28 July 2015

We're talking National Parks


The CJS Team is incredibly fortunate - we live and and work in the middle of the North York Moors National Park, surrounded by the largest area of heather moorland in England and Wales.  Despite a third of the National Park being taken up with this expanse of moorland it's an incredibly diverse landscape.  This diversity was commented upon in the 1947 Hobhouse report which stated:

“it contains, within a relatively small compass, an amazing wealth and variety of beauty.  Indeed there are few places elsewhere in Britain which can offer such extensive and remote tracts of wild and unspoilt scenery within such easy reach of populated areas.”

It was this variety that ultimately led to the Park being created in 1952, the sixth such area to be designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949.


All National Parks have two statutory duties (revised in 1995) - which can often be in conflict:
  1. Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  2. Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the Public

The first duty is obvious all around in the wonderful landscape, the plentiful, often rare, wildlife and the imposing and occasionally quirky buildings often with an imposing history.
The second duty is also obvious in the number of facilities for visitors, the essentials (car parks, loos, shops) and  signage highlighting sites, explaining the special qualities before you and prompting people to behave responsibly.
The conflict between the two duties can be all too apparent.
However, according to the Sandford Principle  where these are in direct conflict conservation interest is supposed to take priority. The residents are not always sure the principle is followed! Over 20 coachloads of visitors in the village simultaneously, all staying for only half an hour, just long enough to use the loos, buy an ice cream, a fridge magnet and box of biscuits, and maybe a cup of coffee if the queue isn't too long.  On the one hand we can't begrudge them sharing our beautiful village and fantastic landscape but on the other hand it feels they don't really bring anything other than litter and pollution.  Dealing with the huge influx of visitors is difficult for all concerned and ensuring they are well educated in their surroundings, kept where they should be and ultimately repairing the inevitable damage caused by so many additional feet is an expensive business claiming a large proportion of available funds.  The obvious expenditure on tourists can make residents feel like second class citizens in their own homes particularly when the rules and regulations in place to protect this special environment prevent them doing what they would like. 

This glorious, celebrated landscape is loved by virtually all who set foot on it but...

It's under threat.


The most obvious is the recent planning committee approval of the application by Sirius Minerals (York Potash) to mine for potash, which we've watched (and are still watching) with interest and not a little bemusement.  Personally I still doubt whether it will ever come to pass, the final decision notice is yet to be published and the Authority is working to finalise the conditions which, I trust, will be stringent - the MoD had very firm requirements for approval, Natural England and Environment Agency were both against and will have conditions to be met along with the many other statutory agencies and some important elements of the plan are still to be finalised. (http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/planning/york-potash)
No matter how high profile this may be the bigger threats are not immediately apparent to either resident or visitor. The first is the steady decrease in Park funds which is not unique to the North York Moors but is causing concern across the whole National Park family, and news that the Chancellor has told all Government departments to draw up cost savings plans of 25 to 40% sends a shiver down the back of many Government Executive Agencies; defra is not the best funded department to start with and has many calls on its funding before National Parks. Expect even more radical cuts in the future.
The second major threat to the Moors is one unique to this Park, it's the little heather beetle.  Heather beetle is a problem across all heather moorland in the UK, outbreaks can destroy large areas of heather.  Further complicating and exacerbating this is the ever encroaching bracken whose management has been made even more problematic by the loss of the fer-specific herbicide asulox/asulam.  For a National Park which sells itself on its purple moors beetle and bracken together have the potential to be truly devastating.

Find out more about heather beetle from the Heather Trust here.


Once a year (should be more really) we celebrate our National Parks during National Parks Week.
The theme for National Parks Week 2015 is Landscapes of Plenty and there are lots of events across all the parks to showcase their special qualities, what it is that makes them deserving of their unique designation and level of protection afforded to them.  There's more here.

If you'd like to know more

23 July 2015

Schools out...

What do you do with the little ones when they're not being gainfully occupied in full time education?  It's the perfect time to get them re-engage with the natural world around us.   A three-year project  by RSPB found that only 21% of children aged 8-12 were "connected to nature".  But just how do you do that?

There are plenty of environmental educational activities and events being run across the country on our many parks and reserves. Everything from teddy bear's picnics for the very little ones to kite making and nature collages for the slightly older ones and adventure activities like kayaking or archery for the older ones (and grown ups too). Look for your local Wildlife Trust, RSPB site or nature reserve to begin with. (AW says bribery of coffee and cake seems to work quite well in getting them there in the first place!).

And if that whets your appetite send them out to get up to mischief on their own. The National Trust has a fantastic list of 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4, even if you're a little older than that.  When did you last swim in the sea, climb a hill or indulge in a spot of stargazing? 

Project Wild Thing has lots of blog posts full ideas too: https://projectwildthing.com/

When I was running holiday activities for children the parents often enjoyed it more than the kids (not really surprising).  If you're one of those and think, "I could do that" or you think that your site could do with some new activities have a look at our list of courses for community engagement and environmental education here: http://www.countryside-jobs.com/Training/short-courses/ed
Or perhaps whilst you're trailing after the family on a guided walk you realise your field identification skills could do with a brush up it's peak season for plant  and mammal ID training

If you run any of these sorts of events and they're not on our directory please send us the details for free inclusion, use the forms here or send your brochure by email to training@countryside-jobs.com.
We now have a downloadable spreadsheet template for you to use to ensure you send us the details we need, you can download it from here: www.countryside-jobs.com/td_images/ShortCourse.xls

20 July 2015

Seagulls in need of a new PR Team.

Remember the summer of dangerous dogs? When every second story was a dog biting someone? Or when every field had a crop circle?  This year it would seem it's the turn of seagulls. 

Yorkshire terrier killed by seagulls in Cornwall.

A world leading pianist was dive bombed by gulls as he was leaving a rehearsal in Liverpool and injured his finger resulting in him having to pull out of a series of concerts.

Back in Cornwall gulls have killed a pet tortoise.

Over the weekend the Prime Minister says that there is a problem with some gulls and that we need to have a "big conversation" about possible solutions including culling. (Read about it the Guardian here.)

Why have seagulls suddenly become so vicious?
Or perhaps the question should be why have they lost their fear of people?



By Kulac (Self-published work by Kulac) [CC BY-SA 2.5, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons



Opinions on seagulls vary.
Too some they are a pest and a nuisance and to others a beautiful bird exceptionally well suited to its habitat. And there-in lies the paradox.  Although herring gulls (the species most Brits think of when gulls are mentioned) are quite common in the UK (RSPB estimates 140,000 breeding pairs) they are actually red listed world wide meaning it is globally threatened (although IUCN has it at the 'least concern' level for red listed species) and has suffered significant population and range decreases in the last 50 years. The other regularly seen species are amber listed. So whilst there are certain local areas with real problems leading to lurid headlines conservationists need to consider the global scale as well.
Find out more about Herring gull status with JNCC here.

And that's where the PR team come in, educating people on how to deal with gulls - don't feed them, keep rubbish covered, if you're in a danger area (near nests) protect yourself against dive bombing (umbrellas work well).

Whitby is of course a seaside town, still a fishing port (just), meaning we have plenty of experience of life with gulls.  Many of the older properties (and some newer ones too) have fluted, fancy raised roof ridges - not just because it looks pretty but the gulls can't stand on them! Until recently flat roofs were a rare sight.  Gulls have been culled in the past, eggs oiled etc. and it's an ongoing question in the local paper as to how to deal with them.

But the headline in Friday's edition really takes the biscuit!
You didn't tell us about the seagulls.
A guest staying at a harbourside pub & b&b left in the middle of the night because the owners didn't warn them about the possibility of squawking birds.

It seems you just can't win.....

16 July 2015

A change of scenery

I spent a most unusual Tuesday afternoon - sitting in a hospital car park.  This blog was actually drafted the old fashioned way with pen and paper!  Apart from the regular sirens it was surprisingly peaceful sitting in the car with the windows open.  Surrounding the car park the land had been allowed to go wild, some attempt at landscaping had been made, evident by the handful of ornamental trees carefully staked against the wind.  In the uncultivated, untended areas the range of plants was vast: the expected grasses, cocks foot, yorkshire fog and foxtails mostly, and a few nettles, lots of docks of at least two if not three different species, several plantains and lots of ragwort - not bothering anyone as you rarely see horses grazing hospital car parks!   Hardhead, tall flowering thistles and shorter sow thistles too and towering over all of them a few onopordum - garden escapes I imagine.  At one end some teasels, their heads still green and soft, dots of purple indicating greater rosebay willowherb and big white marguerites pushing though along the kerb edges above the brown fading pink clover flowers.

Fluttering over this patch of tangled wilderness were more meadow brown butterflies than I think I have ever seen and one little blue one, a holly blue maybe.  In places clouds of hoverflies surrounded the ragwort and, the thistles and hardhead buzzed with many bees, lots of big fluffy bumblers along with a few honey bees too.   On the car park fence sat a goldfinch eyeing up the bounty before systematically stripping all the fluff from one of the gone over thistle heads and refuelling on the oil rich seeds before flying off.  Sparrows bustled around at ground level picking up already shed seeds.  A chiff-chaff called from the woodland across the way, greenfinches tseeped from the scrub and a few seagulls (herrings mostly) floated overhead.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon - certainly better than what goes on inside the building anyway!!  And during pollinator awareness week a timely reminder of how vital the little apparently neglected pieces of land really are, providing a small wildlife oasis amongst the concrete and tarmac desert.

14 July 2015

What lurks beneath the waves?


Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun BOM BOM ... dede doo dededoo.*



It's forty years since Steven Spielberg first terrified the life out of innocent bathers with his (Peter Benchley's actually) man-eating great white.  Even years later when it was shown on television such was the impact that my mum tucked her feet under her whilst sitting on the sofa!
This fantastic piece of cinema however made a huge difference to people's reactions to sharks casting them as the ultimate man-eating baddie of the seas and it's taken years for their reputation to even to begin to recover.
Part of their rehabilitation is Shark Awareness Day - which is today.
Although you're not likely to see a Great White (not impossible but so far unconfirmed) there are over 30 species of shark regularly found in British waters, and the Shark Trust would like to know which you may spot.  Check your ID using their fact sheets here.


Many of the other marine organisations would like sightings too, of basking sharks, jellyfish, seaweed, crabs and eels. There are details of some of these on our list for field and surveys here.

New species are being discovered all the time, there is a man who have been going to the markets in Taiwan for over 30 years with the sole intention of finding new species of shark,  so far he has names 24 different sharks, rays, sawfish and ghost sharks, read about him in the BBC magazine here.

Our most recent CJS Focus doesn't have many sharks but it does look in depth (pardon the pun!) at Marine and Coastal Environments and is in association with the Marine Conservation Society. Read it here.

(*in case you didn't guess that's a phonetic rendering of the Jaws theme!)

09 July 2015

CJS Professional: July edition (67 pages)

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
Estate Ranger, Woodland Trust (Smithills Estates, Bolton)
Country Officer Northern Ireland, BASC
Working Woodland Foreman / Supervisor, Welbeck Estate (Sherwood Forest)
Director - South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, Sheffield City Council
Ecologist or Senior Ecologist, ECOSA (Hampshire)
Land Management Project Officer, High Weald AONB
River Technician, Cain Bio-Engineering Ltd (Hampshire)
Assistant Ecologist, Ecology Solutions (Hertfordshire)
Trainee Arboricultural Surveyors & Proficient Arboricultural Surveyors, Treework Environmental Practice (Southern England)
Senior / Principal Ecologist, Amec Foster Wheeler (Shropshire or Cheshire)
Estate Ranger - Glen Finglas, Woodland Trust
Assistant Consultant, Cain Bio-Engineering Ltd (Hampshire)
Senior Reserve Manager, Foxglove Covert LNR

Other adverts:
Call out for employers to take part in Writtle College’s Careers Fair
National Whale & Dolphin Watch runs from July 25 to August 2 run by Sea Watch Foundation
Mark Evenden from The Growth Team in Surrey is looking for some advice on gaining recognised qualifications for people with learning difficulties

CJS Notices
The second CJS Focus on Volunteering in 2015 is due for publication in August, would you like to advertise for free?
CJS is 21 years old and we are giving you a present

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for September is 4 pages Click here to read

If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.com  or feel free to recommend providers and we'll contact them to include their courses (you're not committing yourself or them to anything, and like most things with CJS it's free!)

03 July 2015

Plastic bag free?

Did you manage a month plastic free?
If not how about trying one full day without using any plastic bags?
Tomorrow is Plastic Bag Free Day

"Its ok, I use reusable bags not single use carriers",
  • but what about the little bags you put your veggies in at the supermarket?
  • the one your lunchtime pastry comes in?
  • the bag you froze last week's leftovers that you're having for tea tonight?
  • the one that's in the bin to stop the use tea bags leaking all over the floor?
They're everywhere.

The EU produces 3.4 million tons of plastic carrier bags every year, that's equivalent to 500 for each person in the European Union and most are only used for 25 minutes!
Not only is all that plastic coming from a finite resource (crude oil) but over 80% of marine litter is plastic. And the impact of that doesn't even bear thinking about....

Did you know that turtles mistake floating bags for jellyfish and gobble them up filling their stomachs with indigestible plastics? Or that British seabirds take in broken up pieces mistaking them for fish.

The oceans are big, huge, even incomprehensible in scope so how do we get rid of all the plastic, decrease the 'floating garbage patches' - the biggest is in the Pacific ocean and estimates of its size from 1/4 million square miles to over five million. (read more on wikipedia here)
Dutchman Boyan Slat dreamt up a possible solution three years ago when he was just 17, now the first trials and feasibility studies are coming through and his idea seems to work! Find out more about his solution and his company, the Ocean Cleanup here: www.theoceancleanup.com
He emphasizes: “Although a cleanup will have a profound effect, it is just part of the solution. We also need to close the tap, to prevent any more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place.”

It's not just bags of course, it's everything plastic, bottles, wrappers, plastic lighters, plastic light fittings, electronic equipment, microscopic beads in cosmetics but how do we know which is worst, most prevalent?
MCS are looking at just that, by comparing data from the regular beach cleans they can see what's washing ashore.
Find out more about the problem plastic present and what you can do to help by reading their lead article in our most recent CJS Focus.

01 July 2015

Many Happy Returns

Well can you believe it? CJS is 21 years old!



The very first edition of CJS was published on the 1 July 1994, how time flies.  Last year we reached the 100 edition mark and included a brief history in our celebratory blog post (here)
In the years since that first edition there have been many changes, but one to which we still hold true to endeavour to give our readers and advertisers the very best we can in terms of both quality and cost.
On that note I'm delighted to tell you that our advertising rates will not be changing, staying at the same low prices we've had for the past few years.  Updated rates cards have been posted to the website for you to download (from here, PDF). And of course standard linage is and always will be free of charge. (Submit your advert here)

If you've not read CJS Weekly and are wondering what you're missing - well quite a lot really - as a birthday treat we've giving everyone a free four week trial, sign up here to receive four copies by email and gain access to all the current back issues too.

26 June 2015

Take your human away from work

Hello - office pups Dido and Hester here!

Did you know that once a year there's an official "Take your dog to work day"?   Well, there is and it's TODAY!  (more here) Which is very, very exciting, of course we go to work every day (read about our exploits in last year's bring your dog to work day post) but all our doggy friends can spend the day with their nominated person seeing exactly what they do all day.  BUT (why is there always a but?) if they are anything like our person it's going to be a very BORING day :(
All our person does is sit still and go clickety-click and peer at the boring TV screen (no animals or balls - boo).
Of course being in The Office means we can keep an eye on her and make sure she moves around a lot - that's very important for everyone - by taking us out for puddles, filling the water bucket, getting on the floor to tie electric string together (electric string and tails is not a good combination apparently) and most importantly giving us regular cuddles, that's a stress reliever.   We all know there's nothing worse than having a stressed human around: they grumble and grump and don't hand out treats often enough and as for playing fetch? well no chance, so regular cuddles it is - even if you have to climb on their lap to distract them from the boring-no-ball television.
When the weather is good (and even if it's not) we bring our leads and sit and give her the 'puppy eyes' (you know the ones fellow woofers ;) ) to persuade her to let us take her for a w-a-l-k at lunchtime and even a bit of ball throwing if she's lucky.  Our big sis Hebe goes sometimes, and sometimes she takes her amy-amy instead of our shared person.

We work very hard at all these very important tasks earning our bonios.  We get lots of bonios so we must very-very good at them.

Enjoy your day at work dogs and then don't forget to take your human home again with you when all the vital doggie-chores are complete for the day.

Woofs and licks
D'n'H


11 June 2015

CJS Professional: June edition (67 pages)

The latest edition of CJS Professional is now online, read it in full here: www.countryside-jobs.com/Professional/current.htm   You may need to refresh your browser.

Jobs advertised in this Month's edition:
Administrator, the National Trust for Scotland
Principal Consultant Ecologist, Baker Consultants (Scotland)
Conservation Officer, Wychwood Project (Oxfordshire)
Head Ranger, the National Trust for Scotland (Mar Lodge)
Volunteering Development Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Land Officer, CKD Galbraith (Perth, Scotland)
Deer Stalking Contract, National Trust (Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire)
Lead Ecological Consultant, Norfolk Wildlife Services
Rights of Way Bridge Technician, Somerset County Council
Senior Reserve Manager, Foxglove Covert (Catterick Garrison, N Yorkshire)
Senior Environmental Planner, Aberdeen City Council
Bat Licensed Ecologist, Neo Environmental (Warwickshire)
Ecologist, Sefton Council
Trainee Tutor, Leeson House Field Studies Centre, Dorset County Council
Bat Surveyors, Ecosulis (Bath)

CJS Notices
Do you run a practical conservation tasks programme? Do you need more volunteers? CJS can offer you free promotion of any practical work days
This edition includes CJS Focus on Marine & Coastal Environments in full.
Marine Conservation Society (MCS) lead with an article on marine pollution and some of the ways they aim to tackle the problem. Bass Rock is home to the largest Northern gannet colony in the world; Maggie Sheddan from the Scottish Seabird Centre explains why it is the perfect habitat. Paul Naylor takes photos of marine species and environments in a bid to highlight British marine life, hear about the work he does. The threatened seagrass meadows of Studland Bay are a very important habitat for many marine creatures, Dorset WT give details. Seawatch Foundation describes how important marine monitoring is to conservation efforts and how to get involved. Mark Simpson from WWT details the creation of Steart Marshes & the already evident benefits and South West Coast Path National Trail Partnership discuss management of a coastal path. This edition also includes adverts for projects, websites, services and training. Read it here

Top headlines from the past month: Click here to read

Training Calendar for August is 4 pages Click here to read

If you run training courses or events for likeminded countryside professionals please send details to Helen on training@countryside-jobs.com  or feel free to recommend providers and we'll contact them to include their courses (you're not committing yourself or them to anything, and like most things with CJS it's free!)

10 June 2015

Secret spaces. What's just around the corner?

There are little pockets of greenspace hiding in every community, often overlooked, ignored and sometimes left to go totally wild.
Where do you find these hidden gems?
Find your nearest church or burial ground and take a walk around along the paths, between the graves.  Churchyards are often have old, veteran trees, the gravestones are a good habitat for mosses and lichens and the peace and quiet provide a home to all sorts of wildlife as well as allowing people a place for quiet contemplation and space to think away from the noise and hurly-burly of everyday life.
The second week in June is Cherishing Churchyards Week organised by Caring for God's Acre, it is intended to celebrate churchyards and burial grounds and to raise awareness of the treasures they contain.




Goathland church, nestles in a fold of the land at the southern end of the village, it stands foursquare and hunkered down against the elements. I walk through the churchyard regularly on my evening dog walk sometimes straight through along the path other times wandering along the wall edge and between the graves.   As part of my 30 Days Wild Challenge (see my other do something wilds on the blog here) yesterday evening I took longer than usual through the churchyard taking time to absorb exactly what's there, seeking out details I had previously not noticed.

The congregation have regular Churchyard Tidy Up sessions but allow the older sections to grow uncultivated, that's not to say uncared for.  By one of the gateposts there are a lovely little collection of forget-me-not, buttercup, dock and nettle, further round on the moorside of the yard you'll find lady's bedstraw in the grass, and if you look at the grass carefully you'll see it's not lawn turf but a mix of cultivated and wild moorland grass with some small sedges too.  

 Where the grass remains un-mown on and between the closer graves there's a riotous tangle of wild carrot, cow parsley and milkmaids and at this time of year a few last bluebells (English ones not Spanish!). The village doesn't have many trees because the free roaming sheep nibble them down to stumps but in the churchyard, where they're protected, several different species grow including the traditional yew, a young oak, several typical moorland rowan (I'm sure it's not entirely coincidence that there's one by the gate!) and a lovely stand of whitebeam which flash their pale leaves in the gentle breeze.  

Wildlife is encouraged and although the bat boxes have disintegrated after many years of unuse the bird boxes are still on the trees; compost heaps against the wall and under one of the bigger yews are alive with insects and if you're lucky maybe even a slow worm or two.  Sit on one of the benches at dusk and you'll be treated to a bat or two (pips mostly but also a long-ear sometimes) darting around feasting on the clouds of midges.  
I was hoping for lots of lichen but I was surprised to find only a few patches of the crusty, flat forms, hedges elsewhere are covered with the foliose forms, but these are closer to the steam train line and they seem to prosper in the smoke.  The older stones under the trees had the best aggregations.


What will you find?

05 June 2015

Time to take action.

Today is World Environment Day, an annual event aiming at raising awareness of the threats facing our environment and encouraging people to take action to protect nature and the planet.
It's run by IUCN and this year there's a video speech from Dr Jane Goodall, you can find it here.
There are plenty of incentives right now, Volunteers' Week is just coming to a close, read our previous blog about that here and today it's the fifth day of the Wildlife Trust's 30 Wild Challenge, read more about this one on the Trust's special Challenge site here or join their facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/30DaysWild/
In case you've missed it we're doing the 30 Day Challenge too.  It's a real eye opener and thoroughly enjoyable (plus an extra excuse to get out of the office or house!), we're keeping track of our progress here.  As you'll see it's got lots of pictures too!
Are you taking part in any of these? Do let us know.

04 June 2015

How much time does it take to make a difference?

Not as much as you'd think!

If you're a volunteer every minute spent makes a difference, you might not see it but it all adds up.

This week is Volunteers' Week, all about celebrating the wonderful work the country's many volunteers do, across all sectors not just in the countryside.  You can find out all about it here: volunteersweek.org

There are many reasons to be a volunteer:
to put something back, to help a favoured cause, to help a special site or place, to gain experience, to make new friends, to learn new skills, to get out and get active, to share your knowledge with others
These are just some of the reasons that countryside volunteers have given as to why they've given up their time.
Time is a precious resource; you can donate as much or as little you want or are able. Anything from an occasional hour or a regular day once a month to a full time placement lasting up to a year.
Volunteers are needed all year round for a wide range of activities, you can offer to check collection tins, spend an hour weeding a flowerbed, an afternoon leading a guided walk, a morning helping children discover the wonder of the natural world, a weekend pulling up invasive plants.  Of course many of us made our way into our countryside careers via time spent as a Volunteer Officer at one of the many charities and this is an excellent way to discover if you're really suited to this way of life, to make lifelong friends and connections and at the same time gaining that valuable experience and practical skills that will put you in prime position to land your first 'proper' job.

If that's got you thinking check out our volunteering section to see what's available right now.
Start here or head straight for the adverts for voluntary placements.

And if you're already up to your ears in countryside work why not think about something else as a way to get away from it all and have a change of scenery. The CJS Team is involved in a range of activities from being on the Parochial Church Council and the Village Hall Trust to baking cakes for school fundraisers and emptying collection tins for a range of charities.  Even the office dogs do their bit, both Hebe and Maia have donated their DNA for research into possible genetic links in cancer in dogs the research is run by Animal Health Trust (one of our favourite, not-countryside charities, please have a look at the wonderful work they do: aht.org.uk).

29 May 2015

30 Days Wild

This June, can you do something wild every day for a month? ask The Wildlife Trusts.   They have set a month-long challenge taking place during June, asking people to do something wild every day thereby making nature part of everyday life.

Sounds like a wonderful idea so we (that being the royal we) signed up, and promptly had a mild freak out about finding something new and different to do every day.  Bearing in mind we're out and about at least once a day and are surrounded by the wonderful North York Moors the thought of having to find something new each day was a scary one.  Then the challenge pack arrived.  It's full of fantastic ideas and suggestions and after reading through it all we banished the idea of adding to or creating a 'life-time' list or a spotters check-list. So here we are only a few days before it starts, keen and raring to go.  We've created a blog specifically for the challenge which we aim to update, if not daily, then several times a week, there's a dedicated flickr stream too.
If you'd like to join us in the challenge find out more and sign up here.

Today, to give us an extra incentive and make us feel like wimps for freaking out over 30 days the John Muir Trust have published the story of Hannah Norton, one of their award participants, who has taken time for nature not just for a month but a whole year, clocking up a staggering 502 hours and 48 minutes of wild time.  The incredible achievement was brought to the attention of Robert Hanna - John Muir's great-great-grandson - who sent Hannah a personal message of congratulations. More here.