, , , , ,

Somewhere over the rainbow

Flicking through this week’s photos, I was astounded by the colours. The whole rainbow makes an appearance, in fact the whole colour spectrum really since black, brown, grey and white are also there. What do you think?

A walk around Lorton with colleagues provided the opportunity to spy out some interesting wildflowers. I do find some wildflower identification tricky – there are so many of them for one thing! However, I am attempting to learn a few more every now and then to help build up my knowledge base. One of my colleagues kindly lent me a camera so that I could take some photos (mine is at the repair shop, having been broken during the Scotland trip!).

Of course, I couldn’t help but also take photos of invertebrates …

At last, the moth catches are becoming more substantial. I caught a couple of especially lovely ones this week, as shown below. The Angle Shades (Phlogophora meticulosa) is a particular beauty, don’t you think? And that Small Magpie (Anania hortulata) – despite being relatively large, it is actually one of the micro-moths!

A long weekend stretched ahead of me as I battled through the motorways to get up to Cambridge. A lovely long weekend full of moths, and seeing family. I really wish my camera had been fixed already! Since I saw TWO Hummingbird Hawk-Moths!!! Two!! My second and third ones ever. I also visited the RSPB’s Headquarters, and had a wander around the reserve. There was one spot I found very interesting, just a pathway I had a thought. But on closer examination, I could see that it was buzzing with life. Namely different types of wasps. As you can see I took some blurry photos – oh for my camera!

In the Cambridge garden, life was wonderful. Butterflies fluttered, gardening was toiled over, and next door’s cats rolled in the grass contentedly. And then night came … and the moth trap was lit. What a haul! Three Privet Hawk-Moths (Sphinx ligustri <- what an amazing scientific name too), and six Elephant Hawk-Moths (Deilephila elpenor <- also a cracking name!)! I have never seen so many of each! I fell even more in love with the Privet H-M species, they really are fantastic. When they walk across your skin, you can actually feel a light but sharp pricking sensation from the hooks on their feet. I had one go for a wander at one point – it even went up onto my cheek!

The week finished off with a gruelling trek back to Dorset. Sadly there seemed to be accidents in many places. Here’s hoping none were fatal. Not far from the house in Weymouth, I had to suddenly pull over. Something had flown in front of my car’s headlights. Definitely not a bat or a bird, my instinct was telling me a moth. And one of the Hawk-Moths at that. By the size of it, perhaps another Privet? I dashed over (looking both ways beforehand of course) to where it had flown too. As luck would have it, the moth had landed on a fence near a lamp-post. And indeed it was a Privet Hawk-Moth! How weird and wonderful that my gut instinct was correct!

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dorset Wildlife Trust’s positions, strategies or opinions (or any other organisation or individuals for that matter).

, , , , , ,

I’ve still got sand in my shoes

It wasn’t quite two weeks away from Dorset, but at one and a half weeks, it’s not far off Dido’s song lyrics. What a wonderful holiday it was too, I still can’t believe how much wildlife we saw in Scotland! Pine martens! Otters! Eagles! Western Scotland is definitely going on the list of places to revisit that’s for sure! And I know that Matt feels the same – especially since this was a revisit for him anyway!

Now I’m back in Dorset again. It has taken me a couple of days to switch from holiday mode to work mode. Luckily, I love my work and it is wildlife-related, so the jump wasn’t too big! Friday definitely shook me into place – we had a large group from a local school coming to the Chesil Beach Centre for two sessions. We decided to split them into two groups, because (a) it is more manageable for us, and (b) the children get a better experience in smaller groups.

I took one group, the Year 1s, and we headed out on a seashore scavenge. This involves a scavenger hunt where they have to find things from the list – e.g. something purple, three pebbles of different sizes, something that smells of the sea. I love this session as it allows the children to wander around (within a certain area and within sight) Chesil Beach, exploring what’s been washed up and working together as a team to find everything on their list. During this time, I visit each group a couple of times to see how they’re getting on and whilst doing so, do a little bit of a beach clean. Even in the limited area that we were in and being busy making sure the group were ok, I managed to collect a whole bag of rubbish! Rather depressing, but I use it as an educational tool to introduce them to marine litter and even talk a bit about currents.

In the afternoon, we became detectives and discovered seashore creatures along the edge of the Fleet Lagoon. Unsurprisingly we found plenty of crabs, mainly Common Shore Crabs (Carcinus maenas), which the children loved finding. I even persuaded a few of the reluctant children to hold a crab. Other finds included fish (though we couldn’t catch those), periwinkles, marine springtails (Anurida maritima), the cast off shells of crabs, limpets, topshells, anemones and sea slugs.

I was working up at Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre this weekend, and managed a couple of wanders to look for wildlife – during my late lunch break and then again after work. I finally saw my first Marbled White (Melanargia galathea) butterflies of the year, as well my first Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus) and Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) butterflies for the year. Other wildlife of note – 50+ Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) butterflies, hovering/hunting Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), a family of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) and Red-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius). As my camera is at the repair shop, I have some blurry phone photos for you.

Additionally, the Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) moth that I had collected as a caterpillar a couple of weeks ago and have pupated whilst I was in Scotland emerged as an adult moth this week. I released it back into the wild at Lorton, since I had found it there originally. A bit of an emotional moment. Not least because it is the first caterpillar I have managed to raise all the way through from caterpillar to adult!

In other news:

  • My guest post for the Wildlife Trusts blog was posted this week. I discuss an issue that I have been dwelling on for a while – the lack of engaging 16-30 year olds with nature.
  • I have been asking Findlay Wilde whether his guest post series, 13 Years Wilde, would (a) feature more female conservationists, (b) have a 50:50 ratio of female:male conservationists. Answers: (a) yes, (b) no.
    • Why am I asking? Well, to cut a long story short, there is an under-representation of women in STEM as a whole, but also in conservation. There are a number of factors involved, and a whole separate blog post (book?) would be required to discuss them in detail. However, for now, I’m saying that I would like to see this addressed where possible, and an equal (or at least nearly equal) representation of guest blog posts from conservationists is one way of doing so.
  • Following Scotland and this week, my butterfly life list is at 37 and my year list is at 30. Hopefully both will continue to increase this year!

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dorset Wildlife Trust’s positions, strategies or opinions (or any other organisation or individuals for that matter).

, , , ,

My guest blog post for 30 Days Wild

Having seen that the Wildlife Trusts were accepting guest posts in their 30 Days Wild blog series, I decided to enquire if I could submit one. Receiving an affirmative answer, I then pondered on what to write. How I connect with nature? The Megan & Matt Go Wild! joint-blogging? How fantastic it is to work in environmental education and show the wonders of nature to children? All good possibilities. However, an issue had been meandering around in the back of my mind for a while. I decided that now was a good time to bring it to the front and work through my thoughts on it, culminating in the blog post you see below. Originally posted here

Megan Shersby is an aspiring naturalist and science (particularly nature) communicator. She is currently based in Dorset, working as a Seasonal Assistant for Dorset Wildlife Trust. She is passionate about inspiring others to explore the natural world, and can usually be found in a nature reserve examining the local wildlife. In this blog, the last in our 30 Days Wild series for 2015, she discusses how we can inspire a generation to love wildlife.

Many groups in society are overlooked or marginalise. Among these are young people, particularly those between 16-30. Politics takes us for granted as we vote less than others, and the impacts on us of spending cuts and the housing shortage are disproportionate.. Of course, it’s true, and important to recognise, that this intersects with a range of other inequalities based on gender, race and sexual orientation. But I want to focus on the age dimension here.

The conservation sector, too, sometimes lets this age group fall through the gaps of its excellent work.

There is much focus on connecting children with nature, and rightly so. According to the RSPB’s survey only 21 % of 8-12year olds feeling connected with nature. Environmental education makes up part of what I’m employed to do – we have a variety of school groups attending the centres. One day I will be talking about seashore wildlife to Year 2 primary school children, the next I will be taking Year 5s pond dipping and studying tree identification, and then the next, a Year 9 group discussing longshore drift.

The conservation sector targets most of its efforts and messages at a few groups – school groups, families with young children, and those who make up charities’ core membership. But those between 16-30, who are often at unique stages in their lives, are often overlooked, or treated exactly the same as people of 40, 50 or 60 years old. They are not the same – these young people are these charities future members and the conservationists of the future too.. Only a few projects are in place to engage those 16-30 year olds who aren’t in young families and/or not engaging with wildlife.

Lucy McRobert (amongst other conservationists) recently wrote a fantastic guest post for Findlay Wilde’s blog series called 13 Years Wilde. It is a very honest account of not connecting with nature as a teenager: “wildlife meant very little to me as a teenager”. It is quite an eye-opener, considering that Lucy is one of the leading young conservationists in the United Kingdom and works as the Nature Matters Campaigns Manager for the Wildlife Trusts. It makes me feel a little better, as my teenage years weren’t so different from Lucy’s.

If even our leading conservationists and naturalists didn’t connect with nature during their teenage years, how can we hope to connect anyone else? There is no National Curriculum beyond Year 11 – and even in the previous years, there is very little room to squeeze in more nature. There are a lot of pressures on schools, teachers, their time and resources.

There are some excellent projects out there. Ideally these could be rolled out across our country (and the world?!), but funding is forever tight so for now, I won’t build my hopes too high. However, 30 Days Wild itself could take youth engagement a step further. Next year, maybe we should plan to particularly engage this age group with the campaign? Get the message into the magazines they read, get the celebrities they like to become involved, contact the community groups used by these ages – just a few ideas off the top of my head.

The lack of engagement by these youths and adults is one of the many reasons why groups such as A Focus On Nature, a network of young conservationists, are so vitally important and wonderful. As well as connecting young naturalists with each other, they allow us to become self-assured in ourselves, our abilities and our knowledge –and that actually, nature is cool. As a result, I feel more confident to talk about how amazing nature is to my peers who aren’t into wildlife as I am. I know that others members of A Focus On Nature have felt the same too. Thus even though there is no solution to magically connecting everyone with nature, we are creating ripples in the pond, and I live in hope that soon this issue will no longer exist. So if you know a young person, or actually someone of any age, who isn’t connecting to nature, why not create ripples of your own?

You can follow Megan on Twitter and read her blog here.


The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dorset Wildlife Trust’s positions, strategies or opinions (or any other organisation or individuals for that matter).

, , , , , ,

Day Thirty of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in Cambridge)

So, I’ve spent the last 30 days going wild. What has this felt like and have I changed in myself or made change in the world?

I like to think that posting about this on many days has drawn some people’s own attention to nature. But my blog and social media have pretty small readerships in the grand scheme of things.

Some of the activities I’ve taken part in have been large – the UN climate talks, the large climate event in London and Rainforest: Live.

But mostly, spending this month going wild has made a change in me.

Today I went wild like I would on most days. I had the day off and went for a walk around the fields behind the cottage, where I saw ringlet, comma, small tortoiseshell, skipper and other butterflies. There were woodpeckers, swifts and a sparrowhawk.

This morning I spent over an hour emptying the moth trap and identifying some of the species within it.

But spending this month trying to go wild has made me realise that even as someone who works in the conservation sector it can be pretty hard to fit in some wild time on a normal working day.

I have certainly tried hard to document and write more about the wildlife I encounter. I will continue to do that beyond the end of this month.

More profoundly, thanks to this month, I’ve thought deeper and harder than I ever thought I would. My first love was wildlife, and I’ve spent much of my life since then working to protect it and help others enjoy it. But for someone whose life is centred so much on wildlife, I spend a huge proportion of my time at a desk, in meetings, on trains and asleep.

This leaves very little time for wildlife itself, far less than I feel comfortable with. I don’t know what this means yet, but I do miss the days when I was a nature reserve warden.

#30DaysWild has forced me to begin seriously reassessing my job, the location where I live and the way I spend my time. As some other big things feel like they’re shifting in my life, and I turn 30 (years old) myself next year, this month couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. It truly has begun a process of evaluating how my life to date has looked over the past 30 years, and what I want the next 30 to look like.

Here’s to 30!

Megan (in Dorset)

Today was pretty good for connecting with nature as it was my first day back at work after my holiday and I was down at the Chesil Beach Centre. As well as the usual admiration of Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon, and its associated wildlife, I also gave a short talk to a group about Chesil Beach and did a beach clean (that had originally begun as a nature walk).


After closing up the centre, I headed over to Lorton Meadows Conservation Centre as I was welcoming a local Brownie group and a local Guides group to the reserve for pond dipping and a reserve walk respectively. They were wonderful groups who really enjoyed discovering the creatures of Lorton – particularly the dragonfly nymphs in the pond!

And with that, the 30 Days Wild campaign, and thus Megan & Matt Go Wild!, draws to a close. What a fantastic month it has been. Blogging every day has made me realise just how much I do connect with nature. Sometimes it is just in a small way (admiring landscapes for example), sometimes there are days when it’s all I do (the Scotland trip as a whole!).

It is hard to choose my highlights for the 30 Days Wild, but I’ll give it a go

As well as connecting with nature, the 30 Days Wild campaign and this blogging project has helped me connect with Matt more. We’ve learnt more about what the other does in their job, what wildlife they’ve seen that day and worked together as a team to joint-blog. Although it sounds cheesy, 30 Days Wild has brought us closer, despite the distance between us. Thankfully, we have also managed to meet up a number of times in June and connect with nature together in some wonderful locations – Llanbwchllyn Lake (Wales) for my bioblitz, Brownsea Island (Dorset) and Ardnamurchan (Scotland).

I know that we will both continue to engage with nature and share our love of wildlife with each other, our friends and family, and the internet in general.

, , , ,

Day Twenty-eight & Twenty-nine of Megan & Matt Go Wild


Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (travelling from Scotland to Worcestershire, then to Cambridge)

Day 28

No adventures looking for wildlife today, we were on a mission to return from Scotland. It was a long journey, around 10 hours, and often in rain. However, I had a wonderful time admiring various landscapes. The steep-sided vista of the Highlands U-shaped valleys, once filled with glaciers and now filled with the awe of their visitors. The rainbow behind us as we left the rain and emerged into the sun, seeming to appear as if to energise us on our journey. The sunlight landscape of the Malvern Hills as we approached our destination. Proof that even long and arduous drives can be inspiring and beautiful.

Day 29

Travelling over to Cambridge, we got stuck in roadworks traffic. Oh joy. As Matt was driving, I could take the opportunity to admire the wildflower verges – spying poppies, daisies and even a tiny but distinctive flower, the scarlet pimpernel. It made the traffic less annoying, for me at least.

It was time for some (wildlife) gardening when we got back to Cambridge; planting wildflowers, adding to the log pile, and also planting some vegetable seeds. Fingers crossed for a good harvest!

Matt (travelling from Scotland to Worcestershire, then to Cambridge)

Going wild isn’t so easy when you’re inside a car for nine hours. Our journey back from Scotland on Sunday was limited in wildlife terms. But we still managed to spot things like buzzards from the cars, and we definitely managed to stay away from our screens!
Monday wasn’t quite as bad, as me and Megan pottered about in the garden in Cambridge, spotting butterflies and dragonflies and beetles, and planting wildflowers that will hopefully encourage more insects.
, , , ,

Day Twenty-seven of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in western Scotland)

As the month draws to an end I’m considering how to make interaction with nature, and writing about it, a far more routine part of my everyday life. I suppose this means that #30DaysWild has achieved its goal.

Today was our final day in Scotland, and we made sure we took advantage. We visited the RSPB’s Glenborrodale reserve, where I held a frog and some butterflies. And I ended the week as I began it: with rockpooling and holding a crab.

We also saw porpoise and a golden eagle. This month has truly forced me to think hard about how much nature I actually get in my day to day life, even though I work in nature conservation. And I think it has had a profound impact on me. This wasn’t something I expected, but it is most welcome.

Megan (in western Scotland)

A day out today – we headed west again to visit a reserve we have often driven past this week and have often said “ooh, that would be nice to visit!”. So we went off to the RSPB’s Glenborrodale Reserve, and ascended the steep (ish) path. Note – this isn’t a reserve for those with limited movements! The terrain became mostly flat again once we reached the top. It was the worth the steep but short ascent, birds were singing and calling away throughout the woodland. We even heard a Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia).

In terms of insects, the butterflies were rather showing off. Two (possibly three) Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) butterflies were calmly fluttering about a clearing, the warmth in the air not enough to really energise them. As ever, I was excited to see butterflies but particularly so as these were a lifer for me! I had managed to miss them at Gilfach Nature Reserve last year, and they were on my list of species to see. That doubles my 2015 butterfly Wildlife Resolution! Four new species this year, crumbs!

Evidently, another butterfly heard my delight and decided to top the Fritillaries as we soon met a Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) butterfly. Our third this trip, and always a thrill to see – bearing in mind that this species is (a) beautiful and (b) limited in its distribution.

As Matt mentioned, we went rockpooling once we were back at the cottage. I had great fun watching the barnacles feeding and even spotted a small fish darting quickly from beneath a rock. And now I’m typing, but keeping a keen eye on the area beside the conservatory – the Pine Marten (Martes martes) will shortly appear I am sure!

, ,

Day Twenty-six of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in western Scotland)

Another relaxing day at the cottage, where I used the opportunity to do some writing, reading and drinking of tea. It was hammering down with rain for the morning and early afternoon, but eventually the sun appeared.

I wandered down to the shore of the sea loch, a warming cup of chamomile tea in my hand and my jumper sleeves rolled up. A little clamber over the rocks and I was by the edge, the crystal clear water rippling across the stones. I couldn’t resist and was soon barefooted, tentatively then bravely dipping my toes into the water. Ooooh, it was cold. But refreshingly so. Heading back to the cottage to persuade Matt to paddle too, I revelled in the feel of grass beneath my bare feet.

Not long after, Matt let me have a go at using his camera since mine broke yesterday. I practiced on a slug that had found its way into the conservatory in my moth trap. Below is a back of camera shot of one of my photos.

Matt (in western Scotland)

On my 26th day wild, I dipped my legs up to the knee in the freezing cold water of a Scottish loch, water that was clear and vivid and is shared with otters, mackerels and gannets, who take their food, their oxygen and their hydration from it. I felt rooted in Scotland.

, , , ,

Days Twenty-four & Twenty-five of Megan & Matt Go Wild!


Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in western Scotland)

Yesterday was a quiet day. We hung around the cottage and took a break from dashing about.

But even here that meant a couple of otter sightings and our regular evening visit of pine marten.

Today, we took a trip to one of my favourite places – Mull. It feels like it’s on a different level. On Mull you’re on constantly alert for anything that moves, and we saw porpoises (my first ever), otters, Mull’s famous sea eagles, a peregrine falcon, wheatears, twite and oystercatchers.

We also took the boat to Iona, where I got one of my biggest ever birding ticks – the rare and extremely elusive corncrake. It makes a sound like a comb being run against a desk.

Not only did we hear this bird, we even spotted someone in a front garden of one of the handful of houses of this tiny island community.

But alongside the wildlife, one of the best elements of this trip has been being surrounded by such knowledgeable people whom I have learned so much from. Our current trip list of all the species of wildlife we have seen is 260. This is an incredible total, and I’m so impressed with the friends I’m with and the wildlife they can identify.

Megan (in western Scotland)

DAY 24

Today was a bit of a recovery day after the recent busyness. As someone who suffers a lot from exhaustion, this mid-holiday break was needed so that I don’t burn out before the end. I have spent far too much time at my laptop today, but I have been having fun. Whilst Matt was preparing the vegetables for the roast dinner, I played a bit of my music. The ‘Dear future husband’ song by Meghan Trainor started playing, and I thought about how my version would be quite different – after all, my future husband will have to accept me for who I am which includes dissecting owl pellets, keeping roadkill, smelling otter spraint and looking for insects.

Then I actually decided to write out my own version of the lyrics to the song! It was posted on my blog earlier today.

I then took it further, thinking that it would be quite amusing to make a video for my YouTube channel. I found the instrumental version of the song and edited some text onto photos and videos in time with the music. Here is the result, enjoy!

DAY 25

Following the calm of yesterday, we headed over to the Isle of Mull to try and see lots more wildlife. The plan worked – Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from the ferry and two Otters (Lutra lutra) gliding through still waters of a loch (during which my camera broke, nooooo!). On Iona, we were building our hopes up to hear the calling of male Corncrakes (Crex crex), and we did! It is one of the oddest bird noises I have ever heard, probably more weird than a booming bittern! Do go online and listen to it! Only about 15 minutes later and Matt spotted one as we were walking back to the ferry. What a lifer!

A small detour driving back to look for eagles – always worth detouring for! We had excellent views of an adult White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), and could also glimpse a youngster through the branches of a tree.

Dear future husband,

I was sitting in the kitchen on the Scottish holiday, listening to my music and Meghan Trainor’s ‘Dear Future Husband’ song started playing. I have a couple of issues with those song from a feminist point of view, but I ignored that and started thinking about what my future husband would need to accept about me and my love of nature.

So I have rewritten the song from a naturalist’s point of view, trying to keep it as close to the original song’s lyrics as possible:

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life

Take me on a date
Something with wildlife
Don’t forget the camera or the binoculars
Cause if we see something special
I’ll be the recorder
Spotting new species
Spot-spotting what you need

You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home
And baking apple pies
Even in the evenings
I’ll be out in nature
Sing along with birds
Sing-sing along with birds

You gotta know how to treat me like a naturalist
Even when I’m dissecting dead stuff
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband
If you wanna get that special lovin’
Tell me it’s ok to keep the roadkill

After every night
Open the moth trap
And then maybe I’ll let you try
And ID those moths right
Even if my ID’s wrong
You know I’m sometimes wrong
Why not ID too
Why, why not ID too

You gotta know how to treat me like a naturalist
Even when I’m sniffing otter spraint
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband
Make time for wildlife
Don’t leave me lonely
And know we’ll always go on nature adventures

I’ll be sleeping on the left side of the bed
Except when I am out all night for the wildlife
Don’t forget the midge spray
Just be a classy guy
Buy me a sweep net
Buy-buy me a sweep net

You gotta know how to treat me like a naturalist
Even when I’m pinning dead stuff
Tell me everything’s alright

Dear future husband,
Here’s a few things
You’ll need to know if you wanna be
My one and only all my life
Dear future husband
If you wanna get that special lovin’
Tell me it’s ok to keep the roadkill

Dear future husband, better love me (and nature) right

My video of this, with text over photos and videos.

, , , ,

Day Twenty-three of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Megan (in western Scotland)

Another day, another adventure! We headed even further west today, all the way out to Ardnamurchan Point. We also stopped off a couple of times on the way there and back – seeing juvenile buzzards, an awesome moth, a herd of Red Deer, numerous birds including Twite, Whinchat, Stonechat and …. WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE!!!

Once at Ardnamurchan Point, in between seeing various birds (including Gannet and Manx Shearwater), I went on a small, yet, adventurous rock meander and even filmed it!

There were more Pine Marten antics this evening – I can’t get over how wonderful this animal is.

Matt (in western Scotland)

The Western Isles of Scotland are like no other place on Earth for me. A s you drive along, rounding bends, stunning new vistas will unfold as if from nowhere, like a predator leaping from camouflage to unveil itself. The beholder is left stunned, like a rabbit in the glow of this assailant’s eyes.

Lochs, mountains and forests appear as if from nowhere.

Viewed from up close, rather than the distant confines and comfort of a car, these habitats are teeming with life, even down to the moths that are stirred from underfoot as you walk, and the tiny mosses and lichens that bustle for space.

Everything is wet – even hillsides and plateaus can be damp and boggy, providing much entertainment and surprise – surely water drains downwards leaving these surfaces relatively dry?

Standing on a mountainside, the air can be so still that the sound of a running brook can travel clear several hundred metres across a valley. And there are no human sounds to be heard.

If there is a place that for me captures Wordsworth’s idea of the Sublime – awe and fear in the face of the beauty and power of nature – it is here. You can feel both insignificant and intricately connected by stepping into this space.

Today we drove to the most westerly point on this peninsula, and looked across the water to the isles of Mull and Rum.

Our two hour meander out there brought us twite (a new bird for me), chiffchaff, stonechat and whinchat.

At the point, pyramidal orchids and the UK mainland’s most westerly palmate newts (bizarrely in little pools on the cliffs) greeted us. We watched manx shearwaters and shags fly past.

As we wound inwards, we stopped to climb a mountain, submitting ourselves to the power and strength of this landscape that exhausts the body and nourishes the soul. The all-powerful God of Scottish nature rewarded us for our troubles, with a distant but enthralling view of a sea eagle.

This evening, at the cottage, for the third evening in a row we lay in wait for pine martens. Having figured out the best location and approach, our efforts were, after several hours of back-aching patience over the past three evenings, finally rewarded with not only the views but also the photos we had hoped for.

I’m increasingly convinced that connecting with nature in this way should not be something that we (or at least I) find time to squeeze in, to do as a ‘holiday’ but should be everyday life. As Wordsworth understood all too well, we are part of nature, and our entanglement with it is a thing of beauty. To be wild is to be human.