“Every minute was magical… to be sat there with a Kestrel, a real live Kestrel, my own real live Kestrel on my wrist! I felt like I’d climbed through a hole in heaven’s fence”.
So begins the list of ‘Names of the Hare in English’, a late 13th Century poem from Shropshire – an incantation of 77 names recited to bring the animal under the hunter’s power.
The common, or brown, hare is a special and enigmatic animal woven into the fabric of folklore and mythology, and an unfortunately rare sight across most of the country. Hares declined by 75% in the years after WW2 due to the all too common causes of intensive farming, agrichemicals, removal of shelter hedgerows and general habitat degradation.
This extraordinary book, soon to be issued in a 50th anniversary edition, is a classic of nature writing, inspirational and revelatory with brilliant, intense, mythic-poetic language – described by Professor John Gray as probably the only example of shamanism in English literature.
‘Welcome, pale Primrose!’ exclaimed John Clare in his ‘Rural Poems’ and there can be few more heart-warming sights than this herald of the returning Spring. With their subtly-beautiful pale yellow flowers with orange-custard centres, Primroses have an almost ethereal presence as they shine gently from hedgerows and amongst woodland leaves as nature unfurls itself in the gradually warming days.
For February the Book of the Month becomes the Author of the Month, as the 12th marks the second anniversary of the death of the outstanding and hugely inspirational botanist, historical ecologist and nature writer Oliver Rackham.
For many people the arrival of Redwings, Waxwings and Fieldfares flying in on cold, starlit nights marks the approach of winter, and their departure a few months later just as surely means that spring has arrived. Now is the perfect time to see these flocks of beautiful migrants.
We have, since our spin out in 2013, been putting in a great deal of effort time and funding to improving this urban oasis into a nature reserve our town can be proud of. Created by Frances Alexander during her time as town mayor in 1998/99, it’s small at just 2 acres but it packs a mighty wildlife punch especially when you consider it is only a mile from the town centre.