A Walk on the Wild Side
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Tuesday, 13th November, 2007
AT THIS EVENING'S Wakefield Naturalists' Society meeting Mike Richardson gave a talk called A Walk on the Wild Side. As usual, I sketched from the screen (left). He explained that he had been a climber and mountain photographer before a neurological condition forced him to give that up but he's found a way of getting back to nature; he takes a regular walk through Bilham Wood (usually called Fishponds Wood on maps) close to his home near Doncaster and attempts to photograph every species that he finds there. He says it's his therapy.
There's a surprising variety of flowers, fungi, insects and birds, in this small wood; the path is just 600 metres long and everything he has photographed can be seen within 30 feet of it. I don't think you'd find such diversity on a similar stretch of path through one of our local woods, such as Coxley Valley or Newmillerdam, even if you visited as regularly as Mike does.
In Mike's digital presentation, most of the slides have a white border with an English or, where appropriate, for instance with the fungi, a Latin name included below. This divides opinion amongst the Nats; two of our photographers say that they prefer slides which fill the whole screen while a non-photographer says she finds the title gives her a second chance to take in the name of the species.
I like the format because it makes watching the show more like turning the pages of a natural history book. He starts the talk with a 19th century map, followed by a Google Earth aerial view, which also gives you a feeling that you're getting the kind of considered, through the seasons, study of the subject that you'd get in book.