My blog has been somewhat neglected over the last few weeks, I’m afraid as I have so many exciting things on the go at the moment, I do not seem to have time to catch up and blog about everything. I am going to do a mega update today, so I am back on track. A blog is best ‘little and often’ and hopefully I will be back into that soon. If you want to keep up with what I am up to then do follow me on Twitter (@katemacrae) as I use that on a daily basis and my Twitter feed can be seen on the Home page of my website too.
So, what has been going on over the last few weeks??? Where do I start?! I have had a lot of interest in the work I do and my links with schools have been leading to many requests for my time in all sorts of contexts. I have lots going on at Michael Drayton Junior, where I work 2 days a week and putting some exciting projects in place there. My consultancy work with Bushnell has also meant some great new projects in the pipeline, not to mention the work I am trying to do in my own patch!
So, let’s give it a go…… here are some of the projects you should hear more about in the coming months….
Michael Drayton Junior School
You can follow my work in this great school at www.mdjs-wildlearning.co.uk. I also try to update the blog on this site regularly, particularly as I am starting my Wildlife Club again and we will be involved in lots of wildlife based projects. The projects I plan on pursuing in the very near future are:
Bird ID Challenge – This is an ambitious scheme I am setting up in school that aims to get all 500 pupils to be able to recognise 6 common bird species (Level 1), with a Level 2 (12 species) and Level 3 (20 species). With exciting interactive displays and resources, as well as badges and certificates, this scheme will be launched next week in school and I will be writing and blogging about how it all goes. I am looking to develop this idea into a National Schools’ Scheme and already have a some potential backers interested… so watch this space!
WildLearning Area – Our Wildlearning area is under constant development. The ponds are looking good and my Wildlife Club are going to be concentrating on building hedgehog habitats and hibernation homes over the coming month and ensuring that the whole area is a great ‘Hedgehog Haven’ !
Interactive Discovery Bar – I am working on creating an interactive space in school with a range of microscopes for kids to interact with and use to help generate interest and involvement. I am awaiting some power to be installed to the area so we can have the digital microscopes up and running with some old tablets we had a school. The area is looking good and I can’t wait to get it all up and running with the kids. My blog post about this can be seen HERE.
Use of Hartshill Hayes – The school is merely a 5 minute walk to the wonderful Hartshill Hayes, yet it was an under-used resource. This year, we will be utilising the Hayes much more in all sorts of contexts to enhance the curriculum within school
Many of you will know that I am a very keen user of the Bushnell trail cams, especially the new NatureViews. I work for Bushnell as a consultant and undertake all sorts of exciting work with them. BirdFair at Rutland was one of those and there are many more projects on the horizon too….
Jonathan & Angie Scott – Many of you will recognise Jonathan & Angie from Big Cat Diary Fame. This amazing couple live on the edge of the Mara and are involved in all sorts of fantastic work. When they approached me about working together on some projects, you can imagine I was delighted! We did not have much of a chance to chat properly at BirdFair, so I travelled down to London a few weekends ago to meet up with them when they were in the UK for a brief visit. Living on the edge of the Mara, as you can imagine, offers some pretty amazing scope for the use of a Bushnell NatureView so they were keen to have one to use on ‘their patch’. Over the coming months, I will be working with the Scotts, sharing their footage captured with my followers on my website and I just can’t wait to see what we get! I will be giving a bit more detail about this project sometime in the next few months when we get up and running, but as you can imagine, this is going to be a very exciting partnership!
WildPhotos 2013 – Wild Photos is an exciting event that I am delighted to be able to attend this year. I will be exhibiting there for Bushnell, showing off some of the new NatureView products, but it also gives me a chance to take part in this event, hear some of the lectures and I have also booked into Will Burrard-Lucus’ s workshop and can’t wait! It was on Will’s website that I won my incredible trip to Zambia and it will be wonderful to meet him. The event is described as, ‘
Bringing together the world’s top environmental and wildlife photographers, WildPhotos is the must-attend event in the wildlife photography calendar.
Packed full of inspirational talks from the very best wildlife and conservation photographers, this is an unmissable opportunity to learn from industry experts, hear the stories behind the awe-inspiring and iconic images, find out about the latest kit and technologies and to join the debate on the hottest topical issues right now.
– See more HERE
WildlifeKate Use & Review
I get approached by quite a lot of companies who would like their products reviewed, either pre-production or when the item is released. For this reason, I set up a separate website as it made it easier to create a space that was easily accessed and clearly laid out the items I had reviewed. This site can be accessed from a link on the homepage of my website. I offer reviews free of charge, but companies can purchase the images or videos from me to use on their own websites. This area of my work is really taking off and I am excited about the possibilities, especially the links it is generating with lots of companies. It also gives me the chance to get my hands on kit that I would not normally be able to trial…. these type of items are on loan, but many of the feeders and other wildlife products I get to keep in return for my review. If I really like the product and use it in my patch, then my aim is to find a supplier that will tie in with me so I can offer the product in my shop. Keep an eye out on this part of my website as you will see products from Gardman, Jacobi Jayne, Woodstream, Naturesfeast, Ridgeline, Scott Country and more added everyday!
As a qualified primary teacher, I am doing an increasing amount of wildlife-based work in other schools, mostly in Warwickshire. Over the next 6 months, I will be working closely with High Meadow Infant School with several projects within their school to improve its potential for outdoor learning. I will be blogging about these as they happen. They will include; improving their pond area, development of an insect garden, development of the sensory garden and setting up a Mud Kitchen!!! What is that, I hear you ask? Well you will have to wait and see….. it is going to be very exciting and a lot of fun!
Of course, my patch is continuing to evolve and, as always, I will be setting up all sorts of projects over the Autumn and Winter. Next week, Phil Clark, who built my wonderful Wildlife Hub, is returning to do a bit of work on this great space. It has now been in place for a year and I have realised the great potential for feeding there. You can see the hub feeders live on my website and I wanted to further enhance this area. Phil is enlarging the window area for photography, so instead of a small window, the whole side of that wall will be high grade single pane glass, suitable to photograph through. I have done a lot of photography already from this window and have had some excellent results. I am looking forward to lots more of the same… and better over the winter! I already have a couple of people interested in coming to photograph here and I’m thinking of possibly offering it as a ‘hide’ if it works well……
I am also continuing my work at a local copse where I have got some great clips from a mud wallow. I have Bushnells at the site all the time at the moment and will be sharing the footage I get from this great site…. here is one of the latest clips…
I am continuing to put up a wide range of nest boxes. I have just purchased two new tawny boxes and hope to get these up in the next few weeks, both with cameras. I am desperate to get a tawny take to one of my boxes! I have two of the chimney ones up close to my home, but not close enough to have cams in. These have both been used by jackdaws. In fact, one of these 2 boxes will go up where the jackdaws nested this year as I want to get better footage of them next year, so we’ll have to wait and see what takes up residence!
I also have lots of plans for other cameras and unusual views on the local wildlife, but I am going to keep you in suspense on those ones until they are up, running and ready to share with you!
Writing some Books
It has been a long time ambition of mine to write a book… or a series of books and I have lots of ideas. Over the coming year I plan on trying to turn this dream into reality. I have already approached a couple of publishers with some ideas, so we will have to wait and see what might come of this…. you just never know!
My shop is another area I am in the process of developing further. I am in talks with several large companies who stock a lot of my favourite products, so I am hoping the range available on there will grow over the next year. All the products I sell, I use in my patch and are items that I can vouch for! You will often be able to see pictures and videos of the item in use in my patch as well, so can feel confident about buying them!
So, as you can see, I have not been resting on my laurels! My lack of blog posts actually usually indicates I have a lot on, rather than I don’t have anything to write about! It is a very exciting time for me and I feel very privileged to be able to be involved in so many exciting projects and I hope you enjoy sharing them with me.