Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Tip top tips

Canada Tips near the Keepers Pond above Blaenavon is an extensive area of post industrial habitat a product of opencast mining by the Canadian Army during the war. Now this area is a mosaic of ponds, bare ground and regenerating heathland. One of the specialities of these tips is the little fern moonwort. Once considered to be plant to look for in the sward of a meadow its now more common on the post industrial sites of western Gwent. Elsewhere the only noteworthy bird was a red kite that lumbered overhead and had me frantically searching for my Sigma 500mm lens, but too late!

Finally, there was an interesting article by Libby Purves in yesterdays Times (31-05-10) bemoaning the state of society that discourages children making camps out in woodland and hedgerows. She blames parents and conservation organisations that frown on leaving children to make unrestricted play in a natural environment, picking flowers and making bows and arrows with a penknife in true Famous Five tradition. She, correctly in my opinion, signposts the lack of young naturalists coming through the system to our hand holding society and has a dig at outdoor spaces that are ordered in terms of surfaced walkways and interpretation boards with limited opportunities for first hand experience of nature. If we are to reconnect with nature and respect biodiversity we need to take this issue by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shaking. For starters schools should reintroduce, summer term nature walks and bring back the school nature table.


  1. I'll vote for you! The current state of affairs means that bows and arrows are regarded as offensive weapons; a nature walk is tantamount to leading children into a high risk environment requiring mandatory risk assessment and the issuing of full personal protective equipment (everyone within a 10 km radius should also have a CRB check); The nature table is a source of potential biohazards such as avian flu, E. coli o157, salmonella, leptospirosis, toxocariasis and rabies.
    I'm glad I grew up in the 60's and 70's!! Health and safety meant sensible things like ensuring that when you throw a firework you let go BEFORE it goes off, and when going into disused mineshafts if your lighter flame starts to burn a funny colour it's probably best to turn back. L

  2. I spent most of my childhood out in the woods making dens alongside an old disused railway line and I just loved it. Parents nowadays would probably be done for neglect if they permitted their children to do as we did, but it was that childhood that inspired my love of nature and the great outdoors.

    I remember walking alongside the river and being terrified of falling in - our parents had instilled in us the importance of staying away from a particularly dangerous weir where several people had drowned. I felt as a child that the path was inches wide, but on returning as an adult I saw that the path was actually about 15 feet or more wide! Strange how we view things so differently when fear takes hold.


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