Magic in the Meadow – Field Notes During the Making of a Wildlife Documentary

Magic in the Meadow – Field Notes During the Making of a Wildlife Documentary

Filming wildlife is both rewarding and challenging. To skilfully capture wildlife behaviour on camera in their habitat requires technical expertise and a great deal of patient observation. Occasionally the help of a field assistant is required who may have expertise of particular wildlife, or may be needed as an extra pair of eyes in the field. The first time I worked for Stephen de Vere in this role was for his second wildlife documentary: Return to the River: Diary of a Wildlife Cameraman

“An uncut meadow in June is perhaps one of
the most unsung wonders of the British countryside.
It is like a forest in miniature”

Stephen de Vere

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The Importance of Curlews: Dream Big

Flock of curlews

Guest post by Mary Colwell

I like the title of this blog – Nearby Wild, it succinctly describes what we all want – to have wildness in abundance on our doorstep, nosing in through the garden gate, fluttering around our shrubs, buzzing about the flowers, singing in the trees. I wish I were describing the reality of wild Britain, but this richness is mostly an aspiration as we have lost so much of our wildlife over the last 50 years.

But it is good to have dreams to work towards. Read more

How to Start a Native Wildflower Meadow [6 Easy Steps]

The meadow in it's third year

In the UK we have some amazing native wildflowers. Unfortunately, we have lost a staggering 98% of our wildflower meadows and their poetic beauty since the 1930’s. This means that few people have seen an authentic one which is resulting in fashionable, highly colourful, non-native, perennial ‘meadows’.

This crucial loss is impacting on the many populations of bees, butterflies, pollinating bugs and birds who depend on UK native wildflower rich meadows which they co-evolved with. The simple act of sowing the right wildflowers can make a huge difference to wildlife and to your well-being. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 6 – Bring the Magic of the Wool Carder Bee and Leafcutter Bee Into Your Life and Your Garden

Wool carder bee

I am amazed to discover there are over 270 bee species in Britain and Ireland and that bumblebees and honey bees only account for about one tenth of that figure. The wool carder and the leafcutter bees belong to the Megachile (leaf-cutting bee) group.

Both the wool-carder and the leafcutter are solitary bees. They nest in walls, as well as in dead wood and bee hotels provided by us. Wool carder bees also nest in hollow stems whereas leafcutters will occasionally use soil, twigs and the hollow stems of brambles. They are impressive engineers, magical to watch and this year my dream of seeing a wool carder bee came true. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 5 – New Arrivals in the Orchard Meadow and a Mini Meadow Surprise

Musk Mallow and Field Scabious

The new orchard meadow has been a constant source of delight, awe and wonder from my very own kitchen window this spring and summer. With growing joy, I watched the plants beginning to flower that set seed last year. Their pollen and nectar attracted many solitary bees and bumblebees, including the fascinating Wool-carder Bee for the first time. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 4 – Experience Untouched Landscapes by Sowing Wildflower Meadows and Leaving Nature in Charge

Speckled Bush Cricket nymph

“In the middle ages, a lawn was more like a meadow; it was a flowery mead, bursting with perfumed wildflowers and herbs and grasses.” John Lewis-Stempel

The beauty of a wildflower meadow is that it is constantly in a state of change. Nature teaches me to be patient: to wait and see what happens each year. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 3 – How Does Nature Come to be Regarded as Kith and Kin?

Male Orange-tip butterfly

On seeing soft pink apple blossoms in my mini orchard meadow open in warm spring sunshine, I am dreamily taken back to memories of my childhood.

Jo Cartmell
© 2015 Jo Cartmell

It was an idyllic, nature connected childhood which started as soon as I was able to walk, as you can see by the muddy fingerprints on my beautiful white dress which had doubtless been spotless when my mother had put it on me that morning. I was constantly playing with the mud, or sitting in the garden playing with woodlice, or watching butterflies and other wildlife that I found there. You can see that I was outdoors a great deal by my very tanned face! When I was about 5 years old, my father showed me a butterfly chrysalis in the garden shed and I was fascinated. Read more

Jo’s Mini Meadow 1 – How I Transformed My Lawn Into a Beautiful NearbyWild

Greater Knapweed

It is early spring and my mini wildflower meadow looks much like the other lawns in this suburban neighbourhood: short grass! But look closer and you can see the leaves of Cowslips, some with flower heads, Common Vetch, Betony, Self Heal, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Field Scabious, Oxeye Daisies, Common and Greater Knapweed and tiny Yellow Rattle seedlings. Read more