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In Admiration of the Green (and Blue) Spaces of Weymouth and Portland

Rather than describing the wildlife I have seen over the last week, as I normally do, I want to shout out about the incredible area in which I am living. Just before then, I’ll direct your attention to a couple of things that I think will be of interest to you.

This week I have been appreciating the fact there are so many wonderful green spaces in Weymouth and Portland – I don’t think I even know of all the reserves here yet, but there are plenty I do know of and love:

  • Lorton Meadows
  • Two Mile Coppice
  • The Fleet
  • Lodmoor
  • Radipole Lake
  • Broadcroft Quarry
  • Tout Quarry
  • Kingbarrow Quarry

Each one is a fantastic spot to explore and to discover a wide range of species – be it wading birds, dragonflies, meadow wildflowers and more!

But let us not forget that non-reserve green spaces are also wonderful places – roadside verges for example. I love my commute to Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve as I can see countless Ox-Eye Daises (and other flowers) dancing in the breeze next to the road.

Hamm Beach, just across Portland Beach Road from Chesil Beach buzzes with bumblebees and butterflies, whilst skylarks trill overhead and turnstones forage along the shoreline.

In terms of gardens, I don’t usually peer into people’s gardens all that much – you tend to get very suspicious looks if you attempt to do so. However, I am sure there are some wildlife-friendly, beautiful gardens around. I bet that the majority are the back gardens now, as most front gardens are paved over!

What about the blue spaces? Portland Harbour is (I believe) the largest man-made harbour in the world and teeming with wildlife. Last year I went out to the Harbour breakwaters to ring Great Black-backed Gull chicks, and on the way back we saw a seal! I know divers who go in from Chesil Cove, and come back excitedly describing the underwater creatures they’ve seen – such as starfish and cuttlefish.

I wonder how many of the residents of Weymouth and Portland truly appreciate how marvellous their open spaces are? Or even know that they are there! Working the weekends at Lorton Meadows Nature Reserve, I have met quite a few local residents who didn’t even know that this huge (73ha!) reserve was here. Or they knew it was, but had never visited!

As a Londoner in origin, I grew habituated to the sight of buildings with the odd park around. Moving down to Weymouth and Portland has been thrilling, as I discover what seems like endless places to have adventures and find wildlife in – both in the local area and slightly further afield (such as my recent trip up to Cerne Abbas).

For my Vision for Nature blog post, I wrote about what the Tory win could mean for nature and wildlife. However, my own personal Vision for Nature is for people to start connecting with nature more.

My Vision for Nature, taken at the AFON conference (c) Beth Aucott

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people need to visit national parks or reserves, but rather looking at what is around them. Mind you, around here, it is incredibly easy to visit the nature reserves. Many people live or work right on the edge of them! Hopefully by connecting with nature, it can lead to starting to help their local wildlife. Perhaps (and ideally) going further and thinking about our natural environment both nationally and globally?

I would say I’m a pretty good example of that. Growing up, I can consider myself very fortunate to have had many opportunities to engage with nature – taking the dog to the local park (which usually included rolling down hills or wading through streams), hiking up Mount Snowdon with my dad when I was around 7-8years old, making and racing small bamboo rafts when I was with Guides. You will agree I’m sure, it was idyllic and not every child is so lucky.

However, I am not sure I appreciated nature then as I do now (or perhaps I just don’t remember doing so?). As my experiences in the natural world have grown, and I have become more aware of the problems it faces, I have begun to connect with nature more. It started locally – being easily distracted on walks as I peer in wonder at a spider’s web, the metallic sheen of a sawfly or the delicate drops of dew on a ladybird. I wonder why the council had planted a verge of just grass when it could be filled with wildflowers.

Now I believe I am engaging on a more national level and looking long-term – I take part in campaigns run by conservation NGOs, and work in environmental education hoping to inspire a next generation of naturalists who will care for the environment as they grow. I have co-ordinated the Vision for Nature blog series for A Focus On Nature, and written e-mails to MPs and both Red Magazine and the Radio Times. I have started to think globally, but I need to start acting in such a way. At the same time, I need to make sure I don’t disengage with my local wildlife and its issues.

This is one of the reasons I love the 30 Days Wild Campaign by the Wildlife Trusts, because we can all engage with our local wildlife. Nature really is all around us! We just need to remember it and appreciate it a bit more!

During the 30 Days Wild Campaign, I will be jointly blogging with Matt – even though we are in different parts of the UK (Cambridge/Dorset). Discover more about the campaign and two of us on this page of my blog.

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