If you’re like me then you spend a fair amount of time out in the countryside on “nature walks” simply looking for interesting plants and animals in their natural environment. However in discussions with a number of friends recently it seems that many people are somewhat disappointed by the “lack” of wildlife when they actually go out into the wilds looking for it.
Here, then, are my six top tips for getting the most out of your nature walk…
Not only are many animals more active in the early hours of the day but furthermore you’re likely to see far more before all the “normal” people come out with their mountain bikes and noisy families.
Yes, you’ll have to get up early, but it’s a comproise worth making. And, for the reptile-fanatic like me, you’re far more likely to get a good view of lizards and snakes before they’ve had a chance to warm up as opposed to later in the day when the ambient temperature is far higher.
One trick I like to use is to go camping (or caravanning) whenever possible. The Caravan Club is a great place to start your search for sites and if you choose your site properly, you’ll be able to sleep within moments of promising habitats. In this way not only can you save on travel in the early hours of the day but you’ll be able to get started even earlier.
And, for the really serious nature-nut, you’ll also be able to pop out again towards dusk when everyone but the keenest walkers have gone home and you once again virtually have the place to yourself.
Stay Off The Beaten Track
Many animals are rightly scared of people so sticking to well-known routes and paths can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, buy a map (or use the GPS feature on your phone) and be willing to venture down smaller paths or go “off road” where permitted.
By avoiding the crowds you’ll see far more wildlife as well as having the feeling that you’re really stepping into nature in it’s rawest and most natural form.
Know What To Look For
I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to simply “seeing what turns up” but it can greatly increase your chances of success if you do a little research beforehand. For example, try looking at what butterfies should be on the wing, or learn which wild plants are most likely to have caterpillars on right now.
By doing some research into the habitat you’re visiting and the specific season you’re going in, you’ll be able to “get your eye in” on the species you’ll likely find and you’ll be surprised at just how much more success you can have as a result.
We’ve mentioned avoiding noisy people. But we can also give ourselves away. For best results, aim to be as “invisible” as possible. That means no strong perfumes, no bright colors, no sudden movements. And watch where you’re stepping; with the right footwear and some awareness it’s amazing just how silently you can walk through nature.
Lastly, the big one. Don’t be in any rush. Don’t aim put aside just an hour or two and go storming out looking for wildlife. Some of my very best wildlife experiences have been a result of extreme patience. Literally dilly-dallying along, often sitting down for a quick break, when a deer or a fox or whatever literally wonders straight past you. Patience is really the biggest key of all.