Let's appreciate wildlife more - even the things we don't like

Muntjac deer

James admits he doesn't have and fondness for Muntac deers - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My sister has taken up painting by numbers, a friend has also got out her easel, another friend can’t stop talking about her new dog, my mother has renewed her interest in cooking presenting to the table a couple of soufflés the other evening and, father, has just finished the restoration of his Massey Ferguson 165.

So far in lockdown number three I’ve managed to start, but not finish, a jigsaw puzzle, empty the airing cupboard – but not sort it out, wash the car and go for one walk. I’m feeling like I haven’t done anything of much use at all – I think it’s called lockdown fatigue – not helped by the cold weather and what seems to be an endless tsunami of news coverage about things that infuriate me.

It’s all getting hard work isn’t it?

As I wait for my vaccine I have deduced I need a hobby. I’ve mentioned this before but this week a regular reader got in touch with an idea that has piqued my interest.

“Dear James,” she wrote…

“I always read your column and you recently asked for suggestions fir a new hobby you can take up. If you are not already a member you should join the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country – but this needs help.

“When things return to normal there are monthly meetings all over the county and many beautiful reserves that you can visit. I am enclosing a membership for in case you are interested.

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“Yours sincerely

Ann Lawson”

Now I’m not much of a bird watcher as I’m colour-blind so plumage is tricky but I think Mrs Lawson might have mentioned a good idea.

European Badger is searching for food in the snow forest.

James asks what do badgers do it winter? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Indeed Mrs Lawson is right, here in our region most of us are able to indulge in a bit of wildlife watching on our doorstep and for many of us lockdown has promoted a renewed interest in nature. 

As a matter of fact, on my one lockdown stroll I did manage to see two hares – always a lovely sight – and three or so Muntjac deer – not an animal I’m very fond of, as well as a few red deer, which I do like. But what do badgers do in the winter? When can I expect to run into one of those? And what’s the bird I can hear squawking at night here in the gardens of the rectory?

Wildlife is perhaps an interest which has enjoyed renewed focus in recent months, it is something many of us have experienced with fresh eyes in these strange times, and perhaps is part of life we can be grateful for as we emerge from these difficult months.

Observing the world around us can also connect us to it in a new way – a reminder of rhythms of the year and, in these darker months, a source of hope.

I don’t like all wildlife – especially the rat and mouse type of wildlife – but I think Mrs Lawson, who so kindly wrote, might have a point for us all – to look with renewed eyes at the world around us, to see things in a new light is no bad thing.

In the meantime perhaps you can tell me when I might expect a badger to pop up or why I should revise my opinion of  Muntjac. Write to me at james.marston@archant.co.uk

James’ Mailbag

A couple of weeks ago I wrote of how the cessation of Sunday worship by many churches has caused concern, even though there are reasons to do so.

It elicited quite an influx of emails and comment – some of which I share with you today.

Dear James, Your article yesterday was very good, and highlighted a number of points on the position adopted by churches that we have discussed before. My (ex) local parish church is doggedly continuing with its weekly Sunday Service, more driven by the congregation than down to the incumbent.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also come in for criticism for his seemingly poor timing of his sabbatical. The bureaucratic clunkiness of the C of E is rather exposed, but as I have served on two PCCs, that is nothing new. Keep up emphasising the positive outlook!

James Dent

Dear James,

I was interested in your comments about the churches being left open in this week article .

I am a Churchwarden and my church has remained open during these trying times and it has surely shown why with the messages I get in the visitors' book.

Saying:: "Thank you for being open I needed to come" " A quiet place gratefully received" so many lovely messages.

People are what matters and we must be there for them especially at the moment.

Keep up your great articles they are a joy.

Keep safe and well,

Mrs Jane Bond

Dear James,

I’ve just read your piece on church openings during the virus epidemic.

In this small Suffolk village I have in recent weeks seen people in tears because their church – and let’s not forget it is their church – has been locked for weeks.

I cannot believe that leaving them open – even if only in daylight hours – poses a serious health risk.

We mustn’t forget that many people who are not necessarily regular worshippers, will seek solace in their local church.

Kind regards

Richard Goss