Paul Evans is one of Britain’s greatest observers of Nature, a poet, musician, Radio 4 natural history broadcaster, and the author of a new book How To See Nature. His weekly Guardian Country Diary from Wenlock Edge has achieved cult status and has put Shropshire on the map. He will be in conversation with legendary rock climber, wilderness writer, and fellow Country Diarist Jim Perrin whose observations of Snowdonia and north Wales and talks on the beauty and importance of wild places are famed for their insights. Expect a thought-provoking start to Oswestry’s first Festival of Nature.
Doug Allan is David Attenborough’s favourite Arctic cameraman, famous for his films of polar bears, seals and ice. He has been to both poles. had close encounters with a walrus and spent five winters and eight summers in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey. “He is not as other men”, says Attenborough. “He cheerfully endures conditions more uncomfortable and for longer periods than anyone I know. He has an uncanny understanding of animals. That tells him what the animal is about to do before he does it. Come to hear extraordinary stories.
Tucked away in the Welsh borders not far from Oswestry there is a beautiful, ancient 13-acre wood, once long inhabited by a hermit. Massive stands of beech, oak, ash and cherry, dating back hundreds of years provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of species. Ornithologist Keith Offord, who travels the world leading wildlife tours and monitoring birds of prey, will tell the inspiring story of this secret place. Against the backdrop of disappearing habitats, he will show how good things really are happening all around us.
What life is there in a small inner-city park? Penny Metal spent five years observing a small patch in South London and identified a remarkable 555 species of bug, beetle and other insects. She will introduce us to her remarkable neighbours, including homeless bees, solitary wasps, spiders who jump, harlequin ladybirds and snail-killing flies. She will talk with urban beekeeper and author Alison Benjamin who has documented the decline of pollinators around the world and whose three books have helped transform the way we think about wildlife in urban areas.
What happens when a lifelong love of butterflies becomes a complete obsession? For journalist and naturalist Patrick Barkham it meant spending a year trying to find all 59 species that are known to breed in the British Isles. Out of it came an extraordinary book, The Butterfly Isles. Patrick is the Guardian’s resident Nature writer, and he has travelled the world, observing and celebrating animal life both in the wild and in danger. His other books include Badgerland and Islander, a Journey Round Our Archipelago.
Why are insect populations collapsing around the world? Why are there fewer birds and frogs? What is happening to Nature in Shropshire and the Welsh Borders? To round off Oswestry’s first Festival of Nature, Damian Carrington, the Guardian’s environment editor will moderate a major debate at the Willow Gallery about the steep decline of the natural world and what we as individuals can do. Entry will be free, but you will need a ticket.