sheep at ruckle park

I have a wonderful friend whose facebook postings often include a list of the creatures he has seen that day..

'Oystercatchers in the fields and a marsh harrier over the house, two drake mandarins ...glaucous gull...two cranes...female marsh harrier and a ringtail hen harrier...daisies in flower on the lawn.'

His postings always focus my thoughts on what flora and fauna I had spotted on my recent outings. A northern flicker, douglas fir, arbutus tree and a baby highland cow caught my eye on my run this morning. But it also drew my attention to the fact that for as many species that I can identify there are just as many as I can't, especially as I am not living in my native UK.

Robert Bateman the renowned Canadian artist and naturalist believes there is much to gain from being familiar with the names of our wild neighbours He 'believes that having students learn local species' names and characteristics will create increased awareness and understanding of wildlife, which will in turn instill increased empathy for the well-being of our wild neighbours." Too true!

Robert Bateman started his Get to Know programme to facilitate just that and it provides resources via its website including participation in events in Canada and the US and an annual contest. The Canadian Contest opens on Earth Day, April 22nd and it asks Canadians age 19 or younger to submit art, writing, or photography of their wild neighbors. The goal is to be as creative as possible and you could win amazing prizes, like a thrilling week of outdoor fun at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Check out http://www.gettoknow.ca and then get outdoors with a spotter guide and get to know the names of some of your furred, feathered and leafy neighbours.

I am off to identify the tuneful call I heard coming out of a local wood - the mating call of a raven perhaps?

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