What should a local wildlife website look like?
An appeal to the people of Firle, Glynde and Beddingham: if you have any interesting wildlife sightings from any of the parishes, I’d love to hear about them via this website. It would be great to develop it as a place for discussions on what everyone’s seen – somewhere to post photos, ask questions and build a long-term archive of our local natural history.
The latter point was brought home to me the other day when looking at one of my favourite books, ‘Birdwatching in Kent’, by Don Taylor. Part of the book details the fourteen years he spent visiting a particular farm near where I grew up in Maidstone, and all the birds he saw there between 1970 and 1984.
Over those years, he always noted when he had seen returning summer birds. 25 years on, the order of their return hasn’t changed – the Chiffchaff and Sand Martin are still amongst the first, in March, and the Spotted Flycatcher and Swift among the last, often not until May. But what surprised me was how much earlier I would now expect to see many of these birds – in some cases, perhaps two weeks earlier.
Even allowing for the fact that we are a little to the south and west of Maidstone and that we have a modestly different selection of birds here, it clearly highlights that the migration schedule has changed, over a very short span of time.
Of course, we don’t all keep records as detailed as Don Taylor’s. But the internet allows us to form a kind of hive brain, and means that every sighting or observation might be valuable, if not now then in the future.
So, I’d be interested in your thoughts on what a useful, shared website about local wildlife might look like, what its focus should be and what it should be called.
If you have any ideas or would like to get involved in helping to run a more active community-focused wildlife website, please leave a comment below or email me privately on firstname.lastname@example.org.