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January Online Nature Meeting

Updated: Feb 1, 2023


1. An opportunity to meet those who joined the meeting.


Going forwards, we might not have the time to go around the entire group but it will be lovely to know who others are in order to discover shared interest, know who's speaking and create networks.



2. Discuss what we have seen / would expect to see in January.


Noted that far less fieldfares have been seen this year than would be expected. Other members of the Thrush family seen are mistle thrushs and redwings. These tend to be found in fields and as was pointed out, the Understory.


"The first redwings reach the UK in October. They spend the autumn in hedges and orchards, where they feed on fruit and berries"


Blue tits and coal tits have also been observed. Interestingly, on mentioning long tailed tits. Other members of the Tit family can be found on the link.


This time of year also brings out the mating foxes, very clearly noted by their very loud and distinctive call.

Foxes breed only once a year, most mating occurring in January or early February. Courting foxes can be heard barking or uttering unearthly screams; the dog and vixen hunt and travel together for about three weeks before mating.

While trees can be thought of as very barren at this time of year, there is a great deal going on below the suface, but also, many trees start to show their buds. In addition, the catkins of Alder and Hazel can also be seen.

*Alder catkins can be seen in the image for the first item.

This link talks about catkins showing what's coming up in the next few months.


3. Different ways of connecting with nature


There are different ways that we can connect to nature.

- Drawing - this can help us to look at animals and plants in much more detail than we usually would. We pay more attention to feathers, colour, position of eyes, scales etc.


- Writing - by writing things down, we process and express things in different way. This can also be a good way of relaying things to others.


- Sharing - going out with friends and family, sharing to groups such as EWG, asking others in the community to help with identification. All of this can help us to learn and expand our knowledge.


- Photography - this is a wonderful way to document what you see and share it with others.


- Joining nature walks and outings

Visits to areas rich in wildlife such as Wood Farm Stanmore

Staines Moor in the Colne Valley

John Wells is organising an outing to Arundel WWT on Wednesday 22 February 2023.


- Learning from nature programmes, such as the BBCs Winterwatch


4. Nature journaling


This is a great way of getting outside and observing the world around you. There are many advantages including aiding mental health by being completely in the moment, observing the weather, colours, and what you find.


Whilst there are some stunning journals out there, you don't need to be a creative, your journal can simply be a list of what you see.


“Nature journaling will enrich your experiences and develop observation, curiosity, gratitude, reverence, memory, and the skills of a naturalist.” - John Muir

Historically, nature journals have been very important, as they act as a reference document for species which can be found in a certain location, numbers of species and changes over time.


There are some stunning records out there including The Secrets of Devon Wood, Jo Brown


Import things to note in your journal are: Date, time, location (grid reference finder), weather is useful. species and numbers of what is seen including colours and where it is found.

A small flower press can be a good thing to purchase and take out with you.


5. Biological recording


Officially documenting what we see is very important.


It enables a centralised record of what species can be found where.

We have seen in action how this can be of critical importance to locations such as Warren Farm. Without a record of how biologically rich this area is, people can think / assume / take advantage of this and therefore build over it without any protest. However, when biologically rich locations, housing rare and at risk species are identified and documented, this provides solid evidence of what is there.


The big garden bird watch, arranged by the RSPB takes place 27-29 January 2023. This is an example of biological recording on a nationwide scale that we can all participate in.


Records can help to establish the distribution and size of populations, and regular recording may enable us to detect changes over time. They help to identify the location of rare and locally important species, and can be used to help protect them and their habitats from damage

In addition, common species should also be recorded as it can show changes over time. As a youngster, House Sparrows were common and found in huge flocks in people's gardens (including my own :)) but we all know that they significantly declined across the UK. As such, we should not forget to record even the most common of species.


Apps

Some common apps are iRecord, iNaturalist and iBird. Download to your phones and use whenever you are out. You can upload photos and other notes. These get verified by experts to validate the information.


Warren Farm biological recording

Note that iRecord has a Warren Farm project, so you can add your records straight here.

The iBird Warren Farm group can be found here


How to use iRecord -


6. Warren Farm


We all agreed that we were disgusted and overwhelmed by the decision taken by Ealing council regarding Warren Farm.


We need to take a few days to process it and get over the emotion of it, but all want to come back and regroup and work towards taking positive action to counter the decision.


In conjunction with the conversation of biological recording, the creation of a species list was put forward.


We will look into creating a separate meeting to see how we can push the campaign forwards. https://www.warrenfarmnaturereserve.co.uk/

 

The online meeting took place at 6pm, Thursday 26 January 2023


Other than '3. Ways of connecting' and '4. Nature journaling', all other photos are not my own and taken from the internet - most links shared and credit not mine.

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