Human beings are really good at seeing patterns – especially ones that we are already familiar with. This is why we identify faces in the clouds, on the fronts of cars and even on our pizzas! Once we have become familiar with a particular pattern, we find it easy to pick it out in the world around us. It’s a useful skill – helping us make sense of our surroundings, especially if we are in a new place.
However, our ability to see patterns that we already know means that we sometimes overlook the unfamiliar and so we can miss out. Even professionals whose job it is to identify things can overlook the unknown… and so it is with botanists and zoologists.
If you send two people out separately to identify all the species in a woodland, you can guarantee that they will come back with slightly different lists. You can also guarantee that each one will have included all the things that they are already familiar with and are more likely to have overlooked the species they have never encountered before or that they only see rarely. It’s just human nature. Professional biological surveyors work really hard to familiarise themselves with as many species as the can to minimise this problem.
If you are interested in natural history and getting the most out of your trips to the countryside, you probably want to see new and rare species. And if you are a professional, you need to be able to notice everything. Fortunately, it’s possible to do something about it. You can learn how to see new patterns and you can broaden your experience by looking for new species and learning how to identify them with another person who has a different set of knowledge, or better still with the help of an experienced teacher.
Increasing your awareness of all the plants and animals in the countryside around you will add an extra dimension to walks in the woods or strolls along the coast. And what better way to do this than at a site with a huge diversity of wildlife? You can come and enjoy all the species at Denmark Farm on an informal walk, but we also run lots of courses to help you get more out of your visits: courses on identifying invertebrates, flowers, mammals, grasses and wildlife recording to name but a few; all run by experts with fantastic experience. Alternatively, you can really get to know the species around the site on one of our volunteer days – where you might also gain some great conservation management skills.
And if you really want to see a face in your pizza, our cob oven should be up and running on selected evenings over the summer… you may even have helped us to build it!
Please support our crowdfunder campaign to raise £1,500 to build a shelter for a cob oven and outdoor cooking area at Denmark Farm. We have around two weeks left to raise £700+ and need all the help we can get.