In the back garden we are all keepers now SEARCH NEWS

Photograph of a sparrowhawk in Dan Bradbury's garden. © Dan Bradbury.

Inspired by Chris Packham, Dan Bradbury set about introducing his young twins to the natural world.

Earlier in the year I went to one of Chris Packham’s Wild Nights Out. Chris is one of World Land Trust’s patrons, and a voice of authority when it comes to all things natural history. At the end of the evening Chris made an impassioned plea to parents that we allow our children to explore and investigate nature.

For Chris, the natural world is an endless source of fascination and education, and a world that is best enjoyed with all our senses – sight, sound, touch, smell – and, yes, taste as well.

So this year, inspired by his advice, I decided that the time was right to introduce my four year old twins to the magical world of nature.

Making space for nature

Living in Norfolk there are many opportunities to introduce the twins to nature, but I opted to start in our back garden.

We put up bird and bug boxes. We made a little pond out of an old Belfast sink. We built log piles and we kept the bird feeders full. My daughter loves butterflies and regularly tells me what she’s seen, so we have also added plants that will attract insects.

Thanks to everything we’ve done, it didn’t take long for nature to find its way into the garden and for the first frog to visit the ‘pond’.

Just recently, we had another new visitor to the garden, and one that caused much interest in the Bradbury household.

The nest boxes and feeders have turned the garden into a stop off point for Sparrowhawks. I have seen a pair regularly around the village, but rarely in the garden, so when one turned up unannounced the whole family was fascinated.

The bird stayed and fed for a good half an hour, which gave us plenty of time to watch and photograph it. Understandably, the blue tits nesting in the box just above where the Sparrowhawk was feeding weren’t overly impressed by the visitor and were glad to see it leave.

In my day job at World Land Trust, I am constantly reminded of the important role that keepers play in the reserves created overseas with support from the Trust. Working round the clock, these dedicated Keepers of the Wild are protecting reserves from poachers and illegal loggers, monitoring wildlife and educating the local community about the value of biodiversity.

Closer to home, we are all keepers now.

More information

Dan Bradbury is WLT’s Head of Digital Communications.

Chris Packham is appearing on Springwatch on BBC2 on week nights (Monday to Thursday) until Thursday 13 June.

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