A Guide to: Whiling away the hours in nature

Download PDF

Birds, bugs, grubs, and mud! Nature can be a source of truly endless fascination if you look closely enough. Watching the vast array of living organisms and how they interact is a fabulously entertaining way to while away a few hours in a green space. You’ll also be surprised how quickly you learn the intricacies of the environment, which will inform how you care for the space and assist each organism in its endeavours.

Materials You'll Need (optional!)

  • Trousers you don’t mind getting muddy
  • A hand lens
  • Binoculars
  • Wildlife and plant ID books or apps


1. Stand and Ground

Take a moment to breath in the air, listen to all the sounds, smell the aromas, and appreciate the overall picture in front of you. The colours, the shapes, the movement. Let it all wash over you for a few moments until you feel more relaxed. You’re now ready to while away the hours! Steps 2-5 can be carried out in any order and can even be enjoyed simultaneously.

2. Explore the Floor

The ground is teeming with life, often on the surface, but mostly just under the surface. This is where those boots and muddy trousers come in handy. Look under logs and rocks, dig little holes, and see what beautiful crawlies are hiding in the dirt. You may also study the soil itself, what it’s made of, and its general quality will tell you much about what can grow there.

3. Focus on the Flora

The flowers, trees, and other plants are a brilliant and thrilling aspect of any green space, one might in fact argue that they are what makes a space green! Explore the leaves, the branches, the petals, feel them, smell them, look at them and observe how they evolve through the seasons. You will also notice they provide shelter and food to thousands of living creatures, from the tiniest insects to birds and bats, each of which leads a fascinating existence for you to observe.

4. Eyes on the Skies

If this is a green space you visit often, you’ll quickly get to know the birds who live there as well as those who visit frequently. You’ll observe their habits and behavioural quirks, and you can delight in their breeding cycle, welcoming new hatchlings to the world each year. You can also find excitement in identifying rarer visitors who are just passing through, gracing the space with their presence only for a short period.

5. Finding Fungi

Scratch a few millimeters below the surface of the ground anywhere in your green space, and you will likely be confronted with white strands of matter – a bit like a thick spider’s web. This is mycelium, from whence our old friends the mushrooms emerge! You’ll be able to find fungi all year, from the classic toadstools to the wood brackets and even plant parasites, each one has a story to tell and each one is playing a pivotal part in the space’s ecosystem.

Written by Loick Tyson

©2024 Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust