Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Divorced from Nature

I take pride in the fact that my observation skills are I think above the average, and when out watching wildlife I do at times observe and listen to folk who pass my way.  Whilst in no way would I seriously look down upon those with less knowledge than myself (we all have to start somewhere) I did have a bit of a laugh when I passed two thirty somethings out enjoying the Bank Holiday at the coast.  Thirty something female to male friend/partner as they passed by a Skylark as it arose from the field singing and lifted into the air, ‘oh isn’t it a Swallow or a Swift’.  Now this is going on my list of quotes that suggest that we have a long way to go in bringing an understanding of nature to the masses.  This one is joining such classics as the overheard comment about the fact that someone had sawn off the horns of the Reindeer, a comment said to a child by her mother whilst watching a Red Deer after it had recently dropped its antlers and the guy who was watching a Grey Heron and confusing it with a Kingfisher.

On the positive side at least all of the above folk were taking a passing interest, and in the latter two cases sharing it with children.  I do wonder how many of the Bank Holiday crowd busy enjoying their ice creams, chips and hot dogs down at St Marys Island even noticed the bird song or the flocks of waders flying past them.  Some faith was restored when a pleasant young couple took time to ask about the telescope and what we were watching.

I often hear it said that the younger generations are now divorced from nature, or words to that effect.  It’s not just the young of course.  From my own experience I think very often those who think earlier generations had it any better view things through rose coloured spectacles.  I rarely remember the educational system of my youth including much about natural history.  Photosynthesis and a quick word about molluscs and that was about it at my school.  I think lessons connected to natural history were for the lucky ones only.  It wasn’t through lack of opportunity, as we did have trips away to areas where these topics could have been covered, but they weren’t, unless it was I fell asleep during the five minutes that was devoted to them.  My generation did seem to have more freedom of movement as small children I’ll grant you that, but in the circles I moved natural history was not a top choice of interest to follow at that age.

I actually think the younger generations are far more knowledgeable about nature and threats to it, if only through some of the excellent programmes on TV, or through the internet.  I also think folk of all ages could be better informed if some of the specialist organisations and groups were targeted better at them rather than as often happens appearing to be closed shops for the specialist in crowd.  I realise it is difficult to get the balance correct within some organisations and after hearing the comment from the thirty something yesterday, I have to admit I better understand why some organisations aim so low!

I still believe strongly that the saviour of our biodiversity is in the hands of the masses and not specialist groups, and until something is done to involve the wider public there will be more and more of our natural heritage lost and few gains will be made.

3rd May.  Swifts arrive over the lake and it was a pleasant half hour watching them, Common Terns and other activity.

4th May.  A very pleasant walk at the coast despite the crowds who seemed to disperse quickly as evening approached and in any event not many seem to walk to far from their cars so it is easy to find peace even on a busy Bank Holiday.

There appeared to be little sea passage, but Red Throated Diver, auks, Kittiwakes, Sandwich Terns and Eider Ducks were amongst birds seen.  The walk from St Mary’s Island to Seaton Sluice also brought the likes of Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and of course the Skylark that caused so much confusion.  Flocks of waders showed well on high tide with Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin and Oystercatcher being seen in some numbers.  The odd Lapwing also made an appearance as did a couple of Grey Seals.  The temperatures dropped rapidly as the evening moved on but a bag of chips helped warm me.

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