Enjoying Scotland’s Wildlife

Before work on Monday I went for a walk. It is probably the best decision I will make this week.

Along the cycle track I saw a returning Chiffchaff with the resident Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings all taking prominent perches and singing their little hearts out. By the banks of the River Devon I saw the Mute Swan, Mallards and Goosanders all pairing up for the breeding season ahead.

Male Yellowhammer

For 50 minutes before the busy week started, I slowed down and enjoyed Scotland’s wildlife. For that short time I forgot about the emails that needed to be written, the meetings to be held and the tasks completed, and I simply was.

A flock of Sand Martins hawked for insects and among them there was a flash of plumb red and tail streamers – Yes, my first swallow of the year – and my heart lifted. And in that moment I decided to start this blog to hopefully share something of this joy with others.

Swan on River Devon with Dumyat beyond

For me enjoying nature can be simple or complex, but it is always profound.

For simple, I just go and sit in my local bluebell woods away from the paths without a camera or an agenda and listen and watch what comes to me. I rediscover that I am a human being not a human doing. This is what the Japanese call forest bathing and you really should try it.

Menstrie Bluebell Woods

For complex, I still remember opening a field guide beyond my competence (that bird was probably a Robin but maybe it was a Red Flanked Blue Tail), or learning everything I could about a species (a headache and three PHD papers later) or trying to photograph a Peregrine in flight (I have a 100 photos and they are all out of focus). I am not an expert in either photography or wildlife knowledge but I enjoy learning. Being out of our comfort zone is certainly frustrating but it is also how we learn more about the natural world. You should probably try that too.

But enjoying nature is, for me, always profound because it takes me beyond myself. It takes me to a place where I am not the centre of attention – mine or others. If you do find yourself the centre of attention in the natural world it is almost certainly negative and best avoided. And at the end of most encounters, I have received more than I can measure.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks

John Muir

The purpose of this site is summed up in three words – Enjoy Scotland’s Wildlife. That is my manifesto (we have an election coming up in Scotland so a lot of them about) to which I hope every post stays true.

Scotland provides a clear geographical focus. I hope to share about some of the peak wildlife experiences to be had around Scotland. But I will also share some of the more routine but no less wonderful experiences I have on my local patch (Menstrie in the Wee County of Clackmannanshire).

Wildlife is the subject focus. Birds and mammals will be to the fore and trees and wildflowers very much the backdrop. Partly for a practical reason, I should stick to what has become my passion and consequently I know something about. But this is also a philosophical decision, for me you watch wildlife and that means there has to be behaviour I can see.

Enjoy is the experiential focus. This is why I hope to feature wildlife photographs in each post (all are my own unless credit is given). The focus of the vast majority of the text will be positive and celebratory in nature. Of course there are well documented issues relating to the environment, such as climate change and habitat loss, indeed this is core part of my day job and we all need to do more to combat these issues. But that is not the focus of this blog.

Realistically before we will protect something we have to value it and that will be the main focus here.

So, I hope you enjoy Wild Scot. And I hope you will find ways to Enjoy Scotland’s Wildlife.

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