AFON Guest Blog: Here’s to a green 2017!

(My post for A Focus On Nature)

For 2017, what I would like is Nature Conservation to be taken more seriously by Councils and the Government.  They need to properly see it as a Universal Problem.  It is not an issue only for a certain class system, region, gender, sexuality, age or level of education – we all share this country, and caring for nature and our natural environment is everybody’s responsibility.  Hopefully Planet Earth II was a wake up call for those that work for a Town / City Council or as an MP who have not signed the Greener UK pledge.
I also hope it has encouraged people to support their local nature conservation charities.

Hearing about woodland / greenbelt being decimated for housing developments (or HS2) angers me – it is disgusting and very ill considered, as there are plenty of derelict buildings and brownfield sites that should be used instead!  Urbanisation is not progression, it’s alienation.  There is less crime in places with woodland / greenbelt and it reduces stress in people of all ages.  They are great for escapism, as they’re somewhere to walk your dog or get fresh air alone or with your partner or friend(s).  Such places boost children’s will to learn and they are often more imaginative and creative – it’s somewhere for these children to explore and find wildlife too!  It also improves house sales – people want to live near areas surrounded by greenery, because, let’s face it, it is pleasant!  Trees, hedgerows and grasses filter impurities from the air and also help lower temperatures during heat-waves.  Trees reduce erosion of soil, which finds its way into our waterways during periods of heavy rainfall.  This then has the knock on effect of creating flooding because of the build up of silt – due to the lack of trees in the first place.  They are also a much needed habitat for nature; plants and animals need somewhere to live and have safe connecting passages between urban sprawls.

Re-wilding our Towns and Cities needs to happen, all over, they should be made greener than they already are, for example Birmingham, it is already a surprisingly green city, but being greener will make it better.  I champion Matt Collis and the Avon Wildlife Trust for making Bristol even greener!  As you know, more trees are needed to helping fight Climate Change, as they reduce the Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere.  More trees will increase oxygen and with increased oxygen levels, the health of people and wildlife will benefit. More oxygen in the air can stabilise unknown and potential pulmonary hypertension (raised blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries) and irregular heart rhythms caused by the lack of oxygen in the air.  Plus more oxygen to the brain relieves depression and fatigue.  Many diseases including cancer, thrive in an oxygen depleted body.

Longbridge in south Birmingham

What would I like for myself this New Year?  Well, I am currently on a City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Conservation, Countryside & The Environment – ideally I would like to complete my qualification at overall Distinction and would then like to work for a NGO specialising in Re-wilding, therefore assisting in restoring Britain (in urban and rural places too) to its natural glory!

In the past I have achieved several Media Production qualifications, my highest being a Level 5 Higher National Diploma.  I have considered a Masters, but Academia isn’t really for me, I would rather be out there getting on with it, or even teaching it!  Around 6 years ago I combined my passion for wildlife and filmmaking, and have recently been co-presenting / co-producing a series with Jamie Wyver, about nature conservation for Cambridge TV (now called That’s Cambridge).

Filming for The Wild Side

The series is entitled The Wild Side and it was broadcast to the city and has been put online for everyone to watch.  It would be brilliant if I get the opportunity to present a series with another TV station or even for a channel that broadcasts nationally.  I love how imaginative and creative ideas can come to life on screen, to entertain and inform an audience.

Thanks for reading  🙂

The Annual Rutland Romp!

“The Annual Rutland Romp!” ??  I’m referring to the British Birdwatching Fair, the Birdfair of course! 🙂  Last week was my 5th time at the fair (I’ve been going every year since 2010).  It’s on for 3 days over a weekend in mid August, and has been on every year for more than 25 years!  I love that it’s not just people from all over Britain visiting Rutland Water, but people from all over the world that migrate to England’s smallest county for this annual and eventful occasion too!

Birdfair 2010 - Me and Simon King OBE.

Birdfair 2010 – Me and Simon King OBE

Over the years – despite its name – Birdfair has evolved to not just be about birds and aiding their conservation, but wildlife and conservation overall.  I often refer to it as a wildlife festival before telling people the name of it.  It is an amazing place to meet and be surrounded by like-minded passionate people, and rub shoulders with TV personalities 😉  There are talks from wildlife TV presenters, naturalists, conservationists and filmmakers, as well as authors and photographers too.  I could only do two days of the fair and arrived on Saturday, with my wildlife photographer friend, James Burman – who has taken some stunning pictures.  We camped at Rutland Water Camping, on the lovely Hambleton Peninsula – where we saw Foxes and a Badger 🙂

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Chris Packham’s talk was brilliant – in short; it was about cutting the crap regarding what dangers children might face outdoors, and to let them experience and enjoy nature in all its glory!  Chris featured three young wildlife enthusiasts, who in turn talked about their experiences and passion for nature, and what they have been up to.  I realised they each represented a region of England: Josie Hewitt – The South, Connor Coombes – The North and Georgia Locock – The Midlands.  All of their talks were very good, and insightful 🙂  I’m hoping this is a progressive change, as it’s really nice hearing from a diverse range of people on stage in the Events Marquee.  Connor with his Cumbrian accent and Georgia with her West Midlands accent (similar to my own), I couldn’t help but be moved, it was refreshing and humbling!

In various other marquees you can find hundreds of stands selling and promoting the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts – gadgets and clothing, scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food and eGuides to eco-holidays! 😀  I mainly go to the festival to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and to share it all with them! ❤

This year - Me & James Burman (that's Alex & Gordon looking at the Birdfair programme) :)

Birdfair 2015 – Me & James Burman (Alex & Gordon looking at the Birdfair programme) 🙂


Birdfair 2015 - Christine Hall and Me

Birdfair 2015 – Christine Hall and Me 😀

Since my 2nd time, I have meet up with my friend Christine Hall, a great wildlife camerawoman, photographer and conservationist.  It’s possible you’ve seen her video of a Red Squirrel on a previous series of Autumnwatch, it was slipping down a post whilst trying to get peanuts from a bird-feeder, and you may have recently seen her in the Springwatch Unsprung audience 😉

It was really good meeting Yusuf Akhtar, Victoria House and a mixture of AFON and NGB members (to name a few); Alexandra Hoadley, Ryan Clark, Susan Jones, Josie Hewitt, James Common, Georgia Locock, Drew Lyness, Billy Stockwell, Sorrel Lyall, Tom Mason and James O’Neill.  Plus it was really nice catching up with Peter Cooper, Jack Perks, Josh Jaggard and Matt Collis 🙂

Birdfair 2011 - second time meeting Mike Dilger, first time meeting Bill Oddie.

Birdfair 2011 – Mike Dilger, Bill Oddie OBE and Me!


Birdfair 2015 - Me and Kate MacRae

Birdfair 2015 – Me with Kate MacRae

Every year at the Bushnell stand I chat to WildlifeKate quite a lot, we came to realise we’ve never had a photo taken together, so the picture above is the only one ever for now 😛

Birdfair 2015 - Mike Dilger and Me

Birdfair 2015 – Mike Dilger and Me

Mike Dilger and I chat quite a lot too, this year he bumped into me – in the Art Marquee – James and I happened to be getting to know the illustrator of his new book, Darren Woodhead – a wonderful artist.  Mike’s new book is being released next year!

Simon King’s talk this year – as well as hearing about his recent wildlife filmmaking – contained a much needed reminder; a bit more needs to be done to conserve the natural world.  We were made aware that nature is losing places in the dictionary!  Words like Snowdrop are being taken out and replaced with the likes of “selfie” and “blog”.  So I was pleased that towards the end of his talk we were informed about the Simon King Wildlife Project, which is a new charity assisting in the prevention of the degradation of the natural world, globally.  The project intends to safeguard habitats, reclaim land for nature and engage people with wild creatures and wild places, which in turn will help keep the natural world intact! 🙂

Before my entry comes to an end – wildlife I observed around the reserve:

  • Common Sandpiper
  • Greenshank
  • Muntjac Deer
  • Ospreys
  • Hornets
  • Hares
  • Barn Owl

Thanks for visiting 😀