A new year calls for new goals as once again I shall be eschewing the traditional resolutions in favour of an undoubtedly more achievable set of plans and ambitions. I did the same thing last year, though in a far less formal way, and ended up having one of my most productive twelve months to date. In 2015 I shall be building on this good start with added focus on the conservation effort some of my regular activities can include. At it’s simplest this will include finally submitting records to my local recording authorities, something which I have been promising and failing to do for far too long now, as well as increasing my use of the BTO’s excellent BirdTrack application. Both should make for an easy fit with my own slimmed down use of lists and recording techniques, but more on that a little later. Perhaps most importantly however is the overriding desire to experience new locations and wildlife, both home and abroad, which should see some exciting plans coming to fruition later in the year. Nothing has been set in stone just yet but rest assured this blog will be fully updated throughout. For now though let’s deal with those things I do know and which will be keeping me busy (and hopefully you entertained) across the coming months.
It may seem slightly obvious to blog about the fact that I will be continuing to blog but it has been a serious question which reared its head on more than a couple of occasions last year. My Life Outside in all its guises has now been running for the best part of seven years and in that time has amassed some 214,000 page views and 649 posts. Needless to say I have loved every minute of it and reading back through past entries has often served as a timely reminder of what great times have been had and what adventures are still yet to be experienced. However, as every blogger will undoubtedly tell you the effort involved in keeping a regular flow of new material is far from insignificant. Each post takes on average two to three hours to produce though I freely admit that some of that time is down to my own fastidiousness and an inability to hit the publish button before I’ve ensured that each word has not been repeated more than is absolutely necessary. The results may not be literary masterpieces but I hope that they read well and that you find them enjoyable. Given the continued hit rate on these ramblings I must be doing something right.
Weighing up the pros and cons I realise that I simply enjoy blogging too much and that it has become such a large part of everyday life that I could never simply drop it. Through these pages I have met some fantastic people and learned so much whilst being able to satisfy a need to write about topics as far removed from my day job as it’s possible to get. For these reasons expect to see My Life Outside continue to grow with regular new material and who knows what the future may hold.
Patchwork Challenge 2015 with Added BirdTrack
If you read my final entry from last years’ Patchwork Challenge it will probably come as no surprise that I have already signed up for the 2015 edition. Once again my patch will encompass Cefn Drum and Bryn-bach-Common and with my last two scores standing at 64 points I will definitely be aiming to go at least one better this time out. I’ve really enjoyed discovering new things about the area where I live and hopefully this will continue as I get ever better acquainted with the species which call this place home. To push that score higher however I really am going to have to put in the legwork which will mean even more regular visits than I managed last time out. In truth just not missing out entire months should do the trick so expect to see me racing up the comparative league tables in the near future. (If you’re not familiar with the Patchwork Challenge I recommend reading this post from 2014).
Of course all these sightings are almost meaningless if they can’t be put to a wider user. It is for this reason that the Patchwork Challenge has been encouraging all contributors to submit their records to the BTO via their BirdTrack application. Here they can be accessed by all and will help better inform bird population health and distribution patterns cross the country. Without this data our wildlife organisations would be flying blind so it’s imperative that we all do our bit to help refine and add to this ever growing database. I started last year but faltered so 2015 will definitely be a BirdTrack year for me.
Submission of Local Bird Records
In a similar vein to using BirdTrack I will also be ensuring that all of my sighting records for West Glamorgan in 2015 find their way to my local recorder. This is something I’ve been promising to do for ages but have never put the effort in to have something useful come years end. The impetus for this renewed focus came when picking up the latest Gower Birds report in which I found someone had kindly submitted my Grey Partridge sighting and that it was the only one for the entire area. Apart from it being rather nice to have my name in print it demonstrated perfectly how every record, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can be of value.
It’s almost become a bad joke on the blog so I was loathe to once more put my home built moth trap into print. However despite many broken promises I really will aim to have it out regularly this year as moths are a fascinating area into which I would love to delve a little deeper.
You may have noticed over the last couple of years an increase in the number of entries here covering our various walks. Walking has always been a major part of our leisure time and without it we wouldn’t have had a fraction of the wildlife encounters we’ve been fortunate enough to joy. As time has gone on however I’ve found myself being drawn ever deeper into walking in its own right, particularly where hills and mountains are concerned. There’s something just so exhilarating about reaching a peak and looking back over a landscape which for many will remain forever elusive. In 2015 I aim to take this passion a little further with return visits to Cadair Idris and Snowdon on the cards as well as another trip up to the Lakes. Presentation of these walks here on the blog will also be taking a new form which will hopefully better allow others to follow in our footsteps.
For a household with three tents it’s wholly unacceptable that we spent just a single weekend under canvas last year. Needless to say we will be making amends once winter has departed and aim to explore some more of Britain with long weekends spent camping.
Garden Wildlife Projects
Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with our garden and the improvements we have made to make it more wildlife friendly. This year will see a continuation of those efforts with more work on the main pond as well as new nesting sites for birds and habitat creation for insects. All will be home made and how-to guides will be going up on the blog as and when they are ready.
Long Distance Walk – Gower Coast
With both the Welsh Three Peaks and Gower Way now completed I’m ready to step up my long distance walking challenge with a complete circumnavigation of the Gower coast. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for many years and at 46 miles is a suitable next step which one day will hopefully see me completing the entire Wales coast path (all 861 miles of it!).
Stone Curlews in Norfolk
One of the real revelations of 2014 was our weekend away in Norfolk which was really the first time we’d gone to a location specifically to bird from dawn ’till dusk, and it was so much fun that we plan on doing it all again! The first planned outing is to see Stone Curlews in Norfolk, a species that has long been on my to-see list, but I’m sure other locations will soon follow.
Last, but not least, I will be writing and publishing several more book reviews following my first attempt with “A Message from Martha” late last year. Not only will this new venture allow me to include another of my hobbies in this blog but hopefully it will mean that together we can discover a few hidden gems and get inspired in a whole new way.
If you’re still with me at this point then congratulations and thanks are definitely in order. This has been a somewhat wordier start to 2015 that I’d originally intended but I hope that it will help to focus some of my efforts this year as well as giving a sneak preview on what to expect from My Life Outside. I hope you stick around for the journey and continue to comment and read as you always have done. It really is very much appreciated that so many people are interested and engaged with what I do here so many thanks and here’s to the future. Happy New Year.