On the 27th of May we were incredibly privileged to kick off the Queer Ecologies program devised by the awesome Daniel Baker (He / They). Our first foray into local nature was lead by one of Britain’s leading nature writers, broadcasters and wildlife television producers Stephen Moss (He / Him). Stephen was the original producer of BAFTA award-winning series Springwatch and has worked alongside many famous poeple during his varied career, including David Attenborough, Bill Oddie, Alan Titchmarsh, Chris Packham, Kate Humble, Simon King, Charlie Dimmock and Michaela Strachan.

Our Birdwatching, Birdsong Walk and Breakfast took place on a gorgeous clear morning. 9am on a Bank Holiday might not have appealed to everyone, but those who didn’t make it truly missed out! Anyone who came into contact with Lou in the weeks beforehand were probably a little tired of hearing about their excitement for the event, but their enthusiasm meant we had a group of 13 on the day which made 15 of us altogether.

Armed with binoculars, we gathered together at local beauty spot Ninesprings – also known as Yeovil Country Park. A popular location for cyclists, dog-walkers and nature-lovers alike, Ninesprings boasts a beautiful network of waterways and lush woodland that is home to much diverse wildlife.

We journeyed along the accessible path from the cafe to the play park and back again, watching and listening to both the birds and Stephen himself. As well as knowledge about the different birds we encountered (about 20 different types in all on just this one outing), Stephen also shared his knowledge of how science has been subject to biases – and how what we know about animal behaviour has changed as more women entered the sciences as a profession.

The ornithological author also introduced us to the brilliant Merlin app, which is a bit like Shazam for birds. If you can hear birdsong, you press record on the app and it will analyse the calls and references it against a database for your area. It will bring up a picture (if it has one) and the common name for the birds it can identify in the recording you make. This has been a lot of fun both during and since the event!

The next event in the Queer Ecologies series is taking place from 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM on the 29th June, taking the place of our regular Saturday Social. Author, ecologist & poet Jasmine Isa Qureshi (They / She) will be leading a workshop “What Makes Nature Queer?” at Westlands, including a short local walk to explore some fascinating local species. Please book here so we know how many people to expect. Tickets are offered on a “pay what you can basis” with a suggested donation per workshop of £4-£6. The sessions are for 16+, but younger people are welcome if they are accompanied by someone 16+. 

You can also book onto the final session in the Queer Ecologies series, a creative writing workshop by Scarlett Fay (She / Her) taking place on 3rd July at 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM at Westlands. More about this soon!

Our very grateful thanks to Daniel Baker, founder & curator of Queer Ecologies Learning Programme. This is a rare opportunity to have access to such brilliant and talented people and to learn from them in a safe and affirming space. We are so lucky to live in a gorgeous rural area, but when it’s your home you often take it for granted – so having experts in the field (literally) leading you on a discovery of what’s right on your doorstep is an amazing thing.