I found myself thinking recently how very little wildlife I seem to find around where I live these days. Back when we lived in Ottawa, I seem to remember always seeing red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, blue jays and cardinals – there was even a chipmunk living under my porch! And even when we first moved to England, I recall finding pheasants, kestrels, wagtails, frogs and toads, all sorts of finches and little blue tits. When I thought about it, I realised that the reason I used to see so much was because I had a backyard. I’ve lived in apartments for the last 4-5 years, so I don’t have that little window into my local wildlife anymore. So, I decided I would make my own backyard, and it was going to be big.
I took my camera with me to my university campus, which is a wonderful place in the summertime. It’s set in a few acres of English countryside, with a couple of lakes, wooded areas and meadow land. What I found the most amazing was that I already knew how much wildlife there was there, I just didn’t realise there was so much until I actually decided to document it. I then decided that everything along my walk home should also be included in my new backyard. I’m lucky enough that my route to and from work takes me through a little meadow, along an estuarine river (where the tide is always out when I’m making my way back, leaving exposed mudflats) and through a little wooded path. Again, I’ve always noticed the creatures, but was surprised at how much there was. Lastly, I remembered the pond behind my house, and the surrounding “mini forest”. I could see that there were geese and ducks, but once I took some time to sit and watch, I could appreciate just how diverse the wildlife population was.
Here are the photos I took. I only captured just some of the wildlife I saw, often I couldn’t nab a decent picture. Most of these were taken on the same day, and all of them just within a mile radius of where I live. (Oh, still no sign of the cygnets!)
So, why not try documenting the wildlife where you live? If you take a picture of every critter you find visiting your garden, I think you’d be quite surprised at how much lives in the same neighbourhood as you. Become a backyard naturalist (…not a backyard naturist, I don’t think your neighbours would appreciate that)! I think ensuring people understand the diversity even in their own vicinity is imperative to the success of conservation projects the world over. You can better understand the impacts of a new build in your area, for example, if you know what lives there. So I really do hope that you are inspired to go out and document the small jungle out there in your backyard (whether or not you do actually live near a small jungle).
Photo ID’s: European rabbit (baby), blackbird (fledgeling), black-headed gull, Canada goose, European goldfinch, jackdaw, wood pigeon, tufted duck, Eastern grey squirrel, Northern lapwing, European magpie, common moorhen, common pied oystercatcher