by Kathy James

A Focus on Nature.

There is really only one thing that I need to go outdoors and observe wildlife to the extent that I do; binoculars. At different points through the year I might be clad in shorts and flip-flops or layer upon layer to fight off those impressive Anglesey winds, but to really see the magic of a tiny Goldcrest or a far away Godwit I need a little magnification!

Whilst working at Cemlyn Bay this summer, I briefly met a lady called Lucy (working as part of a team to promote young conservationists) and as any diligent blogger would I quickly dashed off as I was on my way to a scoop; namely kayaker John Willacy had just arrived back from circumnavigating Britain in his boat.

After filming John’s return (still to this day I have not shared the footage, as my blog will not upload it) I found out more about the programme that Lucy is a part of. ‘A Focus on Nature’ (AFON) is an organisation to “open eyes…minds…and imagination” of young conservationists and to nurture their career in this field. The panel, consisting of Stephen Moss (nature writer, broadcaster and BAFTA award-winning television producer, notably the original producer of Springwatch and producer of Big Cat Diary), Pete Gamby (dynamic sales and marketing manager for Opticron), Dr Rob Lambert (Environmental Historian from Nottingham University and one of the most interesting folk you’ll ever meet) and of course Lucy (McRobert), an Environmental History graduate and nature writer.

This inspiring team of visionaries have developed the idea of AFON and now offer youngsters setting out in a career of conservation the chance to develop their field skills with a pair of binoculars (an often very expensive and yet essential edition to someone’s kit). Although this an opportunity for many, the candidates do have to compete for their optics; showing their passion for conservation through nature-writing, photography and more.

It may have been that I decided to write about AFON in a desperate plea for their assistance, luckily this is not the case. Having submitted work from this very blog, the panel have selected me as one of the recipients of their award. Amazing! Thank you.

It may be apparent from my posts and photographs that I haveĀ benefitedĀ from use of binoculars throughout, these weren’t mine though. The adorable Ken Croft, my birding mentor and friend, used to lend me his super-duper binoculars and forfeit his own sightings (a difficult thing for a birder to do, believe me) and latterly he lent me an old pair of binoculars to see me through my contract with the Wildlife Trust at Cemlyn Bay. Massive thanks to Ken for his kindness and generosity here.

Without these binoculars I may not have made it through to the final of the Rainforest Reporter competition, written many of my blogs or seen any of the wondeful birds I’ve caught up with this year.

So yes, this AFON prize of Opticron binoculars is very relevant and not wasted on somebody who won’t benefit; I am very excited and will cherish this prize! I have so many plans for the future and for my career and these binoculars will kick-start me on my way. Wahoo!

You can check out other winning entries and even apply for yourself here. This scheme is set up to help, so please don’t be intimidated. The panel want to encourage you, so apply and see how you get on! For those that won’t be applying, I’d still check out the site as I expect that we’ll hear more from these names in the future and you’ll meet them there first!

Kathy x (eagerly anticipating her new binoculars!!)

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5 responses

  1. aled

    well done and congratulations kathy…..:-)

    October 2, 2012 at 8:04 pm

  2. Kate

    Still reading your nature blog, Kathy! This one was certainly interesting and inspiring… and so glad to hear that it’s won you an award. Say ‘hi’ to Ken from me too – I’ll never forget encountering him up on the clifftop at Southstack, in a howling gale, counting shearwaters. Hoping that I may again get the chance to be a residential volunteer for the RSPB or wildlife trust – not ‘on’ at the moment because of work. (Kate Jones, South Stack volunteer, August 2011)

    October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    • Hi Kate, pleased to know you’re still reading! Let us know if you’re ever up on Anglesey x

      October 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

  3. Great news, Kathy. Will look out for the website, and hope to join you and Ken some time soon.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

    • Thanks Alison. Yes, I hope you can make it over again sometime!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

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