Team Wilder

Joe Connor describes how he has made a difference for wildlife in Essex.

Where in Essex have you been making a difference?

Walton-on-the-Naze

What is your favourite Essex species?

It’s almost impossible to pick one over the rest as I love them all. So I am going to cheat and nominate two. The badger because it is simply fascinating and I love the “family” orientation. The hedgehog because it is endangered and needs looking after.

How are you helping to create a Wilder Essex?

When we moved into our home near the Naze over 20 years ago, we set about creating a safe haven for wildlife of all descriptions. The first principles followed were: no slug pellets/

insecticides etc / plant flora & fauna that would attract all manner of wildlife big or small / and let grow what wanted to grow.

Over the years, we have progressively installed /introduced an owl box, a homemade bug hotel, a wild patch - where anything grows, which includes a log/branch/twig pile, two hedgehog homes - covered but with hidden access points, two bee & one ladybird hotel, bat boxes, a large dovecote, a number of nest boxes for blue tits & wrens, two community boxes for sparrows, six prefabricated boxes for house martins, various water baths and a number of opened door hutches for any animal that wants to rest up in.

Our rewards have been a constant stream of wildlife including a myriad of insect species, birds, hedgehog, muntjac, foxes and to our utter delight - a family of five Badgers.

This year we wanted to try and spread the word and encourage others to take more notice of what goes on around us both day and night. We started with one, but now operate nine wildlife cameras in the garden every night. These produce a number of hours of video/photos. But in order to share what is of interest and promote a wider appreciation of the wildlife activity, we have started to publish a monthly diary on You Tube showing the best bits. The natural habitat for many species is being constantly eroded and it is sad that the philosophy of “out of sight out of mind” takes precedence for many people when it comes to wildlife. We must do all we can to redress the balance. Thank you for taking the time to read this, Joe. Beach Bum #2

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

Plant something - don’t concrete. Get a wildlife camera & place it in the garden or an open space. You will be amazed at what goes on. Then simply stop for a while to look and listen. Wildlife is all around us but today’s pace of life often means we can miss it, which is very sad. Don’t believe me? Go to Joe & Mary Connor on You Tube and see what happens in our wild space.