Team Wilder

Team Wilder

Mary Connor describes how she has made a difference for wildlife in Essex.

Where in Essex have you been making a difference?


What is your favourite Essex species?

For me it is really difficult to name one species. As, from the tiny red spider mite to the lovely chunky badger, I just love them all, and each one fascinates and excites me the same. The clever one is the Flea who can jump 80 plus times its own height, and launch itself 200 times its own body length. Wow! Imagine doing that! You would never need to wait for a bus again! 

How are you helping to create a Wilder Essex?

Since I was a child, a long time ago, I have loved and lived for nature. Last year we decided to turn our front garden into a wild one, though it was never intentionally pristine. So, we started planting a mixture of everything that the bee’s, insects and birds love. Also keeping essential weeds and picking marigold seeds from the roadside. Some may say it look’s a muddle, but we think it looks great and truly amazed at how much insect wildlife it attracts. I do love insects and birds of all kinds.

We have let the edging grass grow, and it is beautiful and varied. I didn’t realise how beautiful grasses can be. Some with huge, long stems and a variety of different feathery and seedy tops, swaying in the breeze. One clump of grass is as tall as me! The muntjacs visit most nights and I must say they look like happy bunnies. They enjoy it and they are welcome. We
think all the creatures believe we are the “creature cafe”. So, stop mowing and start growing is our motto now, even if it’s only a small corner of your garden. The children will love it, our grandchildren do!

I really enjoyed the years I took in Hedgehogs that were underweight. I looked after them through the winter until they became a safe weight to be released, I found doing this a totally relaxing and worthwhile experience.

At the end of our back garden, we have installed night cameras then removed quite a few slats from the fencing in different places to allow movement of different animals to come and go. You just wouldn’t believe what goes on in our garden and probably yours as well during the night. Up until we installed the camera’s we did not know that a polecat visited, the nightly muntjac visit as well as the foxes. During summer when the plums fall off the trees, we are also visited by a family of badgers. They are such a joy to watch, playing naturally with their cubs. Also a rat who visited us every night to feast on the plums.

You may think we see all this because we have quite a bit of open space around us and live on the edge of the town, but my cousin, who lives right in the town centre phoned to say how excited she was after watching a mother fox bring her cubs out for the first time from under her shed. She was also amazed that an adult fox went into her conservatory and took one of her fluffy slippers. The slipper was never to be seen again and my cousin now has to hop, and we think that the cubs have made her slipper their cuddly toy.

So, nature is all around us, we just have to take time to step back and look.
Love from Mary a.k.a. Nanny Beach Bum x

What is your top tip to help inspire others to take action for nature?

Be weed killer/insecticide free and leave space in the garden for grasses, wild flowers and insects to thrive.