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Can you help me prove Chris Packham wrong ?


This is a very quick post, and it is another one where I need your help ! Can we prove Chris Packham wrong about something ?

Ric Morris is another bone collector who I met earlier this year and he sent me a tweet about a really interesting interview in the Radio Times between Chris Packham (for people outside the UK he's a famous wildlife presenter who I met last year) and David Attenborough (who is the world's best wildlife film maker). Ric sent me the tweet because I thought I'd be interested in them talking about polar bear skulls but there was something else that was even more interesting to me when I read it today:

Chris Packham: When it comes to children, the one species that is extinct is the young naturalist. I'm out there all the time and I just don't see the boy that I was and you were. That's a disaster in waiting, isn't it ? 
David Attenborough: Yes, and part of the reason for that is easy to identify, and that is because it is no longer allowed, no longer legal, to be a collector. I openly admit that I collected birds' eggs. 
CP: So did I . 
DA: And I knew, I bet like you did, when the right moment was when you could take one and the bird would lay another, so you didn't damage the population, and I learnt a lot. Now, I think, it's in the ledger of law, if you wanted to be pedantic, if you were to pick up a feather and put it in your pocket it would probably not be legal. And not to be allowed to collect fossils.... 
CP: One of my greatest agonies was being in northern Canada and happening across a polar bear carcass with a complete skull...and of course, I wasn't allowed to take it. I've still got this haunting vision in my mind of me hanging back, looking down,  because the naturalist in me said "I must collect that skull". And what we did when we collected our skulls was we looked at them with such passion and love - and we learned our trade...It is very sad. I can't believe that future generations will learn their trade on television, on the internet and in libraries because the passion has to come from the heart. You've got to be able to set your alarm clock to go out and sit in a hide. Young people in particular are so disconnected from the natural world. It's a shame to think there aren't kids out there, isn't it ?
First of all when I read it I thought he must be wrong about kid naturalists because I get loads and loads  of emails and comments from people who are my age or a bit older. And I'm probably not as good as Chris was at my age but I'm doing it as well. But then I thought about it and the emails I get are from all over the world, not just from Scotland or even the UK. Then I thought about the people in my class in school. Even though we live in the countryside only about three people in my class out of 20 could recognise a bird of prey or tell types of deer apart and none of them are interested in bones at all.

I don't think it's difficult to be a collector, though, (although it's illegal to collect wild bird eggs) and I think David Attenborough is wrong about bird feathers. There are some bones you need licences for (like my bat skeleton, and another one I am going to write about soon), and birds of prey skulls you need to be careful with (although even my golden eagle didn't need a licence).

Perhaps what has changed is that there are more things that kids can do now without going outside, like  game consoles, or parents are more scared about letting kids explore woods by themselves.

I would like to prove Chris Packham wrong because I believe that there are lots of brilliant kid naturalists in the UK. For example, Jack Neath wrote about his favourite skull a few weeks ago here, and Findlay Wilde has a brilliant bird-watching blog here. But who are the other brilliant young UK naturalists ? If you know about other young kid naturalists, post in the comments here, or email me at jakesbones@gmail.com and I'll try to write another post about it later and see if we can get him to change his mind !

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Ric Morris said...

Hey Jake, I should have realised that the 'kids naturalists' claim would be pretty controversial for you! This is a great blog post and I'm glad to have sparked this discussion off. I think there are loads of young naturalists out there but they definitely have to compete against other stimuli these days, TV, internet, gaming, etc. A lot of kids seem to be getting more into sport as a result of the Olympics but it's impossible to do a wildlife event with that sort of scale and media coverage. I think a lot of the emphasis of mainstream biological science has moved from collecting and fieldwork into the laboratory these days, looking at genetics and biochemistry. This is teaching us a lot but it's no substitute for getting out in the wild, and it's not as much fun, either. A few of the tweets I've been getting back from people have suggested the whole collecting habit is moving towards collecting images via photography, and therefore there are more teenage wildlife photographers than ever before.This might well be true. Look at Charlie Hamilton James of Springwatch who won Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year TWICE in the early 90s, and Bence Mate of Hungary who is a consistently brilliant photographer and has won both Young WPOTY, and as he he has aged, the main WPOTY title as well! I know your dad takes a lot of photos for your blog and I expect that soon you will be developing those skills for yourself. Look forward to that!

Findlay Wilde said...

Thankyou for mentioning me again Jake. I am constantly trying to get more young people interested in wildlife. This link may help you http://cheshire.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/findlay-wilde-from-moulton-shows-his-passion-for-wildlife-44650/
From Findlay

Jake said...

@Ric: thanks for the links !
@Findlay: no worries, I think your blog is cool. That's a great article about you !

BagshawSophie said...

i love nature and i collect bones all the time and have a lot- that many that my mum's making me get rid off them, but i cant. so im giving them to my 2 other friends who also like bones and nature, rhona and laurel.

Jake said...

Hi Bagpuss. My dad has to persuade my mum to let me keep all my bones. Sometimes she says I can't fit any more in but we always find a way.

Anonymous said...

Chris should come to my house... I have two big shelves' worth of assorted things from nature, and 'young naturalist' just about describes me...

Tina Driskell said...

In the US it's illegal to take any parts of birds, including feathers, without a permit. If you collect any part of an eagle without a federal permit, you can end up in jail! Make sure you know your local regulation folks!

Jake said...

Here's the research I did on the law when I got my golden eagle skull: http://www.jakes-bones.com/2012/04/law-and-my-amazing-mystery-skull.html

Matt said...

I am 13 and I love nature. I also have a blog http://matts-wildlife.over-blog.com/

Jake said...

Thanks, I'll look out for new posts !

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