In the month of June, the Wildlife Nature Trust launched a month-long campaign to get people outdoors and immersed in nature. As the name suggests, the goal is simple; to spend every day in June outdoors for a period of time. Here’s my experience with 30 Days Wild.
Last month, I attempted to spend a portion of each day outside attempting ‘random acts of wildness’ in order to fulfil my 30 Days Wild. As a nature-loving amateur photographer and videographer, this was the perfect opportunity to hone my skills while discovering the best that British wildlife had to offer.
Admittedly, it was tricky. My semi-nomadic lifestyle meant that my 30 days took me all over the country from Sheffield to Ascot, Herefordshire and Oxford. I must also admit that I didn’t spend all of my wild days in the UK – the latter half of June took to Hong Kong and Vietnam, so what meant to be 30 Days of British Wildlife only ended up being 15 Days Wild. Nevertheless the experience was eye-opening and had a plethora of benefits that meant those 15 days were extremely worth the while.
I saw a lot of wildlife…and captured it too!
The inevitability of spending days outdoors is that you will see an array of fantastic creatures. What’s more, if you’re like me and you’re eager to capture these critters, you’ll learn about their behaviour, locate their territories and spend hours on end trying to capture them on film.
This was the case in Silwood Park (Imperial College’s Life Sciences campus) where I spent four days tracking red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) through sitting in low lying trees making distressed rabbit noises – and it paid off!
Noise was less conducive to drawing in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) who were rather unnerved by my presence. Thankfully they always waited before running off which allowed me to capture some nice footage. I can’t say the same for the timid Reeves’ muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) who were introduced to Britain in the 19th century.
Bird life was also plentiful, from European robins (Erithacus rubecula) to nesting Eurasian blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), grey herons (Ardea cinerea) on lakes and over-populous red kites (Milvus milvus) in the Chilterns. My personal favourite was watching a Eurasian bullfinch hop around on an electric wire for a good half hour.
British gardens also proved a treat boasting an array of beautiful blooms and busy bumblebees, and spending time sitting in grasslands meant that I spent a lot of time fishing out invertebrates from my pants.
I was also fortunate enough to catch the last spring lambs, though sadly we all know how their future ends (hint: it’ll make you want to go vegan).
My mental and physical health improved drastically
30 Days Wild got me moving and traipsing through a diversity of terrains. My physical fitness clearly improved but what was more astounding was how quickly my outdoor endeavours benefitted my mental well-being. As someone who suffers from clinical depression, spending time outdoors, even if for minutes at a time drastically improved my feelings of calmness and happiness. Spending time outdoors is a great way to relieve stress and also allows you to spend time with loved ones in beautiful scenery. The experience has definitely encouraged me to spend more time outdoors.
I became more technically-able and learned to appreciate the lengths professionals go to!
As someone who is very new to the world of wildlife filmmaking and photography, my time outdoors forced me to get to grips with my camera. It also taught me about the immense importance of being patient and intuitive with wildlife. While Britain is brimming with animals, they are instinctively timid which means that finding and filming them can prove tricky. And believe me as I’ve alluded long hours were spent watching empty grasslands.
All in all, my modest 15 Days Wild was the perfect excuse to get outdoors, improve my health and my technical abilities. From the experience I even managed to throw together a little montage!