Weekly walk February 9th, 2016

Pond from the north

The weather was cold and the paths by the pond flooded, but the reserve still looked pretty in the winter sunlight.  I’m not sure if thinking about what we as Friends should be doing in 2016 means I have less time to stop and stare – or maybe it’s just that it’s cold – but again I’ve not noted any new species this week. Having focused on some lichen last week (Xanthoria parietina and Cladonia coniocraea, courtesy ispotnature.org experts), I thought about photographing some mosses, but perhaps another week.

I was also thinking about how much – or how little – we know about nature, part prompted by having read about this man, and his ideas about persistence hunting, which I first learned about in a David Attenborough documentary.  The theory is that it depends on knowledge and application of intelligence which are no longer needed, so all but lost – or rather transformed into the knowledge and intelligence encapsulated in the formal scientific understanding of nature, still accessible, for example, via the expertise of ispotnature.  As a lay person, I’m delighted to be able to identify those plants I can, and aware of how others are so much better at identifying birdsong – which I’m sure makes a walk in woodland all the more valuable for them.

But this week, on my walk, I was kept under close observation by a fox, and I started wondering how much better his (her?) knowledge of the reserve was than mine.  I’m sure he would have known much better than me where any mice hid, or when moorhens came to build a nest and lay eggs. It’s the sort of knowledge country children of previous eras would have had some part of, and according to Louis Liebenberg, the roots of current science.

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