Zipedeedooda, zipedeeday! We're Oli and Oscar, a handsome pair of Otter brothers. At least that's what our mummy always tells us :) We're still on the lookout for our 'otter-halves' - so if you know any cheeky and playful otter girls or boys, send them our way please, we'd be otterly delighted!
Life with us is lots of fun and we spend our days playing, splashing and sliding around river banks. We just can't get enough of the great outdoors and all the magical places waiting to be explored. Follow our lead and get out there to observe, interact and reconnect with the wildlife that's right under your noses - sniff, sniff!
Nature is all around us!
One of the best ways to reconnect with nature is to simply get out and about. This doesn't mean we have to travel to remote destinations searching for pristine, untouched environments or spend lots of money doing so. Most of us live within just a few meters of nature, whether it's in our local gardens, town or city parks, rivers, forests, mountains or woodlands. For more on this topic, check out the TED Talk Nature is everywhere - we just need to learn to see it.
Benefits of being in nature
Modern day life makes it all too easy for us to switch off from our surroundings. By practicing just 20mins a day of mindful observation of nature around us, we can begin to feel more connected to the natural world. For example, watching the birds overhead or around you while you wait at the bus stop or taking time to touch the bark of a tree that you've passed many times and not taken much notice of before. Being aware for just those 20mins instead of listening to a podcast or looking at our phones can really change our emotional wellbeing and help ease our worries. Each time you do this, the awareness grows inside you, that the beauty of nature is all around us. What a wonderful feeling! You can read more about the positive benefits of being in nature in our article It's in our nature.
Of course, we don't really need any equipment to connect with nature, we can just go out and enjoy the surroundings with all our senses. If you have the time and enthusiasm to explore and discover more, here is a list of items that can help to enhance the experience of identifying and spotting wildlife and capture moments of inspiration.
Tip: Before purchasing any new equipment, try to keep in mind the principles of reducing waste (see our 7 R's section). Instead, you could borrow from friends and family or browse second-hand platforms or shops.
Binoculars are popular especially for watching birds and other animals from afar. When it comes to specifications it can become quite complicated so to help you decide which pair is right for you, its good to try out several different ones in a shop. Important to ask yourself what will its primary use be. Then narrow it down to just a couple of options that match those requirements. We use the Delta SL2.
You can use your mobile phone or if you have one, a digital camera with a powerful zoom. This comes in handy for identifying wildlife and taking pictures from a distance.12M megapixels is typically sufficient than for prints up to A3 size. Check specialist camera and outdoor equipment stores that sell refurbished or second hand. We use the Canon Powershot SX50 HS.
Notepad and pencil
Check your household (or ask friends or family) for unused notebooks. A simple pocket size is easy to carry around and handy for making notes on the spot. When buying new make sure to check it has the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo on it.
The books below can help get you started. Aside from your local book shop, check out World of Books (UK) for second hand copies or Hive as a more ethical alternative for new books. Of course, you can get eBooks versions if you prefer digital but for guide books it's nice to have a physical book in hand.
Local Maps 1:20 scale (best for the altitude details)
Wildlife spotting sheets
Download these excellent wildlife spotting sheets and see how many different species you can spot! You can do this anywhere for example in your own garden or when you go for walks. Set a timeframe (e.g. 15-30 mins) wait patiently and see what you can spot.
Apps to help identify wildlife
Download the helpful iNaturalist Seek app. We use it especially for plants and insects.
Oli and Oscar recommend:
Watch the TED talk Nature is everywhere - we just need to learn to see it.
Download and try the Seek app by iNaturalist, to identify plants and animals in your local environment
Get a copy of the excellent book The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs to reawaken your inner guidance and instincts with nature.