I’m going to start by apologising for the absence of any writing that I’ve done recently; but the transition from a normal life (well…fairly normal), to that of an A-level workaholic (I’d like to say that I am, but I think my mum would say otherwise) has meant that the cracks, perks and creases that exist in the detail of a wildlife observed world has not had much time to flourish in recent times – the truth is that because of the amount of work and reading you have to do at A level, theres not an awful amount of freedom to participate in the odd nest recording, habitat observation or species ID.
But of course as naturalists: you make the time – and I do really second this decision; don’t let the amount of work you are set push wildlife out of the picture, I mean obviously don’t let wildlife completely take over and quash your studies (first: oh dear, I’m starting to sound like my teachers, second: for all of you who think I’ve spelt squash wrong, ‘quash’ is the word). Even now, in amidst the tangles and confusing spiderweb-like formations of stationary, revision guides, textbooks and folders- there’s still that little something that catches the corner of my eye, pulls my head up from its hunched, ape like position and attracts my attention to that smallish black thing flitting around in the upper storey of a nearby maple: blackbird of crow?.
What my rather wordy endeavour is striving to express is: make time for wildlife; that over exaggerated gulp of fresh, slightly moist air in the back garden is all I need to calm those fears – exams coming closer, test next week, that chemistry essay is so long! – it just softens the edge, because I know that I can come home to the cool, nippy air whistling through the bare branches of mature trees, the robust chatter of garden birds braving the cold, the odd flash of greyish brown as a squirrel makes a leap across barely distinguishable branches; winter wildlife in its prime is a welcome reality check when worry and annoyance sets in (remember these emotions don’t just happen in school…).
Wildlife and nature really does have that calming effect; I mean just two days ago I remember getting all worked about a biology assessment the next day, so what did I do? Besides some serious praying…I stepped out in the breezes of cold, moist, winter air; strode through the very short grass (in hindsight that would’ve sounded better if the grass had been longer), found a suitably shadowy area and…set up a moth trap.
Listening to bird song also really allows you to drop your apocalyptic ideas of ripping up your textbooks, take a deep breath (it’s like medicine, that fresh, sweet, muddy air!) and read another chapter of ‘A message from Martha’ by Mark Avery (the last bit was wishful thinking by the way, I don’t actually have the book but would dearly love to read it). Even just a short stroll through nearby woods or even just a green area can quell a fiery examination grudge – walking through droves of shivering trees in the half light of a winter sun, evergreens standing out in their finery, getting down on hands and knees to observe the scuttling of an inquisitive wood louse, and reaching a hand out to steady yourself on the sturdy, rough, warm trunk of an Oak- these are enough to stir those buried feelings of happiness at the rediscovering of a lost art: the wildlife calming effect.