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Weekend Nature Reads: the distraction edition

Lose yourself in some distractions from the relentless geopolitical bad news with a deep dive into some nature reading.

5 min read
A young girl throwing a stone into the sea on a cold winter beach.
My eldest enjoying a beach walk on a bitterly cold Sunday.

It's been a difficult few weeks, hasn't it? The news coming out of Ukraine is grim, and we find ourselves worrying about nuclear war for the first time in over two decades. I had hoped that my daughters would grow up without the same threat of nuclear apocalypse hanging over them that people of my generation grew up with.

But it is what it is.

If nothing else, spending time out and about in the wild, and away from screens, is more essential than ever.

So, here's this week's selection of good reading/viewing/listening that will keep your mind on nature, even when you're stuck indoors.

Shriek of the Week

I was inspired a couple of weeks ago by the recent Countryfile podcast where editor Fergus Collins expressed envy of guest Jeremy Pound of BBC Music Magazine's knowledge of classical music, and Pound said the same about Collins's knowledge of bird song. I've set myself a goal for the rest of the year to:

  • Learn to recognise more trees
  • Learn to recognise more birdsong

This newsletter, from an old Brighton acquaintance, looks like it would be a great help. I'll be ponying up for the paid subscription once I've got through the free material…

Shriek of the Week | Charlie from Birdsong Academy | Substack
A bird sound in your inbox every Friday. Click to read Shriek of the Week, by Charlie from Birdsong Academy, a Substack publication with hundreds of readers.

Leave that wood alone!

We were up in Steyning at the weekend, using the girls' World Book Day tokens at the truly excellent Steyning Bookshop. While we were by the river, I noticed an unusually large amount of fallen wood, probably as a result of Storm Eunice. While I doubt that the council will be prepared to leave it alone, this tweet makes me hope that they will:

Half a century of the Woodland Trust

While we're talking wood, the Woodland Trust was founded in 1972, making it slightly younger than me. That make me feel old.

What did surprise me was how small (relatively) it is compared to some other charities:

  • Woodland Trust: 250,000 members
  • RSPB: 1.1 million members
  • The National Trust: 5.37 million

The Trust really punch far above their weight in terms of impact. They've got a webinar in 10 days about saving trees. Given that we're fighting to save a tree in our town, maybe I should attend…

Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: How to save a tree. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar.
Hear from campaigners who have taken action for trees. They’ll guide you through steps individuals and communities can take as well as answer questions on how to defend local trees. Hosted by the Woodland Trust, we invite a diverse panel of veteran campaigners to share their stories with you. Wheth…

Can't see the savanna for the trees

A fascinating long read on ecosystem restoration in the US:

The tradeoffs of savanna restoration in a tree-crazed world | Aeon Essays
Massive tree-planting programmes have come to substitute for the tradeoffs and complexity of restoring real ecosystems


Much of the discussion about rewilding focuses on, understandably, land-based projects. There's lots of work going on underwater too, as people try to address the damage done to our marine ecosystems. I was aware of a project off the coast from us, but this Scottish project was new to me:

Rewilding Scotland: A community approach - Oceanographic
Seawilding, a native oyster reintroduction and seagrass restoration project based in Scotland, shows how community-led efforts can achieve real change.

The problem with wood smoke

OK, here's a little bit of bad news. Much as I love a wood fire, they're neither good for the environment nor for us. While I'll still indulge in a camp fire while, well, camping, I think my dreams of installing a wood-fired stove in our house are done.

Ah, well.

Wood-burning Stoves Raise New Health Concerns
Officials increasingly treat woodsmoke pollution as a public health and environmental justice issue, despite opposition.

Video Corner

I don't get much chance to watch TV these days. I'm still working my way through the latest Winterwatch, and that's been over for weeks. But I do get the chance to watch  short online videos between bouts of work, and here are some of my recent favourites:

Playtime for grown-ups

This is, of course, an advert. It's an advert for a good company (I own a fleece and a pair of sliders of theirs, and love both), and it's full of their wares, but it has worth as a piece of film in its own right. I love the philosophy espoused by the Nathan in the video:

It’s like, the waves don’t care that you’re sitting there, the walls of the cove have been there for thousands of years, dissolving, the rocks are there and you’re in your haven so all's right with the world.  

It's really lovely that so many outdoors brands are making such great media right now:

Walking from the castle to the abbey

While we're doing videos, Frit from this English Heritage video is another old Brighton acquaintance of mine. He shot Hazel and I for a software advert many years ago…

Before the Lockdown

This short is two years old, and explores a woman getting out into nature for some serious mind-nurturing relaxation — utterly unaware that it would all be taken away from her mere weeks later, as we locked down for the first time.

A reminder of what was, and what is again.

Have a lovely week, folks. And remember… the ospreys are on their way back:

Nature Reads

Adam Twitter

A middle-aged Dad, coping with a mid-life crisis, but enjoying life with his two wonderful daughters.


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