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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What's the Difference

Tunnel Vision Equals

Limited Sight
Limited Thinking
Limited Experience
Limited Awareness...

Peripheral Vision Equals

Expanded Sight
Expanded Thinking
Expanded Experience
Expanded Awareness...

Just a thought.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Research into Meet a Tree

The Game I call meet a Tree has now been traced back as far the early 1940's when Bear Heart describes it in his book, see below...

Bear Heart met his tree in the early 1940’s… around 20yrs old.

“To teach our young people how to get in touch with nature and their own intuition, our elders used to take them way out in the woods, blindfolded, and have them sit by a particular tree.

“You stay here blindfolded until we come after you. Be with this tree, touch it, hug it, lean against, stand by it. Learn something from it.” After half a day or more, they would bring them back to camp, remove the blindfold, and say, “Go find your tree.” After touching a lot of trees, they could find the one they had spent time with. Sometimes they didn’t have to touch a lot of trees-those with highly developed intuition could go right to their tree. They seemed to be drawn to it.

That’s how we began to connect. It’s amazing what you feel from a tree. It can give us energy. When we take long hikes in wooded areas, we often put our finger tips on the ends of the cedar or the pine needles. Just standing there touching them, you’re going to feel energy come to you. Trees are emitting energy all the time. Every needle of the tree, every leaf, is trying to make the atmosphere breathable for us.

That’s why my people have great respect for trees.

The trees are our relatives-we call them “tall standing brothers.”

Bear Heart was born in Oklahoma in 1918. He belonged to the Muskogee (Creek) tribe, an American Indian people who were originally from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, many of whom were later relocated to Oklahoma. Book Title: The Wind is my Mother The Life and Teaching of a Native American Shaman. ISBN: 0-425-16160-9 Page: 69

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Vixen: Impossible

Foxes are renowned for being wily creatures – but this devoted mother went to extraordinary lengths to find food for her cubs.

Fox gets eggs

The cunning vixen swam 40m (120ft) and back to steal goose eggs from a nest on an island in a lake.

Amateur photographer Tom Melton snapped the fox paddling back and forth to her well-stocked 'larder' at a nature reserve in Warwickshire.

Fox PondThe pond in question

Unable to carry more than one egg in her mouth at a time, the fox made four return trips to the island, each time bringing back a tasty morsel for one of her four cubs.

She hid a fifth egg to devour herself later.

Fox swimmingThe fox, swimming

Mr Melton, 47, said: 'The fox spent 80 minutes swimming out to the island, gently picking up an egg and then swimming back. I have never seen anything like it before.'

BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham added: 'It shows how resourceful foxes can be.'

Letter from a Mother - What her Children had to Say

Having attended the Art of Mentoring week I was chatting with a friend about the week and the impact it had on us, she shared with me how her children were with her after she had returned home.

Hey Geoffrey

...My daughter started the morning after we all went back. We were sitting in the garden and I mentioned some bird I'd just heard. She started saying how she didn't notice stuff like that; that all through her education teachers had been trying to separate her from nature - by recalling her attention to some other task, saying "Stop dreaming out the window" or "Never mind that bird you're suppose to be doing PE".

Then she started on about some careers woman talking to her class and saying to them "You are the leaders of tomorrow. Its all down to you what happens next" etc. She looked round at them and thought "This lot, the leaders of tomorrow - what chance has the planet got now!" She said if a bee comes into the classroom half the girls shout "Quick, kill it" and the other half say "Ignore it, it doesn't matter". Nobody notices it for what it is and nobody cares about it.

A couple of days later she returned to this theme and said that she felt as though she led 2 lives - in one she was an ordinary kid at school, shopping, chatting etc and in the other she actually touched base with the earth (I think those are my words not hers) and had some kind of connection again.

Again this connection is fairly new to her consciousness having spent too long in organised religion.

My son, this morning (he's 10) sat on the bed and said "I think we need to think more like ancient man. They lived outside all the time so that's why we feel the need to be outside"...



Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Sacred songs should not be changed

While attending the Art of Mentoring (AoM) UK last week near oxford. Paul Raphael an Odawa Peacemaker, (from Michigan in the USA) talked about the importance of not changing some songs. The reason for this is that they are sacred and must remain in their original form. I can fully understand this, if you change it in any way you take away the original meaning and therefore it is no longer honouring the person or persons in the way that the song was intended to do.

However, some songs can be changed.

This got me thinking about bird songs, many birds to do change their songs however, some do not, birds even have regional accents just as we do. I was thinking about the Marsh Warbler for example as with a lot of warblers their songs change as each year goes by, sometimes you will be walking a long a reed bed somewhere in the UK and you will hear a song that takes you back to Africa, because the song has been borrowed from an African bird and incorporated into the Marsh Warblers song.

When we travel by that I mean western people and we visit indigenous communities around the world, we also borrow songs because we love them and they have such powerful meanings and we would like to share them with others. But I am guessing because of the language differences and even our regional accents these songs are changed from their original form and without intending it we have been disrespectful to the original intent.

Here are two birds that were singing well at the AoM these songs do not change.

Chiff Chaff (phylloscopus-collybitus)

Skylark (Alauda arvensis).

Friday, 16 July 2010

To Kill or not to Kill

In the mid 8o's we were doing weapon training in the first ever simulator used by us. We had to fire at a screen, this was of course new to us and we found it very exciting, we did not need to lay in the cold wet grass of the firing ranges, we could now stay indoors, go to the cookhouse for lunch instead of eating a not so hot meal that has been sat in the back of the trucks since arriving at the ranges.

In the simulator it did not matter if you made a mistake, by that I mean shooting an innocent bystander because you mistook them for a gunman, nobody died on the screen. I remember during one of our breaks the guys were singing its praises, I however remember expressing a concern that the potential existed for us to become disconnected from the reality of our job. I was of course told to wind in my neck.

Not so long back, I saw on the news a tank crew listening to Led Zeppelin as they engaged a target and one of the crew was shouting this is better than play station II. We now even have remote control aircraft delivering its payload and flown by a guy in another country.

Not only are we disconnecting our children and ourselves from nature but we are disconnecting our people from the true reality of war.

All life is precious.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Why do you want to be a Tracker?

When I was training to be a counsellor the first question they asked us was 'Why do you want to be a counsellor'? This is a very important question and it requires you to explore your reasons and you may be surprised at the answers you arrive at.

When you come to a track, who do you come as?

Do you come as a member of the search and rescue team, as police officer, as the mother who has lost her child, or as the tracker.

What's the investment you have in it?

Someone told me once that when they asked a group for search and rescue people why they were there, these were some of the replies given.

1) I like to give my dog problems to solve.
2) I like the challenge.

3) I want to help save people.

4) I do it for a sense of community with like minded people.

So, you can see there any many and varied reasons why we turn up at a track.

What's yours?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Lion on the Hunt

A friend from Africa was telling me about his grandfather, who one day while cycling back to his village from visiting a friend in the next village, had become aware that he was being followed by a lion, he knew this because he could hear the pounding of paws in between the squeaking noises that his bike was making.

It knew that the lion was to the rear of him and on his left side, so he began to pick up speed in the hope of getting away from the lion. However, the lion stayed with him and in fact was getting closer.

Then came a moment were he could no longer hear the lions paw contacting the ground, at this point he instinctively threw himself from his bike to the right hand side and lifted his bike up in the air to protect himself, at which point the lions legs became lodged in the wheels of the bike and my friends grandfather made good his escape.

It seems the lion was using the squeaking noise from the bike to mask the noise it was making while stalking my friends grandfather.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Dance of the Townsend's Solitaire

While I was on a trip to Seattle I went birding for the day with a friend who I had met through birding pal. One of my target birds was the White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) which is a non-migratory bird that resides in the mountains of Western North America.

We visited a homestead where we spent a good hour or two watching the bird feeder in the garden of the owners. Were where more or less guaranteed to see this woodpecker, as they regularly feed at the bird table, but guess what we didn't see them and we had to move on to the next place which was a woodland further too the north.

While driving up the mountain road I spotted a
Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) which is a medium-sized thrush, and the only solitaire native to America north of Mexico. It was flying back and fourth and had really caught my attention, it was as if it wanted me to see it. We stopped the car and got out to watch it, after a short while it flew off.

I then decided to walk up the road for a bit to see what else I could find, and as we looked out over the valley I noticed some movement in a tree not to far away I brought my bins (binoculars) up and low and behold there was my first ever White-headed Woodpecker.

I jumped for joy and my friend was very pleased that I had found it in the wild and not on a bird table, I have to I agree with her.

Thanks Rachel for a great day out.

The Oystercatcher chased them away

I had the privilege of setting up a nature reserve while I was based in Germany called the Zachariasses which is just outside Lippstadt in Northrhein Westfalen.

During this time we had the first breeding record for an Oystercatcher in the county of Soest. The build their nest on a raft that we had made which was placed some 100m from the shore line. Over a period of time I observed the
Oystercatchers tending their young, when I became aware that whenever a bird of Prey appeared the Oystercatcher would give chase.

Nothing new there I hear you say. What was interesting about this was that when a bird of prey appeared be it a Kite, Harrier, or a Goshawk, or even Buzzard the
Oystercatcher would chase them all away but up only to the fence line on the edge of the gravel pit.

However, when the Osprey would appear the Oystercatcher would chase it way beyond the fence line in fact on one occasion it chased the osprey for up to 1km away. I wondered way this was, for years this has puzzled me, until a few years ago when it dawned on me.

The Osprey is a fish eating bird and therefore really presents no real treat to the young of the Osytercatcher, it was not about to twist and turn as the other birds of prey did, in order to attempt to get the young from their nest. So, it was in the interest of the Oystercatcher to stay as close to its young as possible when the other birds of prey where around.

If you have another ideas I would be interested to hear them.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Butterfly and Dragonfly...

As I stood in the dessert receiving my orders I watched as a Butterfly flew passed us followed a short while later by a Dragonfly and I remembered thinking that it seemed strange to see these two beautiful creatures in the middle of the dessert.

When I returned home from the Gulf I remembered this moment and I looked up what they might represent and discovered that the Butterfly represents Angels and Transformation and the Dragonfly stands for illusion.

Read into it what you will...

The Morning we ambushed the German Hunters

When I was serving in Germany, I was given the task of setting up an ambush for a leadership course with my men. We set out for the location we were given and told to ambush the patrol that will come down the track at five in the morning.

We arrived at 3am having recced (reconnaissance) the location prior to setting up the ambush I knew where I wanted things to be set up. I got some of the boys to work setting out trip wires to the flares that would light up the woodlands for us, while the rest of the patrol set about settling into the hillside looking directly into the killing zone, so to speak.

Five o'clock arrived and no patrol, so I figured they got delayed, I decided to wait a while longer, six o'clock and still no patrol, that's when I realised they were not coming (I found out later because they had got themselves well and truly lost), it was at this point when I was about to give the order to pack up that some Germans arrived in the field below us.

Out of curiosity I watched them for a while and quickly realised that they were hunters preparing to do a shoot. They sent out their beaters to drive the wildlife in their direction while they sat on their little stools waiting to take the animals out as and when they appeared.

My men and I looked at each other, we smiled and I said to them, "you know what lads, no point in wasting our time, so let's use all our ammunition". I gave the order to make ready and they all cocked their weapons, I then ordered them to Fire and we all opened up with our guns and threw thunder flashes which make very load bangs to simulate explosives.

Needless to say the pigeons, rabbits and any other wildlife in the vicinity disappeared in all directions and of course the Germans were very unhappy with us, they were still shaking their fists and shouting at us as we set off down the track back to our vehicles to go back to base.

All in all I think a good days hunting.

Bird Watching in Thailand.

I stayed at the Nam Nao National Park. One day I decided to take one of the longer trails to see if I could find some elephants as I had been told they were in the local area and if I was very lucky maybe I would also catch a glimpse of a tiger.

As I crossed a clearing heading for some high ground, I had an image in my mind of a tiger walking towards me, did this mean that a tiger had passed down this very trail some hours earlier or was it a vision of what was to come? Either way I felt very excited by the prospect of both but more of the latter. As I approached the high ground which leads into dense undergrowth I heard a flock of Jays causing a real commotion this caused me to stop, I was very aware that they were warning of potential danger close by.

As I looked down the trail and into the undergrowth, suddenly I heard an almighty crash and my heart missed a few beats. My immediate thought was that the sound had been made by an elephant, so I waited to see if it would appear around the bend of the trail, nothing came then I began to think perhaps it was a tiger charging though the undergrowth after some deer or something, my heart raced even more, what would I do if it was a tiger?

After a while the Jays began to settled down at which point I felt it was ok to move forward to investigate what the noise was, I soon discovered a very large branch some twenty meters long by about one meter thick laying on top of a clump of large bamboo. I realised had the Jays not kicked off, the time it would have taken me to walk from the ridge to this very spot, would have been around the same time this tree sized branch had crashed down, I would have been if not under it certainly very close to where it had landed.

I realised the Jays had saved me from some serious injuries at the very least or even from death itself.

Learn more about my trip to Thailand see click on images.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Now there is a thought...

"Seek only to be genuine. Strive to be sincere. If you wish to undo all the damage you imagine yourself to have done, demonstrate that in your actions. Do what you can do. Then let it rest."

Neale Donald Walsch