I’m not one for all that airy-fairy sort of stuff, that’s just not me, but I am all for people being happy in nature. However with the weather being pretty grim outside at the minute, I’m quite happy to be inside typing up a blog post on the International Day of Happiness.
This Goldcrest clearly didn’t get the memo that it’s the International Day of Happiness, although it probably doesn’t help that I was taking pictures of it having a bath. Anyway, what makes you happy when out in nature?
One of the things that makes me happiest is just seeing things, such as the Goldcrest above. It’s those little moments seeing things you either don’t see often or haven’t seen before. Most recently, I was in the right place at the right time to witness a sun halo over Loch Leven, which I had seen once before from the Isle of May (where I’ll be next week so apologies in advance for the lack of blog posts).
These halos form when there are high-level, wispy clouds which causes the light to refract through ice crystals high in the atmosphere, creating a pretty stunning effect.
This was what it looked like in real life, it’s not a photographic effect. If you’re lucky and the cloud conditions stay the same overnight then you may get to see a moon halo, which I did for the first time! It also meant I had to fiddle about with settings on my camera but I think this shot came out alright.
Another aspect of nature that I get happiness from is helping it. That’s a key part of my job at Loch Leven, in fact almost everything I do is for the benefit of nature. From working with the volunteers to put up new nestboxes, to helping educate children in local schools about the life-cycle of a Brown Trout, it all helps the wildlife on the National Nature Reserve.
We’ve managed to put up about 30 new nest boxes around the reserve, if you spot any then taking a few minutes just to stop and watch may reward you with seeing a Great Tit or other small bird taking nesting material into the box.
With regards to trout in the classroom, I’ll do a blog post on that another time. For now though, I can tell you it went swimmingly and all of the trout were released into a couple of burns that lead in to Loch Leven after they had been well looked after by the school children at Arngask Primary and Kinross Primary.
It has been scientifically proven that nature is good for your health and well-being (see here and here) and to be honest, I don’t think we need science to tell us this. Having been ill last weekend and for the start of last week, I was finding myself pacing up and down the hall, not feeling any better or any happier.
Then, on Thursday and Friday I was out on Loch Lomond NNR and Flanders Moss NNR with friends and found myself completely relieved after being locked indoors for 4 days. I, personally, can’t stand being indoors for any more than a full day so I can certainly see that nature is good for me, and I’m sure it’s good for you too.
In my experience, a bad week can be completely turned on its head by a good day out somewhere in the countryside.
And what better place to do that than at Loch Leven NNR?! That’s another thing that makes me happy, being able to work at a place like this for a year is great. It’s valuable experience that will make me more employable, it’s the opportunity to meet people and learn things, it’s the opportunity to see nature every day and it gives me the chance to share those experiences with people, as I am doing right now with you.
Above is a selection of images of Loch Leven at its best, all taken by myself.
So, on this, the International Day of Happiness, I hope that you at least have a happier Monday than usual and can manage to get yourself out into the countryside this weekend (preferably at Loch Leven NNR but anywhere will do) to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
Things to look out for at the moment are amphibians travelling to, arriving at and doing their thing at their spawning grounds, some migrant birds arriving (Sand Martins, Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Ospreys are some of the first summer migrants to arrive), and our wintering birds departing (huge flocks of Whooper Swans have been reported moving north over the weekend).
If you go to places like Flanders Moss NNR or Muir of Dinnet NNR then keep an eye out for reptiles such as the beautiful Adder, Slow Worm and Common Lizard. I spotted a lizard at Flanders Moss on Saturday, lapping up a short burst of sun before diving in to a bog pool as I wandered past. Palmate Newts were also very showy in the pools by the boardwalk where the lone birch tree stands.
Anyway, I’ll leave you to get on with being happy at the thought of getting outdoors over the weekend, and I hope this blog post has brought some of the feeling of the great outdoors to where ever you are today!