Zipedeedoodaaa, zipedeedaaayyy! We're Ollie and Oswald, 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 ladies, send them our way please, we'd be otterly delighted!
Life with us is loads 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 on out there to observe, interact and reconnect with the wildlife that's right under your noses - sniff, sniff!
Recognising that 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. Most of us live within a few minutes of nature, whether it's our back gardens, town or city parks, river banks or woodlands. As explained in the TED Talk Nature is everywhere - we just need to learn to see it.
If we are to divert the effects of human made climate change, habitat loss, species extinction and pollution we must change our relationship to nature. Our connection with nature has been numbed by the incessant consumer culture that has transpired especially in the Western developed countries, where we are surrounded by concrete, roads, high rise buildings, noise and air pollution. Often our main objective is to get to work on time and distract ourselves in the meantime with our mobile devices. While this can have it's benefits, (learning and reading on the go for example) we often barely even raise our heads to observe what nature around us is doing and how it changes from season to season.
We have lost, for example, our inner navigational instinct replaced by modern navigational technological devices and apps, including digital compasses. weather apps and sun aspect calculators. Inspirational books such as The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs Tristan Gooley, describe how to awaken our senses and how to read natures signs more intimately around us.
Tools and Equipment
There are some great tools that can help us get closer and become more aware of the nature around us, from city wildlife to countryside and beyond. Below is a list that focuses on the most essential items to have to aid our enjoyment when we go for a walk, cycle, or adventure amongst nature.
When it comes to binoculars there is a wide range of choice available, ask yourself what do you want to get out of this equipment, what is it's primary use, then simply decide between just a couple of options that match those requirements. Ideally you could try some out first a second hand stores, or borrow from family and friends if they no longer want or use them anymore, remember the 7 R's in the Waste Reduction...
12M megapixels is more than adequate for web and up to A3 prints. A powerful zoom lens is very useful for identifying and taking pictures when you can't get so close to the subject. Invest in a good quality that will last years. Check specialist camera and outdoor equipment stores that stock refurbished or second hand.
Notepad and pencil
Check your household for unused notepads laying around the house. A pocket size that's nice and light is much easier to carry around and make notes on the spot. If you can't find any, ask friends and family for any spares or unused notepads. Alternatively find a sustainable sourced notepad with the FSC logo on it.
There books below cover the most essentials to get up and running and aquatinted with exploring nature and identifying animal, and plant species. Excellent guide books can be found on World of Books (second hand) or Hive is also another good example where buying through them can help support your local book store. Check your local book store too and of course Ebooks if you prefer digital.
Trees & shrubs -
Birds and animals -
Urban Wildlife -
The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs
OS Maps 1:20 scale (best for the altitude details)
Sharing Nature - Activities for All Ages
Wildlife spotting sheets
Download a wildlife spotting sheet and see how many different species you can spot. Start a competition with family and friends. You can start in your own garden, sitting on the balcony or looking out of the window. Set a timeframe (e.g. 30-60 mins) wait patiently and see what you can spot. Share via WhatsApp with your daily wildlife spotter family chat group!
Apps to help identify wildlife
iNaturalist Seek app. Our Planet spotting wildlife challenge in your area.
Ollie and Oswald recommend:
Download and try the Seek app by iNaturalist, helps you identify plants and animals in your local environment
Get a copy of the excellent book 'The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs' for reconnecting with our inner instincts with nature