I must admit I have neglected blogging over the last year or so. To be honest I lost the motivation to write as well as suffering with some health issues and not doing a lot of birding! However, I would like to update you on what I’ve been up to and bring this blog back to life once again.
Last September I started my first year of a-levels – I took biology, geography, chemistry and an EPQ (on red-listed birds and their decline). At the start they were quite daunting (and still are!) as the jump up from GCSEs is quite significant in difficulty. I’ve enjoyed my time in sixth form so far however, around 4 months ago that all came to a halt!
What a strange few months, if anyone told me at the beginning of the year that I’d be basically stuck at home for 2 months and the majority of my plans for this year would be cancelled I would’ve thought you were mad! The Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in different ways. I’m lucky that I haven’t directly been affected like so many.
Keeping busy was the main way that I kept myself happy as well as making the most of daily exercise walks out in nature and my small, but wildlife-friendly garden. Adapting to online learning has been stressful and it still is with the anticipation of what will happen to our a-level exams next year and the hours of lesson time we’ve lost and will have to catch up on.
I don’t know what I would have done without nature and wildlife to distract me – my connection with nature as a whole has grown significantly. For me, without lockdown, I wouldn’t have had the time and motivation to learn more about wildlife. I started to teach myself the different wildflowers, bee species, butterflies, and more with the help of books, youtube videos, the Inaturalist seek app (I would highly recommend this) and social media. Now, when I go out looking for wildlife I’m not only looking up to the sky and trees for birds, but down at the ground for insects and plants too!
My friend and fellow birder, Sam Levy (@FinchleyBirder) began a challenge called the #thevlogdown, where every Wednesday and Sunday myself and others would post a vlog on a wildlife topic. A couple of years ago now, I thought about starting a youtube channel on birds and wildlife, but I decided against it in the fear that I would be teased about it at school. So, this challenge was a good push to get me vlogging, which I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve carried this on – making videos on the wildlife I see on my walks, citizen science surveys, identifying bee species, the Big Butterfly count, and the importance of nature to mental health. I hope these can help interest others in nature and show young people that there are other teenagers their age who love wildlife too! Keep an eye out on my social media for more vlogs – @Myabambrick1 on twitter and @myabambrickphotography on instagram.
I also came up with the idea to create a virtual wildlife quiz, hosted on zoom, for other young people in conjunction with the Cameron Bespolka Trust. Each ambassador came up with a round of questions on different wildlife topics – some were very challenging! This was a success – it was a great way to have a chat with some old friends and meet new ones too.
I’ve also had time to properly plan my wildlife garden which I am setting up at my school. When it is finished, it will include pollinator beds, a bug hotel, a log pile, bird feeding station, and a herb garden. I’ve already started creating this garden by cutting down the shrubs in order to have a clear base. Once completed, I really hope it will help engage other pupils with nature and offer an escape from the hectic school day.
Staying local has also meant that I’ve found some new areas in my town which are great for walking and wildlife too. I’ve particularly enjoyed visiting an area called Ifield brook where I’ve seen green woodpecker, mistle thrush, chiffchaff, buzzard, and seen many butterflies and bees including gatekeeper, meadow brown, small skipper, large and small white, and red admiral. Here’s a few photos I took the other day.
I must also say how brilliant the self-isolating bird club broadcasts by Chris Packham, Megan McCubbin, and guests have been and how they brightened my mornings (and still do every Friday!). I’ve also enjoyed joining David Lindo’s ‘In Conservation with..’ series on zoom with many inspiration people in world of wildlife and conservation including Stephen Moss, Nick Baker, and Gillian Burke.
Overall, so far this year has been pretty strange, however for many its reignited a new or previous connection with nature and for me personally, its gained a newfound importance. Hopefully, this won’t be temporary and this passion can be turned into action for wildlife and the environment in order for it to be conserved. I will keep doing what I can and continue to enjoy and find inspiration in the natural world around me.