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

Sunday, 2 June 2013

It's a washing powder isn't it?

I've some recollection of a past survey of people's understanding of the word 'biodiversity'. Rather predictably  and consistent with the growing epidemic of nature deficit disorder, some of those quizzed about their biological knowledge considered it to be a new brand of washing powder. This apparent link between laundry duties and our natural heritage was presumably the motivation behind the disposal of this eco-mode washing machine yesterday.

A short walk around the soon to be approved Varteg opencast area produced a not unexpected list of breeding birds. The list goes something like this:

Stonechat - pair alarm, carrying food.
Whitethroat - adult carrying faecal sac.
Whinchat - male in song.
Cuckoo - mobbed by several meadow pipit.
Meadow pipit - bird carrying food.
House martin - three birds collecting mud from road side puddle.
Song thrush - bird carrying food.
Linnet - several pairs in suitable breeding habitat.
Willow warbler - frequent alarm call.

Although it was a pre 7am start this didn't stop me bumping into a few dog walkers, all of whom couldn't resist asking me what I was up to. Two middle aged blokes complete with thumb sticks, spaniels and Regatta waistcoats with those 'I'm a countryman' contrasting shoulder patches eagerly demonstrated the extent of their local wildlife knowledge. This centred on telling me where pheasantduck and deer could be found, but was interspersed with the odd reference to red kite and grouse. Their passionate commentary on local game was put to the knife when I asked about the possible whereabouts of brown hare and grey partridge. After a split second of open mouthed silence (to allow for information assimilation) my two acquaintances mumbled something about 'not seen any for years mate' then bid me farewell.

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