My wild Hope
Nature reserves help to foster Paul's sense of adventure...
What does 'nature reserve' mean to you?
A nature reserve is a place where wildlife can thrive - somewhere you can go to enjoy nature and know that it's being cared for.
How much time do you spend outdoors?
Not as much time as I would like, but I do find that the more I get outdoors, the better I feel. That can be anything from a day out to a short lunchtime walk.
At our nature reserves do you enjoy any traditions or special activities?
Every December, I am in my village panto and take the week off work. One of my traditions is to get out for a winter walk at Askham Bog for an hour or two one day that week. Doing the panto is tiring, so Askham Bog is the perfect place to go for a quiet and undemanding nature fix. I take some photos and enjoy the birds, and maybe deer.
What wildlife have you discovered/seen at a nature reserve?
There's so much to discover at Yorkshire's nature reserves. For example, one spring at Askham Bog, my son, his friend and I found some tiny froglets at the base of a tree. But my favourite discovery was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Strensall Common. It suddenly appeared in front of me while I was looking at something else, and my eyes nearly popped out of my head!
Nature is the best kind of mindfulness. It distracts me from negative thoughts, lifts my mood, gives me a positive focus, and gives me a spirit of adventure and discovery
Favourite wildlife and why?
I love seeing all kinds of wildlife - mammals, butterflies, reptiles - but it's mostly about the birds. In every season, there is something different to find, watch and enjoy - a wildfowl extravaganza in the Lower Derwent Valley in winter, warblers in spring, spectacular seabirds in summer, and the prospect of a rare migrant popping up in the autumn.
Can you describe how our nature reserves have helped you to feel hope?
I have recurring depression and anxiety, and find that nature is the best kind of mindfulness. It distracts me from negative thoughts, lifts my mood, gives me a positive focus, and gives me a spirit of adventure and discovery, as well as offering some peace in the fresh air.
What does Wild Yorkshire mean to you?
Yorkshire is a great place and has always been my home. The wild parts of Yorkshire are my favourite - and there is such a variety of places to discover and enjoy. I really enjoy seeing the pleasure my children get from being outdoors and experiencing wild encounters, and feel lucky that's something we can do in the part of the world we live in.