Simon's Blog - Wildlife spotting: Good luck or by design?

You may well read in other pages in today’s paper the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Project had its annual forum. We were very lucky to have the DEFRA minister responsible for AONBs, Lord Gardiner, Professor Jules Pretty OBE, University of Essex and the Chief Executive of the National Association for AONBs, Howard Davies speak at the event.

Following the forum, we took the speakers on a tour of the area. As well as the outstanding landscape, we saw a dragon (honestly search on line for images of the Wormingford Dragon) and a Red Kite. The Red Kite is not a particularly rare bird but it gave us a fantastic display not more than 20 yards from where we were standing discussing the archaeological interest in the Stour Valley. What was perhaps more unusual was that I had stood on the exact same spot with the chief executive of the National Association for AONBs 3 years previously and watched a barn owl hunting over the very same field.

We have a saying in the AONB world. If you create the right conditions then the wildlife will come. Over the many years I have worked in outstanding landscapes I have been privileged to work with some fine and dedicated people who work to improve conditions for wildlife. I have been rewarded personally by having close up views of all sorts of creatures from moths and butterflies to otters and water voles via bats and birds.

Humans can and do farm in a way that benefits our landscapes and wildlife. Many people offer financial or volunteer support for landscape and wildlife initiatives. We sometimes lucky to see the results of this work.

Does this matter? The people I was with on Friday were delighted to watch the show and wanted more. It will further encourage me to get out and enjoy our wonderful landscapes and hopefully help my physical health and well-being. Perhaps we should all be encouraging each other to get into the countryside to see the show and get the benefit for ourselves and society.

This article was first produced in the East Anglian Daily Time June 2017

By Cathy Smith on July 25th, 2017

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