Yesterday’s newspaper included a cheerful ‘Country Diary’ contribution from a reader in Dorset on the wild flower speedwell, and it was an education to read. Spurred by this, I went on the Forest for my daily exercise to do some nature observation. Well, that was the idea. When setting off from the car park, however, in dull and blustery weather, I decided that it would be pointless to take binoculars, as no birds would be sitting around in these conditions waiting to be observed. Wrong. Several hundred yards from the car I came across my first sitting target, what could have been (had I been able to see it properly!) a rare Dartford Warbler. And so it went on throughout my walk: clear birdsong, seated birds: but no close-up, binocular view.
I was able, though, to look closely at Forest wildflowers. A dark-red patch of colour not far from the path turned out to be sheeps’ sorrel, and a small, delicate, pinkish, umbrella-like flower beside the path, marsh bedstraw. And the tiny, four-petalled yellow ground-hugging flower looked like tormentil. What variety of interest our natural world offers, what delight, if only we look closely! And looking closely, truly appreciating, comes from love, is almost a religious act. No surprise, then, that our expert flower book was written and illustrated by a parish priest, the wonderful W Keble Martin. Anything we know, he taught us!