Welcome to this newsletter in which I’ll share opportunities I’ve ferreted for nature writers, recommend blogs and books, suggest nature-writing tips/prompts and more…

This month’s updates

  • Inspiring.
  • Thought-provoking. This essay by Richard Smyth is controversial – well it caused lots of discussion between my nature-writing friends and online – but is definitely worth reading even if ultimately you decide entirely disagree with the writer.
  • Ready for a life change? I know I included this in last month’s newsletter but Bath Spa University’s fantastic MA in Travel and Nature writing is open for applications for the 2021/22 academic year. This is a distance learning course which you can study part-time over two years. It’s led by the wonderful nature writer Stephen Moss. And, yes, you’ve guessed it I’m a big fan and nearly halfway through my second year.
  • Still relevant. Dialogue Books publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove shares her inspiration and advice on nature writing. This interesting article in Writers Online was written back in 2019 but it’s still as relevant today.

This month’s Who to Read or Follow recommendations:

  • For thought-provoking and upbeat nature and environment writing, Bloom in Doom is definitely worth following and features my extremely talented pal @beccaonthewing.
  • Twitter users, for scintillating #ThumbnailNature writing, I’d recommend following Guardian Country Diary contributor Phil Gates.
  • I’ve just sent off a glowing book review of Murder Most Florid by Mark A. Spencer to the editor of the membership magazine of the British Ecological Society. Mark’s great book brings together two subjects which fascinate me, botany and forensics. It’s currently reduced from £16.99 to £11.45 on Hive which lets you choose which local bookshop you want to support.

This month’s Nature-writing tips and prompts

Want to get your nature writing published? Find out who manages the blog of your local Wildlife Trust and offer to write a guest blog with photos about one of their reserves or a Trust project.

Stuck for January nature-writing inspiration? There’s colour out there if you look carefully. These are just some of the 33 wild and naturalised plants I found in flower on the Thames path on January 1st.

Gallant Soldier, Canadian Fleabane, Green Alkanet, Black Horehound, Jersey Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, Sun Spurge, Small-Flowered Cranesbill, Black Nightshade

Start adding to your knowledge of the nature around you today… Begin a list of all the birds which come into your garden or you see out walking. If you don’t know what they are, make a note of their key features (eg. dark eyestripe, spotty breast, brown upper body and red patch peeking from under the wing), relative size (eg. about the same as a blackbird) and any habits (eg. often seen in small flocks) so you can check with an expert. [In case you hadn’t guessed, the bird described here is a redwing, a winter visitor from Scandinavia, which I’ve been seeing lots of in south London over the last few weeks.]

And… please send me anything you’d like to be included in next month’s newsletter.