A hundred years ago the house that I now live in was surrounded by farmland. Our street had just been completed and the first residents moved in. During the following century the rolling countryside became populated with the homes to house a growing population and the city gradually expanded outwards. The area of Bath known as Fairfield Park was created.
In the last few months I’ve tried to see where I live in a different light. There is a natural tendency for us to define the area that we live in terms of bricks and mortar: after all, as the saying goes, ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’.
Look at Fairfield Park on google map and the one thing that you notice straight away is the amount of green spaces in this small area of Bath. Whether its narrow lanes behind terrace housing, steep sided green slopes or small patches of woodland this residential area is a perfect place for nature to thrive and flourish.
And yet as we go about our daily lives we don’t necessarily take the time to look and stare. A couple of summers ago I spent a few joyous idle moments leaning on our garden gate looking at the path that travels up the hill. In the space of about fifteen minutes I’d seen six different species of butterfly. The small banks are often full of wild flowers throughout spring and summer and a badgers has been know the wonder into our garden.
It was a few weeks back when I saw three buzzards circling high above and the build up of birdsong began that I thought of the idea of trying to find out more about the natural history of where I live. Not just the sexy wildlife that captures the imagination but the workman like lichens and mosses that cling to kerbsides or thrive on bus stops or the beetles scurrying around unseen by the human eye.
And so was born the idea of a survey of the natural history of Fairfield Park. I know, it sounds all very grand; a little bit like the sort of projects that the Victorians would have undertaken. But I just want to get a sense of the species that we share this area of Bath with: the creature and plants that co-exist with us and often go un-noticed. I want to go on a personal journey of discovery, opening my eyes and helping me to care for the natural world in the place that I call home.