Wednesday, 6 July 2016

30 Days Wild day 17

It's always slightly surreal to spend time on campus at this time of year. Today was officially the last day of term, and while there were still a few students, either living in halls or like me doing the last few admin tasks before summer, it was strangely quiet.

The lack of people seems to make the wildlife on campus even more visible. This year's greylag goslings are mostly grown now, almost indistinguishable from the adults. Where before there would be a few adults surrounded by creches of goslings, now they move in huge groups, the adults and juveniles intermingling. The paths seem to be entirely strewn with feathers. It's difficult to tell from first glance if they belonged to moulting geese or very unfortunate pigeons. I suspect it's a combination of the two. 

The snow geese always seem to be the last to breed on campus. I caught up with a group today, several adults with their young in a big group, making the most of newly seeded areas. The irony of the "please keep off" signs amused me more than it probably ought.

The slightly surreal feeling of being on a very quiet campus was only heightened by the weather. It's been overcast all day, but this afternoon it began to take on that strange, oppressive air and almost sepia light of oncoming rain. The wind picked up, and blew feathers across the path. If it wasn't for all of the academics walking past, coffee in takeaway cups, I could have been the only person here.

Today was also the celebration of the  70th Anniversary of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, with the main event, an evening with David Attenborough, taking place on campus in the evening. Sadly I wasn't able to get tickets, but a live stream meant that I was still able to watch! The talk was also recorded, and can be watched here.

Sir David spoke several times about the importance of engaging people, especially children, with nature. If people aren't interesting in nature, they simply won't care enough to protect it. And I think children are definitely the best group to start with. I've read so many things from conservationists or naturalists despairing about the fact that 'children nowadays' spend all of their time in front of computers instead of in nature. But that doesn't mean we should give up hope of engaging the next generation of wildlife lovers. We just have to be a little more creative. And if you've ever seen a whole class full of childrens' eyes light up at the prospect of holding a giant African land snail or stick insect on a school trip, you'll know that it is far too soon to give up hope. 

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