Chris Bailey, Advisory Manager, would normally be out and about working with farmers at this time of year. He tells us how he is managing to get his wildlife fix without his normal spring surveying. It turns out, friends with lambs are some of the best friends you can have!
Getting my spring nature fix at home
Being born and brought up in a small village in Southern England, I learnt from an early age how important it was to have access to the countryside, and the enjoyment that could be gained from searching for wildlife in its natural environment. I was lucky firstly to be encouraged by my parents to go out and explore, secondly to live in a place where I could easily access some amazing sites close to home. This provided the foundations for my interest in wildlife and my eventual career with the RSPB.
Currently I lead our advisory work in Scotland providing advice to farmers and landowners about how to manage their land for the benefit of wildlife. Normally at this time of year we would be outside on farms and crofts counting waders, corn buntings, or corncrakes. Whilst the plans for fieldwork have largely had to be paused for this year, we are still able to offer advice, training and support remotely to the 700 wildlife friendly farmers and crofters we are currently working with across Scotland.
Whilst the lockdown continues, I will have to get my nature fix in other ways. Friends involved in the Nature Friendly Farming Network continue to send me videos from their farms of black grouse, curlews and lapwings displaying, along with pictures of their newly born livestock. It is great to see how they continue to support nature alongside producing food in these difficult times. I recommend you spend ten minutes reading their recently published report summarises how they are responding to the crisis.
I’ve also remained connected through my daily exercise, today along the local cycle track. I’ve been along this route several times over the last few weeks. It is noticeable how quickly the season is progressing with trees and wildflowers such as bluebell, garlic mustard, green alkanet and garlic in full bloom along the embankments. Migrant chiffchaff, blackcap and willow warbler were singing, a true sign that summer is on its way. It takes me back to my childhood being constantly amazed at how wildlife can be found close to home.
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