Saturday, 2 February 2019

Post 495 - #Iwill4nature - an epic launch

Hey everyone!

It's been a while since my last post, sorry about that, in honesty it's because I've been struggling a bit especially with school. But not to dwell on that too much I know what I'm dealing with since my Autism diagnosis last Autumn and I try not to let it stop me doing the things I love.

London Zoo's Galapagos Tortoise enclosure with
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of state for the Environment
One of the things I was determined to do was to attend the #Iwill4nature launch. Back in Post 493 I covered how I was lucky enough to be made an #Iwill ambassador. Basically #iwill is an initiative to encourage youth social action. This year is especially relevant to me as the focus is on the natural world. The #iwill4nature year coincides with the DEFRA #yearofgreenaction and this week was a joint launch event for them both.

I had the date in the diary since just before Christmas but it wasn't until the end of last week that I knew that I was going to be speaking. I quite like speaking and I guess as I did some amateur dramatics and performing when I was younger I'm reasonably comfortable in front of crowds. Saying that it was a big subject to cover and I hoped I'd nailed some key messages.

#Iwill ambassaors and Mr Gove feeding Dolly, Polly & Priscilla
The #iwill team had sent me all the information about the event, hosted by the Zoological Society of London at London Zoo, so I knew there were going to be other speakers there including the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, and the Director General of the Zoological Society of London Dominic Jermey, and a few other #Iwill Ambassadors. On the train on the way down I learnt that I was to be part of a photo call with Mr Gove, and that I'd be doing that in the tortoise enclosure. Until I'd gone around the Zoo I didn't realise they were Galapagos Tortoises! So we got to the Tortoise enclosure ahead of Michael Gove and had chance to get to know Dolly, Polly and Priscilla. They're all around 28 years old and were bred at Zurich Zoo and are part of a conservation effort to help these creatures. They weigh about 100kgs so we were told to mind we didn't get our feet underneath them in case they sat on them! We saw a fascinating bit of behaviour that these majestic creatures have retained from their evolution on Galapagos. If you stroke their legs they extend their necks and raise themselves up almost on to their tip toes stretching out their legs. This is called 'finching' and stems from a reaction to birds, finches in particular, coming to feed on the parasites that would live on the Tortoises in the wild. They'd stretch up like this to give the birds full access and to provide a handy service for the tortoise, but of course the birds don't mind as they get a feed! Even though they don't have parasites in captivity they still retain this behaviour.

Passing on the manifesto to
Mr Gove!
After this was the launch event and as we were waiting to start there was a bit of time to talk to each other. During this time I had an opportunity. If you remember in the Autumn last year there was a #PeoplesWalkForWildlfie and a few of us got to take the #PeoplesManifestoForWildlife to No 10. Well the hope was to present it to Michael Gove but he was busy that day. So happily I had taken a copy along with me and in a quiet minute ahead of the event I managed to have a quick chat with Mr Gove and pass him a copy!

Then we got into the event and the speeches. One of the first things was a video address from Prince Charles who is the patron of the #Iwill campaign. Then we had speeches from Michael Gove and Dominic Jermey. It was nice for me that one of the photos I'd taken at the Kew event has been adopted as a campaign poster and that it was the backdrop for the speeches. After Mr Gove and Mr Jermey it was the turn of the #Iwill ambassadors to take the stage. The only disappointing  part of the evening was that Michael and Dominic left before the Ambassadors spoke, which was a shame.  But, there was a great audience of lots of organisations that want to help young people have a voice and give young people chances to take social action.

In the background my photo with Yetunde and Princess at
Kew in front of a magnificent Ginko biloba
Yetunde introduced us all and set the scene. I was next up and my talk was well received, I got a bit of a laugh when I mentioned that I was glad to catch up with Mr Gove and pass him the manifesto after missing him at Downing Street. I was followed by Dara who gave an amazing speech, very articulate and very passionate. Nayha finished the ambassador's speeches with another amazing speech. I think we collectively managed to get across the message that young people are passionate about the natural world and will take action to protect it, if they are given the chance to experience and appreciate it. Many of the organisations there have pledged to help make sure this happens.
My turn to speak!
After some more networking and getting some very nice comments about the speeches we made the evening came to a close and I headed off to Kings Cross for the train home. It was a truly amazing evening and I'm so grateful to #Iwill for the opportunity. I came away proud and enthused to make more of a difference, to continue to take the message to other young people that we should care and that we can make a big difference. I look forward to helping out over the #Iwill4nature year and beyond.

Before I sign off I  thought I'd finish on a different, but I think appropriate note. On the way to the event I'd taken the chance to visit a place I love in London, Camden Market. I've been going there for years, it's a family favourite when we are in London. I love the street food, the music, the buzz of the place. I guess as I've been going since I was little I'm comfortable with all the sights, sounds and smells. So as it is close to London Zoo it was a natural place to visit on the way there and to get some lunch. There's a place you can sit once you get your food from the stalls and the Pigeons and Starlings are quite tame, even a bit cheeky. Not everyone likes that but I love it. The little guy in the tweet below hung around most of the time I was eating, even with all the hustle and bustle and with other people eating shoo-ing some birds off. It was one of those lovely moments where you unexpectedly get the opportunity to connect with nature. The Starling stood there chirping, whistling, clicking, going through its repertoire of sounds, serenading Dad and I as we ate, or so it seemed. I got a little video of it which I tweeted. I think it was quite fitting that this little chap singing his heart out was by far my most popular tweet on the launch of an initiative about promoting social action to encourage engagement with and care for nature.Nature does need to take centre stage!

Hope you enjoyed,


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Post 494 - Brilliant BTO's Agenda for Change

Two new faces -
Baroness Young of Old Scone &
Kabir Kaul
Hey everyone.

Well yesterday I wrote about Inspirational #IWill and what a great day I'd had. Well my day didn't end when the event at Kew did. I have #IWill to thank in a way for making it possible for me to attend a second event in the evening...

A little while back Dad and I got an invitation to attend an event with the BTO at the House of Lords! Amazing right, but in London on a school night evening.Would we be able to get down? Would I get permission to be out of school early? But then the penny dropped. "What date was that?" said Mum, "The 13th? Well you're in London anyway!" Brilliant! Solved all the problems thanks to #Iwill. So we gladly accepted the invitations and waited for the big day. 

Great to catch up with Natalie Bennett -
thanks for all your support on twitter
Earlier this year I got to go to Portcullis House, a part of Parliament, but I'd never so far got to go into either of the Houses of Parliament so this was exciting. But so was the event. The BTO are an organisation that our family has been a member of for a number of years. I've got involved with a few of their surveys and of course got to go to one of their brilliant bird camps for young people. If you are a young birder I'd highly recommend getting along to one. Sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust they give you lots of great experiences in a full-on birding weekend and you meet a lot of young birders too.

The event on Tuesday though was about change. It started with security checks of course before getting to the venue and a bit of networking and catching up with lots of familiar friendly faces from the birding world and meeting up with a few new ones too. Of course we had to stop for a while to hear the speakers and the reason for us being there.

Some great speakers with great messages including
Caroline Lucas
There are regular headlines about how the natural world is struggling, really quite scary headlines. Baroness Young of Old Scone kicked off the evening highlighting this but also how the scale of the problems wouldn't be known nor would the effects of conservationist's actions be capable of being tracked without the work of organisations like the BTO. Lots of volunteers (60,000 in fact) like me and others there contribute to their scientific work that makes a real difference. The problem though is that while they engage with lots of people, and have collected really useful data over a long time, people and politicians don't always realise how valuable this data is. The second speaker Caroline Lucas underlined that and like she does on many important green issues is supporting the BTO and trying to raise awareness of the importance of this work continuing.

Great to catch up with other young birders,
Andy & the Bespolkas
The final words of the night were by another great speaker, Andy Clements, the BTO Chief Executive. He covered 10 key actions that make up the BTO Agenda for Change. I'm sure they'll be up on their website soon but they are basically a commitment to keeping on doing what they do well and to do some things they don't do quite as well, better. I think this will be a challenge. They are an amazing organisation, very supportive, very well respected and to set themselves the challenge of being better I think is a tough one.

One of the 10 actions though I will write out as it was very relevant to the day and to my passions :-

"We will become much more accessible and relevant to wider society, inspiring a new generation to participate in the understanding of, and engagement with, the natural world."

If you think of any way I can help with that #IWill.

Thank you so much for the invite Baroness Young of Old Scone, I had a great evening.

Hope you enjoyed.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Post 493 - Inspirational #IWill

Hey everyone,
Venue for our event - Kew's Nash Conservatory

Yesterday I had the privilege to be in London at Kew Gardens. I love Kew and have visited it several times before, but this time it was for a special event.

Those of you that know me and follow my blog will know that I have a passion for nature and that I try to spread the word and encourage other young people to appreciate and care for it too. I didn't really think of it this way but a lot of what I do is social action, doing something to help make a difference, to improve society in some way, without seeking anything in return.

Well that is just what a group called Step up to Serve are interested in and they run a campaign called #IWill which is all about encouraging social action in young people. After an article in New Nature on the theme of "I can't vote but I can make a difference" the #IWill team told me about the 2018 Ambassador programme which this year is themed around environmental action. It sounded like a brilliant programme with lots of opportunities so of course I had to apply but didn't expect I'd be chosen as it was bound to be popular.

A few of us already involved with environmental social
action got to meet and have a photo with Lord Gardiner
of Kimble
Despite my pessimism I did get selected! And better still, the #IWill event to tell the new ambassadors the news was to be held at Kew Gardens. To say I was pleased, excited, over the moon, chuffed - what ever the words you use it would probably still be an understatement.

We made social action pledges on a pledge tree
I'd read up about the campaign and the previous ambassadors but didn't really know what to expect from the day. Dad came with me and we turned up at Kew just as it was starting to get busy. The event was in a lovely building, the Nash Conservatory. I'd taken my camera of course to record the day, and I was able to put it to good use. In fact as the official photographer was late I had a little job to do to try and capture a few informal shots of the event.

We had workshops to help us Raise our Voice -
here I worked with Princess & Yetunde
There were 50 ambassadors and the day was all about celebrating the things we had done, showing how important social action is and helping us to think about how we can build on what we've done and be role models to encourage more young people to get involved. There were some amazing speakers. The day was hosted by former #IWill  Ambassadors Ceylon Hickman and Tom McEachan and we had some fantastic speakers mixed in with workshops and discussions all designed to help us to promote social action and help inspire others.
I got to work with lots of passionate young people
- here's Shahid 

I really enjoyed learning about Kew's @GrowWildUk project from Tim Owen, I hope I'll be able to get more involved with this and the things they are trying to achieve. There was an awesome talk by Antony Bennett talking us through his journey. It could have been really sad, he'd had a really tough time with his health when he was young but the story was focused on how he viewed the world differently after his problems and how he started saying yes to opportunities and how from that great things have happened. He has been engaged in some great social action work and helped raised lots of funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital who cared for him when he was really, really ill.

There were a few familiar faces - but being behind the camera I
missed my chance to say hi to Rob McFarlane!
Workshops, networking and discussions filled the rest of the day. Through it I got to meet, talk with and start friendships with a really great bunch of passionate people. The range of things young people are doing is incredible and it just goes to show that as I said at the beginning you don't need a vote to be able to make a difference! It was great to meet up with someone I know as well, I was glad to hear Dara McAnulty was a fellow #IWill ambassador. Great to catch up with him and hear him recite a social action poem he'd written, such an incredible talent with words!

I hope I'm well on the way with this now.
This is a shot from my workshop which was about "Raising Your Voice" and I had some actions to follow up on. Well, I hope this blog contributes to the first one! The second one, well I had my camera in hand through the day and I hope some of the images here you'll be seeing a lot more of. Of course I'll be doing more on these points but the third point I'll have to work on with a few organisations I know, but if any of you reading this want to help out and enable a twitter take over based on youth social action please let me know.

All in all what an incredible day. Such a positive, inspiring group of people. I am very proud to be an #IWill Ambassador and look forward to #AYearofGreenAction - #IWill4Nature!!

Look out for more on this through 2019. I think it's going to be a really interesting year!

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Post 492 - EcoExplorers, Project Wild and Haggewoods - Thank you!

Hey everyone, an overdue post today to update on a project that I got involved with this year. I thought that I had written an update on this before and I really should have done as this has been a great project and the people involved have been really supportive so I wanted to say a big thank you to all the people involved.

Back in Post 477 - A Happy Return to Haggewoods I covered how an article I wrote gave Rosalind at Haggewoods Trust an idea and how a group of us shaped up a project idea. Well through hard work by Nick at Project Wild CIC and Rosalind at Haggewoods the project was made a reality by getting some funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

So through this year the EcoExplorers project has been busy engaging lots of young people with nature. They've done lots of talks and workshops in schools and at the Haggewoods Meadow. If you've seen my blogs before you'll know it's one of my big passions trying to encourage other young people to care for nature the way I do so I was really pleased to have been a small part of making the project happen.

Talking Dragonflies
(I am short but here I'm stood in a ditch - really!)
I was able to help out at one of the sessions for a group of primary school kids and I really enjoyed it. The young people really enjoyed the day and were amazed at the wildlife they saw. Lots of questions were asked and lots was learnt. I was able to share with the group a lot of information about dragonflies and my experience at Haggewoods of watching the adults emerging from the nymphs as I was lucky enough on a visit here to spend ages watching this almost magical transformation. I was also privileged to be able to handle a really calm and incredibly gorgeous grass snake. I've mostly only ever caught glimpses of these incredible creatures before as they slither off into the undergrowth. It's hard to explain well but it really seemed everybody got a lot out of the day, the adults helpers as well as the young people that came along.

An amazing creature!
I didn't get to go along but there was also a weekend dedicated to film making, it was a shame to miss that but I'll bet it was good and the people involved enjoyed it.

They also had a photography competition, you can see some of the amazing images that were entered into that here on the Haggewoods site. Of course I had to have a go at that! The project made it at really special competition by having a presentation of the photos and films from the project and a prize giving ceremony at Selby Abbey, an impressive place I'd not been to before. Well I knew that I'd been shortlisted for a prize due to being invited there but I never expected to do so well. I did well in two categories and my photo below was the overall winner for my age category. After seeing the other images I was amazed to have done so well. Part of the prize was a canvas print of the wining picture - that is proudly hanging on our hall wall now for everyone to see when they enter the house!

Grouse in Heather.

So, and I'm very sorry this is overdue, I want to say a very big thank you to Rosalind, Nick and all the other folks at  Haggewoods and Project Wild CIC. It was really great to be involved in a project from the start and I really enjoyed helping out.

Thanks also to the Heritage Lottery Fund. I really hope after the success of the project that there will be more of this sort of thing to come.

Hope you enjoyed.


Sunday, 7 October 2018

Post 491 - Naturally Zach - a wild life journey

Hey everyone,

A bit of a different blog today about something I've been thinking about for a while but I've finally decided to do. It may not seem like much to some people but it's been something I've thought about a lot.

Ich bin ein Nerd! - I've always embraced a love of science
This was a primary school Easter project :-)
Most of you reading this will know me from twitter. It's where I post a lot of my wildlife activity. Over on there my handle is @nerboy386. I don't know if I've ever explained why I chose that handle. Well it stemmed from primary school and from being a bit different. Most of my class, in fact most my school, was into football, celebrities and lots of stuff that I didn't care much about, and still don't. As you probably know I've always been more interested in science and nature so I used to get called a scientist, professor and of course a nerd. Being a fan of things like the Big Bang Theory and science fiction that didn't bother me much so I decided to use it, acknowledge it and not let it be a bad thing.  So I was a random nerd boy, hence the 386 - some random numbers.

The nature community has always been very supportive and encouraging. I've suffered very few trolls or unpleasantness at all online, but I do try to stay very positive even when I speak out about stuff I don't like. So it's not mattered what I've called myself and the handle has been fine.

As I've grown up though people at school seem to be less accepting of people that are different. You have to look like this, you have to like this stuff and not that, it's cool to shoot stuff (lots of farmers and pro-hunt people at my school!). I've been given a hard time for just being me and not liking all of the same stuff other people do.

Well all that led to me thinking about things. I've always thought that it's good to be different, that it's important that people follow their interests and passions and that we aren't all clones of each other.

Whilst it's not common in my school I've realised it's important and not strange to love nature. I've also realised there's a need to emphasise this is normal, that it is important that everyone should care for nature. So whilst I'm ok if people want to call me a nerd, I think I need to change my handle to emphasise that I'm not different, that it's not unusual to care for our natural world, that in fact it's probably the most important thing to care about.

I found out something else recently too that has had me thinking about this. I'm Autistic, I have what used to be diagnosed as Aspergers Syndrome. So on one hand again I could think I'm different to other people, that I'm wired different. But then I started thinking about the term Autism Spectrum and how people with Autism can be very different in how this affects them. Thinking that through further, well everybody is different when you think about it. We're all good at different things, we all have different things we like and don't like, however much the 'clones' at school like to think otherwise and seek to fit in.

So I am different, but so are you, and so is everybody. I'm proud of following my passions and it has given me some interesting and wonderful opportunities. So I've decided not to single myself out as different any more. 

I'm @NaturallyZach :-)

Hope you enjoyed,


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Post 490 - What a Wonderful Walk for Wildlife

Hi everyone.

Yesterday I had one of my best wildlife related experiences in a long time, probably ever. And it was in the centre of London! It was of course the #PeoplesWalkForWildlife initiated by Chris Packham who also developed a #PeoplesManifestoForWildlife to go along with it. I can't imagine the effort and energy that went into that but I am so grateful that Chris decided to develop both these ideas.

Dawn on the train.
My experience of the walk started well before the day, helping to spread the word about the walk and the dictionary of wildlife wonders that is yet to come. I did a couple of videos which I hope helped in making people aware of it. It all added to the anticipation of the day and the hope that we could really raise the profile of the plight of our wildlife. It was all about getting people to come together and say we want wildlife!
Nice to catch up with Lindsey

Well the day came. Dad and I started the day at about 5.15am in order to get the train to London. I love trains so this in itself was a treat. The journey for us was very straight forward, straight down the East Coast Mainline and we were treated to an incredible dawn, signalling to us what was going to be an awesome day. Not visiting London that often we decided to walk from Kings Cross to Hyde Park and arrived just before 10 to find there were already a good few people there! Almost straight away we started bumping into people we knew like Stewart Pike (@raptorwatcher), Alex White (@appletonwild) and Lindsey Chapman (nice to catch up with my fellow Wild Watch patron :-) .

It was pretty much a whirlwind from there on as we just kept bumping into people we knew, catching up and also seeing new faces and admiring some of the awesome costumes and artwork. I got to say hi to people who have been a great support on twitter like Caroline Lucas. One of the things that was great to see was the breadth of passionate people there. Young and old. People passionate about bats, trees, bees, seals, hen harriers, hares, owls, squirrels, butterflies, sparrows and flies (for @flygirlNHM :-). That was one of the powerful things about the day, every one there cared and was passionate about our wildlife and you could really feel it.

Lovely to meet Caroline
Then came the infotainment hour and we got to listen to inspiring songs and speeches from a range of people. It was great to see young conservationists alongside the more established campaigners. Mya-Rose Craig, Bella Lack, Georgia Lowcock, Dara McAnulty alongside people like Billy Bragg, Domonic Dyer and Ruth Tingay. We also had spells, words and poems from young people enthused by and passionate about nature. The crowd kept building, and despite it having rained everyone was enjoying the day and hearing from all the Ministers talking about their parts of the Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife.

On the walk the
The actual walk started a bit behind schedule and from where I was watching you could see the Police and others wanted to get us moving, but everyone was patient, polite and peaceful - Police and participants. The walk set off and one of the wonderful things about the day was that we'd been asked to download and play birdsong as we walked through the streets. A very poignant message to mark the millions of birds that have gone missing due to habitat loss, changes in farming practices and climate change etc. I wondered how that was going to work but it worked amazingly. The people watching the march looked on in amazement. The birdsong cut through the urban noise just as effectively than if we'd been shouting or chanting. I think it made people take more notice and I saw lots of people engaging the crowds and asking what we were doing. Some even joined in the walk.
At the gates of Downing Street ready to deliver the

The main walk ended at Whitehall where we had a few more speeches by some great people like George Monbiot, Kate Bradbury and Mark Avery. I say the main walk as there was a last leg to do.

Chris very much wanted young people to attend the walk and to engage in the activities like the Dictionary of Wildlife Wonders. For me this is important as we need more young people to value and cherish nature and the more young people see others taking an interest the better. I think it also sends a message to the politicians that the issues we raise about protecting and caring about nature won't go away. There are fresh generations of passionate, caring, committed conservationists coming forward to continue the fight for our wildlife!

At Number 10!
Photo credit /
To push home this point Chris asked a few young people to take the manifesto to Number 10,  I'm sure from the other young people I know that care, and from all of the young people I saw on the day we could have filled Downing Street with young conservationists, but only a small party was allowed and I was so honoured to be one of those asked. I proudly went to the steps of Number 10 and presented the manifesto to the PM's environmental advisor, John Randall. We also got to go into parliament and have a good discussion with him about our view on wildlife and what we need to do, especially to get more young people engaged.

Discussing environmental policy in Portcullis House
as you do - not my usual Saturday afternoon!
I left the discussion having had a wonderful day, meeting up with old friends and meeting some new ones. It was an inspiring and motivating day, one I shall remember for a very long time to come. It was a day though about saying caring about wildlife isn't enough, that we must do something, it is time to act for our wildlife before it is too late. That's not just a message for the politicians, that is a message for all of us. We can all do our part, in fact we must all do our part if we want to change the awful declines inflicted on so many species. My mind was certainly kept occupied on my train journey home thinking of things I can do to help.

A beautiful piece of writing that I often think about is by Chief Seattle (see this blog post for it all) which has a haunting end. It's from the nineteenth century but is just as relevant today and it reminds me of the need to keep fighting for our wildlife:

"Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the god who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone.

Where is the eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival."

Please read the Peoples Manifesto for Wildlife, be inspired, send it to your MP and do what you can to help our wildlife.

Click to go to the Manifesto page on Chris Packham's website


Friday, 24 August 2018

Post 489 - Nosterfield Bioblitz 2018

Hey everyone,

Chris telling me what my job for the day was
(thanks for the photo Lucy White
I have had some really great wildlife experiences and some great filming opportunities but this summer I had the best one yet. It was totally unexpected too.

I knew about Chris Packham's Bioblitz and that it was coming to my local reserve, Nosterfield, so of course I'd made plans to be going along. I was thinking it would be difficult to get along for much of it though as it was on a school day. I can't describe how excited I was when I got a message that the Bioblitz team was trying to find young presenters to introduce the reserves and would I be interested in helping out. Of course I said yes, and then had my fingers crossed school would let me have the day off so I could do it. They did thankfully, they are very good at supporting my wildlife activities, and a chance to work with someone who's inspired me so much wasn't denied. Nosterfield is an incredible place and I've been lucky to be able to go there so often. A lot of the people involved in running the place have been amazingly supportive and encouraging to me so this was a big honour.

Opening up the moth traps!
So Mum, Dad and I were up early to get to the reserve for a 7am start. The Bioblitz had started at 5pm the night before and the place was already a hive of activity. If you don't know what a Bioblitz is it's basically about recording all of the wildlife, every species that you can find in an area on one day. Doing this across 50 sites will give us a really good baseline of data to see how things fare in future. The main area of interest when I got to the Nosterfield Bioblitz hub was around the moth traps being emptied. It had been an incredible night for moths and every tray from every trap that I saw emptied were laden with a massive array of species.

Shortly after I'd got there Chris and the Bioblitz team came along. I'd got it in my mind that I was just going to be doing a film about a species I liked on the reserve but then Chris came over and gave me my job for the morning. He said I was going to be him for the morning! What do you say to that?! After a couple of deep breaths and listening to the things the team wanted to film I set off with  the crew to do the first bit of film. I was still a little awestruck but the crew were so friendly and helpful that I soon got into it. It helped that another conservationist that I admire and inspires me was behind one of the cameras, Ruth Pearcy, so nerves were soon settled.
Interviewing Darren in the hide

The first bit of filming I did was with Darren Rees, he was part of the team that Chris was bringing round with him. Darren is an amazing artist, and was tasked with doing an A5 piece based on every single reserve they went to; that's 5 a day! The filming we did together was as simple as he was talking me through his artwork and I was telling him about the reserve and what we could see out of the hide windows. This was definitely the most relaxed shoot we did because we were sat down in the hide and just talking about our passions.

After that shoot it was straight on to another which would be used as the introduction to the film. We walked across the car park to a place overlooking the first lake so there was a good background and got straight to it. Personally, I love doing this sort of shoot. It gives me a chance to talk about whatever the subject is, and to show my passion as much as I can. I loved doing this one and it only took me 2 takes!

Filming with Lawrie and Pam
As I said Nosterfield is amazing. It's got lots of great habitats and has some surprising species for an inland site. It's been working for 21 years to transform a former quarry into a wildlife haven, and it's working so well. But not content with that they are expanding the reserve into a new bit of the quarry that the quarry company have now finished working on. This time Nosterfield is taking up the opportunity to do something a little different and trying to re-establish a bit of the habitat that would have been around at the time that the Thornbrough Henges were created - this is a series of three big neolithic henges that are next door to the reserve (told you it was a special place!). Simon Warwick explains it really well in the film, and I then had the job of interviewing Simon and volunteers Lawrie and Pam who are working on this really exciting and novel project.

That pretty much wrapped up the filming, or so I thought. As they were about to leave Chris remembered that he wanted a short film on his phone to put on twitter so in a corner of the car park I did a little film that you probably saw posted on twitter on the day. This was just a little snippet about the reserve and two of my favourite species (you might know by now I love Bloody Nosed Beetles!)

A Southern Hawker I found.
Through the day we bumped into another person we knew, Joanita Musisi from Radio York! We talked for a little bit and then she asked me if I wanted to do an interview. Radio York have been very supportive of me so obviously I said yes and we set off over to the main reserve from the working quarry. We looked out over the main lake at the reserve and talked about the types of birds and other wildlife you can see there as well as covering what the Bioblitz was all about. It all came out well and it was nice to listen to it on the iplayer later on.

So that took up a lot of the morning, and it was great fun, but I still had some actual bioblitzing to do! Dad and I had a good walk around the reserve and we found quite a few nice species. Brimstone butterflies, A Southern Hawker dragonfly and a few birds that hadn't been found yet. Sadly I didn't find any Bloody Nosed beetles that day!

Catching up with Darren at Birdfair
The artwork from Nosterfield
It was an amazing day, but the story doesn't quite end there. Unexpectedly I caught up with Darren at Birdfair last weekend and got to see the artwork that he'd being doing on the bioblitz, including the bit he was working on when I was interviewing him in the hide. It's a lovely painting showing a variety of waders that were on the lake that morning. It was really nice to see the finished work, Darren is very talented.

Great to meet up with Megan too!
Birdfair was great and only a day or so before I got to see the finished piece of filming that had been posted on Chris's youtube channel. I think it came out really well, Ruth and the team did a great job. Chris got to see it too and I got a few hints and tips about presenting so hopefully anything I do in future will be even better. And the last thing that was great about the day was I got to meet Megan McCubbin which was great. It was Megan who first got in touch and asked about me getting involved and doing some presenting for the Bioblitz. On the day the team were at Nosterfield Megan was at her graduation so we didn't meet on the day, so it was really nice to meet up.

What an amazing experience! I want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone on the team for making it such a wonderful day, I really enjoyed meeting you all and working with you.

Here's the film for you to see all about Nosterfield and some of the amazing things that are going on.

The last thing to say is that the Bioblitz was an amazing day. As you heard in the video the reserve was only started 21 years ago before that it was a quarry. So the final total of species was utterly amazing and it really demonstrates that we can make such a positive difference for wildlife if we manage places well.

Hope you enjoyed,