01. Welcome to Nature Center Magazine. We are all anxious to learn a little bit about you. Tell us what your blog is all about.
My blog records - in words and pictures - the extraordinarily beautiful and complex wildlife that surrounds us. I share my discoveries and expectations, allowing people to see what's living right under their noses. Complex interactions between our species and between species and habitats is also discussed.
02. Everyone has their own unique story about what gave them the idea to start blogging. What is yours?
When I got a dog and started to take him for walks, I noticed just how much local wildlife we have. I got a digital camera and decided to make a 'scrapbook' of my images. Then I decided to put this on to the web. That was 2003 and things haven't been the same since.
03. What do you enjoy about nature and what benefits do you derive from it?
Since I started to investigate the natural history of the wildlife around us, I have discovered that we live as part of a network of interrelated species where, to some extent, everything is connected to everything else. Bees and hoverflies pollinate our flowers, trees and crops. Without them we would have no food to survive : that's the major benefit of wildlife to us as a species. I have also found out that there is much we don't yet understand about our wildlife, and that amateurs like myself can add to our knowledge through observation and research.
04. Each of us has our own way of being with nature. Some people hike, some take pictures, and some climb trees. How do you experience nature?
I get out and take photographs every chance I can get. Sometimes I go to the riverside, other times to the coast. Mostly I spend time exploring the local hedgerows and woodland. Background research is also a vital part of my connection with wildlife.
05. Tell us about the most exciting or scary nature related thing that ever happened to you.
Excitement (for me) comes from finding out something that nobody else knew before. I have recently photographed the eggs of various species of leafhopper that have never been photographed by anyone anywhere else. I also bred some of the nymphs from those eggs, enabling us to discover for the first time what the nymphs of particular species look like. The current references didn't have those images. They do now.
06. If you were to take us on a nature tour of your area where would you take us first?
I would take you to Ards forest, an ancient (600+ years) woodland on the west coast.
Describe what we would see.
It has many species of lichen and fungi that can only be seen in that environment. Next to the forest, we have a coastal dune habitat with many species of unusual plants and insects.
07. If you could visit any nature spot in the world, what would it be? Tell us why.
I think Australasia would be particularly interesting. There are many species of plant, animal and insect that are unique to that area, and they are very different from what we have in the northern hemisphere.
08. Each blogger has gained their own insight into writing a blog.What have you learned that you would like to share with other bloggers?
My audience comes from a very wide range of readers: schoolchildren, interested adults, local people, publishers and academic specialists. Each set of people has its own needs, so we need to make sure that everybody can take something away from the pages. For some it will be a stimulus to do something for themselves. For others it can be information for a thesis. Still others will find images for their publications, specialists can update their distribution maps for certain species and some people will find attractive pictures or just new interesting information.
09. Where can our readers find you? Give us the name and a link to your blog. If you have more than one to share, we would all like that too.
My current wildlife blog is on donegal-wildlife.blogspot.com with older pages to be found on http://homepage.eircom.net/~hedgerow
I also have a food blog on donegal-dinner.blogspot.com
10. Is there anything we have not discussed that you would like to add?
The more I study wildlife, the more I understand how little we know. We are daily making decisions about planning or construction projects without actually knowing all the facts about what lives there and what it needs to survive. If we don't know the facts, the planning decisions we take can only be made on incomplete information, and might therefore be wrong. We are part of the wildlife network, and if we damage it, we potentially damage ourselves.
Stuart, thank you for taking a nature walk with us. I know the readers will enjoy the pictures and stories from Ireland when they visit your blogs.
Do you write a nature related blog and you'd like to be interviewed by Nature Center Magazine? Click the link and let us know who you are and that you'd like to be featured in a Nature Walk: Interview Me.