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From our guest writer Anna Dawson in the UK
Why take a family nature walk?
You’ve heard the phrase “take a walk”. There are actually many beneficial activities to engage in on a walk!
- Taking a family nature walk can improve your mental health and wellbeing
- Studies have found that even a 10 minute walk in fresh air can boost your mood.
- What’s more, taking a FAMILY nature walk allows you to spend quality time with your kids or partner.
- Or if it’s just yourself, escape the hustle and bustle for a moment of calm
- A nature walk also allows you to observe the natural beauty around you!!
- And you can all learn so much about out natural world.
You don’t have to go far to experience the beauty of nature, a local park or a small patch of woodland is perfect! Even if you live in a city, see what you can see in the trees that line the roads – there is more life in them than you might expect.
What to look out for
- Nests! Great tits and magpies are among many other birds building nests for laying eggs in April or earlier. You can play a game (great for kids too) – how many nests can you spot?
- Birdsong! The trees are alive … with the sound of delightful birdsong! It certainly is an art to be able to recognise bird song, but you don’t have to be an expert. You can perhaps learn to recognise a robin or a blackbird song for example, so when you go on your nature walks, you know there is a robin about even without seeing one!
Take a look at the RSPB page https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-songs/what-bird-is-that/. Have a listen to these bird songs whilst on your walk and see if you can match and identify some!
- Look up! Have a go at bird watching! If you look there are so many more birds in the trees than at first glance, and it really is a buzz when you spot one! The most common are robins and blackbirds, but you may be lucky enough to spot a grey wagtail near a river, or even a bird of prey.
- Look down! See if you can spot any funky fungi or lovely lichen (on almost every tree!) and see if you can spot beautiful lilac crocuses or beaming yellow daffodils!
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/fungi-and-lichens/ is a great identifier for fungi and lichen on your walk.
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers is also a brilliant source for wildflower identification. Expand your knowledge and become an expert!
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/tree-id-app/ . Install this handy app to identify types of trees and impress your family!
- Try some wildlife photography on your walk. Just because there aren’t herds of wildebeest migrating doesn’t mean that everything else is boring! No way! Try to take as many photos of different bird species as possible, you’ll soon build up a whole bank of them!
- If you want to help the environment, you can also take part in some casual litter picking whilst out on your nature walk.
- This can also be a great opportunity to teach children about the importance of preserving the environment.
Walking in our natural world is a wonderful educational experience.
What to avoid
Please don’t disturb any wildflowers or damage any habitats as these can threaten the survival of certain species of rare British wildflower – so be careful and watch your step!
Don’t litter – our aim is to enjoy nature, not to damage it!
(We agree, and there is a lovely phrase to remember … “take only photos, leave only footprints” …. Ed)
Don’t bring food for wildlife. You may think you are helping by bringing some suet, bread or peanuts to the park, but please do your research so that any wildlife that comes into contact with it won’t be harmed – hedgehogs especially are very sensitive. Stick to regular garden bird seed.
If you have a dog, keep it on a lead! They can easily damage areas of conservation woodland, so be mindful where you let your dog roam free.
When you have such a wealth of possibilities on a local nature walk, you will never think it is boring – and what’s great is that you have the opportunity to share it with your family!
Grab your trainers and take a nature walk!