Hello, and welcome to Common By Nature – my humble blog, online diary and sightings board. It’s name derived from a half-hearted witticism involving my surname and personal interests that, over the years, appears to have stuck.
I’m James – a wildlife conservationist, nature writer, environmental blogger, birder and amateur naturalist from Northumberland. My interest in wilderness and wild things stemming from childhood: from long wildlife-fueled rambles around my home county, and weekend birdwatching trips with my Grandmother, Vera. The lady to whom I owe the vast majority of my current hobbies and the person singlehandedly responsible for introducing me to the joys of nature at a very early age.
In terms of my specific interests, it is difficult to pinpoint just where my affections lie as, truthfully, all aspects of the natural world fascinate me. Indeed, I much prefer to think of myself as a generalist when it comes to wildlife; equally as enthralled by bees and botanicals as I am birds, mammals and other, dare I say, more charismatic creatures. I truly am equally as happy grubbing about on all fours in search of snails and slugs as I am tucked up in my local bird hide, sipping coffee and ogling Avocets. Something, I hope, that will shine through on this blog, with a wide-range of topics and myriad species discussed in due course.
My studies and work to date (covered here in greater detail) have, somewhat recently, ignited a growing interest in nature writing and communication. Skills which, one day, I hope to utilise as a means of inspiring interest in nature, and encouraging others to stand up and protect it. While I am careful not to call myself a fully-fledged writer, just yet at least, the feedback received regarding my contributions to the An Anthology for the Changing Seasons book series, edited by Melissa Harrison, has provided a welcome boost and considerable hope for the future. With my pieces here centered on the Chiffchaff, a bird I have come to look very fondly upon over the years, and the Farne Islands, a regular childhood haunt and one of the best places in Britain to truly lose yourself in nature.
Elsewhere, things appear to be progressing nicely; with additional work published in Fieldsports Magazine, the Harrier, Dragonfly News, the Entomologist’s Record and the Northumberland Gazette. And further articles, written about myself by others, appearing in the Countryman, the Morpeth Herald, and the News Post Leader.
In addition to contributing to printed sources, I also frequently publish articles online and, to date, have won recognition by both BBC Wildlife Magazine and Living North for such work. Until recently I held a regular column on the website of Conservation Jobs and managed the popular Wildlife Articles blogging platform – writing additional pieces for the latter which, as of 2017, have been read and shared over 79,000 times. Elsewhere, I have contributed to the blogs of Blasting News, Environment South Africa, A Focus on Nature and Next Generation Birders; as well as to the websites a number of individual commentators and conservationists.
At present, I write regularly for Northumberland Wildlife Trust – covering my region and her wildlife in both a series of monthly blog posts and longer articles published in their quarterly magazine: Roebuck. I also, and on a rather proud note, manage my own e-magazine – New Nature – which aims to provide an outlet for the creative talents of young naturalists and inspire hope in the next generation of environmentalists. With this role involving no end of editing, social media, promotional and administrative work, as well as elements of team management, recruitment, and forward planning. This has proven to be one of the most challenging projects I have undertaken to date, yet has also proven the most rewarding. With many of our young contributors having been noticed (and commissioned) by larger, more mainstream outlets due to their work in New Nature.
I will update this page further with any and all future developments but, for now, please take a minute to browse