Monday, 2 February 2015

My Wildlife Diary Story

Pages from my 2011 diary
After every walk or wildlife encounter, I come home and write all about it on this blog. But I have only been writing on here since December. Before all this started, I kept my notes on the things I saw in books, my wildlife diaries. I have been writing these since 2011 and I add my own drawings and photographs to give them a personal touch. I show them off to visitors and volunteers at Strumpshaw every Wednesday with great praise in return. And I am still writing them today alongside my blog. So today, I thought I share you, the viewer, the story have how it all began and how to start one yourself.

Pages of my holiday in Scotland 2012
In 2011, I began my time at Strumpshaw and at the same time, I was finding new and exciting wildlife that I had never had seen before. Otters, swallowtails, Dartford warblers, a Ferruginous duck... It wasn't until May that year that I decided to create a diary to include everything I saw that year so far and beyond. Since then, I have filled two books that contains two years of wildlife sightings in each. I'm currently on my third book.

When people look through them, three things come to mind. 1) The drawings. Most people just look at my diaries to admire my drawings. I have come along way since I was little. They used to be unrecognisable childish scribbles like any child at a young age. But it wasn't until I was at high school that my drawings became more detailed and a thing that I loved to do and improve on. After several years of art courses at two colleges, I actually began to lose interest in art.

Pages from my 2013 diary
This leads us to 2) The writing. I was getting more interested in writing than painting and drawing, and I was writing poems more. So, in 2009, I joined a creative writing course and by the end of the course, I won a prize for my handwritten piece on Mousehold Heath, which included illustrations of wildlife found there. This was an amazing achievement for me. As an autistic student, I was never that great at English at school. But it is my handwriting that most people comment about when they look at my diaries. They say things like how neat and small it is and they love the style I write. To tell you the truth, my handwriting was awful many years ago. Since the creative writing course, however, it has gotten smaller and smaller as well as straight. I guess the style I write is quite fitting to the subject I write about, wild and natural.

More from 2013 (photos of butterflies and moths)
Finally, 3) How come you haven't published anything yet? That is the most frequent thing I get asked when I show these diaries off to people. Truth is, I don't know how to publish and I don't have the money to do it. Unless someone can help me out, I'm not going to publish anytime soon.

In 2012, my brother went to Afghanistan. I wanted to boost his moral over there and to get my mind on something else, so I decided to make a bird guide for him. In a few months, I managed to draw every bird from Afghanistan and filled two books worth. In fact, I had completed one book in time for him to take back with him. When he returned from his tour months later, he gave my book back covered in Afghan dust! Pages from my Afghan bird guide book are shown below.

If I have inspired you to create a wildlife diary of your own, it is easy to do. There are many ways to do it too. All you need to do is either gather enough pieces of paper and tie them together or buy a sketchbook with plain paper. Then it is all up to you. Keep note of the date, the places you visit, the weather and of course, the wildlife that you see. You can put as much or as less detail as you want and include things that you have collected, photographs you have taken and sketches you have drawn (don't worry about how good or bad you are). It is good thing to get children to do, too. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get your diary started!

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