Thursday, 23 October 2014

How to become a natural history writer

It's nice to be asked for advice, because it presupposes that the person asking thinks you might offer something worth knowing. This month I was invited to contribute to an online careers advice series by BBC Wildlife magazine - in my case they wanted to know 'How to become a natural history writer'. 

My first reaction was... I have no idea! Although I always wanted to study biology, and share my passion for the natural world in some way or another, I can't say I planned or followed an optimal career path. Fortunately the magazine provided a list of questions to guide my response. 

I love my 'job' (sometimes it doesn't feel like work). It's not what I'd call a secure occupation, and certainly not stress free - being self employed seldom is. But it is flexible, it keeps me learning and gives me unlimited opportunity to be inspired, beguiled, outraged and astounded on a daily basis. And it (just about) pays the bills.

You can read the Q&A here:

Planning my next outing! Photo copyright Dave Willis.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Autumn leaf spotting

It looks as though summer might finally have sloped off somewhere for a well-earned rest. We can't complain it didn't deliver this year, but even so, the arrival of autumn heralded by the wet, slapping tail of hurricane Gonzalo has been a bit of a shock. I've failed in my annual resolution not to put the heating on until November.

But it's not all bad - I love this time of year, and the rewards for wrapping up and heading out even on the wildest days are too many to count. There is nothing like experiencing the incremental changes of the passing seasons first hand on a daily basis to make them whizz by (or am I just getting old?). Even the supposed 'longest winter' of 2012-13 ticked briskly by when I was out every day. The not-quite winter of 13-14 was gone before it even arrived.

If you need a reason however, how about a spot of leisurely leaf-watching? A lot of our oak, ash and hazel is still almost fully green, so there's plenty of time to hone your ID skills and marvel at the gradual undressing of our deciduous trees. I've written a short but sweet guide to autumn leaves for the November edition of BBC Wildlife magazine (see link below). How many can you tick off this month?