As many of us continue to stay local in our wanderings, the ‘patch’ becomes newly relevant. A patch will mean different things to different people, but the general idea is it’s a place you can visit repeatedly to observe wildlife.
For me, this means exploring the thin strip of woodland, Burstead Woods, that leads up to Wild Park. I’ve been walking there for over ten years and recently started running there as well.
Your patch is there to experience the same place but in different ways. This is so important during the lockdown, as visiting the same place can appear to be uninspiring, but the richness comes with seeing the familiar in different ways. Sometimes I take my camera and spend a while focusing in on details, such as an insect resting on a flower. Most of the time I take my binoculars, which shifts the focus from details to far off objects. Occasionally, I leave all the equipment behind and rely on my eyes and ears. Each of these ways of engaging with nature create a slightly different focus, which results in variety even though it is in the same place.
A different pace
When I started running last summer, I chose the same route as my walks, as I thought woodland would be more interesting than pavements. I didn’t expect to actually enjoy nature while running, but it turns out it’s different and thrilling in its own way. There isn’t time to stop but I’ve seen red kites, skylarks, kestrels and great spotted woodpeckers, all on the go. This is a completely new way for me to engage with my patch.
Since the lockdown I have explored new paths and trails through the woods to make social distancing easier when other people are on the usual paths. This adds another form of variation. Even just walking your patch in a different direction can reveal new sights.
If you hadn’t realised by now, the point of a patch is repetition. You may be in the same place but the wildlife won’t be, which provides new sights each time. Even trees and plants that clearly don’t move, will display variation throughout your visits. Spring is an excellent example of this, as the woodland floor displays a variety of colours first and then the trees regain their leaves. Flowers open, which invites insects to feed. Birds are then attracted to pick off insects around the blossoms. You may even see fledglings being fed in a tree you’ve walked past many times before.
Even as lockdown changes and you’re able to explore further, you may find greater richness from exploring the same area. As demands from everyday life return and you need a quick dose of nature, revisiting your patch could provide just that.
Explore more of our Nature at Home series
Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant