Please don’t let any conservationists or naturalists like Francis and I bully you in to thinking its essential to be able to identify everything!
For me its taking pleasure in things both big and small, place and the wildlife encounters that you experience. The place can be a small reserve like a chalk pit recently visited which felt extra special as very few people know of its existence and even fewer visit.
Sitting quietly among orchids and flowers it would be easy to believe in sprites, it just felt like a space outside normal life, profoundly peaceful.
Did I spend my time trying to identify all the plants and insects? Nope, just drank in the ambience. Yep sounds a bit hippy but assure you it works for me!
In contrast to place, it can be individual species or a collection of species that are the attraction.
South of Dunsfold are a group of woodlands and forestry plantations that are well known for the butterflies found there. I’ve written about the birds encountered in these woods, Nightingales included, but a recent visit was to hopefully see a legendary butterfly. The place itself, Botany Bay, is not high (or even on!) my list of beautiful places but there is no doubting the sense of anticipation aroused by an intended visit.
On this occasion there were several other hopeful naturalists, passed by tolerant local dog walkers. The dream, well, to see one of these.
Treated by naturalists for many many decades with an almost reverential awe I had never glimpsed more than a flash of a high speed individual before this fantastic creature was tempted down on to a forest track with a cocktail of unmentionable substances placed by a well informed Emperor “addict”. Their life cycle and behaviour is worth reading up on, you may be truly amazed.
Small beauty maybe but completely entrancing to the small group of observers that gathered.
There were more, honest!
Intimate close encounters like this allow consideration of the staggering beauty of the form of individual species. From all angles.
Yes we also saw Wood Whites, White Admirals, Silver Washed Fritillary, and many more species. Although the woods are not the most attractive place to walk (limited views, openness or exposed water like streams) the terrific variety of species of butterfly and the rarity of some of the breeding birds are proof that the partnership approach to management adopted here works for biodiversity. It does probably help that these woods are a little off the beaten track, not particularly close to housing or even a main road.