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Matt Adam Williams

The birder vs the photographer

Obviously, this is something of a false dichotomy. But yesterday I went out to my local RSPB reserve. On the drive in I spotted two short-eared owls hawking one of the fields. One of the birds was so pale as to make me think it was a barn owl to begin with. The two owls flew very close, coming to within a few feet of the gate. I stayed to photograph them for a while, but in the end the […]

Project evolution

One thing I’ve learned this week: those projects that never quite get started, the ones that you don’t quite know how to turn into a reality, or the ideas that don’t quite seem to make sense – don’t throw them away. If you created files, notes, images, logos or anything, put those somewhere safe. Projects evolve, or take on new form, or fit with something that you don’t even see coming. You might want to coax them out of hibernation […]

Nightjars not nightclubs

I had a rather tame New Year’s Eve. The result, however, was that the next morning I was clear-headed and up in time to begin a new wildlife list for 2016. Instead of going out clubbing or heading to house parties I would much rather be out searching for foxes in churchyards or listening for owls. In fact dusk, dark and dawn are under-rated but spectacular times for wildlife watching in the UK. During the winter, those of us who […]

Spring is coming

Hares spring loose From the woods. They race towards you And chase and box The cold from your bones.

Homage to the Holm Oak

In February the late night ‘twoo’ of the tawny owl crosses the threshold from the waking world into sleep. My conscious mind twitches, one eye open. I can almost see him perched on a branch outside the window. Talons clenched. Eyes wide, darker than the night itself. In the morning I often wonder if the owl was a dream. Did I mistake the tolling of the nearby church bell for its rhythmic, comforting hoot? Stepping out of my door I […]

Newts vs people?

On Thursday’s BBC Question Time MP Jacob Rees-Mogg bemoaned the environment holding up so many developments, asking whether we couldn’t care about people instead. The pollutants that a new runway at Heathrow would create, for example, would affect people’s health. It is well established that green spaces and wildlife help people’s mental and physical health, as well as community cohesion. There are millions of people in this country who appreciate the piece of green space near them, the creatures they see. […]

Winter Day’s End

Rooks One by one Take (Or Fake) Shelter In bare branches Exposed to Winter winds. But all at once It’s more than one. A handful, A bunch A swarm, The sky turned From fountain pen blue To charcoal black. Together, Their feathers, Sweep the air like a strong chill breeze, Their throaty calls like a record skipping, Saying over and over, That the cold is here to stay for longer than you feared; Until the hares, Spring loose From the […]

Vision for Nature: saving wildlife past, present and future

A transcript of my talk at the Natural History Museum on 11 December 2015. A place where birds don’t fly is a place where people don’t mix, ideas don’t get sparked, friendships don’t get forged, stereotypes don’t get broken, collaboration doesn’t happen, trust doesn’t get built, and freedom doesn’t ring. – Thomas L Friedman Birds have been at the heart of my life for about as long as I can remember. I’ve loved wildlife since I was a lot younger […]

The South Downs

The mount squats like a silent goddess Above the fuchsias and the village shop That play like children at being wild. Bushes below are sparrow song loudspeakers, Hedgerows cautiously wend their way between fields full of Not so certain cows and sheep. And the heart of every field is a throne for a male pheasant, Surrounded by a hareem. His an empty, foolish pride in a kingdom of dirt and rocks. Like them, we are strangers in this land Flung […]

Response for Nature and Vision for Nature

The full transcript of my talk at the Response for Nature launch on 13 October 2015. On the main stage, we’ve already heard from Steve about the links between the past and future. And from Josie about why protecting nature is crucial for young people and future generations. I hope that I’m going to dovetail those two threads in the next few minutes. I’ve loved wildlife since I was a lot younger, and at least a little bit shorter than […]