim in the sea in winter (well maybe a paddle instead)
  43. Follow an animal track
  44. Find a sun-warmed rock and lie against it
  45. Walk in a woodland in rain and listen to raindrops falling on the leaf canopy
  46. Listen to a mountain stream
  47. Find a touchstone – small natural object that will always connect me to a special time and place
  48. Drink dew from a leaf
  49. Spend a day walking on one of Norfolk’s long distance trails from sunrise to sunset
  50. Spend more time outside watching wildlife!
Of course to be more mindful and aware of nature you don’t need to have a list of challenges – the real challenge is to be more aware of nature all around us on a daily basis. And more aware of how we can live in ways which respect the needs of the natural world as well as our own. Now that is a challenge worth taken on. A proper resolution is for life and not just for the year!

1 comment:

  1. I'm inspired. I turn 50 in 2014 and can't think of a better way to celebrate than by finding 50 (at least) ways to connect more closely with nature over the coming year.